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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 is a compulsory module in our:

K802 is an optional module in our:

Some postgraduate qualifications allow study to be chosen from other subject areas. We advise you to refer to the relevant qualification descriptions for information on the circumstances in which this module can count towards these qualifications because from time to time the structure and requirements may change.

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
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

Future availability

The details given here are for the module that starts in October 2015. We expect it to be available once a year.


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.

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
03 Oct 2015 Jun 2016 £1416.00

Registration closes 17/09/15 (places subject to availability)

This module is expected to start for the last time in October 2017.

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

You will need a computer with internet access to study this module as the study materials and activities are accessible via a web browser. Any other computer-based activities you will need to carry out, such as word processing, using spreadsheets, taking part in online forums, and submitting files to the university for assessment, are specified in the module materials. If any additional software is needed for these tasks it will either be provided or is freely available.

We recommend either of the following:

  • Windows desktop or laptop computer running Windows 7 or later operating system
  • Macintosh desktop or laptop computer running OS X 10.7 or later operating system.

A netbook, tablet, smartphone or Linux computer that supports one of the browsers listed below may be suitable. The screen size should be at least 1024 (H) x 768 (W) pixels. If you intend to use one of these devices please ensure you have access to a suitable desktop or laptop computer in case you are unable to carry out all the module activities on your mobile device.

We recommend a minimum 1 Mbps internet connection and any of the following browsers:

  • Internet Explorer 9 and above
  • Apple Safari 7 and above
  • Google Chrome 31 and above
  • Mozilla Firefox 31 and above.

Note: using the latest version for your browser will maximise security when accessing the internet. Using company or library computers may prevent you accessing some internet materials or installing additional software.

See our Skills for OU study website for further information about computing skills for study and educational deals for buying Microsoft Office software.

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.