Skip to main content Accessibility information

MA Literature for Children and Young Adults

Inspire children, young adults, families and learning communities to use literature to support reading for enjoyment and wider engagement in learning.

Part-time option lets you study alongside work

Entry requirements

A degree or equivalent from a recognised Higher Education Institute in the UK or abroad.

UCAS code Apply direct to Marjon

Duration One year full-time or two years part-time

Course Summary

Do you have a passion for children’s and young adults’ literature?  Do you wish to explore how authors and selected literature promote both reading and engagement in issues such as community, identity, inclusion, the environment, climate change, mental health & well-being?  Do you wish to produce your own creative writing for children or young adults? If so, then this is the course for you.

 Through a blend of digital learning (including on-line talks, lectures and readings by authors such as Philip Pullman, Katherine Rundell, Michael Morpurgo, Naomi Shihab Nye and others), campus learning (lectures, seminars, tutorials), you will explore how children’s literature has developed since the nineteenth century into an exciting, imaginative, contemporary mix of genres (including the historical & adventure novel, graphic literature, fantasy and sci-fi, drama, poetry, picturebooks, film, theatre and digital ‘imagineering’, etc.) You will develop high-level skills in enquiry & critical appraisal and pursue your own author & genre-focused interests through a range of written assessments, in addition to producing your own portfolio of creative writing.

 You will read very widely throughout the course – pre-course reading lists encourage you to dip your toes into the vast landscape of children’s and young adults’ literature. Through close studies of chosen books you will interrogate the relationship/s between authors, illustrators, readers, texts and contexts.

Why this course at Marjon?

Part-time study option lets you study alongside work

Opportunities to explore and research your own author and genre interests

Produce original creative writing for children and young adults

A culture of shared peer learning – to extend your knowledge of authors and genres

Gain new insights into the challenges wrought by Covid on children, families and communities and explore the ‘restorative’ potential of children’s and young adults’ literature;

Use an eco-critical lens’ to explore the relationship(s) between text, reader and engagement in environmental and climate issues

Modules for this course


1st Year

Turning the Page: An Examination of the Development of Literature for Children and Young Adults
Critical analysis of the development, through history, of children’s literature from 1950 texts to current publications. Analysis and discussion of the developing role of picture books in children’s literature and examining how illustrated books are defining their place in this field. A critical examination of how fictional techniques are used to present stories to children, examining the manipulation of fairy tales and looking at very popular current choices.
Opening Stories: Genres and Themes in Literature for Children and Young Adults
Critical understanding of the term ‘genre’ and theorisation of literature and how this applies to literature written for children. Analysis and discussion of literature within a specified genre with critical examination of author intent. Critical evaluation of ideology within specified genres, exploring themes such as gender, global citizenship, purpose and enjoyment. Generate enquiry into the range of texts available to children and examine constructions of childhood as portrayed through literature.
Research Design
Identifying and justifying an appropriate research methodology: e.g. case study, action research, ethnographic research, experimental work; Research ethics; Identifying and justifying appropriate research methods.
Creative writing for Children and Young Adults
Practical experience of writing to enable students to begin to locate themselves as writers in the field of contemporary children’s literature. Opportunities to experiment with a variety of forms/genres of creative writing for children enabling students to develop their own voice and style. Support and critical advice from established authors.
Research Dissertation OR Creative Writing Dissertation
A research dissertation is a subject-based content will be wholly defined by students’ own specialist research interests. Identifying and justifying an appropriate research methodology. A creative writing dissertation is informed by student interests, the production of original creative writing for children or young adults, with an accompanying essay, reflecting on cultural and critical contexts.

Current students say...

Tom Mallender

“The beauty of this course is that it is student-led, which allows you to develop your own literary and research interests. I have creative freedom to craft my own writing, I am currently researching the extent to which David Walliams is being positioned as the ‘new’ Roald Dahl and I am looking forward to producing my own original creative writing. I intend to train as an English teacher, and this course will be invaluable in terms of informing and developing my own teaching philosophy.”

Keiran Moon

“The freedom to explore the aspects of literature that resonate with me has kept me constantly engaged, whilst the tutorials are invaluable in helping me contextualise and explore other sub-genres and authors. The amount of support you get at Marjon means that it is impossible not to develop academically. I have additional needs and see a study tutor and mentor every week which has helped me settle quickly. My tutor has been fantastic and given more support than I would ever have imagined.”

This course is perfect if you're curious about

The themes which inform the writing of children’s and young adults’ literature.

The reading or writing of Children's and Young Adults' literature and how narrative contributes to ideological constructions of society.

What makes a children's book successful.

The crafting frameworks which support production of original creative writing.

The programme is very attractive, especially the inclusion of Young Adult within the title which had made the programme more distinct from that offered elsewhere and should not only attract undergraduates from a variety of programmes but also applicants working in the fields of publishing and journalism.
Dr Clementine Beauvais - Lecturer in English in Education, University of York

What might you become?

Many of our students are teachers, choosing to take their knowledge and learning into the classroom to develop and enhance reading for pleasure.  Other students are librarians, education leaders, parents, actors, community arts workers and writers, all of whom plan to use their new-found knowledge to promote reading and wider learning. Perhaps you will be among them – read Tom’s and Keiran’s stories and be inspired.

Graduates have chosen to progress their careers in community & family learning, pupil support, acting & performance, teaching.

How you’ll be taught and assessed?

How will you be taught?

Learning and teaching methods will be varied and flexible meeting the needs of the course participants, and include workshops, lectures, conferences, visiting writers, digital learning and supported independent study.

How will you be assessed?

Students submit work for marking, moderation and external examination. A range of assessment  types exist in the modules, including a dissertation, portfolios, presentations, creative writing, essays, reflective studies or practice based study.

Course leader

Dr Hayden Gabriel

Dr Hayden Gabriel leads our module and dissertation on creative writing. Hayden is a published fiction writer and an expert on eco-critical discourse & research. Her portfolio in eco-research includes leading the Devon initiative for the national ‘Lost Words’ (Devon) Project in partnership with the celebrated writer, Robert Macfarlane and illustrator, Jackie Morris. Rowan Jones is closely involved with local and regional initiatives to support children’s reading for pleasure - working with schools, bookshops, community interest initiatives, librarians, universities and family learning partners to foster a love of reading within schools and wider education settings.

View full profile

Fees and funding

Fees UK students: £6,500

Fees for International students: £12,000

Your schedule

Full-time and part-time students are required to join formal lectures and wider blended learning every Thursday over a 3-semester academic structure (Sept-January, January-May, May-July).  The rest of students’ time is spent in individual, tutor-supported research, pursuing their own authorial & genre interests, preparing writing for peer appraisal, 1:1 tutorials, seminars, etc.

Course location(s):

Plymouth Marjon University, Derriford Road, Plymouth, PL6 8BH.



Rowan Jones

Visiting Lecturer - Literature

View profile

Rowan is closely involved with local and regional initiatives to support children’s reading for pleasure - working with schools, bookshops, community interest initiatives, librarians, universities and family learning partners to foster a love of reading within schools and wider education settings. She is also a qualified primary school teacher.

Share this page on