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Childhood

What does it mean to be a child in today’s world? Do popular images of childhood match the reality of young people’s lives? How is childhood affected by poverty, ill-health and adversity? Do children have different rights from adults, and if so why? How are modern lifestyles and technologies changing children’s relationships and identities? What part do children play in shaping their childhood? Such questions are the starting point for this cross-disciplinary introduction to childhood and youth studies, covering the age range 0–18 and including audio-visual case studies from three contrasting parts of the world.

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OU qualifications are modular in structure; the credits from this undergraduate-level module could count towards a certificate of higher education, diploma of higher education, foundation degree or honours degree.

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Module

Module code
E212
Credits
60
Study level
OU SCQF FHEQ
2 9 5
Study method
Distance Learning
Module cost
See Module registration
Entry requirements
See Am I ready?

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What you will study

This broad-based module on the theme of childhood is:

  • Introductory – Childhood has a place in everyone's lives, but recent commentary suggests that childhood is in crisis. The idea of childhood as lost or in decline is one of the starting points for the module, which will be equally relevant whether you are a parent, work with children, or are simply interested in how children and young people are treated and understood.
  • Cross-disciplinary – This module introduces a range of perspectives on childhood, drawing on recent research and theories from sociology, anthropology, psychology, cultural studies, geography, social history, philosophy, social policy and children’s rights.
  • International – You will learn about childhood (and cultural beliefs on the subject) in different societies and at different periods in history, with modern western childhood as one among many examples. Diversity and inequality are central themes, as are the ways in which childhood is becoming globalised and regulated by universal standards.

There are four blocks of study, each with a specially prepared text, along with extensive audio-visual material. Children’s own perspectives on their childhood are prominent in the module, drawing on case studies from Cape Town (South Africa), Chittagong (Bangladesh), Oakland (USA) and the UK. These case studies run throughout the module.

Block 1 asks ‘What is childhood?’ and introduces a range of disciplinary perspectives for studying the concept of childhood. Topics in this block include the history of beliefs about childhood; how childhood changes in different contexts and over time; the growth of scientific approaches to studying children; the significance of socio-cultural approaches for understanding modern childhoods.

Block 2 looks at the distinctiveness of children’s cultural worlds by exploring everyday activities of young children and teenagers. The block examines how children and young people in the twenty-first century encounter and creatively adapt to a range of cultural phenomena in an increasingly mediated, commercialised and globalised world. Topics in this block include friendships and the significance of play; youth culture; children’s engagement with the media and with information technology; and their power as consumers.

Block 3 highlights the places and spaces in which childhood exists. It builds on the theoretical perspectives introduced in Blocks 1 and 2 to emphasise the materiality of childhood, the physical environments on a macro and micro scale as well as the social context in which children and young people live. This will provide the framework for investigating wider questions about childhood including the power relationships between adults and children, and the influence of gender and inequality.

Block 4 looks at the obstacles that many children face which make childhood both a local experience and a global concern. Topics in this block include the effects of poverty and other adversities – such as violence – on children’s health and well-being. Different approaches to intervening in children's lives are discussed, with particular attention to their rights to participation and the ways they can become engaged with social issues, including issues surrounding their status as children.

Teaching and assessment

Support from your tutor

You will have a tutor who will help you with the study material and mark and comment on your written work, and whom you can ask for advice and guidance. We may also be able to offer group tutorials or day schools that you are encouraged, but not obliged, to attend. Where your tutorials are held will depend on the distribution of students taking the module.

Contact our Student Registration & Enquiry Service if you want to know more about study with The Open University before you register.

Assessment

The assessment details for this module can be found in the facts box above.

You must use the online eTMA system to submit your tutor-marked assignments (TMAs).

Future availability

The details given here are for the module that starts in October 2014. We expect it to be available once a year.

Regulations

As a student of The Open University, you should be aware of the content of the Module Regulations and the Student Regulations which are available on our Essential documents website.

Course work includes:

4 Tutor-marked assignments (TMAs)
Examination
No residential school


Entry

This is an OU level 2 module and you need to have the study skills needed for both higher education and distance learning, obtained either through OU level 1 study with the OU, or by doing equivalent work at another university.

However, you do not require any knowledge of childhood studies to study this module, or need to be professionally engaged in work with children. The activities and assignments for this module do not require access to children.

If you have any doubt about the suitability of the module, please contact our Student Registration & Enquiry Service.

Register

Start End England fee Register
03 Oct 2015 Jun 2016 Not yet available

Registration opens on 12/03/15

This module is expected to start for the last time in October 2019.

Ways to pay for this module

Open University Student Budget Account

The Open University Student Budget Accounts Ltd (OUSBA) offers a convenient 'pay as you go' option to pay your OU fees, which is a secure, quick and easy way to pay. Please note that The Open University works exclusively with OUSBA and is not able to offer you credit facilities from any other provider. All credit is subject to status and proof that you can afford the repayments.

You pay the OU through OUSBA in one of the following ways:

  • Register now, pay later – OUSBA pays your module fee direct to the OU. You then repay OUSBA interest-free and in full just before your module starts. 0% APR representative. This option could give you the extra time you may need to secure the funding to repay OUSBA.
  • Pay by instalments – OUSBA calculates your annual fees and spreads them out over up to a year, enabling you to pay your fees monthly and walk away with a qualification without any further debt. APR 5.1% representative.

Read more about Open University Student Budget Accounts (OUSBA).  

Employer sponsorship

Studying with The Open University can boost your employability. OU qualifications are recognised and respected by employers for their excellence and the commitment they take to achieve one. They also value the skills that students learn and can apply in the workplace.

More than one in 10 OU students are sponsored by their employer, and over 30,000 employers have used the OU to develop staff so far. If the qualification you’ve chosen is geared towards your job or developing your career, you could approach your employer to see if they will sponsor you by paying some or all of the fees. 

  • Your employer just needs to complete a simple form to confirm how much they will be paying and we will invoice them.
  • You won’t need to get your employer to complete the form until after you’ve chosen your modules.  

Credit/debit card

You can pay part or all of your tuition fees upfront with a debit or credit card when you register for each module. 

We accept American Express, Maestro (UK only), Mastercard, Visa/Delta and Visa Electron. 

Gift vouchers

You can pay for part or all of your tuition fees with OU gift vouchers. Vouchers are currently available in the following denominations, £10, £20, £50 and £100. 

Mixed payments

We know that sometimes you may want to combine payment options. You may, for example wish to pay part of your tuition fee with a debit card and pay the remainder in instalments through an Open University Student Budget Accounts (OUSBA).

For more information about combining payment options, speak to an adviser or request a call back.


Note: Your permanent address/domicile will affect your fee status and therefore the fees you are charged and any financial support available to you. The fees and funding information provided here is based upon current details for  year 1 August 2014 to 31 July 2015.
This information was provided on 25/10/2014.

What's included

Module books, online resources, online study guide and audio visual material.

Computing requirements

You will need a computer with internet access to study this module as it includes online activities, which you can access using a web browser.

  • If you have purchased a new desktop or laptop computer since 2008 you should have no problems completing the online activities.
  • If you’ve got a netbook, tablet or other mobile device check our Technical requirements section.
  • If you use an Apple Mac you will need OS X 10.7 or later.

You can also visit the Technical requirements section for further computing information (including details of the support we provide).

If you have a disability

Written transcripts of any audio components and Adobe Portable Document Format (PDF) versions of printed material are available. Other alternative formats of the module materials may be available in the future.

If you have particular study requirements please tell us as soon as possible, as some of our support services may take several weeks to arrange. Find out more about our services for disabled students.