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If you'd like to find out more about our Master's in Literature for Children and Young Adults, contact Leah Phillips on

MA Literature for Children and Young Adults

On the MA in Literature for children and young adults, you will explore some of the most powerful and captivating stories of our time. You’ll develop the skills and knowledge to excel in professions like education, library services, youth and community service, and children’s media.

Young boy sits on his Dad's lap while they read together

Part-time option for study alongside work

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Entry requirements

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

UCAS code Apply to Marjon

UCAS institution code P63

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

Any questions about postgraduate study at Marjon?

Contact Rachel Bailey-Lewis, our Student Recruitment Officer (Postgraduate).

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.

You'll learn through a blend of digital learning including online talks, lectures and readings by authors such as Philip Pullman, Katherine Rundell, Michael Morpurgo, Naomi Shihab Nye and others, and on-campus learning such as lectures, seminars and 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 and 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.

If you want to inspire children, young adults, wider learning communities and professional settings to support reading for enjoyment and wider engagement and learning then the M.A. in Children's and young adults, literature is the course for you. Through one year, full time or two years, part time study we'll take you on a journey where you'll explore how children's and young adults literature writes a range of issues from community identity, inclusion, environment to nature, family, wider health and mental well-being through a blend of digital and on-campus learning. You'll explore how children's and young adults literature from the 19th century to the current day has evolved into a very exciting and imaginative mix of genres. In addition to written assignments, you will also have the opportunity to produce your own original creative writing through a uniquely original eco critical lens. Initially, first, through a small portfolio. And then, if you wish for a longer extended creative writing dissertation. Of course, because this is a master's programme about literature, we do expect you to read widely both before the course and during the course. Pre course lists will encourage you to dip your toes into the vast landscape of imaginative literature which awaits you. In addition to exploring the very latest in scholarship and research,

I did the course and then I've been teaching on it for the last few years. I think what's really strong about this course is we have the really rich backgrounds of the students. We have students from very different. We have a lot of teachers. We have a lot of people who come from literature degrees and people come with their own interests, and the course is flexible enough that we're able to really allow them to explore those interests. I think at Marjon we have a wonderful teaching library, so we have a lot of the books that we're talking about, which is great. I think that we have a really unique way through this course in that you can come up with your own essay titles essentially based on your interests, based on the research focus that you want to follow through the course. And we also have a fantastic creative writing path.

I'm actually based up in Gloucestershire, and a lot of this I've been doing virtually so I've just come down once a month and joined the group. It's been great. I mean, the it's worked meaning that the virtual thing has worked as much as I like to it in person. And it's really nice coming down and be able to talk in person and look at books, news library, but it's been very flexible, of course have been very flexible. I used to be a teacher, but it does. Yes, yeah. I think I can sort of balance other things, which works as a mature student as well other sort of responsibilities and, and jobs with the work as well. I would say definitely consider it. Yeah, it's a it's been very easy. Everybody's been very friendly. It's, you know, it's easy to get to. It's easy. And if you're travelling like I am, everybody's been very accommodating. Yeah, it's, it's fantastic and it's, it's a lovely campus as well. It's nice to see the sea, the distance

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

What makes a children's book successful

The crafting frameworks which support production of original creative writing

How narrative contributes to ideological constructions of society

How to encourage reading for enjoyment and learning

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.

Leah Phillips

Dr Leah Phillips

Course leader

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Leah is a specialist in children’s and young adult literature. At Marjon, she is a Senior Lecturer in the School of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences. In this role, she is Programme Lead for both English BA (Hons) and Literature for Children and Young Adults MA. Her research focuses on representations of adolescent girlhood in YA speculative fiction. She’s interested in girl heroes who break boundaries, blur borders, and challenge what it means to be a ‘hero’ according to mainstream, patriarchal views and values. Her book, Female Heroes in Young Adult Fantasy Fiction: Reframing Myths of Adolescent Girlhood, will be out later this year. In it, she talks about how damaging Cinderella’s narrow and limiting heightened fantasy femininity is to girls and women and how a cross-dresser, cyborg, and shape-shifter, as examples, offer a much more representational and inclusive model of selfhood. Leah is also the President and Founder of the YA Studies Association, an international organisation existing to increase the knowledge of, and research on, YA literature, media, and related fields. She serves on the Children’s Literature Association’s Phoenix Committee and is on the Editorial Board of the International Journal of Young Adult Literature.

Fees and funding

Fees UK students: £8,000 per annum

Fees for International students: £14,500 per annum

This fee covers your tuition and access to course-specific equipment and facilities, as well associated services including access to the library, study skills support, IT support, student support and wellbeing services and membership of the Student Union. There may be additional costs by course.

Funding available for this course

Our Student Funding Advisors offer confidential and impartial advice about your funding options.

Learn more

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


Dr Alan Butler


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Alan graduated from Marjon in 2002 and is programme lead for BA (Hons) History and a new MA Archives and Collections course, in addition to being a co-director of Pride in Plymouth CIC and a community engagement officer at The Box.

In 2016 he completed an AHRC funded collaborative PhD called “Performing LGBT Pride in Plymouth 1950 -2012” with the University of Plymouth. The project involved the formation of a specific LGBT history accession for the Plymouth and West Devon Record Office (now The Box) which currently sits alongside the Pride in Plymouth’s Community Archive. This archive currently comprises around 100 oral history interviews along with memorabilia pertaining to the performance of LGBT identity in the city over a sixty-year period.


Dr Leah Phillips

Senior Lecturer

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Leah is a Senior Lecturer in the School of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences and the Programme Lead for the BA English and the MA Literature for Children and Young Adults.

Her research broadly focuses on how YA fiction impacts its readers’ lives, especially marginalised individuals and groups. Leah recently finished revisions on her first monograph, Female Heroes in Young Adult Fantasy Fiction: Reframing Myths of Adolescent Girlhood

Away from the university, Leah undertakes a range of work in children’s literature and YA studies. In 2020, she founded the YA Studies Association (YASA), an international organisation existing to increase the knowledge of and research on YA literature, media, and related fields. 

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