Module Catalogue 2015/16

SEL3338 : Children's Literature: from islands to internet

  • Offered for Year: 2015/16
  • Module Leader(s): Dr Lucy Pearson
  • Owning School: English Lit, Language & Linguistics
Semester 1 Credit Value: 20
ECTS Credits: 10.0
Pre Requisites
Pre Requisite Comment


Co Requisites
Co Requisite Comment



To introduce students to children’s literature as a field of critical literary study. The module aims both to place children's literature in its social and historical contexts, and to introduce students to the distinctive critical and theoretical debates that are particular to the field.

The module will offer an introduction to 'modern' children's literature, introducing you to landmark texts dating from the 1930s to the present day. You will read a wide range of texts, including novels, picturebooks, film/television/stage adaptations, and fan-produced media. Texts will vary slightly from year to year to keep the course current, but you can expect to read across a wide variety of genres including fantasy and timeslip, family and children's theatre, socially committed literature, and science fiction. Indicative authors include Enid Blyton, Philippa Pearce, Philip Pullman, Patrick Ness, and Alan Garner.

Outline Of Syllabus

Indicative only: please do not buy texts until you receive the current reading list.

Week 1: What is children's literature? Islands and adventures
Week 2: Picturing childhood: how to read a picturebook
Week 3: Visions of the past: historical novels
Week 4: Alternative worlds: fantasy 1
Week 5: Skills in children’s literature: archives
Week 6: Timeslip: home and heritage 1
Week 7: Visions of the past: historical novel 2
Week 8: Tiny people: fantasy 2
Week 9: Retelling tales: the postmodern fairytale
Week 10: Visions of the future
Week 11: Landscape: home and heritage 2
Week 12: Tutorials

Learning Outcomes

Intended Knowledge Outcomes

Students will develop knowledge and understanding of the following:
- the historical and social contexts of children’s literature
- a wide range of books for children, in a variety of genres and addressing different age groups
- critical debates concerning the social roles and aesthetic forms of children’s literature
- approaches and methodologies for the critical analysis of children’s literature
- the role of archives and special collections in children's literature scholarship

Intended Skill Outcomes

The module will develop skills in
- reading and analyzing a range of texts and documents
- using secondary material critically
- accessing and using archives and special collections
- giving informal oral presentations
- producing appropriate kinds of academic writing
- working with a group of colleagues on a common task
- participating in debate and discussion
- working under time pressure

Graduate Skills Framework

Graduate Skills Framework Applicable: Yes
  • Cognitive/Intellectual Skills
    • Critical Thinking : Assessed
    • Active Learning : Present
    • Literacy : Assessed
  • Self Management
    • Planning and Organisation
      • Goal Setting And Action Planning : Present
      • Decision Making : Present
    • Personal Enterprise
      • Initiative : Present
      • Problem Solving : Present
  • Interaction
    • Communication
      • Oral : Present
    • Team Working
      • Collaboration : Present

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture121:0012:00N/A
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion130:0030:00N/A
Guided Independent StudyDirected research and reading180:0080:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching122:0024:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesFieldwork22:004:00N/A
Guided Independent StudyStudent-led group activity181:0018:00N/A
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study132:0032:00N/A
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

Methods are varied as is appropriate to the breadth and diversity of the module's content and intended learning outcomes. The lectures offer students wide-ranging overviews of the historical development of children's literature, its current state, and critical strategies and methodologies appropriate to its study. One important strand of the module is the opportunity to gain experience of literary research in archives and special collections, and study visits to the Robinson Library and Seven Stories, the Centre for Children's Books will introduce students to key local resources for the study of children's literature. Building on this foundation, the two-hour, workshop-style seminars are designed to enable active learning and include short lectures focused on particular writers, plenary discussions, student presentations, and group work. In addition to the two study visits, students will be able to access a rich programme of events, including literary speakers and visits to local performances of children's film and theatre.

Reading Lists

Assessment Methods

The format of resits will be determined by the Board of Examiners

Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Essay1M25Skills based essay (1500 words)
Essay1A65Take home exam (2500 words)
Practical/lab report1M10Class participation activities
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

The short essay will allow students to exercise subject-specific skills taught on the module by offering the opportunity to use archives and special collections for literary research. The time-limited essay (also known as a take-home examination) will enable students to examine in a highly focused way, and with reference to a selection of writers, the issues and questions explored by the module. It will enable them to develop skills in researching a field, planning and organising work, and working under time pressure. A formative assessment (practice exam) mid-module will allow them the chance to practice these skills.

Students will also be encouraged to take responsibility for their own and their peers' learning, and to develop practical approaches to material, via an in-class student-led exercise.

The chosen forms of assessment correspond to the Department's commitment to providing an appropriate range of methods of assessment across all modules

Alternative Assessment for Study Abroad Semester 1 only: Study Abroad students in semester 1 are able to submit their portfolio electronically or in hard copy by registered mail.


Past Exam Papers

General Notes


Note: The Module Catalogue now reflects module information relating to academic year 15/16. Please contact your School Office if you require module information for a previous academic year.

Disclaimer: The University will use all reasonable endeavours to deliver modules in accordance with the descriptions set out in this catalogue. Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information, however, the University reserves the right to introduce changes to the information given including the addition, withdrawal or restructuring of modules if it considers such action to be necessary.