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Critical practice with children and young people

If you work with children or young people and want to progress professionally and academically, then this module is for you. This masters-level module will help you to gain a deeper understanding of the ideas that influence current practice, analyse recent changes in the organisation of services, especially moves towards greater integration, and explore what it means to be a critical, reflective practitioner. The module is relevant to people working in a wide range of services with children and young people, including social work, education, healthcare and youth work, and covers the whole age range from early years to youth.


K802 was a compulsory module in our:

This module can also count towards C97 and E78, which are no longer available to new students.

Postgraduate Loans 

If you study this module as part of an eligible qualification, you may be eligible for a Postgraduate Loan. For more information, see Fees and funding.

Excluded combinations

Sometimes you will not be able to count a module towards a qualification if you have already taken another module with similar content. To check any excluded combinations relating to this module, visit our excluded combination finder or check with an adviser before registering.


Module code


  • Credits measure the student workload required for the successful completion of a module or qualification.
  • One credit represents about 10 hours of study over the duration of the course.
  • You are awarded credits after you have successfully completed a module.
  • For example, if you study a 60-credit module and successfully pass it, you will be awarded 60 credits.
Study level

Across the UK, there are two parallel frameworks for higher education qualifications, the Framework for Higher Education Qualifications in England, Northern Ireland and Wales (FHEQ) and the Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework (SCQF). These define a hierarchy of levels and describe the achievement expected at each level. The information provided shows how OU postgraduate modules correspond to these frameworks.

OU Postgraduate
Study method
Distance learning
Find out more in Why the OU?
Module cost
See Module registration
Entry requirements

Find out more about entry requirements.

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What you will study

In this module you will explore the policy, organisational, professional and personal contexts in which work with children and young people takes place. It is available worldwide, but you should be aware that the main focus is on policy and practice in the United Kingdom. You will be encouraged to take a critical, reflective approach, analysing the ways in which these broader contexts shape everyday practice, and assessing the implications for your own work. The first part of the module examines the ways that theories and research inform practice, as well as different policy approaches within the nations of the UK and parts of Europe. The second part of the module takes a critical look at organisational change, and in particular the implications of multi-agency working for practitioners and service users. The final part explores issues of professional identity and the interplay between the personal and the professional in work with children and young people.

Your study will be directed by an online learning guide, which will help you to plan your work. Resources will include a module reader consisting of 18 newly commissioned chapters, written by experts from a wide range of academic and professional backgrounds; a specially produced DVD containing video case studies of work with children and young people; and an online resource bank that includes a variety of articles, documents and links relating to different professional sectors and nation regions.

Teaching and assessment

Support from your tutor

You will have a tutor who will help with the study material and mark and comment on your work, and whom you can ask for advice and guidance. Your tuition is delivered online so most of the contact with your tutor will be through email and online discussion forums, although phone communication may also be used.

Contact us if you want to know more about study with The Open University before you register.


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

You will be expected to submit your tutor-marked assignments (TMAs) online through the eTMA system unless there are some difficulties which prevent you from doing so. In these circumstances, you must negotiate with your tutor to get their agreement to submit your assignment on paper.

Course work includes

3 Tutor-marked assignments (TMAs)
No residential school

Course satisfaction survey

See the satisfaction survey results for this course.


As a student of The Open University, you should be aware of the content of the academic regulations which are available on our Essential Documents website.

    Entry requirements

    To register for this module you should be prepared for study at postgraduate level and have the minimum of a bachelor's degree (in any subject) from a UK University (or equivalent).

    Although the module is designed primarily for people working with children or young people, students without access to a practice setting will not be disadvantaged and will be able to use examples from the study materials for assessment tasks.

    If you have any doubt about the suitability of the module, please speak to an adviser.


    Start End England fee Register
    06 Oct 2018 Jun 2019 £2040.00

    Registration closes 20/09/18 (places subject to availability)

    October 2018 is the final start date for this course. For more information, see Future availability.

    Additional costs

    Study costs

    There may be extra costs on top of the tuition fee, such as a laptop, travel to tutorials, set books and internet access.

    Ways to pay

    We know there’s a lot to think about when choosing to study, not least how much it’s going to cost and how you can pay.

    That’s why we keep our fees as low as possible and offer a range of flexible payment and funding options. To find out more see Fees and funding.

    Study materials

    What's included

    Dedicated website with online learning guides, online resources and online forums; DVD; and a specially prepared reader:

    Robb, M. and Thomson, R. (eds.) (2010) Critical practice with children and young people

    Computing requirements

    A computing device with a browser and broadband internet access is required for this module.  Any modern browser will be suitable for most computer activities. Functionality may be limited on mobile devices.

    Any additional software will be provided, or is generally freely available. However, some activities may have more specific requirements. For this reason, you will need to be able to install and run additional software on a device that meets the requirements below.

    A desktop or laptop computer with either:

    • Windows 7 or higher
    • macOS 10.7 or higher

    The screen of the device must have a resolution of at least 1024 pixels horizontally and 768 pixels vertically.

    To participate in our online-discussion area you will need both a microphone and speakers/headphones. 

    Our Skills for OU study website has further information including computing skills for study, computer security, acquiring a computer and Microsoft software offers for students. 

    If you have a disability

    Much of this module is delivered online including the use of a learning guide and a resource bank that includes a variety of articles, documents and links.  If you use specialist hardware or software to assist you in operating a computer or the internet and have concerns about accessing these types of materials you are advised to contact us about support which can be given to meet your needs.

    Written transcripts of any audio components and Adobe Portable Document Format (PDF) versions of printed material are available. Some Adobe PDF components may not be available or fully accessible using a screen reader. Alternative formats of the study 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.