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MA in Childhood and Youth

This MA course offers an interdisciplinary approach to the study of childhood and youth underpinned by a commitment to integrated practice. Designed for graduates coming from a background in childhood and youth studies, sociology, health and social care, anthropology, psychology or education, it would suit those who already work with children and young people and wish to enhance their knowledge and those that wish to enter the field. It comprises two compulsory 60-credit modules plus 60 credits either as appropriate credit transfer or chosen from a list of optional modules; each module increases knowledge, deepens critical reflection and enhances inter-professional insights.

The first 60-credit compulsory module is Children and young people's worlds: frameworks for integrated practice (E807). This module is in two parts, a theoretically based exploration of aspects of children and young people's worlds - the family; the law; children's rights; politicised childhoods; participation and voice issues; consumerist childhoods; education; ethnicity and religion; child criminology; child sexuality; and multi-cultural childhoods - examined within a worldwide context where each topic has a featured case study linking theory to practice. The second part of the module is an extended piece of writing (7000 words) and you will choose either a small research project around a topic relevant to the module or a literature review. The second compulsory module is Critical practice with children and young people (K802). In this module you will explore the changing policy, organisational, personal and professional contexts in which work with children and young people takes place. Multi-agency working and inter-professional practice will have a central focus. The module aims to equip you with the critical tools to analyse policy and to reflect on your own practice, in ways that enable you to develop professionally and meet the diverse and changing needs of children and young people.

Study Mode

Online Education, Distance Learning & External study modes available

Career relevance and employability

The MA course will be attractive to professionals working with children and young people who are graduates and seeking to advance academically and professionally, as well as those with a related degree but not currently working with children and young people who are looking to move into the profession, and people considering moving between professions within the sector. It should also be of interest to people in a managerial or supervisory role, to senior members of the workforce, and those seeking to move into senior or managerial positions. This MA in Childhood and Youth will have a strong appeal for students who have completed the BA (Hons) in Childhood and Youth Studies or the BA/BSc (Hons) in Health and Social Care. The content of the qualification will be relevant to graduates working in early years provision, education, social work, nursing, healthcare, youth work, youth justice or the voluntary sector. You should ensure that you check entry requirements for specific professional areas before embarking on study. Case studies in Children and young people's worlds: frameworks for integrated practice (E807) are drawn from worldwide content and therefore this module is very suitable if you are based in any of our four nation states or beyond. The themes covered by Critical practice with children and young people (K802)are relevant topolicy and practiceworldwide, but you need to be aware that most of the examples in the study materials are drawn from the UK context.

There is 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.


For this 180-credit masters degree you require:

120 credits from the following compulsory modules:

Postgraduate compulsory modules Credits Next start
Children and young people's worlds: frameworks for integrated practice (E807)

This course engages with a range of critical perspectives on children's lives and experiences in the contemporary world, at national and international levels.

See full description.

60 Oct
Critical practice with children and young people (K802)

If you work with children and young people, this course will encourage you to take a critical and reflective approach while examining the ideas that influence your practice.

See full description.

60 Oct

And 60 credits from the following optional modules:

Postgraduate optional modules Credits Next start
Continuing professional development in practice (U810)

Audit and assess the impact that your continuing professional development (CPD) activity has had on your work, and evaluate ways of sharing your learning.

See full description.

30 May
Critical issues in equity, diversity and educational practice (E805) NEW

You will develop of an understanding of the factors contributing to social and educational exclusion and explore approaches and pedagogies for establishing inclusive learning environments.

See full description.

60 Oct
Development: context and practice (TU871)

This foundation course for our MSc in Development Management gives a grounding in development studies and explores the meaning and challenge of international development today.

See full description.

30 May
Educational leadership: context, strategy and collaboration (E856)

This course explores current thinking on educational leadership and management and encourages effective integration of theory and practice in developing your leadership skills.

See full description.

60 Oct
Leading professional practice in education (E855) NEW

You will explore the internal-facing aspects of leadership and management through looking at the curriculum and the learner's role, leading change and promoting professional development.

See full description.

60 Oct
Understanding children's development and learning (ED841)

Examines children's development and learning in cultural, educational and social contexts and how children shape their own development through meaningful interaction with others.

See full description.

60 Oct

Or, subject to the rules about excluded combinations, the discontinued modules D860, D864, E848, E859, ED840

Educational aims

The qualification provides opportunities for you to develop and demonstrate knowledge and understanding, qualities, skills and other attributes in the following areas:

Learning outcomes

Knowledge and understanding

On completion of this masters degree, you will have knowledge and understanding of:

  • different theoretical perspectives that contribute to the study of childhood and youth, how these develop a critical understanding of changing organisational structures, how these inform effective communication with children and young people and how they inform integrated practice
  • the way ethnicity, religion, caste/class, gender, sexuality and disability shape childhood and youth; the impact of differentiation, inequality and exclusion; strategies designed to tackle these issues including safeguarding and promoting welfare of children and young people in integrated practice
  • policies and provisions relating to regulation/promotion of children and young people's status, welfare, health and learning, including how these impact on childhood and youth contexts and an appreciation of the importance of multi-agency working
  • the principles underlying a rights approach to childhood and youth issues, and to understand and evaluate the links between local and global forces in children and young people's lives
  • different methodologies used when working with children and young people, ethical considerations, reflective and evidence-based practice, and an appreciation of how these can inform policy and integrated practice.

Cognitive skills

On completion of this masters degree, you will be able to:

  • analyse critically concepts, theories, policies and practices concerning children and young people, and critically analyse the impact of social institutions such as the family, the law or the state
  • understand and comment critically on the contributions of different approaches to the study of children and young people
  • critically understand the significance and limitations of theory and research
  • undertake a small action research project or a critical review of literature relating to theory, policy and integrated practice
  • identify and critically reflect on connections and discontinuities between knowledge and its application in practical contexts, and how this might impact on effective communication and welfare promotion with and for children and young people.

Practical and/or professional skills

On completion of this masters degree, you will be able to:

  • learn from personal experience and apply theory to integrated practice issues and dilemmas and learn from feedback to improve performance
  • analyse features of contemporary childhood and youth in different economic and socio-cultural contexts, within an historical and/or international framework, including multi-agency working
  • identify and reflect on own values and position, and those of others, and assess their relationships to policy and practice
  • carry out project-based work on aspects of childhood studies, critically evaluating approaches to enquiry, paying due regard to the importance of information sharing
  • accommodate new principles, understandings and evidence and formulate and justify proposals for action in the light of these.

Key skills

On completion of this masters degree, you will be able to:

  • organise and articulate opinions and arguments, taking account of appropriate conventions of academic writing
  • Communicate accurately and clearly in styles adapted to the purpose and context, including interpretation of numerical and graphical data when appropriate
  • read purposefully and critically, identifying and recording what is relevant from a range of resource material and responding sensitively and critically to diverse viewpoints
  • analyse tasks, plan and manage time
  • learn from a variety of different media and different teaching methods.

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