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Exploring childhood and youth

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This module asks the question “What does it mean to be a child or young person in today’s world?” You'll explore children and young people’s everyday lives (ages 0–23) and gain deeper insight into contemporary childhood and youth studies. You’ll examine diverse experiences of childhood and youth in the UK and across the world, looking at topics including identity, disability, gender, and climate change. Do you work with or aspire to work with children and young people? We’ve designed it for anyone with an interest in the field of childhood and youth studies.

What you will study

Throughout the module, there’s an emphasis on children’s and young people’s own perspectives, as well as their rights. You’ll be encouraged to challenge common assumptions about childhood and youth, thinking about where information comes from and how ideas about childhood are developed. The module asks you to consider everyday aspects of children’s and young people’s lives and contexts that might otherwise be taken for granted.

Exploring childhood and youth (E232) is made up of four online study blocks, each focused around a key theme.

Block 1: Bodies and minds
The first block looks at how children and young people experience their identities and shape their own worlds. You’ll learn about the importance of everyday items like food and toys as they affect children’s fluid and changing identities. This study block explores different ways of thinking about children’s bodies, and how gender affects children’s lives.

Block 2: Space, place and belonging
In Block 2, the focus shifts to the physical and social environments around the child. It looks at everyday places and everyday violence experienced by children across the world, and different ways that adults intervene in children's and young people’s lives internationally. You’ll also consider the meanings and purposes of play and schooling.

Block 3: Inequalities and inclusion
This block explores different forms of inequality in the context of children and young people’s lives. You’ll think about ideas of ‘normality’ and otherness, exploring questions of poverty, disability and educational inequalities.

Block 4: Childhood: past, present and future
The final block looks at developing ideas of childhood and youth across history, including changing models of health and wellbeing. You’ll think about how childhood is changing in the context of new technologies and climate change, what the future looks like for children and young people, and how they are working to change it.

Entry requirements

There are no formal entry requirements to study this module.

However, you may find it easier if you have previously studied OU level 1 modules in a related area.

Preparatory work

If you're looking for an introductory module in childhood and youth studies, we recommend Introduction to childhood studies and child psychology (E104).

What's included

This module includes a module website made up of a series of online study weeks and a module book. Each learning guide will support your though your studies. The online learning guides include a range of newly produced audiovisual material, and are accompanied by a specially produced module reader with chapters written by a range of experts in childhood and youth studies.

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

Upon registration you’ll be assigned to a tutor. Your tutor will be your first point of contact throughout your studies. This module provides you with online tutorials. Although not compulsory, we encourage you to attend tutorials in order to consolidate your learning.


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

If you have a disability

The OU strives to make all aspects of study accessible to everyone and this Accessibility Statement outlines what studying E232 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

Exploring childhood and youth (E232) 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 2027.

Course work includes:

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

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