Teacher and students hiking

MA in Childhood and Youth

This postgraduate degree offers an interdisciplinary approach to the study of childhood and youth – covering aspects of theory, policy and practice. It is ideal if you are a graduate professional working with children and young people and seek to advance academically and professionally. It’s also suitable if you’re not currently working with children or young people but are looking to move into this professional field. The degree deepens understanding and develops practice through a wide range of case studies within a global context that link theory to practice. It explores the many different contexts of children’s and young people’s lives, analysing policy and organisational changes and exploring what it means to be a critical, reflective practitioner.

It also offers you flexibility within the final dissertation module, where you’ll choose between a small-scale inquiry or an extended literature review and research proposal. It will be of particular interest if you have completed an undergraduate degree in Childhood and Youth Studies, Early Years or Early Childhood, Education Studies (Primary), Social Work or Health and Social Care.

Key features of the course

  • Equips you with the critical tools to analyse policy and to reflect on your own practice.
  • Designed to help you develop professionally and meet the diverse and changing needs of children and young people.
  • A strong focus on multi-agency working and inter-professional practice.
  • Offers a choice between a small-scale inquiry or an extended literature review and research proposal.
  • Gives you the option to count your previous study towards this qualification, helping you pay less and finish sooner.

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
3-6 years
Read more about how long it takes
Study method
Distance learning
Course cost
Postgraduate loan available
See Fees and funding
Entry requirements

Find out more about entry requirements.

Request your prospectus

Explore our subjects and courses.

Request your copy today

Course details


To gain this qualification, you need 180 credits as follows:

Stage 1, 60 credits from:

Module Credits Next start
Children and young people’s worlds (E808)

This module provides a broad theoretical overview of some of the key contemporary issues in the global study of childhood and youth.

See full description

60 07 Oct 2023
Or, if you have successfully completed either EE806 or the discontinued module E807, you may count any of these modules towards Stage 1 of this qualification.

Stage 2, 60 credits from:

Module Credits Next start
Frameworks for critical practice with children and young people (E809)

This masters-level module aims to enable those working with children and young people to progress professionally and academically, and to develop as critical, reflective practitioners.

See full description

60 07 Oct 2023

Stage 3, 60 credits from:

Module Credits Next start
Masters multi-disciplinary dissertation: education, childhood and youth (E822)

Conduct an enquiry into an education, childhood or youth topic of personal and professional interest to complete your MA.

See full description

60 07 Oct 2023

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.

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.

Credit transfer

If you’ve successfully completed some relevant postgraduate study elsewhere, you may be able to count it towards Stage 1 of this qualification by applying for credit transfer, reducing the number of modules you need to study. Credit transfer will also impact the time you have to complete this qualification, and the seven-year time limit will start from the time your credit transfer was completed. So, for example, if you use credit transfer that you were awarded two years ago, you will need to complete the remaining 120 credits in five years.

You should apply for credit transfer as soon as possible, before you register for your first module. For more details and an application form, visit our Credit Transfer website

On completion

On successfully completing this course, we’ll award you our MA in Childhood and Youth. You’ll be entitled to use the letters MA (CY)(Open) after your name.

If your masters degree is awardable with a distinction or a merit, the qualification regulations explain how you can achieve these.

You’ll have the opportunity to attend a degree ceremony.

You may also be able to claim the related Postgraduate Certificate in Childhood and Youth Studies (K32) – although this is not available if you have used credit transfer or counted previous study towards your qualification – and/or the Postgraduate Diploma in Childhood and Youth Studies (E93).

To gain all three qualifications you must study them in sequence (postgraduate certificate, postgraduate diploma and then the MA).


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

We regularly review our curriculum; therefore, the qualification described on this page – including its availability, its structure, and available modules – may change over time. If we make changes to this qualification, we’ll update this page as soon as possible. Once you’ve registered or are studying this qualification, where practicable, we’ll inform you in good time of any upcoming changes. If you’d like to know more about the circumstances in which the University might make changes to the curriculum, see our Academic Regulations or contact us. This description was last updated on 14 March 2023.

Entry requirements

You must have a bachelors degree from a UK university (or equivalent) to study this course. Your degree can be in any subject, although childhood and youth studies, sociology, health and social care, anthropology, psychology or education are particularly relevant.

The multi-disciplinary dissertation at Stage 3 – Masters multi-disciplinary dissertation: education, childhood and youth​ (E822) – provides optionality (as do other modules in the qualification in which you are required to engage with research activity), to either undertake a small-scale investigation or an extended literature review and research proposal.

Please note: It is a legal requirement in the UK, rather than an Open University requirement, that you must obtain Enhanced DBS clearance (or equivalent in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland) in order to work with children on the module, Masters multi-disciplinary dissertation: education, childhood and youth​ (E822). 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 the country in which you are proposing to conduct your study for more information.

Your spoken and written English must be of an adequate standard for postgraduate study. If English is not your first language, we recommend that you will need a minimum score of 7 under the International English Language Testing System (IELTS). Please see their website for details.

How long it takes

The minimum time to complete is 3 years, the maximum time to complete is 6 years.

Career relevance

This 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 (Honours) in Childhood and Youth Studies, BA (Honours) Early Years or Early Childhood, BA (Honours) Education Studies (Primary) or the BA (Honours) 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 and the voluntary sector including charities and NGOs. You should ensure that you check entry requirements for specific professional areas before embarking on study. 

Careers and Employability Services have more information on how OU study can improve your employability.