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Childhood and Youth

What influences and shapes the identities, development, wellbeing and destinies of young people today? And how can we use our knowledge of those influences to give children and young people the best possible support? An OU course in Childhood and Youth Studies will help you find answers to these questions and give you the theoretical insight and practical knowledge to connect with and develop the potential of children and young people. This is a wide-ranging, interdisciplinary academic area that will engage and benefit anyone who has a general interest in the subject. And if you’re already working with children and young people the course offers qualifications that will improve your practice in a range of settings and help develop your career. 

Specialise in the area that meets your needs

You’ll begin by learning about child development and psychology, mental health and diverse childhoods; exploring experiences of global and local childhoods; as well as youth and transitions to adulthood among many other themes. You’ll also have the opportunity to specialise by choosing a module that fits your needs and interests: studying either perspectives on young children’s lives and learning, or learning and teaching in the primary years. 

Later on, you’ll learn more about children and young people’s everyday lives across the world, and how childhood has changed over time, including topics like gender, digital lives, and climate change. You’ll have the chance to specialise in psychology of childhood and youth, or working with children and young people to make a difference. 

Access a range of resources to develop your knowledge

Our flexible, distance learning model enables you to study around your other commitments – for example, a childhood or youth role you’re already working in, or your caring responsibilities – plus you’ll have the support and guidance of regular online tutorials from your own personal tutor. You’ll also be given access to diverse study materials to explore childhood and youth, including multimedia and audio-visual content; these tools will offer you the chance to observe and hear the experiences of children and young people, service users, practitioners and researchers, and to develop your knowledge and understanding through critical engagement with the material. 

Be inspired by a widely experienced team of tutors

You’ll learn from a highly motivated team of interdisciplinary researchers who are engaged in academic and practice-oriented research that evaluates policy regarding the care and support children and young people. Tutors you will learn from include academics in sociology, psychology, criminology, anthropology, human geography and education, who are experts in a wide range of research topics, including home-schooling/alternative education, youth culture, violence and gangs, young migrants, childhood obesity, fun and learning, adolescent mental health, children’s literacy, and developmental cognitive linguistics. 

Supporting children and young people is increasingly recognised as vital to building a balanced and healthy society, so by studying with us you’ll be learning about one of the fastest growing academic disciplines. The Open University is a pioneer in this fast-developing field having developed our degree over the last two decades, forging working partnerships with organisations dedicated to supporting children and young people, such as the British Educational Research Association and the university’s Children's Research Centre. 

Ready to choose your course?

Take a look at our modules and postgraduate courses.