Careers After the M(Res.)
MA students have gone on, or returned, to careers in teaching, (children’s) publishing, librarianship, media, advertising, business, marketing, and the civil service.
Many students have let us know that the MA importantly enriched their capacity to understand situations in their work, and to communicate better about them, and has therefore been of benefit in that way, even when they are not working in areas to do specifically with children’s literature:
Graduate (part-time student), 2014:
‘The MA can help in jobs that perhaps are not ones that first spring to mind when thinking of transferable skills from the course…I have found the skills I developed during the MA to be of great use in my job. It wasn’t something I expected, given that I work in the finance sector, but the ability to closely read a text, together with the confidence that I can now read anything thrown at me has been enormously useful. I would recommend this MA to anyone, regardless of what career they might take up afterwards.’
‘There is no doubt that the MA in Children’s Literature has played a huge part in [obtaining my job at a leading academic publisher]. … I have thoroughly enjoyed this year and have learnt an awful amount. Furthermore, I have confidence in my capabilities at work as I am able to analyse proofs and add real value to projects.’
‘The MA(Res) in Children’s Literature has given me the opportunity to think in a different way, question things previously taken for granted and equip me with a level of thinking that has helped me to gain a better understanding of the world (especially the working world) around me.
Although this thinking at first seemed separate and foreign from my own state of mind it has now become a part of my life, helping me to achieve better results from my questioning and problem solving. This has helped me a great deal in securing a job in a publishing company, who were very impressed by the MA(Res). When dealing with issues at work the MA(Res) has provided me with understandings of perceived ‘norms’ of reading, which I can work with in order for my work to be successful.’
Part-time student, 2008:
‘Having a place on a Masters course really interested my employers (publishers) and I believe that it was one of the reasons why they considered me for the role I now do. Many of the graduates coming into the work place have Masters already – demonstrating an ability to think at a higher level. For me personally it helped me to think through ideas and develop my ability to articulate those ideas clearly – this is one of the skills that has helped immensely in the workplace. I undertook the MA in Children’s Literature for my own personal development and because I love the area of study, but the positive effect it has had on my career in ways I didn’t think it would have has been wonderful.’
BA Finalist 2014:
Student who attended the third year BA (undergraduate) ‘Children’s Literature’ and ‘Psychoanalysis and Text’ modules at Reading (students on these modules start thinking, reading, and writing in the same way as on our MA in Children’s Literature; several students from the Reading undergraduate modules taught by CIRCL staff proceed to continue with the MA each year):
I applied for [a highly selective and competitive civil service post] and got through to the final stage out of twelve thousand applicants. I can’t believe it, but I passed all of the assessment and interview days and have been offered one of two hundred places […]. I prepared so much for the assessments but your teaching really improved the way I analyse work and the seminars really increased my understanding. For example, for one of the assessments we were given a case study of 19 pages, had to decipher what was and what wasn’t important to the case and write a review and further actions to be taken. So it was really important I could read word for word without skimming or generalising which I think the modules really focused on.’
‘I have been offered (and accepted) a job … through the National Graduate Development Programme. I will start in October and I am so thrilled! It was my number one choice … In terms of what the MA did for me, where do I begin?! I feel that any postgraduate qualification is beneficial and gives you ‘an edge’ when applying for graduate schemes because in my case everyone was required to have a 2.1 so it becomes a very level playing field. Plus the NGDP send us back to Uni! So it is further proof that you can cope with a part-time diploma and have a drive to learn that many undergrads no longer have. NGDP is looking for future managers and ‘fresh perspectives’ so what [Professor Karin Lesnik-Oberstein] taught us in Theory really helped here. To be able to say to [the organisation], ‘I’ve learnt how to challenge things that are taken for granted’ and adapt that to an area they are working on really pricked up their ears! And naturally this isn’t just self-promotion, I do have these skills. Huge potential for really innovative, practical ideas to be developed from this. Everyday skills enhanced like writing style, adapting writing style for different publications, meeting deadlines, analysing words and concepts, reading and absorbing information quickly, etc. Feel like an expert at these! Everyone is interested in Children’s Literature! Some ask with a smirk and assume it must be easy, e.g. someone flipped through my dissertation and tried to belittle it by saying ‘just looking for the pictures …’ to which I replied ‘I decided not to write about illustrations but I know this, this and this about them’ so there! And some are genuinely thrilled by it, because it is still uncommon in England, again it gives you a special something to talk about. Everyone is also interested in ‘children’! Every [organisation] has their own priorities but look at any website, anywhere in the country and they will without a doubt, have plans galore for children. […] it does take a little bit of ‘adapting’ but convincing them you understand children like no one else can is alarmingly easy with the MA on your CV! Aside from enjoyment that notably has continued past the MA, the biggest skill/ biggest gain has to be looking at something that is taken for granted whether that is a method used, a concept, a category, etc I cannot emphasise enough how useful that skill will be in any [organisation]! And I hope to never lose sight of this.’
‘The Children’s Literature MA has aided my development of extensive academic skills and has introduced me to complex and fascinating theoretical approaches, which can be used to question supposedly obvious or accepted ideas encountered not just in Children’s Literature but across all types of literature. However, I also feel the MA has provided me with some essential skills including problem-identifying and solving by working out the implications and effects of the claims made by others, as well as, to use an (albeit apt) cliché, really encouraging me to think outside of the box. I have now gone on to secure a job in the educational charity sector and believe the skills I have acquired from the MA not only helped me to get the job in the first place, but will continue to be invaluable tools I can use in the future.’
Graduate, 2002 (and CIRCL PhD 2005):
‘I am now a lecturer in Education Studies at the University of Plymouth and I find that I still constantly draw on the analytical skills I learnt during my time at Reading.’
Graduate, 1995 (and CIRCL PhD 2000):
‘When I think about the MA I generally think of it in terms of my intellectual growth – but one of the huge things about it for me is that … there is no way I would have got my present job [as Head of English at my school] without it…’
Student who attended the third year BA (undergraduate) Children’s Literature module at Reading, 2005: (students on this module start thinking, reading, and writing in the same way as on our MA in Children’s Literature; several students from the Reading undergraduate Children’s Literature module proceed to continue with the MA each year):
‘I work in London for a media company now, utilizing my close textual analysis skills to write copy for marketing campaigns amongst other things!… I thought [the Children’s Literature] seminars were by far and away the most enjoyable and helpful that I had during my entire time at University. I truly looked forward to coming to them … Even now when reading books I find myself trying to gauge the authority of the narration! …
Let me give you a very brief overview of my job. In simple terms it has 3 aspects to it: research, sales and marketing. The critical thinking I developed in [the Children’s Literature] module helps me in all three aspects. Whether I am writing a pitch to a client trying to secure their support or putting together marketing material, the tone and I suppose the authority of the text is designed solely to align my audience with my views and ideas. I have to make sure the people who read my marketing material see a truth in what I am saying and the way I achieve that is by thinking very carefully about the language I am using. Every word has a purpose and that is to achieve what we call buy in from the reader. Essentially I use close textual analysis everyday in my working life to make my copy, emails and sales pitch as effective as possible.
Many of our students go on to do PhD research very successfully, either at CIRCL itself or at other Universities. If you would like to see what some of the CIRCL PhD students have done and do, please go to the CIRCL PhD web-page.
For information on fees, please go to the University web-site post-graduate fees page.
Our PhD students have been successful also in gaining funding, either from the University of Reading (University of Reading Full Studentships; Faculty Bursaries, and Graduate School of Arts and Humanities Full Studentships), or from the British government (Overseas Research Student (ORS) funding; Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) Funding or from foreign governments or universities
'My undergraduate degree was English Literature with Education Studies at the University of Cambridge and as part of that course I took a module in Children's Literature and absolutely loved it. I therefore decided to research MA courses so that I could further develop my interest. I was advised by my tutors at Cambridge that the most rigorous course was the one offered by the University of Reading and I was thrilled to be offered a place. During the MA the tutors were friendly and support...Hannah Smith (now: Anglin-Jaffe), CIRCL MA 2001-2, CIRCL PhD 2005
Dr Evdokia (Kia) Michalopoulou, CIRCL MA, CIRCL PhD
'I was nervous doing the course as a part-time student as I worried that I may be at a disadvantage. This was definitely not the case. The course is structured so well, and the support I received from [the MA staff] Karin, Neil and Sue (as well as the other students over both years) ensured that I was given the same opportunities, guidance and experience as everyone else. I have really enjoyed this degree and I can see that it has changed the way I think. I would recommend it to anyone who...Samantha Horsfield, CIRCL MA 2011-13 (part-time)
'I gained much more than I had expected from the MA. The course was not just about children's literature; it led me to reconsider the way I read, think, and argue. It prepared me for my PhD research and had an influence on my whole life. I can sincerely say that the MA in Children's Literature at Reading is worth attending, even if you need to travel all the way from the other side of the earth (which is more or less what I did, as an international student).'Yuko Ashitagawa, CIRCL MA 2001-2, CIRCL PhD 2002-5
Dr Haiya Dong, CIRCL Visiting Scholar 2018-19 Interview
'Studying the MA in Children's Literature was an excellent introduction to and preparation for academic practice and further research as it provided me with an opportunity to engage in discussions surrounding the issues addressed by current researchers during CIRCL seminars in a nurturing and supportive environment.'Catrin Edwards, CIRCL MA 2006-7, CIRCL PhD 2010
My one year’s visit in CIRCL is the most rewarding academic experience that I have ever had. I found the [M(Res.)] seminars very stimulating. With “positive reinforcement”, all the participants are encouraged and involved. I am always encouraged and inspired by the discussions that were held in the seminars, which are though-provoking and very interactive, heated sometimes yet always in a very pleasant and harmonious atmosphere. I am greatly indebted to Karin, Neil and Sue for their wonder...JIANG Jianli (Tina), Associate Professor, Qingdao Technological University, China, CIRCL Academic Visiting Fellow 2016-17
The [M(Res)] seminars I attended in CIRCL during my one year’s visit are always inspiring and profound, which have greatly improved my research skills and changed my mindset for doing research in children’s literature. The seminars taught me to find the perspectives in the text we analysed and develop my own judgment, which is the most challenging yet most rewarding thing in doing research. From my own experience as a teacher, such seminars are most effective in forging critical and indepe...XU Derong (David), Associate Professor, Ocean University of China, CIRCL Academic Visiting Fellow, 2016-17
Lisa Stallard, CIRCL MA 2011-12
'Studying the Children’s Literature MA at Reading was a hugely challenging and rewarding experience for me. When I began the course I had no idea how much my own thinking, reading and argument would develop, so much so that by the end I considered continuing with a PhD. A year after completing the MA I won University Studentship funding to undertake a PhD at CIRCL. I would recommend the Children’s Literature MA to anybody who wishes to develop their critical thinking in any subject area, n...Helen Ainslie, CIRCL MA 2004-5, CIRCL PhD 2006-9
'With great support from the tutors and friends I have had a wonderful year in exploring and reconsidering the way I have been thinking all my life. In many ways it is my personal journey during which I have learnt a lot, not only about how to (or not to) find an answer but also about how to raise a question. As an international student I would like to say that the MA is very challenging, yet very liberating.'Sireethorn (Pam) Simawathna, CIRCL MA 2012-13
“I thoroughly enjoyed the course. Always challenging, the course approached and encouraged me to deal with many issues in a rigorously academic way. The work on the course was always innovative and now I can see how the course changed the way I can think about problems and solutions in both academic and non-academic contexts. I would recommend this course to anyone who wants to deal with their own and other’s assumptions in a thoughtful and explorative way."Christopher Johnson, CIRCL MA 2015-2016
'The Reading MA in Children's Literature was a stimulating and thoroughly enjoyable experience for me. The course is intellectually demanding and wide-ranging in its approach to the field of children's literature and its cultural context. Though it focuses on the child in literature it is not restrictive. Many of the issues raised during the course of study are pertinent to all kinds of literature. There are ample opportunities for students to engage in discussion and to make their own con...Hilary Fraser, CIRCL MA 1999-2000, CIRCL PhD 2009