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Contemporary research with children and young people

Why does research with children and young people matter, and how can research make a difference in their lives? This dynamic and interdisciplinary module will take you on a journey towards becoming a reflective and critical researcher. You’ll explore the foundations for social research, social justice and equality issues, children’s rights, and participatory and creative methods for inclusive and ethical practice. You’ll learn about the opportunities and challenges of researching childhood and youth through real-world examples, engaging audio, video and interactive materials.

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

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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 module levels correspond to these frameworks.
Level of Study
3 10 6

Study method

Module cost

Entry requirements

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What you will study

This module will be attractive to anyone with an interest in and concern for research with children involving children and young people, from very young children to adolescents, right through to early adulthood. It will interest those who work with, volunteer or care for children and young people in various settings and contexts and who want to learn more about different approaches to amplify their representation, voice, and participation through inclusive and ethical research practices.

The module draws on contemporary theories and examples from various disciplines, including Childhood and Youth Studies, Education, Psychology and Sociology. This shows you the many varied ways of doing research, including through both traditional and contemporary and creative research methods.

Block 1 introduces the foundations of social research with children and young people. The units give you the key concepts, core knowledge and understanding of the principles of research design, qualitative and quantitative research methods and the beliefs and assumptions that shape research methods. You'll be encouraged to actively question, evaluate and see research as more than simply collecting facts and consider why and how children and young people are involved in research. You'll also begin to identify and think about topics and research issues that interest you.

Block 2 focuses on the opportunities and challenges of participatory, creative and reflective research practices. You'll examine issues of diversity, representation and inclusion and the opportunities for including diverse groups in research. This includes challenging racism and empowering young people of colour, LGBTQI, disabled and neurodiverse children and the role of power and participation through practitioner and insider research as a tool for social change. You'll also reflect on aspects of your own identity, motivations, and interests as a researcher.

Block 3 addresses the importance of ethical principles and values in research involving children and young people, including their rights, consent and safeguarding. Through scenarios and real-world examples, you'll consider and reflect on the complex and nuanced dilemmas that might emerge when planning your own research project, and why research roles and relationships matter when studying sensitive topics and/or working with children and young people with different needs.

Block 4 brings together the topics, issues and approaches covered in the module, and you are guided through the step-by-step process of designing your research project for your end-of-module assessment. The units include forming a research question, carrying out a literature review, choosing a method and how to write a research proposal.

In addition to the set text in the E320 Module Reader, there are weekly interactive online activities throughout the module to support your learning. The audio and video resources have been specifically created to support your understanding of core issues and research concepts and make links with ‘real life’ issues.

Vocational relevance

This module will be of relevance if you're:

  • currently working, volunteering or aspiring to work with children and young people (age 0-25 years) in a range of settings and sectors who wish to develop their knowledge and understanding of social research to inform practice
  • considering further study at postgraduate level.

Teaching and assessment

Support from your tutor

Throughout your module studies, you’ll get help and support from your assigned module tutor. They’ll help you by:

  • Marking your assignments (TMAs) and End-of-Module Assessment (EMA), providing detailed feedback for you to improve.
  • Guiding you to additional learning resources.
  • Providing individual guidance, whether that’s for general study skills or specific module content.
  • Facilitating online discussions between your fellow students, in the dedicated module and tutor group forums.

Module tutors also run online tutorials throughout the module. Where possible, recordings of online tutorials will be made available to students. While these tutorials won’t be compulsory for you to complete the module, you’re strongly encouraged to take part.

Future availability

Contemporary research with children and young people (E320) starts once a year – in October.

This page describes the module that will start in October 2024.

We expect it to start for the last time in October 2031.


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

Course work includes:

3 Tutor-marked assignments (TMAs)
End-of-module assessment

Entry requirements

There are no formal academic or experiential requirements to study this module. However, previous OU level 2 study in a related area will be beneficial.

Though this module aims to be of relevance to professional practice, you will not be required to work with or directly carry out research with children and young people. The tutor-marked assignments (TMAs) and end-of-module assessment (EMA) research project is desk-based only.

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

Preparatory work

If you would like to learn more about research with children and young people, we recommend reading:  Clark, A. et al. (eds) (2014) Understanding research with children and young people. London, England: SAGE Publications Ltd.

You may also wish to explore these free OpenLearn resources to prepare for this module:


Start End England fee Register
05 Oct 2024 Jun 2025 £3636.00

Registration closes 05/09/24 (places subject to availability)

This module is expected to start for the last time in October 2031.

Additional Costs

Study costs

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

If your income is not more than £25,000 or you receive a qualifying benefit, you might be eligible for help with some of these costs after your module has started.

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 monthly fee and number of instalments based on the cost of the module you are studying. APR 5.1% representative.

Joint loan applications

If you feel you would be unable to obtain an OUSBA loan on your own due to credit history or affordability issues, OUSBA offers the option to apply for a joint loan application with a third party. For example, your husband, wife, partner, parent, sibling or friend. In such cases, OUSBA will be required to carry out additional affordability checks separately and/or collectively for both joint applicants who will be jointly and severally liable for loan repayments.

As additional affordability checks are required when processing joint loan applications, unfortunately, an instant decision cannot be given. On average the processing time for a joint loan application is five working days from receipt of the required documentation.

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

Employer sponsorship

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

More than one in ten OU students are sponsored by their employer, and over 30,000 employers have used the OU to develop staff so far. If the module 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 module.  

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, Mastercard, Visa and Visa Electron. 

Mixed payments

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

Please 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 fee information provided here is valid for modules starting before 31 July 2025. Fees typically increase annually. For further information about the University's fee policy, visit our Fee Rules

This information was provided on 14/07/2024.

Can you study an Access module for free?

Depending on eligibility and availability of places, you could apply to study your Access module for free.

To qualify, you must:

  1. be resident in England
  2. have a household income of not more than £25,000 (or be in receipt of a qualifying benefit)
  3. have not completed one year or more on any full-time undergraduate programme at FHEQ level 4 or above or successfully completed 30 credits or more of OU study within the last 10 years

How to apply to study an Access module for free

Once you've started the registration process, either online or over the phone, we'll contact you about your payment options. This will include instructions on how you can apply to study for free if you are eligible and funded places are still available.

If you're unsure if you meet the criteria to study for free, you can check with one of our friendly advisers on +44 (0)300 303 0069, or you can request a call back.

Not eligible to study for free?

Don't worry! We offer a choice of flexible ways to help spread the cost of your Access module. The most popular options include:

  • monthly payments through OUSBA
  • part-time tuition fee loan (you'll need to be registered on a qualification for this option)

To explore all the options available to you, visit Fees and Funding.

What's included

You will receive a printed E320 Module Reader (also available online as an EPUB). The E320 Module Reader is a specially selected collection of 22 journal articles and book chapters. Weekly units of study give you the dedicated time to undertake these set readings.

You’ll also have access to a module website, which includes:
  • a week-by-week study planner
  • course-specific materials, including an extended selection of resources and databases to support your understanding of social research methods
  • an introductory forum with FAQs and a way to connect with other E320 students
  • a forum for your individual tutor group
  • a bespoke forum dedicated to the end-of-module assessment
  • assignment details and submission section
  • online tutorial access.
  • access to a private research journal space
  • access to other collaborative tools, including Open Studio

The audio recordings, films, and designed activities in this module feature OU academics, previous OU students, experts and professionals who have undertaken research with Children and Young People across the UK’s four nations and Ireland, and from around the world.

Computing requirements

You’ll need broadband internet access and a desktop or laptop computer with an up-to-date version of Windows (10 or 11) or macOS Ventura or higher.

Any additional software will be provided or is generally freely available.

To join in spoken conversations in tutorials, we recommend a wired headset (headphones/earphones with a built-in microphone).

Our module websites comply with web standards, and any modern browser is suitable for most activities.

Our OU Study mobile app will operate on all current, supported versions of Android and iOS. It’s not available on Kindle.

It’s also possible to access some module materials on a mobile phone, tablet device or Chromebook. However, as you may be asked to install additional software or use certain applications, you’ll also require a desktop or laptop, as described above.

If you have a disability

The OU strives to make all aspects of study accessible to everyone and this Accessibility Statement outlines what studying E320 involves. You should use this information to inform your study preparations and any discussions with us about how we can meet your needs.

To find out more about what kind of support and adjustments might be available, contact us or visit our disability support pages.