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Young lives, parenting and families

Is this a good time to be young? How is childhood and youth, parenting and family life, shaped by society, history, politics and economics? How are young lives influenced by gender, social class, ethnicity, disability, sexuality and geography? This module takes an interdisciplinary approach to examining these issues, drawing on a range of data, analysis, research and practice. It will develop your study and employability skills and provide you with opportunities to consider and debate issues with academics and other students.

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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

The study material for this module is organised into eight learning guides, which include personal study weeks:

1: Young lives – begins to examine the range of factors that influence the divergent lives and complex experiences of children and young people today. Issues that students will explore include whether this is a good time to be young, and the impact of discrimination, poverty and inequality. They will also begin to consider the many issues for people working in children’s services today .

2: Society and community – encourages students to use a range of data and research in order to critically examine how community and society are experienced and related to the wellbeing and life chances of children and young people. Students will examine the concept of time within individual everyday experience and wider social change, such as demographic changes, changes in the law, changes in national life (such as a pandemic), and changes in adult/child relationships. They will also critically reflect on the extent to which society is a meritocracy and apply theories of social capital and cultural capital to explain social mobility and inequalities.

3: Working together – focuses on working with children and young people and explores how practitioners across a range of children's services support and protect children, young people, parents and families. Students will consider the opportunities, as well as the potential challenges, and they will look at ways in which values, ethics and legal frameworks inform practice in this area. They will also examine some of difficult, long-standing and deeply rooted problems that practitioners may encounter when working with families, and the ways in which they might deal with practical and ethical dilemmas in practice.

4: Children and childhood – focuses on children (particularly those aged 0–12 years) and examines several of the key issues embedded in modern childhood such as inclusion, gender, rights, childhood trauma and child protection. It uses a range of material to enable students to acquire a deeper and more nuanced understanding of children and childhood and of the skills and values of effective and equitable work with children.

5: Youth and young people – looks at social and cultural aspects of being young and the concept of ‘youth’. Students critically explore changing understandings of young people’s lives and examine how different professionals engage with young people. Young people’s involvement in crime and policing, music and popular culture are featured, alongside questions of gender, race and social class.

6: Parents and parenting – focuses on parents and parenting, and relationships between practitioners and parents. Students are asked to consider a range of perspectives on parenting, including what it means to be a ‘good parent’, and to look at case studies and research related to the intersection of parenting and society. Issues examined include the role and function of parenting support and education, for example, parenting classes, informal support and online communities. Children and young people’s perspectives on parenting will also be explored.

7: Families matter – examines the family and family structures historically and in relation to contemporary social change. It considers ways in which social and economic change impact on families and the role of service providers in addressing the disadvantages arising from these. It looks at the experience of children and young people living outside of their ‘birth families’, and their experience of the care system.

8: Reviewing your learning – focuses on supporting students in reviewing their learning over the course of the module and preparing for the end-of-module assessment (which is an EMA).

Vocational relevance

This module will be relevant if you are currently working with children, young people, parents and families, or if you have an interest in moving into this area of work. It will also be interesting and engaging if you have a general interest in issues related to children, young people, parenting and families.

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 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.

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


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

Of the four tutor-marked assignments (TMAs), one TMA requires you to select data and analysis and to create a visual representation of it. The others are essays of 1,000 to 3,000 words. They are designed to enable you to demonstrate both what you have learnt from the module material and your developing ability to think and write critically.

The end-of-module assessment is an essay and it will assess what you have learned from the whole of the module. This will be done by looking for a critical discussion that uses the arguments, data, concepts, analysis and examples from the module content. In addition, you'll also need to demonstrate your ability to find, and make use of, good external sources of study material. This means the material you have found, rather than that covered in the module.

Future availability

Young lives, parenting and families (KE322) 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 2026.


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:

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

Entry requirements

This is an OU level 3 module. It’s designed to build on study skills and subject knowledge acquired from studies at OU levels 1 and 2, or equivalent study at another university. OU level 3 modules are specifically written for students who are working towards a degree level qualification. Your previous higher education study does not have to include study in a relevant curriculum area (e.g. early childhood, childhood and youth studies, or health and social care). A general interest in issues related to children, young people, parenting and families will be of great value.

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


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 2026.

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 21/04/2024.

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 less 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’ll have access to a module website, which includes:

  • a week-by-week study planner
  • the module guide and assessment guide
  • course-specific module materials organised into learning guides
  • audio and video content
  • assignment details and submission section
  • online tutorial access.

There are online tutor group forums and online module-wide forums. You’ll also be provided with a printed KE322 Readings book, also available online.

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 KE322 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.