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MA in Childhood and Youth

This MA course offers an interdisciplinary approach to the study of childhood and youth underpinned by a commitment to integrated practice. This qualification is designed for graduates with a background in childhood and youth studies, sociology, health and social care, anthropology, psychology or education. It would suit those already working with children and young people and wish to enhance their knowledge as well as those who wish to enter this field. 

You study two compulsory 60-credit modules and gain the final 60 credits either from appropriate credit transfer or by taking 60 credits from a choice of optional modules. Children and young people’s worlds: frameworks for integrated practice (E807) is a compulsory module within the qualification. This module is in two parts, a theoretically based exploration of aspects of children and young people’s worlds - the family; the law; children’s rights; politicised childhoods; participation and voice issues; consumerist childhoods; education; ethnicity and religion; child criminology; child sexuality; and multi-cultural childhoods – examined within a worldwide context where each topic has a featured case study linking theory to practice. The second part of the module is an extended piece of writing (7000 words) and you will choose either a small research project around a topic relevant to the module or a literature review. Critical practice with children and young people (K802) is another compulsory module. In this module you will explore the changing policy, organisational, personal and professional contexts in which work with children and young people takes place. Multi-agency working and inter-professional practice will have a central focus. The module aims to equip you with the critical tools to analyse policy and to reflect on your own practice, in ways that enable you to develop professionally and meet the diverse and changing needs of children and young people.

You should note that the University’s unique study rule applies to this qualification. This means that you must include at least 60 credits from OU modules that have not been counted in any other OU qualification that has previously been awarded to you.

Masters degree

Course 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.
How long it takes
3–7 years
Read more about how long it takes
Study method
Distance learning
Find out more in Why the OU?
Course cost
See Fees and funding
Entry requirements

Find out more about entry requirements.

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Course details


For this 180-credit masters degree you require:

120 credits from the following compulsory modules:

Postgraduate compulsory modules Credits Next start
Children and young people’s worlds: frameworks for integrated practice (E807)

This module engages with a range of critical perspectives on children’s lives and experiences in the contemporary world, at national and international levels.

See full description

60 03 Oct 2015
Critical practice with children and young people (K802)

If you work with children and young people, this module will encourage you to take a critical and reflective approach while examining the ideas that influence your practice.

See full description

60 03 Oct 2015

And 60 credits from the following optional modules:

Postgraduate optional modules Credits Next start
Continuing professional development in practice (U810)

This module allows you to accredit 150 hours prior learning through auditing and assessing the impact of your continuing professional development (CPD) on your work.

See full description

30 01 Nov 2015
Critical issues in equality, diversity and educational practice (E805)

You will develop of an understanding of the factors contributing to social and educational exclusion and explore approaches and pedagogies for establishing inclusive learning environments.

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60 10 Oct 2015
Development: context and practice (T877)

This module provides a conceptual framework for analysing the complex, contested contexts in which development takes place, and a critical analysis of development management practice.

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30 07 Nov 2015
Educational leadership: context, strategy and collaboration (E856)

This module explores current thinking on educational leadership and management and encourages effective integration of theory and practice in developing your leadership skills.

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60 10 Oct 2015
Leading professional practice in education (E855)

You will explore the internal-facing aspects of leadership and management through looking at the curriculum and the learner’s role, leading change and promoting professional development.

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60 10 Oct 2015
Understanding children’s development and learning (ED841)

Examines children's development and learning in cultural, educational and social contexts and how children shape their own development through meaningful interaction with others.

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60 10 Oct 2015

Or, subject to the rules about excluded combinations, the discontinued modules D860, D864, E848, E859, ED840, TU871

The modules quoted in this description are currently available for study. However, as we review the curriculum on a regular basis, the exact selection may change over time.

Learning outcomes, teaching and assessment

The learning outcomes of this qualification are described in four areas:

  • Knowledge and understanding
  • Cognitive skills
  • Practical and professional skills
  • Key skills
Read more detailed information about the learning outcomes, and how they are acquired through teaching, learning and assessment methods.

Credit transfer

If you have already completed some successful study at postgraduate level at another institution you may be able to transfer credit for this study and count it towards this Open University qualification. If you wish to apply to transfer credit you must do so as soon as possible as it may affect your choice of OU modules. If you are awarded credit for study completed elsewhere, you may find that you need to study fewer OU modules to complete your qualification with us.

Visit our Credit Transfer site for more information and details of how to apply for credit transfer.

If you intend to claim credit transfer for the MA and this is successfully awarded you will not be able to claim the postgraduate diploma due to our unique study rule. However, you will be able to claim the postgraduate certificate.

On completion

On successful completion of the required modules you can be awarded a MA in Childhood and Youth entitling you to use the letters MA (CY) (Open) after your name. You will have the opportunity of being presented at a degree ceremony. Your MA will be awarded with distinction if you achieve this classification on both the compulsory modules (E807 and K802).

You may also want to claim the Postgraduate Certificate in Integrated Practice in Childhood and Youth (C97) and the Postgraduate Diploma in Integrated Practice in Childhood and Youth (E78). To gain all three qualifications you must study them in sequence (postgraduate certificate, postgraduate diploma and then the MA) and you can only do this if you are not using credit transfer towards the MA.


As a student of The Open University, you should be aware of the content of the following regulations:

These regulations are also available on our Essential Documents website.

Entry requirements

Please note: When planning your studies, please make sure you check the final start date of the modules so that you can be certain of completing within the available timeframe.

The two compulsory modules have limited availability in their current versions.  Children and young people’s worlds: frameworks for integrated practice (E807) has a final start date of October 2016 and Critical practice with children and young people (K802) has a final start date of October 2017. Five of the optional modules also have a final start date of 2016.  

We therefore recommend the following study order:

  • October 2015 - Compulsory module (E807)
  • October 2016 - Optional module(s)
  • October 2017 - Compulsory module (K802)

As a result, particularly if you are a new student, your overall time to study these modules could be reduced from the standard 7 year completion period referred to in the qualification regulations.

You should be prepared for study at postgraduate level and have the minimum of a Bachelors degree (in any subject) from a UK University (or equivalent).

The research project option in E807 is only available if you are a UK resident as you will need to have successfully obtained an Enhanced Disclosure and Barring Service clearance check (or equivalent in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland). Students in Scotland will also need to ensure that they meet the requirements of the Protection of Vulnerable Groups Scheme. Further details can be found at The criminal record check must be appropriate for the setting in which you intend to carry out your research. The DBS (or equivalent) must bear the same name as given in your post-registration agreement form. You also need permission from your employer to undertake this work. If these conditions cannot be fulfilled then you must choose the E807 literature review option.

Please note: It is a legal, rather than an Open University requirement, that you must obtain Enhanced DBS clearance in order to work with children on E807. This is the responsibility of you and your employer and not The Open University. If you are in doubt about your eligibility, or to find out more, you should contact the relevant agency in your country for more information.

Career relevance

The MA course will be attractive to professionals working with children and young people who are graduates and seeking to advance academically and professionally, as well as those with a related degree but not currently working with children and young people who are looking to move into the profession, and people considering moving between professions within the sector. It should also be of interest to people in a managerial or supervisory role, to senior members of the workforce, and those seeking to move into senior or managerial positions. This MA in Childhood and Youth will have a strong appeal for students who have completed the BA (Hons) in Childhood and Youth Studies or the BA/BSc (Hons) in Health and Social Care. The content of the qualification will be relevant to graduates working in early years provision, education, social work, nursing, healthcare, youth work, youth justice or the voluntary sector. You should ensure that you check entry requirements for specific professional areas before embarking on study. Case studies in Children and young people’s worlds: frameworks for integrated practice (E807) are drawn from worldwide content and therefore this module is very suitable if you are based in any of our four nation states or beyond. The themes covered by Critical practice in work with children and young people (K802) are relevant to policy and practice worldwide, but you need to be aware that most of the examples in the study materials are drawn from the UK context.

There is more information about how OU study can improve your employability in the OU’s Employability Statement from our Careers Advisory Service. You can also read or download our publication OU study and your career and look at our subject pages to find out about career opportunities.