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BA (Hons) Youth Justice Studies (England and Wales)

How can we improve the lives of children and young people who are 'in trouble'? Within a criminal justice framework where the focus is on stopping young people causing trouble, this is an extremely challenging issue. If you work with young people in the youth justice system, this BA (Hons) Youth Justice Studies will have a real impact on your practice, helping you become more knowledgeable, versatile and self-aware. It will bring you up to date with current research and equip you with skills to analyse the changing field of youth justice. You'll also develop the skills needed to support young people in trouble - making a positive difference to their futures, whether you're a volunteer or paid professional. This degree course is a vocationally-orientated academic qualification which follows on from the Foundation Degree in Youth Justice (England and Wales). The full degree, with its focus on practice and research, provides an ideal platform for further study and research at postgraduate level.

Study Mode

Online Education, Distance Learning & External study modes available

Key facts

Code: Q63 Made up of: 360 credits

There is no formal entry requirement to study this degree but you must be working in a professional or voluntary capacity with young people who are within the youth justice system.

Fees: Our fees depend on where you are ordinarily resident. We have a range of funding options to help you with payment. When you apply to study we will tell you the fee and funding options that are available to you. Before you apply you can read What you can expect to pay.

Career relevance and employability

This degree course is relevant for a range of workers or volunteers in the area of Youth Justice, including Youth Offending Teams and 'secure estate' workers, general volunteers, locum and sessional workers as well as Referral Order Panel members. The degree will also be relevant to other specialist workers or volunteers in youth, carer and education sectors who want to develop their skills and qualifications in working with troubled and troublesome young people. Stage 1 and Stage 2 credits of the qualification are recognised by Skillsmark, the independent Skills Council for the Justice Sector.

There's more information about how OU study can improve your employability in the OU's Employability Statement from our Careers Advisory Service. You can also read or download our publication OU study and your career and look at our subject pages to find out about career opportunities.

Educational aims

The overall aim of this qualification is to provide youth justice practitioners (or those wishing to enter the field from a background in more general youth work) with the skills and knowledge necessary to assist them in their practice.

The Level 1 and 2 modules are compulsory and cover a wide range of materials from the theory of crime to the practice of restorative justice.

At Level 3, you can choose from two modules after studying the compulsory Level 3 module, which is a general module designed to improve your ability to negotiate, plan and execute practice objectives by both assessing evidence and, where appropriate, analysing research findings. The two optional modules allow you to specialise in youth work or research with children and young people.

Learning outcomes

Knowledge and understanding

You will gain knowledge and understanding of:

  • the empirical and conceptual basis of the youth and criminal justice systems and the values on which they are based
  • the function and operation of the youth justice system in England and Wales within the wider context of services for children and their families
  • the roles and responsibilities of those who work within the youth justice system
  • the national and international legal and regulatory frameworks within which the youth and criminal justice systems in England and Wales operate, the rights they afford, and the requirements and responsibilities they place on agencies and practitioners, as well as the children and young people with whom they work
  • principles of practice that promotes equality, diversity and inclusion and counters all forms of discrimination and exclusion; the evidence base for the need to actively pursue such goals
  • the theoretical bases for youth work and youth justice work, including theories of: risk, children's rights, child and adolescent development, resilience and anti-social behaviour
  • demonstrate systematic knowledge and critical understanding of the fundamental concepts and principles underlying your practice, informed by current thinking and practice developments.

Cognitive skills

On completion of the degree, you will be able to:

  • analyse and synthesise theories and demonstrate how theory can inform the development of more effective practice in youth justice
  • critically interpret research evidence and apply it as the basis of evidence-based practice
  • develop and apply problem-solving approaches to the resolution of complex issues
  • evaluate and resolve issues by drawing on a range of professional and theoretical perspectives.

Practical and/or professional skills

On completion of the degree, you will be able to:

  • competently carry out the full range of assessment, planning, evaluation and review processes required to practice within the youth justice system
  • contribute to the planning and delivery of appropriate interventions according to the particular area of practice, the assessed needs of the young people, and the resources available
  • demonstrate the ability to work in effective partnerships with other people and other agencies
  • plan for one's own continuing personal and professional development
  • show evidence of critically evaluating your practice using techniques of analysis and enquiry.

Key skills

On completion of the degree, you will be able to:

  • communicate ideas, principles, theories, arguments and analyses effectively in speech and in writing, using visual and ICT tools where appropriate
  • identify, present and develop systematic arguments, drawing on appropriate, up-to-date evidence, literature and theory
  • reflect on your own learning constructively in order to develop as an effective and antonymous learner, including maintaining records of your personal learning and development
  • apply relevant IT solutions to situations.

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