Education (Childhood and Youth Studies)


Start dates: September 2024 / September 2025

Full time: 12 months, Harcourt Hill Campus

Part time: Two/ three years depending on your chosen trajectory - part-time on campus or distance learning

Location: Abingdon & Witney College, Harcourt Hill, Distance learning

Department(s): School of Education, Humanities and Languages

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Explore today’s children, youth and families - and develop your practice to value every child.

On this course, you’ll examine child and adolescent development in today’s economic, social, global and technological landscapes. You’ll examine key issues impacting children, youth and families - like:

  • the role of the state in parenting
  • the impact of policy on childhood experiences
  • how children develop independence
  • global approaches to  education and care

You’ll develop a confident ability to support all the children you work with - whatever their needs. And you’ll be able to identify and employ evidence-based techniques to support each child. 

You’ll explore your interests as a practitioner - whether that’s understanding the learning process, or developing children’s language skills. You’ll be exposed to different approaches - sparking new ideas for your own practice. And you’ll graduate with new insight into today’s children, youth and families - and the knowledge of how you can support them.

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Course details

Course structure

On the course, you’ll learn about the whole child, their family and their development. You’ll examine the rapidly changing social, cultural and technological landscapes that impact today’s children and youth. And you’ll consider changing family composition as well.

You’ll have the freedom to explore your interests as a practitioner. You might explore online pedagogies in science teaching. Or examine theories of the mind in children with autism. Or you could explore early years learning.

You’ll work with practitioners from many childhood and youth settings - like: 

  • youth workers
  • teachers
  • children’s centre workers
  • health and wellbeing professionals. 

You’ll be pushed outside your comfort zone. You’ll be exposed to practitioner approaches from beyond your professional area. And you’ll discover new ideas for your practice.

The course can be studied full time, or part time over two or three years. Classes take place in the early evenings, to fit around work commitments. And your assignments are timed to coincide with school holidays.

Male student studying on a laptop

Learning and teaching

If you choose the on-campus mode of study, you’ll learn at Harcourt Hill, our Education campus. You’ll learn via a mix of collaborative and independent methods - like:

  • workshops
  • presentations
  • peer evaluations
  • project work
  • lectures
  • directed reading

Classes are held mainly in the evenings, helping you balance study with work commitments. If you study full-time, Thursdays are key study days. And if you can’t make a class, you can access materials and discussions online.

If you choose to do the course via distance learning, you’ll learn via interactive and high quality online resources - with pre-recorded lectures, online readings and forums as well as online workshops at key points in the module. You’ll be able to learn at your own pace. Most students study by distance part-time over 3 years whilst working full time.



You will be assessed through coursework. Each module has an assignment of 4,000 words or equivalent (such as annotated video material).

You will be able to customise the course according to your personal and professional interests. Assignments allow for a choice of topics.

Study modules

You’ll study a total of nine modules. You’ll take two compulsory modules, including your dissertation. You’ll also take three optional modules chosen from:

  • Childhoods in Context
  • Learning and Development in Childhood
  • Children's Imaginative Worlds
  • Children's Literature through the Ages 
  • Working with Children, Young People and their Families

You’ll take two further optional modules. These can be selected from the full list of optional modules on this page, or from any of the optional modules on the MA Education Open Route - providing you meet the prerequisites.

Taught modules

Compulsory modules

  • Research Methods (20 credits)

    You’ll develop your knowledge of research approaches, methods and techniques for the study of children and childhood, education and language. You’ll explore the interdisciplinary nature of work in and across these areas. After taking this module, you’ll be well prepared for the methodological aspects of your dissertation.

Optional modules

Childhoods in Context (20 credits)

You’ll learn how childhood and adolescence are affected by the social context in which they’re experienced. You’ll also consider young people as active agents in society.

You’ll critically examine childhood as a social construct, both now and in historical contexts. Exploring notions of the ‘crisis of childhood’ in modern societies and what is meant by a ‘good’ childhood. You’ll look at the different roles children play in society and how these might shape childhood in different times, places and cultures. You’ll interview an individual to explore their childhood experiences for your assignment. 

We’ll look at a range of themes, such as:

  • a critical comparison of differing perspectives on childhood: historical, sociological and cross-cultural
  • differing notions of the start and end of childhood/adolescence
  • the changing roles of children in relation to employment, schooling, consumerism
  • changing international ideas of children’s rights
  • spaces for play and learning environments.

Children’s Imaginative Worlds (20 credits)

You’ll explore the ways in which children and young people appear to use their imaginations to do two distinct things – to create alternative worlds to occupy, and to make sense of their experiences. In doing this, you’ll explore the developmental and psychological purposes of imagination. You’ll have the chance to study one particular domain of imaginative experience in depth, working together with others in a choice of reading groups.

Children's Literature through the Ages (20 credits)

The history of children’s literature is an interesting one. A rich and tumultuous beginning and a growing diverse picture that we are building today. The genre leaves us with one question: who is children’s literature for? 

Written by adults, what do these stories tell us about our society and culture, and what political ideas do they carry? Are children aware of these ideas and their possible interpretation? 

You'll investigate its history and explore the ideas within two comparative texts from differing periods. Exploring issues relating to race, gender, politics and culture.  

This module is designed to complement the Reading for Pleasure module.

Learning and Development in Childhood (20 credits)

You’ll study contemporary theories of social and cognitive development and their implications for children’s learning – both formal and informal. Using research evidence and students’ own observations, we’ll discuss alternative explanations of developmental processes. You’ll think about how children’s social and cultural surroundings affect their development and learning, and question the cultural assumptions that might underlie models of development. As a group, you’ll share your thoughts and findings, and reflect on what they suggest about the experiences and opportunities provided for children.


Working with Children, Young People and their Families (20 credits)

You’ll look at the role of people who work in services in this sector. Examining the policy and practice developments which are aimed at improving the quality of children’s lives. You’ll question the reasoning behind those developments, examine the evidence base and identify good practice. 

Ensuring effective communication between different services working with children and their families is difficult to achieve. We’ll look at the nature and complexity of this communication.  

We’ll also investigate issues like:

  • cultural capital, social and educational inclusion, children’s and young people’s needs, rights and opportunities
  • rationales for intervention: notions of ‘wellbeing’, ‘vulnerability’, ‘cycles of deprivation’
  • evaluating specialist interventions
  • communicating across disciplinary and professional boundaries 
  • managing complexity in services for children and their families – viewing the whole system

Developing MA Literacies (20 credits)

You’ll develop the skills you need to be successful in your MA, in two key areas: 

  • the skills you need to operate confidently within your academic community as a researcher-practitioner
  • academic writing and critical reading skills for MA-level study.

Engaging with the academic community

The module will help you:

  • engage with the underlying beliefs and approaches to knowledge in your field of study/practice
  • become familiar with relevant journals, research articles and professional networks

Engaging with MA-level study

The module will help you:

  • develop critical thinking and reflection in your academic reading and writing 
  • understand the strategies and conventions of writing in different academic genres.

Diversity and Achievement (20 credits)

How are children’s and young people’s achievements affected by factors like class, gender, disability and ethnicity? In this module, you’ll analyse the factors that predict educational success and failure for children and young people. You’ll then explore the implications for school policy and practice. 

You’ll look at data from case study material, which may draw on your own working context, or your peers’. Using these data, you’ll consider issues at the level of the individual child, the family, the school and the neighbourhood. You’ll go on to compare the analysis at the level of an individual in a particular place to educational outcomes from national and international data sources.


Mind and Brain (20 credits)

You’ll explore fascinating developments in educational neuroscience, beginning with developmental changes that occur throughout our lifespan. We’ll discuss pre- and post-natal development, followed by the changes that occur in childhood, adolescence and beyond. 

You’ll explore current insights from cognitive neuroscience that have implications for education, in areas like creativity, and gaming and ICT in learning. You’ll also think about the relationships between mind, brain, self and body using philosophical perspectives. And you’ll investigate case studies, opening up discussion and debate about this complex and controversial field.


The Inclusive Curriculum (20 credits)

You’ll explore key aspects of curriculum design and delivery, in relation to access, equality of learning opportunity and inclusion. You’ll look at how cultural values influence curriculum content and organisation, and explore theories of decolonising the curriculum. The module content is relevant whether you’re a primary, secondary, FE or HE practitioner.

Final project

Compulsory modules

  • Dissertation (60 credits)

    In your dissertation or project, you’ll carry out a sustained piece of educational research. You’ll analyse and report your findings at a high critical level, justifying and supporting them with detailed reference to relevant theories and concepts. This work will comprise one third of the work for your degree.  

    If you’re writing a dissertation, you'll focus on a research problem of particular interest. If you’re enrolled on a named route of the MA Education, your topic will be relevant to your route (e.g. childhood and youth, L&M, SEND, TESOL, higher education). 

    If you’re working on a project, you’ll undertake a shorter piece of independent investigative or literature-based research. You’ll also produce a creative piece or artefact.


Please note: As our courses are reviewed regularly as part of our quality assurance framework, the modules you can choose from may vary from those shown here. The structure of the course may also mean some modules are not available to you.


The School of Education, Humanities and Languages is a thriving centre for educational research and teacher professional development. Students on master's level programmes therefore join a large research community comprising researchers at all levels of higher education study.

We hold two major research conferences each year - the School of Education Research Conference and the EdD Colloquium. All students are invited to attend our annual Research

Seminar Series (which attracts both internal and external speakers). We also organise a number of conferences, lectures, seminars and debates, some of which have an international reach.

The School’s six research groups exist to encourage engagement in research, publication, conference presentations, seminars and workshops:

  • Inclusion and Wellbeing
  • Policy, Partnership and Leadership
  • STEAM pedagogy and learning
  • Humanistic Perspectives on Education
  • Early Years
  • Applied Linguistics

View all staff profiles for School of Education, Humanities and Languages

Researcher in office


You’ll graduate with confident knowledge of the theory, research and policy underpinning your practice. You’ll understand how different techniques work. You’ll be able to make decisive decisions in any situation. And you’ll be able to convincingly explain your approaches to school leaders, parents and others.

You’ll also be more sensitive to children, youth and families’ diverse needs. You’ll become adept at creating inclusive learning environments - where everyone feels they belong. You’ll have increased awareness of social services for children, youth and families. And you’ll understand how these services can enrich lives and help mediate difficulties.


Entry requirements

International qualifications and equivalences

How to apply

Application process

Tuition fees

Please see the fees note
Home (UK) full time

Home (UK) part time
£935 per single module

Home (UK) distance learning
£935 per single module

International full time

International distance learning
£1,760 per single module

Home (UK) full time

Home (UK) part time
£980 per single module

Home (UK) distance learning
£980 per single module

International full time

International distance learning
£1,850 per single module

Questions about fees?

Contact Student Finance on:

Tuition fees

2023 / 24
Home (UK) full time

Home (UK) part time
£935 per single module

Home (UK) distance learning
£935 per single module

International full time

International distance learning
£1,760 per single module

2024 / 25
Home (UK) full time

Home (UK) part time
£980 per single module

Home (UK) distance learning
£980 per single module

International full time

International distance learning
£1,850 per single module

Questions about fees?

Contact Student Finance on:

+44 (0)1865 534400

Fees quoted are for the first year only. If you are studying a course that lasts longer than one year, your fees will increase each year.

The following factors will be taken into account by the University when it is setting the annual fees: inflationary measures such as the retail price indices, projected increases in University costs, changes in the level of funding received from Government sources, admissions statistics and access considerations including the availability of student support.

How and when to pay

Tuition fee instalments for the semester are due by the Monday of week 1 of each semester. Students are not liable for full fees for that semester if they leave before week 4. If the leaving date is after week 4, full fees for the semester are payable.

  • For information on payment methods please see our Make a Payment page.
  • For information about refunds please visit our Refund policy page

Additional costs

Please be aware that some courses will involve some additional costs that are not covered by your fees. Specific additional costs for this course are detailed below.

Funding your studies

Financial support and scholarships

Featured funding opportunities available for this course.

There are International Student Scholarships available for 2022 and other scholarships and funding options for postgraduate international students.

All financial support and scholarships

View all funding opportunities for this course

Programme changes:
On rare occasions we may need to make changes to our course programmes after they have been published on the website. For more information, please visit our changes to programmes page.