Studyportals placeholder

Childhood, Short Course

  • Application Deadline
  • Unavailable
University rank #501 (WUR) Online
The Open University UK qualifications are modular in structure; the credits from this undergraduate Childhood module could count towards a certificate of higher education, diploma of higher education, foundation degree or honours degree.


What does it mean to be a child in today’s world? Do popular images of childhood match the reality of young people’s lives? How is childhood affected by poverty, ill-health and adversity? Do children have different rights from adults, and if so why? 

How are modern lifestyles and technologies changing children’s relationships and identities? What part do children play in shaping their childhood? Such questions are the starting point for this cross-disciplinary introduction to Childhood and youth studies at The Open University UK, covering the age range 0–18 and including audio-visual case studies from three contrasting parts of the world.

There are four blocks of study, each with a specially prepared text, along with extensive audio-visual material. Children’s own perspectives on their childhood are prominent in the module, drawing on case studies from Cape Town (South Africa), Chittagong (Bangladesh), Oakland (USA) and the UK. These case studies run throughout the module.

  • Block 1 asks ‘What is childhood?’ and introduces a range of disciplinary perspectives for studying the concept of childhood. Topics in this block include the history of beliefs about childhood; how childhood changes in different contexts and over time; the growth of scientific approaches to studying children; the significance of socio-cultural approaches for understanding modern childhoods.
  • Block 2 looks at the distinctiveness of children’s cultural worlds by exploring everyday activities of young children and teenagers. The block examines how children and young people in the twenty-first century encounter and creatively adapt to a range of cultural phenomena in an increasingly mediated, commercialised and globalised world. Topics in this block include friendships and the significance of play; youth culture; children’s engagement with the media and with information technology; and their power as consumers.
  • Block 3 highlights the places and spaces in which childhood exists. It builds on the theoretical perspectives introduced in Blocks 1 and 2 to emphasise the materiality of childhood, the physical environments on a macro and micro scale as well as the social context in which children and young people live. This will provide the framework for investigating wider questions about childhood including the power relationships between adults and children, and the influence of gender and inequality.
  • Block 4 looks at the obstacles that many children face which make childhood both a local experience and a global concern. Topics in this block include the effects of poverty and other adversities – such as violence – on children’s health and well-being. Different approaches to intervening in children's lives are discussed, with particular attention to their rights to participation and the ways they can become engaged with social issues, including issues surrounding their status as children.

Detailed Programme Facts

  • Deadline and start date Application deadline and start date were not specified by the programme.
  • Programme intensity Full-time
  • Credits
    60 alternative credits
  • Languages
    • English
  • Delivery mode

Programme Structure

What you will study

This broad-based module on the theme of childhood is:

  • Introductory – Childhood has a place in everyone's lives, but recent commentary suggests that childhood is in crisis. The idea of childhood as lost or in decline is one of the starting points for the module, which will be equally relevant whether you are a parent, work with children, or are simply interested in how children and young people are treated and understood.
  • Cross-disciplinary – This module introduces a range of perspectives on childhood, drawing on recent research and theories from sociology, anthropology, psychology, cultural studies, geography, social history, philosophy, social policy and children’s rights.
  • International – You will learn about childhood (and cultural beliefs on the subject) in different societies and at different periods in history, with modern western childhood as one among many examples. 

English Language Requirements

This programme may require students to demonstrate proficiency in English.

Academic Requirements

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

Tuition Fee


StudyPortals Tip: Students can search online for independent or external scholarships that can help fund their studies. Check the scholarships to see whether you are eligible to apply. Many scholarships are either merit-based or needs-based.

The Global Study Awards: get funded with up to £10,000 to study abroad

Together with the ISIC Association and British Council IELTS, Studyportals offers you the chance to receive up to £10000 to expand your horizon and study abroad. We want to ultimately encourage you to study abroad in order to experience and explore new countries, cultures and languages.