1 year full time, 2 years part time
Starts September 2017

Childhood and Youth Studies

We scrutinise the differing political and ethical claims on childhood and youth that inform contemporary policy and practice.

You’ll be exposed to new and original ways of thinking about children and young people. You’ll be able to:

  • communicate effectively with child- and youth-focused professionals
  • carry out empirical research with children and young people
  • transfer your analytical, writing and other skills to the workplace.
This course exposes students to a range of interdisciplinary, innovative and critical perspectives on childhood and youth.”Dr Kristine Hickle
Course Leader
Childhood and Youth Studies MA

Key facts

  • Social Work at Sussex is ranked 5th in the UK (The Guardian University Guide 2018).
  • You’re taught by School of Education and Social Work faculty, drawing on expertise from both the Department of Education and the Department of Social Work and Social Care.
  • Childhood and Youth Studies at Sussex offers you the opportunity to study modules across anthropology, international development and child rights, sociology, gender studies, sexual health, psychology, media and social work.

How will I study?

You study core modules and options. You also undertake a research methods module and a research dissertation.

You’re assessed through essays and case studies of 1,500 to 3,000 words, and group presentations. As part of the dissertation component of the course, you produce a dissertation proposal and a 15,000-word dissertation.

Work placement

We have strong links with a number of local organisations. This helps with securing volunteer work and/or work experience as part of the course. Many of our graduates find employment in non-profit organisations, schools and social-research settings.

Full-time and part-time study

Choose to study this course full time or part time, to fit around your work and family life. Modules for the full-time course are listed below.

For details about the part-time course, contact us at

What will I study?

  • Module list

    Core modules

    Core modules are taken by all students on the course. They give you a solid grounding in your chosen subject and prepare you to explore the topics that interest you most.

    • Academic and Research Skills

      60 credits
      All Year Teaching, Year 1

      This module provides a structured induction into a wide range of essential academic and research skills. You will gain conceptual and practical experience in reading, analysing, designing and undertaking research throughout the module, culminating in the major project undertaken at the end of the course. Theory and practice are linked throughout, with sessions covering topics such as:

      • the conventions of academic referencing
      • approaches to reviewing the academic literature
      • writing a research proposal
      • different methodological positions
      • specific research methods and research ethics. 

      The module aims to ensure a thorough understanding of the academic and research skills needed to undertake all aspects of the MA in International Education and Development and there are opportunities to discuss the requirements of each assignment in depth.

      Throughout the year there is an emphasis on collaborative group work, exchanging ideas, presenting work in progress and supporting each other through the different phases of writing and reading. The course therefore provides a supportive framework within which you are encouraged to develop critical and reflexive understandings of your roles as both consumers and producers of research. 

    • Current Developments in Childhood and Youth Policy and Practice

      30 credits
      Autumn Teaching, Year 1

      During this module you will interrogate contrasting policy assumptions about what constitutes a good childhood and about how best public policy and professional practice might secure and promote children's rights and well-being. The module curriculum will be organised around selected aspects of childhood and youth policy and practice in and beyond the UK. The rights framework provided by the UNCRC will be employed to structure enquiry. Case examples will be used to focus reading and discussion and these will be closely related to the research and professional practice interests of the student group. The module assessment is a 5,000 word case study. You will be required to negotiate a title that meets the generic learning requirements of the module whilst ensuring relevance to your personal and professional interests.

    • Introduction to Childhood and Youth Studies

      30 credits
      Autumn Teaching, Year 1

      This module introduces the field of study from the contrasting perspectives of a number of core disciplines that address the concepts of childhood and youth. Employing a life-span approach derived from developmental psychology and core preparatory readings, the module will present you with a range of disciplinary accounts that currently construct the social categories of 'childhood' and 'youth' within a comparative, cross-cultural frame of reference. These will include the view from law, social policy and social work, education, anthropology and sociology and medicine as well as psychology. Case studies will be used to ground discussion and analysis and enable you to make effective connections between theory and research and the policy and practice contexts in which they work or have a particular interest. The module assessment is two-fold. You will first submit a 1,000 word Review Paper one third of the way into the module for formative assessment and feedback only. On completion of the course a 4,000 word Long Term Paper will comprise the summative assessment. You will be required to negotiate titles in each case that meet the generic learning requirements of the course whilst ensuring relevance to your personal and professional interests.


    Alongside your core modules, you can choose options to broaden your horizons and tailor your course to your interests.

    • Activist Media Practice

      30 credits
      Spring Teaching, Year 1

      Social movements have historically struggled to get their message reported clearly, accurately and effectively through the lens of mainstream media. This has lead to the rise of alternative media practices and strategies to break through or unsettle the corporate and state-run media systems around the world. In order to challenge hegemonic discourses, activist media seeks to circumvent and dismantle traditional media's communicative strategies either through a disruptive aesthetic or through a reconfigured mode of civic engagement. Whether through radical leaflets, pirate radio, graffiti, protest music, performance art, activist videos, political documentaries, or social media and the internet, today's media landscape has evolved into a range of complex transnational networks that can be activated by independent counter-hegemonic media practices and expressions.

      This module asks you to learn about various forms of cultural resistance (through readings, screenings, lectures and discussions) in order to to formulate an effective form of activist media provocation. This piece of activist media may take the form of a video, a website, site-specific performance, series of photographs, media prank, etc. You will also be asked to write a reflective essay that contextualises the finished piece within the conceptual debates of the module.

    • Childhood and Youth in Global Perspective; Rights, Protection and Justice

      30 credits
      Spring Teaching, Year 1

      This module will explore legal and rights frameworks relating to children and young people with a particular emphasis on international conventions and perspectives. The first part of the module will involve an exploration of three areas of law: children's rights, child protection/welfare and youth justice/offending. 
      Explorations of these topics will include an examination of ideas of globalisation and post-colonial critiques where relevant. In the second part of the module case studies will be used to critically explore these issues in relation to practice with children and young people drawing upon examples from the developed and developing world.

      An indicative list of practice topics for exploration includes: 

      • Children/young people and work
      • Children and poverty
      • Children and homelessness
      • Children and criminal justice
      • Children and refugee status
      • Children and the family 

      The module will make connections between policy and practice approaches to children and youth in majority and minority worlds as well as linking themes such as migration, adoption and child trafficking. We will, however, pay particular attention to the specificities of work within a development context including an exploration of the practice issues asssociated with work in refugee camps and with street children.

    • Curriculum, learning and society

      30 credits
      Spring Teaching, Year 1

      The aim of this module is to study how the curriculum, learning, and society interrelate in low- and middle-income countries. It will engage with the major issues, concepts, and theories relating to curriculum development, pedagogy, and social inclusion in education. These will be related to policy and practice. It will address questions such as:

      • What are the patterns of curriculum worldwide and how is curriculum reform being accomplished in different settings?
      • To what extent are equity and social justice enacted through the curriculum and how might this be furthered?
      • What are the processes of curriculum development and what power do teachers and other stakeholders have in deciding what knowledge is included? 
      • What do different definitions of educational quality say about what is valued in education? 
      • What pedagogies are espoused and practiced in low- and middle-income countries and how appropriate are these for different kinds of learners? 
      • What are the pedagogical and social effects of different systems and practices of assessment?
      • How are instructional materials incorporated in educational practice at national and local level? 
      • How does the curriculum relate to local and global cultures and teacher and learner identities? 

      The module will engage with these questions at various levels, including especially a study of how macro issues are played out in the micro/meso contexts of classrooms and other educational institutions.

    • Foundations of Education Policy, Planning and Development

      30 credits
      Spring Teaching, Year 1

      The changing roles of government in relation to education services have multiple implications for stakeholders in education. This module explores approaches to educational planning and policy issues, and considers the implications of contemporary governance concerns associated with designing and implementing educational reform.

      You will gain practical experience in developing education strategies aimed at achieving education and development targets. The module pays particular attention to the various dimensions of the changes in the governance of education.

      The module considers key aspects of policy and planning covering the changing international agenda regarding good governance:

      • the changes to educational planning and reforms aimed at ensuring sustainable financing
      • the role of NGOs and communities in designing and implementing change
      • reforms and governance of education paying attention to decentralisation and its impact on how schools are managed and function
      • and approaches to monitoring and evaluating education interventions and programmes.
    • Restorative Justice: Domestic and International Approaches

      30 credits
      Spring Teaching, Year 1

      This module will provide scope for you to explore contemporary restorative justice developments in the United Kingdom and internationally. The module starts by examining restorative justice theory and explores how its principles have been put into practice within the UK and in other countries. You will then examine the relationship between restorative justice and the state as well as the importance of the concept of "community" in assessing whether restorative practices can repair harm. You will also look at whether restorative justice can be used in "difficult" cases including domestic violence, hate crime, and even homicide. Finally, the module explores the use of restorative justice in countries where mass human rights violations have been committed - including genocide. Examples such as the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in South Africa and the Gacaca courts in Rwanda are just some of the examples of how restorative principles might be used to help repair the harms of the most serious of all crimes.

    • Teachers: policy and practice in lnternational contexts

      30 credits
      Spring Teaching, Year 1

      The module focuses on how teacher education can be organised to best enable teachers to improve their practice. In addressing this, it is necessary to consider how teachers learn to teach. The importance of the teacher to the teaching/learning process has never been in doubt and yet it is only relatively recently that the spotlight has been put on teachers, rather than on pupils, to examine the ways in which teachers learn and the theories and motivations that underpin their practice. Understanding how teachers learn to teach and how best to facilitate their learning are crucial issues to consider when designing policies to improve education in developing countries.

      The aim of the seminars in the first part of the term is to give you a broad overview of some of the major issues, concepts and theories in teacher education and how they relate to practice. In the second part the module looks at contemporary issues related to culture and teacher development, teacher mobility, teacher motivation, supervision and mentoring, and teacher education by distance including the use of ICTs. These are all considered in the context of a variety of developing countries, and include consideration of the role of international aid in shaping the practice of teacher education.

    • Youth Justice

      30 credits
      Spring Teaching, Year 1

      This module will examine how the law does and should respond to criminal and anti-social behaviour by children and young people. Given that much discussion of such behaviour tends to be extremely emotive and characterised by a rose-tinted view of the behaviour of previous generations of children, the module begins by reflecting upon the nature and extent of youth crime. Against the backdrop of contested constructions of childhood and children's rights it then explores the shifts in policy that have occurred in relation to offending by children. It examines how perceiving them as `children in trouble' to be helped or `young thugs' to be punished profoundly affects societal and legal responses. The increasingly tough approach taken by governments in recent years is scrutinised in the light of international instruments such as the Convention on the Rights of the Child and sustained criticism from international bodies.
      The module goes on to examine the youth justice process, including pre-trial diversion and the sentencing of young offenders, including the increasing use of custody. 

      The module then examines a range of issues of current concern, including the age of criminal responsibility, the introduction of civil punitive orders such as ASBOs, the extent to which the state should make parents take responsibility for the actions of their children, the relationship between the media and youth crime and dangerous young offenders.

Entry requirements

An upper second-class (2.1) undergraduate honours degree or above; exceptionally other candidates may be accepted who demonstrate ability to study at the appropriate level.

English language requirements

Higher level (IELTS 7.0, with not less than 6.5 in each section)

Find out about other English language qualifications we accept.

English language support

Don’t have the English language level for your course? Find out more about our pre-sessional courses.

Additional information for international students

We welcome applications from all over the world. Find out about international qualifications suitable for our Masters courses.

Visas and immigration

Find out how to apply for a student visa

Fees and scholarships

How much does it cost?


Home: £7,700 per year

EU: £7,700 per year

Channel Islands and Isle of Man: £7,700 per year

Overseas: £15,100 per year

Note that your fees may be subject to an increase on an annual basis.

How can I fund my course?

Postgraduate Masters loans

Borrow up to £10,280 to contribute to your postgraduate study.

Find out more about Postgraduate Masters Loans


Our aim is to ensure that every student who wants to study with us is able to despite financial barriers, so that we continue to attract talented and unique individuals.

Chancellor’s Masters Scholarship (2017)

Open to students with a 1st class from a UK university or excellent grades from an EU university and offered a F/T place on a Sussex Masters in 2017

Application deadline:

1 August 2017

Find out more about the Chancellor’s Masters Scholarship

PGCE First-Generation Scholars Award (2017)

£600 maintenance award to PGCE students with a household income below £42,875

Find out more about the PGCE First-Generation Scholars Award

Sussex Graduate Scholarship (2017)

Open to Sussex students who graduate with a first or upper second-class degree and offered a full-time place on a Sussex Masters course in 2017

Application deadline:

1 August 2017

Find out more about the Sussex Graduate Scholarship

Sussex India Scholarships (2017)

Sussex India Scholarships are worth £3,500 and are for overseas fee paying students from India commencing Masters study in September 2017.

Application deadline:

1 August 2017

Find out more about the Sussex India Scholarships

Sussex Malaysia Scholarships (2017)

Sussex Malaysia Scholarships are worth £3,500 and are for overseas fee paying students from Malaysia commencing Masters study in September 2017.

Application deadline:

1 August 2017

Find out more about the Sussex Malaysia Scholarships

Sussex Nigeria Scholarships (2017)

Sussex Nigeria Scholarships are worth £3,500 or £5,000 and are for overseas fee paying students from Nigeria commencing a Masters in September 2017.

Application deadline:

1 August 2017

Find out more about the Sussex Nigeria Scholarships

Sussex Pakistan Scholarships (2017)

Sussex Pakistan Scholarships are worth £3,500 and are for overseas fee paying students from Pakistan commencing Masters study in September 2017.

Application deadline:

1 August 2017

Find out more about the Sussex Pakistan Scholarships

How Masters scholarships make studying more affordable

Living costs

Find out typical living costs for studying at Sussex.


Centre for Innovation and Research in Childhood and Youth Studies

The School is among the leading academic units in the UK for the quality of its research and hosts the ground-breaking Centre for Innovation and Research in Childhood and Youth (CIRCY). The Centre brings together academic expertise from across the University and also benefits from having an international advisory group including policy and professional experts. 

We warmly encourage student participation in all CIRCY activities including the regular seminars and workshops we host in collaboration with our external partners.

Recently commissioned research projects include:

  • an international study into children’s participation
  • safeguarding children’s internet use in the digital age
  • child protection in secondary schools
  • the development of a ‘sex positive’ health-service delivery for young people.
  • Faculty profiles

    Prof Robin Banerjee
    Professor of Developmental Psychology

    Research interests: Developmental psychology, Emotion, Motivation, Psychology, Social behaviour, Social cognition, Youth

    View profile

    Prof Janet Boddy
    Professor of Child, Youth and Family Studies

    Research interests: child and youth welfare, cross-national methodology, family studies, Research Ethics, social pedagogy, Social work

    View profile

    Dr Rachel Burr
    Senior Teaching Fellow in Education

    View profile

    Dr Anne-Meike Fechter
    Reader in Anthropology

    Research interests: Aid, Aid Workers, Cambodia, childhood and youth, Development, Expatriates, gender, Indonesia, Migration, Mobility, Morality and Ethics, southeast asia, Transnationalism

    View profile

    Dr Kristine Hickle
    Senior Lecturer in Social Work and Social Care

    Research interests: childhood and youth, Groups, groupwork, human trafficking, sexual violence, Social work, Trauma

    View profile

    Mr Barry Luckock
    Senior Lecturer in Social Work & SocialPolicy

    Research interests: Social work

    View profile

    Dr Tish Marrable
    Senior Lecturer in Social Work and Social Care

    Research interests: Autism and Social Care, Bereavement, disability, Emotion in professional practice, Social work, Supervision

    View profile

    Dr Sevasti-Melissa Nolas
    Senior Lecturer

    Research interests: action research, childhood and youth, children's participation, children's social policy, children's welfare, public life, qualitative research methods, social action, Social work, youth inclusion, youth policy

    View profile

    Prof Rachel Thomson
    Professor of Childhood & Youth Studies

    Research interests: Social behaviour, Sociology

    View profile


You may already have a professional qualification in social work, teaching, youth work, early years or related fields and wish to specialise further in the field of childhood and youth studies.

Our MA is ideal for advanced practitioners, leaders and managers, project development and policy officers, and others working with children and young people in local, national and international agencies in the statutory and non-governmental sectors.

Whatever your level, this MA provides an excellent step into doctoral-level study in any academic discipline or profession concerned with childhood and youth.

Graduate destinations

100% of students from the Department of Social Work and Social Care were in work or further study six months after graduating. Recent graduates have gone on to roles such as:

  • manager, East Sussex County Council
  • PPG coordinator, East Sussex County Council Children's Services
  • family placement social worker, West Sussex County Council.

(EPI, Destinations of Leavers from Higher Education Survey 2015 for postgraduates)

Working while you study

Our Careers and Employability Centre can help you find part-time work while you study. Find out more about career development and part-time work

Undertaking the MA in Childhood and Youth Studies helped me to progress my career in children’s rights.”Candice Kelcey-Archbold
Engagement and Participation Manager
Children's Commissioner's Office