Children's Fantasy Literature ENGLIT5118

  • Academic Session: 2023-24
  • School: School of Critical Studies
  • Credits: 20
  • Level: Level 5 (SCQF level 11)
  • Typically Offered: Either Semester 1 or Semester 2
  • Available to Visiting Students: No

Short Description

This course will explore the rich tradition of fantasy literature for children, from the origins of the genre (fables, fairy-tales, and adapted adult texts) to the classic texts of the first (mid-19th century to WWI) and second (mid-20th century) "Golden Ages" of children's literature, all the way to the vibrant and diverse children's and YA fantasies of the 21st century.


10 x 2hr seminars/workshops (one a week for ten weeks)

Requirements of Entry

Standard entry to Masters at College level.

Excluded Courses





■ 10-minute presentation, accompanied by submitted outline and handout/slides (20%)

■ Final Assignment, 4000 words (80%) which can take the form of:

■ Essay (4,000 words)


■ Creative piece (2,500 words) and critical reflection (1,500 words)


The presentations will be individual, and they should be accompanied by a clear outline (with full citations and references) and a handout or slides used as visual aids during the presentation. The will be two sets of assessment criteria: one for the presentation itself (focusing on content but also delivery, etc.) and one for the outline and handout/slides (focusing on content as well, but also on quality of secondary reading, referencing, clarity, formatting, etc.).


The final assignment will give students the option to either compose a traditional critical essay on a research topic (4,000); or submit a 2,500-word creative piece of children's or Young Adult fantasy (e.g. the first 1-2 chapters and synopsis of a novel; the text and concept of a picturebook; a collection of poems; etc.) accompanied by a 1,500-word critical reflection (an essay that critically analyses the engagement of their creative piece and process with current critical and theoretical debates in children's and Young Adult fantasy). There essay will have its own assessment criteria. The creative piece and critical reflection will have two sets of assessment criteria, one for each part of the assessment.

Are reassessment opportunities available for all summative assessments? No

Reassessments are normally available for all courses, except those which contribute to the Honours classification. For non-Honours courses, students are offered reassessment in all or any of the components of assessment if the satisfactory (threshold) grade for the overall course is not achieved at the first attempt. This is normally grade D3 for undergraduate students and grade C3 for postgraduate students. Exceptionally it may not be possible to offer reassessment of some coursework items, in which case the mark achieved at the first attempt will be counted towards the final course grade. Any such exceptions for this course are described below. 

Course Aims

This course aims to:

■ Explore the origins and evolution of children's fantasy literature in its different forms (novels, tales, poetry, picturebooks, etc.)

■ Examine current debates in children's fantasy literature, focusing on power, ideology, identity, and diversity

■ Consider the constructions of childhood fantasy literature offers, and the changing value placed upon didacticism vs. entertainment and the imagination

■ Contest the boundaries between fantasy literature for adults and children

Intended Learning Outcomes of Course

By the end of this course students will be able to:

■ Analyse (in writing and orally) in sophisticated ways the constructions of childhood offered by children's fantasy literature

■ Critically evaluate (in writing and orally) the cultural and historical contexts of children's fantasy literature, based on a broad and deep understanding of the field

■ Conduct advanced critical and/or creative work that responds to theoretical frameworks and current critical debates in children's fantasy literature

■ Interrogate the boundaries between fantasy literature for children, young adults, and adults

Minimum Requirement for Award of Credits

Students must submit at least 75% by weight of the components (including examinations) of the course's summative assessment.