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Psychology of childhood and youth

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This module explores key themes in the development of children through the early years, middle childhood and into adolescence, covering attachment, identity, emotions, representation and communication. The module integrates a range of approaches from developmental psychology and childhood studies, and makes extensive use of audio and video material, including a number of specially made documentary films. The module will be of interest to students of psychology, early years, and childhood and youth, and any student interested in theories and contemporary research in developmental psychology, including the influences of family and culture.

What you will study

The module combines material on developmental psychology integrated with childhood and youth studies, making it attractive across a number of discipline areas.

The module covers aspects of developmental psychology that are not available in the core psychology qualification. It will appeal to a large proportion of students in that programme, and in the Childhood and Youth Studies programme, who have an interest in human development and the lived experiences of children and young people, and the effects of adversity and differing life situations on life outcomes. The module will also be attractive to students following the work-related Early Years programme.

The module contents have been planned to give clear progression from Encountering psychology in context (D120) in the Psychology programme, or from Introduction to childhood studies and child psychology (E104) in the Childhood and Youth Studies programme and Stage 1 study in Early Years. It will provide content and skills development in preparation for further study at OU level 3 in all three programmes.

A strength of the module is a rich set of audio-visual assets, most of them specially commissioned and including unique documentary materials. Each study week will start with an introductory audio by an eminent researcher or practitioner, introducing the week’s study theme. AV assets will include materials drawn from BBC archives and from the OU/BBC series Child of our Time.

It is planned for 85% of study hours to be devoted to online and multimedia material (with the remainder for student reflection and note taking offline.)

Although there is a printed reader that accompanies the course, the module is designed for fully online study, and students will need to have ready access to a computer and to develop competence in ICT. Students will be encouraged to carry out a skills audit in the first week of the module. Those who lack knowledge of, or confidence in, ICT will be supported in acquiring the necessary skills. Students will be required to make use of module and qualification websites, which will provide a repository for teaching and learning. Online forums will also be available, to engage students, facilitate contact with peers, share ideas and enable group discussion.

Students will begin each week by accessing an online study guide, located in the relevant week of the study planner, and listening to an introductory audio for each key theme. Students will then be directed to the corresponding chapter, which will contain the core teaching text, and can be found online as well as in the module textbook. While reading the chapter, students will use the study guide to direct them through the various elements of the module, such as methods and skills work, the audio-visual material, the assessment materials and supplementary readings. All of these will be delivered via the website.

Entry requirements

There are no formal academic or experiential requirements to study this module.

If you're not sure you're ready, talk to an adviser.

What's included

This module will be delivered online and supplemented with a printed textbook. The materials for the module will combine an ebook with a range of online material, and many of these materials are available in a range of different formats for different electronic reading devices.

The textbook chapters will comprise the core materials across the three key parts of the module (pre-school/early years, the middle years and adolescence). Each part will be divided into five of the chapters.

The other materials, all delivered online, include a study guide for each study week which includes methods and skills, an assessment guide and a glossary, and a wide range of audio-visual materials.

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.

Teaching and assessment

Support from your tutor

You will have a tutor who will help you with the study material and mark and comment on your written work, and who you can ask for advice and guidance.

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.

The module will be assessed by 3 double-weighted tutor-marked assignments (TMAs) of up to 3,000 words each and a 3,000 word end-of-module assessment (EMA).

The assessments begin with ‘stimulus’ material, often based on research published in peer-reviewed journals. This approach allows you to see how the module material relates to novel contexts and to current issues, such as refugee children, gang membership or screen-time for young people. By showing us you can be flexible with the concepts you have learned, we can assess what you know.

The EMA will take the form of a mini-dissertation, including an element of literature review (requiring bibliographic search) on a chosen topic area.

There will also be a ‘quiz’ in each study week, provided as an online formative interactive computer-marked assessment.

If you have a disability

The OU strives to make all aspects of study accessible to everyone and this Accessibility Statement outlines what studying E219 involves. You should use this information to inform your study preparations and any discussions with us about how we can meet your needs.

Future availability

Psychology of childhood and youth (E219) starts once a year – in October.

This page describes the module that will start in October 2024 when we expect it to start for the last time. A replacement module is planned for October 2025.

Course work includes:

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

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