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MA Education – Childhood and Youth Studies

MA / PGDip / PGCert

School of Education

MA Education – Childhood and Youth Studies is an interdisciplinary Masters addressing the span of childhood from birth to 18.

The course is designed to provide an excellent grounding for those wishing to pursue, or develop further, their skills and careers as practitioners or researchers working with children and young people.

Through the course we explore alternative conceptions of childhood and youth and consider children and young people's lives and experiences through the social, economic, technological and global contexts in which they are situated.

You will also examine the role of services for children and young people, the challenges this provides for practitioners and policy makers and the ways in which these services position children and their families.


Available start dates

September 2019 / September 2020

Teaching location

Harcourt Hill Campus / Distance learning

Course length

  • Full time: MA: 12 months; PGDip and PGCert: 12 months
  • Part time: MA: 2/3 years (depending on chosen trajectory): PGDip: 24 months; PGCert: 12 months.

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

  • An interdisciplinary approach is central to this Masters which is taught by a core course team of research active staff with expertise in sociology, psychology, history, social policy, social and health care, early childhood and education.
  • This course attracts students from a range of professional backgrounds who work with children and young people. allowing for rich learning about the different professional contexts and the implications and relevance of particular theoretical approaches to these different roles.
  • We have good working relationships with local mainstream and special schools, children's centres and other services for children enabling visits and placements if you wish to take up these opportunities (DBS checks are required).
  • Subject to availability, depending on your relevant professional background it is possible to draw upon modules from other relevant programmes.
  • You will be joining a university which makes an important contribution to the improvement of education and learning, locally and nationally. The School of Education is a focal point for lively, informed debate on education through its seminar and lecture programmes.
  • We offer a wide range of Postgraduate Certificates, specifically designed for part time students who are working full time. Sessions typically run in the evenings, with some online discussions. On completion of a postgraduate certificate you can then choose to go onto study a further three modules and the successful completion of a dissertation will complete your MA Education.

The MA Education – Childhood and Youth Studies explores issues including:

  • What kind of experiences and settings provide the best environment for children and young people?
  • International comparisons - for example, when should formal schooling begin and whether the UK do too much too young
  • Learning to be citizens - what the appropriate role for children and young people is in participation and governance of schools / society
  • How we resolve the conflict between giving children and young people independence and keeping them safe
  • Parenting and whether it can and should be the state that teaches us how to be good parents
  • How practitioners in children's services can work effectively to achieve the best possible outcomes for the children, young people and families with whom they are working

Course Structure:

The course comprises nine modules. There is a compulsory single module, Research Methods (20 credits), and a compulsory triple Dissertation module (60 credits).

There are five additional modules required. You will choose three modules from the following MA Education – Childhood and Youth Studies modules, plus two modules from any of modules on the ‘open route’ of the MA Education.

The specific Childhood and Youth Studies modules from which you need to choose 3 are:

  • 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

Details of the modules designed specifically for the MA in Childhood Studies are:

Childhoods in Context
This is one of two foundation modules in Childhood and Youth Studies. It provides students with the opportunity to critically examine childhood as a social construct, in contemporary and historical contexts. You will be introduced to a broad range of themes in the development of childhood. We will begin by looking at historical and sociological perspectives on the construction of childhood and the different ways in which childhood is studied. We will examine debates concerning the ‘crisis of childhood’ in modern societies. We examine what constitutes a ‘good’ childhood’ and child wellbeing, tensions between protecting children and children having a voice and participating fully in society, and transitions from childhood to adolescence. We look at the different roles that children play in society and how these might shape childhood in different historical and cultural contexts. These roles include: children as workers, children as citizens, children as consumers, and children as pupils and we will also be looking at the opportunities for children afforded by different social organisation nationally and internationally through the themes of: children's rights and participation; childhood in the life course; children's time; children's spaces and places.

Learning and Development in Childhood
Through this unit of study, you will explore contemporary theories of social and cognitive development and their implications for children’s formal and informal learning. Alternative explanations of developmental processes will be discussed drawing upon research evidence and your own observations from a range of settings. From a sharing of these individual enquiries, the group will reflect on the implications of their findings for the experiences and opportunities provided for children.

Children’s Imaginative Worlds
Through this unit of study you will explore the ways in which children and young people seem to use their imaginations both to create alternative worlds to occupy and to make sense of their experiences. The development and psychological purposes of imagination will be explored and particular domains of imaginative experience examined. You will have the opportunity of studying a particular domain in depth, working together with others in a choice of reading groups (domains will include, for example: literature, visual arts, music, spirituality, imaginative play and role play).

Children's Literature through the Ages
This module aims to develop students' understanding of the ways in which societal constructs of childhood can be manifest in texts for children, for example: children at war, children at school. It will explore a range of texts available in the 21st century including comics, novels in verse form, literature in translation and interactive texts. Classic texts for children will be explored, as will traditional tales through texts ranging from Grimm to Disney. Ideology in children's books will be explored.

Working with Children, Young People and Families
This module focuses on the role of those working in services for children, young people and their families. You will be examining the rationale for the development of policy and practice aimed at the improvement of the quality of children and young people’s lives and exploring the ways in which such practices position children, young people and families. The evidence for a range of interventions is examined and features of effective practice identified. A fundamental concern in this area of work is the difficulties of ensuring effective communication between those working with children, young people and their families and the nature and complexity of this communication. Both the organisational issues and the skills for practitioners will be a particular focus for study.

Please note: as our courses are reviewed regularly as part of our quality assurance framework the list of modules you choose from may vary from that shown here.

Learn more about our MA Education students, their backgrounds and what they have enjoyed most about studying the Childhood and Youth pathway.


Teaching and learning

The course can be studied either on-campus or online. We make use of a wide range of teaching approaches including lectures, seminars, online activities and discussions, workshops, placements and research projects. 

Throughout the course you will have the opportunity to learn in a research-led interdisciplinary environment.


Approach to assessment

Assessment is entirely by coursework. Each module has an assignment of 4000 words or equivalent (eg annotated video material).

Assignments allow for a choice of topics so that students can customise the course according to their personal and professional interests.

Attendance pattern

The programme can be taken either on-campus or distance learning. Teaching is organised on a modular basis, each module involving approximately 24 hours of staff input as follows:

Part-time on campus – Modules are usually taught over eight weeks on Tuesdays, Wednesdays or Thursdays at 17:00 – 20:00.

Full-time on campus – the main study day is Thursdays with students also joining part-time students in evening modules

Distance learning – an MA Education can be achieved by part-time online learning through the use of our Moodle platform. For each module this usually requires about 12 hours a week plus time spent on assessment. The online route is usually taken part-time over 2 years.

Attendance patterns take account of the fact that most part-time students are in full-time employment, so that over two years all modules will be available in a form suitable for part-timers.


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.

Tuition fees

Home/EU - full time fee: 2019/20: £5,670 (Masters) £5,100 (Diploma) £2,835 (Certificate) 2020/21: £6,500 (Masters) £5,500 (Diploma) £3,250 (Certificate)

Home/EU - part time fee: 2019/20: £620 per single module 2020/21: £725 per single module

Home/EU - distance learning fee: 2019/20: £620 per single module 2020/21: £725 per single module

International - full time: 2019/20: £13,730 2020/21: £14,200

International - distance learning fee: 2019/20: £1,500 per single module 2020/21: £1,580 per single module

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

Normally you should have the following:

  • English as your first language; or GCSE or O-level English Language (A-C); or IELTS
  • a relevant degree* or equivalent professional qualification.
  • some experience of working with children and/or young people.

*You may have an undergraduate background in any of a wide range of subjects including psychology, sociology, social and health care, education, history and anthropology.


All applicants will be screened for fitness for practice and a Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check will be made.

English language requirements

IELTS: Level 6.5 or above with a minimum of 6 in reading and writing and 5.5 in speaking and listening.

Please also see the university's standard English language requirements

English requirements for visas

If you need a student visa to enter the UK you will need to meet the UK Visas and Immigration minimum language requirements as well as the university's requirements. Find out more about 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

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.

How this course helps you develop

The course enables the sharing of ideas and concerns between a range of practitioners working with children and young people and facilitates professional networking, especially in the local area.

For students on the full-time course, the close links the course team have with local settings and services allows for the setting up of placement opportunities if desired.

Postgraduate certificates

Alternatively, you can develop your professional practice in specialist areas through our range of Postgraduate Certificate Awards.

Visit our School of Education website for more information.

How Brookes supports postgraduate students

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.

Research highlights

Sustained excellence in research and publication has ensured that a significant proportion of our School of Education staff were entered for the Research Excellence Framework (REF) in 2014 (UoA 25). Almost 90% of our research was deemed to be of international merit, with around one half either ‘world-leading’ or ‘internationally excellent’. Contributions to the REF were spread across all of our research groups.

Our research aims to create impact on contemporary educational issues - supporting knowledge creation and developing innovative approaches to researching pedagogic practices. The School’s research strategy functions at all spatial scales, from local to global. We publish our highest quality research in leading peer-reviewed journals. Emeritus, Honorary and Visiting Research Fellows contribute to our research programmes and outputs.

The School holds two major research conferences each year - the School of Education Research Conference and the EdD Colloquium. Our Research Seminar Series (which attracts both internal and external speakers) runs annually - all students are invited to attend. We also organise a number of conferences, lectures, seminars and debates, some of which have an international reach.

Members of the School are engaged in a variety of funded and unfunded research projects; we have previously enjoyed prestigious funded scholarships (such as the Fulbright – Peabody scholarship) and, when feasible, offer funded Research Studentships to doctoral applicants. Our Centre for Educational Consultancy and Development (CECD) regularly secures consultancy and research money.

As might be expected in such a research active school, many staff are engaged as editors, editorial board members, or reviewers for various peer reviewed academic and professional journals, as well as online journals.

View all staff profiles for School of Education

Research areas and clusters

The School of Education at Oxford Brookes University is a thriving centre for educational research and teacher professional development.

The School's six research groups reflect a thriving research community of academics, scholars and students. They exist to encourage engagement in research, publication, conference presentations, seminars and workshops. The foci for these groups are:

  • 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