Module title: Reading Experiments: Children’s Literature and Science

SCQF level: 10:
SCQF credit value: 20.00
ECTS credit value: 10

Module code: CLP10127
Module leader: Emily Alder
School School of Arts and Creative Industries
Subject area group: Humanities and Culture


2019/0, Trimester 1, Face-to-Face,
Occurrence: 001
Primary mode of delivery: Face-to-Face
Location of delivery: MERCHISTON
Member of staff responsible for delivering module: EMILY ALDER
Module Organiser:

Learning, Teaching and Assessment (LTA) Approach:
The weekly two-hour lecture introduces students to key critical and theoretical debates about children’s literature and studying literature and science as well as cultural and critical contexts around the set texts; it will be an interactive, discursive class giving students the opportunity to develop their own understanding of topics and texts and contribute ideas drawn from their own research and analysis (LO1,4). The one-hour weekly tutorials/ seminars further allow students to discuss issues in depth related to representations of science and childhood and the literary strategies of texts addressing a child readership (LO 2,3). The emphasis will be on independent learning, reading, and scholarship. The seminar sessions will mirror the lecture series and will provide a medium for student-centred learning and reflection. Students will develop their theoretical knowledge of the subject and accompanying themes and apply this knowledge to the preparation of their assignments (LO5).
A core concern of this module is to improve students’ analytical skills and confidence in reading and synthesising a range of interdisciplinary material. Emphasis is placed on research skills, academic literacy, critical skills, self-reflection and effective presentation of ideas in both verbal and written forms. Scholarship skills will be developed through participation in a range of classroom-based analytical exercises and through personal critical exploration of module-themed texts. The module also helps to support students with particular career paths such as teaching or children’s publishing, and support those with plans for dissertation topics in the areas of children’s literature or literature and science, through both the module content and its range of assessment options. Student learning activities and assessment are designed to be accessible and allow students to work to their particular learning needs, strengths and preferences, including the option of joint work for the final assessment and working with visual or creative material as well as academic writing and research. The module Moodle site will be used to provide students with readings and class materials in advance, to facilitate a more level playing field.

Formative Assessment:
Structured formative assessments take place in week 5 and week 9 which are geared towards ensuring students are well-supported in their preparation for a single summative assessment (LO1-5). For week 5, students will work in pairs or small groups on in-class activities around the interdisciplinary pairing of children’s literature and children’s science writing (LO1, 2). For week 9, students (individually or as a pair; see 15.c) will research and prepare a project plan and learning contract to guide them for their written project, on which they will receive tutor feedback (LO1,4,5)
These formative assessments prepare students for submitting their summative written project by engaging them early in handling the module material, supporting them in planning their time and work, and using individualised feedback from the module leader to help them gain an appreciation of the expectations of high-quality work and strategies for attaining it.

Summative Assessment:
Summative assessment takes the form of a written project (LO1-5). Students can choose to undertake this individually, or to work with a partner. For joint projects, students may continue partnerships from earlier stages of the module’s formative assessment, or forge a new one. Students can choose from a variety of project options, each providing the opportunity to investigate an area of interest in depth, and to develop particular sets of skills and knowledge (e.g. pedagogical, editorial, theoretical) alongside the thorough research, critical analysis, and independent thinking expected of all work.

Student Activity (Notional Equivalent Study Hours (NESH))
Mode of activityLearning & Teaching ActivityNESH (Study Hours)
Face To Face Tutorial 10
Face To Face Lecture 20
Independent Learning Groupwork (Independent Study) 170
Total Study Hours200
Expected Total Study Hours for Module200

Type of Assessment Weighting % LOs covered Week due Length in Hours/Words
Project - Written 100 1,2,3,4,5 14 HOURS= 0, WORDS= 3500
Component 1 subtotal: 100
Component 2 subtotal: 0
Module subtotal: 100

Description of module content:

This module explores the relationship between children’s literature and science from the mid-nineteenth century to the present. In the contexts of the history of science, the module asks how literary texts for and about children are influenced by emerging scientific ideas and how they participate in scientific debates. It explores the shared, and differing, narrative and representational methods by which poets, novelists, and scientists communicate scientific knowledge and concepts to child readers. The module combines close reading of individual texts with a wider investigation of children’s literature and science in relevant cultural historical contexts of different periods; you will relate children’s literature, through its thematic and formal treatment of scientific topics and theories, to changing ideas about education, constructions of childhood, gender identity, morality, and systems of knowledge. You will begin by considering what it means to study literature and science together, particularly in the context of children’s literature, and think about how science writing for children and adults compare. You will move on to examining specific set texts including poetry, fiction, and non-fiction, from the mid-Victorian period onward, in the contexts of scientific developments and their relation to wider cultural concerns such as gender, education, and constructions of childhood. Topics include paleontology, biology, electricity, mathematics, chaos theory, nuclear energy and communication technology. Set texts will draw from a range of literary genres and include well-known children’s classics such as Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Madeleine L’Engle’s A Wrinkle in Time, as well as children’s picturebooks and some science writing for children.

Learning Outcomes for module:

Upon completion of this module you will be able to:
LO1: Demonstrate a well-informed understanding of relationships between science, its history, and children’s literature from the mid-nineteenth century to the present.
LO2: Synthesize multi-disciplinary material in written coursework with increased confidence.
LO3: Use well-developed close reading skills to analyse how children's literature engages with science as topic or as narrative tool, and how science writing for children employs literary communicative strategies.
LO4: Locate key critical debates in children's literature within relevant cultural historical contexts, including the history of science.
LO5: Identify and evaluate the kinds of ideological systems encoded in fiction and science writing for child readers.

Indicative References and Reading List - URL:
CLP10127 Reading Experiments: Children's literature and science