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Child Welfare and Wellbeing

MSc, PGDip, PGCert

Department of Sport, Health Sciences and Social Work

This exciting and innovative multi-professional distance learning course is designed for health, education and social care professionals and those with an interest in this dynamic area of work. It aims to challenge and extend the knowledge base, skills and attitudes of those working in, or interested in the field of children, young people and family wellbeing. It critically analyses the evidence-base for such work, and examines interventions that link to positive outcomes.

The programme is offered as distance learning only. It is open to home, EU and international students interested in child and adolescent wellbeing, and who want to interact with other graduates and professionals in an online research-based environment. It is taught by experts with a strong record of research and publications in the area. 

Available start dates

January 2018 / September 2018 / January 2019 / September 2019

Teaching location

Distance learning

Course length

  • Part time: The course may be taken on a module by module basis, or individuals may choose specific modules of interest.

UCAS Postgraduate code


For full application details, please see the 'How to apply / Entry requirements' section.

You will benefit from:

  • Teaching by highly qualified staff - many of the teaching team have reputations for excellence in their research fields both nationally and internationally. Teaching is delivered through state-of-the-art learning technologies via our Moodle platform. 
  • A course that has been designed to maximise flexibility. It can be taken part-time, including, on a module by module basis, building to the PGCert (three modules), a PGDip (six modules), or to a full MSc (nine modules including a triple dissertation module).
  • It can be studied by those in full-time or part-time employment, and combines the convenience of studying at home with regular periods of concentrated online study with other students on the course. You will have excellent opportunities for shared learning, with students from many different backgrounds and locations.
  • Excellent support in the on-line environment by lecturers who are experts in their subject areas, in the child welfare and drug and alcohol fields.
  • A lively and exciting department, and strong links with Oxford Brookes University’s Children and Families Research Group.
  • If you are a social worker or health care professional this course will contribute to ongoing CPD with a focus on learning and continuous improvement. 

Read about how health visitor Angharad Roberts benefited from the previous version of the course: see the downloads section.

This is an internationally-focused course, which invites professionals and students from the UK, EU and overseas to study in an online, research-based environment that challenges how work with children, young people and families is conceptualised and conducted.

The course aims to develop your:
  • ability to critically evaluate contemporary evidence and issues in the promotion of child welfare and wellbeing 
  • knowledge of theories about children's cognitive, affective, social and cultural development
  • understanding of the multiple factors that correlate with outcomes for children and young people
  • awareness of the political, policy and statutory paradigms within which interventions are based
  • understanding of psychosocial interventions and their effectiveness
  • skills in working with others in a national and international online community
  • professional practice by enhancing your ability to apply a critical and evidence based approach to your work with service users.
MSc students are required to complete 180 level 7 credits (including Foundations in Child Welfare and Wellbeing, Advanced Research Design and the dissertation project). PGDip students are required to complete 120 level 7 credits (ie 6 modules including Foundations in Child Welfare and Wellbeing and Advanced Research Design but excluding the research project) and PGCert students are required to complete 60 level 7 credits including Foundations in Child Welfare and Wellbeing and two other modules.

The modules offered include:

Foundations in Child Welfare and Wellbeing (20 level 7 credits) 
This foundation module introduces you to advanced study in child welfare and wellbeing and invites you to explore the major theoretical approaches that underpin practice with children and adolescents and their families. Beginning with an exploration of the concept of wellbeing, it then focuses on ecological and life course approaches to child welfare. It encourages you to explore the research evidence, both national and international, on parenting, child development and wellbeing, and review the ways in which such evidence underpins child welfare practice both in the UK and internationally.

Vulnerable Children and Young People  (20 level 7 credits)
Dramatic and rapid changes in our global society have resulted in children and young people being caught in situations of vulnerability and challenge for which they and/or their parents and/or communities may have very little experience, or mechanisms for coping. Adopting a risk and resilience framework, this module explores a number of topics systematically in terms of: context, prevalence, contributory factors, short and long term consequences, and protective and resiliency factors. Some situations of vulnerability which are explored include: children in conflicted families, children as carers, children in war zones, children in modern society, children in cultural crossfire, children with challenges, children who are exploited. 

Risk and the Protection of Children (20 level 7 credits)
This module critically examines contemporary childhood from an international perspective with a particular focus on children's experiences of harm in society. It gives you an opportunity to understand the legal and policy contexts of child protection and safeguarding work. The module explores explanatory models for understanding child maltreatment, along with evidence of the signs and symptoms of significant harm to children, including incidence and prevalence rates. You will critically appraise international research evidence on the risk factors associated with child abuse and neglect. Child protection interventions and responses to child maltreatment are debated in relation to social and cultural contexts.

Substance Misuse (20 level 7 credits)
Substance misuse represents a significant burden of disease, in addition to disability and social problems, for children, young people and families. Policy makers, clinicians and health and social care workers are becoming increasingly interested in how to develop and deliver evidence based policy and practice. It is therefore crucial to strengthen the links between addiction science and alcohol and drug policy and practice. This module covers the accumulated scientific knowledge from substance misuse research that has direct relevance to the development of substance misuse policy and practice at local, national and international levels. The two major goals of the module are to provide an objective analytical basis on which to build relevant policies, and to inform practitioners who have direct responsibility for the health and social welfare of children, young people and families where substance misuse is a significant issue. 

Evidence – Informed Interventions in Child Welfare (20 level 7 credits)
This module explores the nature of evidence and effectiveness in child welfare practice. It will guide you in exploring the research literature on evidence-based and developmentally appropriate psycho-social interventions with children and adolescents, and identify their strengths and limitations. Interventions studied include those suggested for emotional and behavioural dysregulation, bullying and peer-victimisation, self-harm prevention and children with chronic health conditions and disabilities. The assessment offers an opportunity to apply the appraisal skills to a personal topic area of interest. 

Child Protection Practice (20 level 7 credits)
The module develops the knowledge and skills of a wide range of practitioners in the policy and practice of safeguarding children and young people. You will explore policy frameworks, agency contexts and models of intervention in child protection and will draw upon their own professional practice as key tool for learning. There is particular focus on leadership in child protection practice. Assessment of the module consists of a critical reflection on an aspect of your own professional practice.

Advanced Research Design (20 level 7 credits)
You will be given an opportunity to design and conduct a small research project or dissertation. The focus is on helping you to understand the relationship between methodology and method, and to appreciate the philosophical and theoretical underpinning of research-related decisions and their practical application within a work setting. A broad range of research designs are examined with due consideration given to ethics and rigour.

Triple Module Dissertation (MSc students only) (60 level 7 credits)
The triple dissertation counts as three single modules, and allows you to carry out and evaluate your own research or to submit a systematic review or literature review to further understanding and/or development of a specific area of child welfare and wellbeing. Research designs may vary considerably, but examples include:
  • The psychological wellbeing of children with HIV in Bangkok.
  • Interventions in homelessness among problem drug users: a systematic review.
  • Psychosocial interventions with girls who self-harm: a literature review.
  • The health and social care needs of homeless children and young people.
Please note: as courses are reviewed regularly as part of our quality assurance framework, the list of modules may vary from that shown here.

Teaching and learning

The MSc in Child Welfare and Wellbeing by distance learning offers exciting opportunities to those who may be unable to attend university full-time but want to study to an advanced level in a stimulating and dynamic online environment.

Web based distance learning materials are provided to guide you during your studies.

You will encounter a variety of innovative online teaching methods, which are designed to support your needs as a distance learner. 

The teaching team:

Approach to assessment

Assessment is mostly on the basis of coursework. A broad range of assessment approaches are used on the course, including essays, critical reviews, case studies, research proposal and virtual presentations. Formative assessment is used extensively to enable you to develop the skills and knowledge required for your summative assignments.  Coursework is designed to help you develop a wide range of transferable skills in research, communication and team working. 

If you wish to obtain the full MSc in Child Welfare and Wellbeing, the dissertation provides an opportunity to conduct a piece of investigative research that will further your understanding and facilitate the development of a specific area of study.

Specialist facilities

Fully distance learning and highly flexible mode of study in the University’s virtual learning environment.  

Teaching is delivered through state-of-the-art learning technologies via our Moodle platform. 

The programme is delivered by distance learning but runs within the University's standard calendar of semesters so there will be specific activities to do each week during the semester and deadlines to meet for coursework submission. During the module you can interact with course tutors and fellow students, enabling for instance, discussion of topics of current interest in child welfare and wellbeing. 

Attendance pattern

This is a fully distance learning online course, so attendance at the University is not required. It is a highly flexible mode of study and as a course participant you study at a time and place that suits you.

Tuition fees

Home/EU - distance learning fee: 2017/18: £595 per single module 2018/19: £605 per single module

International - distance learning fee : 2017/18: £595 per single module 2018/19: £605 per single module

Where part-time fees are quoted this is for the first year only. Fees will increase by approximately 2% each year. The masters course consists of 9 module credits in total.

Please be aware that some courses will involve some additional costs that are not covered by your fees. Specific additional costs for this course, if any, are detailed in the 'This course in detail' window above.

Questions about fees?
Contact Student Finance on:
+44 (0)1865 483088

Funding and scholarships

Entry requirements

You can enter on the basis of your undergraduate degree and/or previous appropriate knowledge and experience. A framework is available for the Accreditation of Prior (Experience and) Learning (APEL and APL), which awards credit appropriate to your background, qualifications and experience. The nature of this course and its emphasis on interprofessional training means that students from a range of backgrounds will be accepted on the course.

Applicants for this postgraduate course must have an honours degree or equivalent experience, plus fluent writing skills.

On occasion, applicants may, in addition, be asked to submit evidence of their ability to study at postgraduate level. Evidence requested may include a comprehensive portfolio of relevant prior work experience or a reflection in essay format of 1,500 words on previous work undertaken or a selected topic title.

This is a distance learning course, so you will need to have reliable access to the internet, preferably through a broadband connection. You will need good IT skills and be proficient in the use of the internet and online communication.

Please also see the university's general entry requirements.

English language requirements

If your first language is not English, you must demonstrate that your level of English is appropriate for study at postgraduate level. You must have one of the following or an equivalent qualification acceptable to the university (see our list of English language qualifications):

  • Cambridge Certificate of Proficiency in English: grade A or B
  • GCE O-level or GCSE English Language: grade A or B
  • Oxford Brookes University English Language Entrance Level 4 - pass.
  • British Council IELTS: level 6.5 or above (with 6 in written English).

Please also see the university's standard English language requirements

International applications

Preparation courses for International and EU students

We offer a range of courses to help you to meet the entry requirements for this course and also familiarise you with university life. You may also be able to apply for one student visa to cover both courses.

  • Take our Pre-Master's course to help you to meet both the English language and academic entry requirements for your master's course.
  • If you need to improve your English language, we have pre-sessional English language courses available to help you to meet the English language requirements of your chosen master’s.

If you are studying outside the UK, for more details about your specific country entry requirements, translated information, local contacts and programmes within your country, please have a look at our country pages.

How to apply

You apply for this course through UCAS Postgraduate.

Through UCAS Postgraduate, you should use the UKPASS portal to make your application, which will then be forwarded directly to our Admissions Office. You should send supporting documentation to us directly using the email addresses on the UKPASS application form.

Applications received electronically through UKPASS will be forwarded directly to the Admissions Office. Supporting documentation should be forwarded using the email addresses indicated on the UKPASS application form.

Applications are dealt with on a first come, first served basis, so please act early to avoid disappointment.

Terms and Conditions of Enrolment

When you accept our offer, you agree to the Terms and Conditions of Enrolment. You should therefore read those conditions before accepting the offer.


Our course attracts graduates from a wide range of disciplines. Candidates from around the world enrol on the course to learn about child welfare and wellbeing from an international perspective.
Many students undertaking the MSc in Child Welfare and Wellbeing either work in the children and families field or want to gain future employment in this area of work. 

This course supports you in their professional career development as it provides an excellent foundation in the theoretical and research underpinnings of work with children and families.   

It is also helpful for those of working in the field who are seeking, for the purpose of career advancement, knowledge outside your own specialist area.

The content of modules (ie child protection, substance misuse, evidence informed interventions in child welfare) is highly relevant to the workplace and will enhance your knowledge and understanding of the multiple factors that correlate with outcomes for children and young people.

Graduates from this course have gone on to work for charitable organisations internationally and in the UK, while others have successfully gained professional promotion or developed their leadership and specialist roles. 

Undertaking a research dissertation provides an opportunity to conduct a small piece of investigative research relating to child welfare and wellbeing. This is an opportunity to gain first hand research experience and may lead some to further academic study at PhD level.

Free language courses for students - the Open Module

Free language courses are available to full-time undergraduate and postgraduate students on many of our courses, and can be taken as a credit on some courses.

Please note that the free language courses are not available if you are:

  • studying at a Brookes partner college
  • studying on any of our teacher education courses or postgraduate education courses.

How Brookes supports postgraduate students

This distance learning  course adopts a student-centred approach to teaching and learning and it is strongly focused on encouraging you to attain your full potential as a lifelong learner. 

There is a range of support mechanisms for students, such as academic advisers, who will facilitate your academic development, and student support co-ordinators, who provide a contact point for queries, covering both academic and personal welfare.

Our support services include Upgrade which is available by email, which provides advice on study skills such as planning and writing essays, assignments and dissertations, research, or preparing for an exam. They also give advice on statistics and maths. There is a dedicated Student Disability and Dyslexia Service, which provides support for students with disabilities including sensory and mobility impairments, dyslexia and other specific learning difficulties, mental health problems and medical conditions. Here, staff offer advice and support on a range of issues, including physical access, funding, alternative assessment arrangements and liaison with teaching staff to ensure that they are aware of your requirements.

Recognising the special needs of open learners from many different countries, the module leaders, e-learning technologists, subject librarians and course administrator use multiple communication methods (ie email, phone, podcast, skype) to ensure that students are fully supported as they develop their comfort and competence in the virtual learning environment.

Supporting your learning

From academic advisers and support co-ordinators to specialist subject librarians and other learning support staff, we want to ensure that you get the best out of your studies.

Personal support services

We want your time at Brookes to be as enjoyable and successful as possible. That's why we provide all the facilities you need to be relaxed, happy and healthy throughout your studies.

Research highlights

The course is taught by academics with a rich track record in research and publication in the children and families and drug and alcohol fields. 

The master's course has close links with the Children and Families Research Group. This group brings together researchers, MSc and PhD students, lecturers, practitioners and external researchers and speakers who have an interest in child welfare and wellbeing and who wish to develop research in this area. Members of the group also contribute to the development of national and international policy guidance. 

We are also a strategic collaborator with Action for Children and Work closely with BASPCAN (the British Association for the Study and Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect) and the European Society for Prevention Research (EUSPR). 

Our group also has collaborative research links with colleagues in Psychology and Nutrition at Oxford Brookes University, with colleagues from a number of NHS Trusts and Local Authorities and externally with several universities throughout the UK and internationally with universities in Finland, Japan, Australia and Canada.