EAS3191 - Writing for Children and Young Adults

2023/4 Module description

StaffDr Nazneen Pathak - Convenor
Credit Value30
ECTS Value15
NQF Level6
Duration of Module Term 2: 11 weeks;

Module description

This module requires you to analyse a wide-range of narrative techniques evident in contemporary children’s books (from Picture Books through to Young Adult Fiction), and to examine the ever-changing demands and ethics of the children’s publishing world. Through writing exercises, peer review and a combination of formative and summative tasks, you will gain knowledge about the children’s publishing industry while developing your own unique writing style(s). 

Module aims

  • The module will provide an opportunity for manuscript critique, critical reflection, peer review and creative progression. Advice on writing synopses, approaching literary agents and editing and submitting work will also be addressed, thereby enriching your links to future employment.

ILO: Module-specific skills

  • 1. Demonstrate an understanding of the complex demands of children’s publishing
  • 2. Critically engage with and explain the constantly changing ‘ethics’ of children’s books
  • 3. Interrogate assumptions and preconceptions about children’s literature
  • 4. Produce typescripts of a variety of age-targeted children’s books, evidencing a full understanding of both convention and audience

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

  • 5. Demonstrate an ability to write and prepare submissions for the contemporary market
  • 6. Demonstrate proper formatting, including considerations about appropriate font and page-turn in written work
  • 7. Show a positive response to workshop critiques, amending and revising creative work accordingly
  • 8. Develop a unique writing style and/or approach a subject matter in an original way

ILO: Personal and key skills

  • 9. Gain an informed appreciation of the expectations of the children’s publishing industry
  • 10. Acquire editorial skills and engage in (and respond to) peer review
  • 11. Develop an awareness of the impact of both digital media and the global market on children’s publishing

Syllabus plan

Whilst the content may vary from year to year, it is envisioned that it will cover some or all of the following topics:

A combination of critical reflection, writing exercises, peer review and seminar discussion will enable you to become aware of the demands of writing for children in the contemporary publishing world. This awareness will be reflected in your own creative and critical work, as well as in your understanding of the demands of various age-targeted audiences. In addition to this, you will enhance your Research and IT skills through studying publishers’ and agents’ submission guidelines, as well as researching (and reflecting upon) children’s authors’ increasingly active online profiles.

The module will be largely organised into three blocks, which will focus on the following:  

  • Block 1: Picture Books
  • Block 2: Middle-Grade Chapter Books
  • Block 3: Young Adult Fiction  

Learning activities and teaching methods (given in hours of study time)

Scheduled Learning and Teaching ActivitiesGuided independent studyPlacement / study abroad

Details of learning activities and teaching methods

CategoryHours of study timeDescription
Scheduled learning and teaching33Seminars
Guided independent study33Study group preparation and meetings
Guided independent study70Individual seminar preparation
Guided independent study164Reading, research and critical essay/creative writing preparation

Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Weekly assignments Continuous1-11Seminar and tutorial feedback/discussion
Exercises in fiction writing In-seminar1-2, 4-8Peer review and, seminar discussion

Summative assessment (% of credit)

CourseworkWritten examsPractical exams

Details of summative assessment

Form of assessment% of creditSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Creative writing portfolio804000 words total (Consisting of a 500-word picture book and a 3500-word extract from a middle-grade chapter book or YA novel)1, 4-8Feedback sheet and opportunity for tutorial follow-up
Critical essay202000 words1-3, 9-11Feedback sheet and opportunity for tutorial follow-up

Details of re-assessment (where required by referral or deferral)

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
Creative writing portfolio 4000 words total (Consisting of a 500 word Picture Book and a 3,500 word extract from a Middle-Grade Chapter Book or YA Novel)1, 4-8Referral/Deferral period
Critical essay2000 words1-3, 9-11 Referral/Deferral period

Re-assessment notes

Deferral – if you miss an assessment for certificated reasons judged acceptable by the Mitigation Committee, you will normally be either deferred in the assessment or an extension may be granted. The mark given for a re-assessment taken as a result of deferral will not be capped and will be treated as it would be if it were your first attempt at the assessment.

Referral – if you have failed the module overall (i.e. a final overall module mark of less than 40%) you will be required to submit a further assessment as necessary. If you are successful on referral, your overall module mark will be capped at 40%.

Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

Basic reading:

  • Mary Cole, Writing Irresistible Kidslit (Writer’s Digest Books, 2012)
  • Robert McKee, Story (Methuen, 1999)
  • John Yorke, Into the Woods (Penguin, 2014)
  • Children’s Writers’ and Artists’ Yearbook (Bloomsbury – most recent edition preferable*)

Primary texts may include the following (but all wider reading will be beneficial):

  • Alan Ahlberg, Burglar Bill
  • David Almond, Skellig
  • Arree Chung, Mixed
  • Julia Donaldson, The Snail and the Whale
  • Astrid Lindgren, Pippi Longstocking
  • Tanya Landman, Buffalo Soldier
  • Dave McKee, Two Monsters
  • Wendy Meddour, Lubna and Pebble
  • Wendy Meddour, The Secret Railway
  • Zanib Mian, Accidental Trouble Magnet
  • Patrick Ness, A Monster Calls
  • Louise O’Neill, Only Ever Yours
  • Jewell Parker-Rhodes, Sugar
  • Onjali Rauf, The Boy at the Back of the Class
  • Celia Rees, Witch Child
  • Chris Riddell, Ottoline and the Yellow Cat
  • Katherine Rundell, Rooftoppers
  • Alex T. Smith, Claude in the City
  • Andy Stanton, You’re a Bad Man, Mr Gum

Module has an active ELE page?


Indicative learning resources - Web based and electronic resources

ELE – https://vle.exeter.ac.uk/course/view.php?id=11201

Available as distance learning?


Origin date


Last revision date


Key words search

Writing for Children, Picture Books, Chapter Books, Young Adult Fiction, Creative Writing

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