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Sociology of Childhood and Youth - EDU00067I

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  • Department: Education
  • Module co-ordinator: Dr. Reva Yunus
  • Credit value: 20 credits
  • Credit level: I
  • Academic year of delivery: 2023-24

Module summary

This module introduces students to sociocultural perspectives on childhood and youth as opposed to perspectives from developmental psychology. These perspectives will help reflect on how ideas about childhood and youth shape educational policy and practice.

Module will run

Occurrence Teaching period
A Semester 2 2023-24

Module aims

This module introduces students to sociocultural perspectives on childhood and youth as opposed to perspectives from developmental psychology. It will introduce students to ideas about childhood across space and time and how these ideas are always also located within power relations. This analysis will draw upon political economy perspectives, feminist perspectives on childhood and agency, and postcolonial and non-modern engagements with childhood. It will encourage students to see how children and young people’s rights, opportunities, and experiences are shaped by the logics of markets and nation-states. The module will also familiarise students with emerging research in childhood especially around space, place and mobility as well as relational understandings of children and young people’s agency. Drawing upon these interdisciplinary analyses, the module will help students reflect on how various conceptualisations of childhood and youth shape (inter)national educational policy and practice (curriculum, pedagogy).

Module learning outcomes

By the end of the module, students will be able to:

  • reflect on the constructed nature of ‘childhood’ and ‘youth’ and appreciate the difference between psychological and sociocultural perspectives.

  • locate childhood and youth within workings of power and recognise the importance of a relational perspective.

  • engage with debates around children and young people’s agency and rights.

  • deploy the above three abilities to understand how debates around childhood shape (inter)national educational policy and practice.

Academic and graduate skills

  • Academic: students will hone their research, reading and writing skills at the undergraduate level, and their analytical and synthesis skills.

  • Self-directed learning: each class session requires preparation and follow-up work. Students will develop the skills to work independently and plan their time accordingly.

  • Graduate skills: students will learn to work and refine their ideas in groups, present their ideas formally and informally, contribute to debate and reach collective decisions.

  • IT skills: The module is being taught in conjunction with the learning materials available on the Virtual Learning Environment. Students will develop the skills to navigate on and engage with the platform and to manage their learning online as well as face-to-face.

Module content

Indicative content

The first two weeks will introduce students to a fundamental debate around conceptualisations of childhood and youth with a focus on recent calls for a relational approach to these concepts.

The following three-four weeks will introduce students to ways in which power relations shape children and young people’s lives and conceptualisations of childhood and youth, for example, gendered childhoods and childhoods in postcolonial contexts. These four weeks will draw upon research from different regions and will combine disciplinary perspectives. Readings will include research in education policy and practice as well as broader social, institutional logics, for example young people’s locations in economies, conflict-zones and nation-states. Within childhood and youth studies research into space, place and mobility is another emerging field of inquiry and this combines both a focus on power reactions as well as the spatial aspects of experience (for example, placemaking in schools).

Agency is a much-debated concept in childhood and youth studies and recent calls by scholars also advocate a more contextualised understanding of agency. Related to debates on agency, are debates on children’s rights. So, two-three weeks will focus on these debates as they also have a bearing on (inter)national policy and aid discourses. For example, ideas of agency and rights could be tackled in the context of right to education, participation in political action, school or local governance, and participation in international debates in the contemporary world.

The last two weeks focus more explicitly on education but the preceding nine weeks will feed into a discussion of the last two weeks’ discussion of education policy and curriculum.


Task Length % of module mark
Essay : 3 x short essay questions
N/A 100

Special assessment rules



Task Length % of module mark
Essay : 3 x short essay questions
N/A 100

Module feedback

Individual written feedback reports, with follow-up tutor meeting, if necessary. The feedback is returned to students in line with university policy. Please check the Guide to Assessment, Standards, Marking and Feedback for more information

Indicative reading

  1. James, A. (2017). Constructing childhood: Theory, policy and social practice. Bloomsbury Publishing.

    1. For example, Chapter 1: Constructing Children, Childhood and the Child.

  2. Rayner, M. (2003). Citizen child: London children’s participation in the Ofce of the Children’s Rights Commissioner for London. In Hearing the Voices of Children (pp. 73-86). Routledge.

  3. Cobbett, M. (2014). Beyond ‘victims’ and ‘heroines’: Constructing ‘girlhood’ in international development. Progress in Development Studies, 14(4), 309-320.

  4. Percy-Smith, B. and Thomas, N (2009). A handbook of children and young people's participation: perspectives from theory and practice. London: Routledge.

    1. Chapter 15: Children’s participation in school and community: European perspectives

  5. Pink, W. T., & Noblit, G. W. (2017). Second International Handbook of Urban Education. Cham: Springer International Publishing AG.

    1. Chapter 40: Young People and Local Power Geometries in Helsinki. The Intertwining of Social Class, Gender and Ethnicity in Public Spaces.

  6. Hopkins, L and Sriprakash, A. (2016) The ‘Poor Child’: The Cultural Politics of Education, Development and Childhood. Oxon, New York: Routledge.

    1. Chapter 9: Picturing education, poverty and childhood from the perspectives of yak herder children in Bhutan.

The information on this page is indicative of the module that is currently on offer. The University is constantly exploring ways to enhance and improve its degree programmes and therefore reserves the right to make variations to the content and method of delivery of modules, and to discontinue modules, if such action is reasonably considered to be necessary by the University. Where appropriate, the University will notify and consult with affected students in advance about any changes that are required in line with the University's policy on the Approval of Modifications to Existing Taught Programmes of Study.