Coronavirus (Covid-19) Information

Module XAE-1035:
Children and Society

Module Facts

Run by School of Education and Human Development

20 Credits or 10 ECTS Credits

Semester 1

Organiser: Dr Anne-Marie Smith

Overall aims and purpose

*NOTE: For 2020-21 this module will be delivered in a six week block from 28 September to 9 November.* The module introduces students to the sociological study of childhood and youth via and exploration of socio-cultural and historical constructions and discourses. Students will consider the ways in which historical ideas continue to influence the ways in which society perceives, portrays and understands children and young people. Adult anxieties about contemporary childhood & youth are considered and addressed via discussions of factors such as the media, education, technology, social networking, families and peer groups.In Semester 2 we will consider the idea of 'childhood in crisis', exploring contrasting debates in relation to children and play, technology and gender. Students will become familiar with key themes and areas of debate, controversy, and interest relating to children’s lives by engaging with cutting-edge national and international research across the field of childhood and youth studies.

Course content

The module will encourage students to challenge and debate dominant ideas about childhood and youth, and may include an exploration of the following questions and topics:

How are meanings of childhood and youth constructed in society? How have ideas about childhood and youth changed over time? How are children and young people portrayed (in the media, within educational contexts) Risk and resilience Gender stereotyping Childhood and youth as times of innocence or deviance Commercialization of childhood and youth How do ideas about gender shape and influence children and young people’s identities? Disney and the portrayal of gender roles Has technology liberated or ruined young people? Are children and young people victims of consumerism or are they empowered by it?

Assessment Criteria


Threshold: D-, D, D+ A satisfactory knowledge and understanding of the key historical and social ideas relevant to the study of childhood and youth. An adequate ability to discuss key areas of influence (such as technology or advertising) on children and young people's lives in contemporary society


Good: C-, C, C+ A significant knowledge and understanding of the key historical and social ideas relevant to the study of childhood and youth. A good ability to discuss key areas of influence on children and young people's lives in contemporary society. Work at this level shows some reasonably good engagement with wider research.


Excellent: A- to A* A comprehensive knowledge and understanding of the key historical and social ideas relevant to the study of childhood and youth. An exceptional ability to discuss key spheres of influence on children and young people's lives in contemporary society. Work at this level engages deeply with research and offers some independent thought and reflection based on such engagement.

Learning outcomes

  1. Show an informed understanding of factors that have shaped childhood and youth in historical and contemporary contexts

  2. demonstrate the ability to make connections between theoretical ideas about childhood and youth with contemporary experiences in the lives of children and young people

  3. demonstrate an insight into social attitudes and portrayals of children and young people in contemporary society (in relation to key areas such as technology, gender, play)

  4. show an informed understanding of the key social and historical discourses of childhood

Assessment Methods

Type Name Description Weight

Description: Essay on 'Childhood/Youth in Crisis' With reference to some of the ideas explored during our lectures, write a response to the idea that childhood/youth is 'in crisis' by focusing on one specific topic: for example: technology, gender, play, consumerism/branding. Your discussion should begin by exploring the notion of 'childhood/youth in crisis', and then offer an argument in response, which engages with ideas from relevant research. The discussion should also include evidence from research about the ways in which society portrays children and/or young people. Suggested Structure • Introduction which states the focus of your essay and the argument you intend to develop • Overview of the idea that childhood is “in crisis” with reference to appropriate sources • Focused discussion on your topic (e.g. technology) in relation to the ‘crisis idea’; contrasting perspectives from research; key debates • Conclusion – your summary of the key points, and possible future outcomes or developments in relation to your topic.

COURSEWORK Reflection on social and historical ideas of childhood

“What is Childhood”: use what you know about the different ideas and discourses of childhood to write a personal response to this question. A suggested structure for your reflection: o Introduce your ideas about childhood: can you offer a definition of your own? o Discuss how your ideas relate to some of the key concepts and discourses explored in lectures; e.g. the 3 key historical discourses; the idea of childhood as a social construction o Conclude with a short discussion of the implications of these ideas (e.g. how are your ideas of childhood reflected in society?)


Teaching and Learning Strategy


2hr lectures every fortnight

Private study

Private/independent Study (167 hours)


1hr seminars to follow each lecture (fortnightly)


Transferable skills

  • Literacy - Proficiency in reading and writing through a variety of media
  • Self-Management - Able to work unsupervised in an efficient, punctual and structured manner. To examine the outcomes of tasks and events, and judge levels of quality and importance
  • Exploring - Able to investigate, research and consider alternatives
  • Information retrieval - Able to access different and multiple sources of information
  • Inter-personal - Able to question, actively listen, examine given answers and interact sensitevely with others
  • Critical analysis & Problem Solving - Able to deconstruct and analyse problems or complex situations. To find solutions to problems through analyses and exploration of all possibilities using appropriate methods, rescources and creativity.
  • Presentation - Able to clearly present information and explanations to an audience. Through the written or oral mode of communication accurately and concisely.
  • Teamwork - Able to constructively cooperate with others on a common task, and/or be part of a day-to-day working team
  • Caring - Showing concern for others; caring for children, people with disabilities and/or the elderly
  • Argument - Able to put forward, debate and justify an opinion or a course of action, with an individual or in a wider group setting
  • Self-awareness & Reflectivity - Having an awareness of your own strengths, weaknesses, aims and objectives. Able to regularly review, evaluate and reflect upon the performance of yourself and others

Subject specific skills

  • reflect upon a range of psychological sociological health historical and philosophical perspectives and consider how these underpin different understandings of babies and young children and childhood
  • evaluate competing positions in relation to the construction of babies and young children and childhood by different subjects societal agents and time place and culture
  • critically explore examine and evaluate the significance of the cultural historical and contemporary features of various policies institutions and agencies in regard to babies young children and childhood


Talis Reading list

Reading list

  • *requires updating in TALIS

Key texts: Kehily, M.J.(2013) Understanding Childhood: a cross disciplinary approach, 2nd edition, Bristol: Policy Press Kehily, M.J. (2007) (ed) Understanding Youth: perspectives, identities and practices

James, A. and James, A. (2012) Key Concepts in Childhood Studies, 2nd edition, London: Sage

Recommended texts: Alanen, L &Mayall,B., (eds), (2001), Conceptualising Child-Adult Relationships, London: Routledge/Falmer. Archard, D., (2004), Children: Rights and Childhood, Routledge. Foley, P. and Leverett, S. (2011) (eds) Children and Young People’s Spaces – Developing Practice, Palgrave/Open University Press Furlong, A. & Cartmel , F. (2007) Young people and social change, Open University Press General Assembly of the United Nations (1989), The Conventions of the Rights of the Child (http://www.unicef/org/CVC. Gill, T.(2007) No Fear: Growing up in a risk averse society, Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation Goldson, B., Lavalette, M. and McKechnie, J. (ed) (2002) Children, Welfare and the State. London: Sage Kasseem et al (2010) Key issues in childhood and youth studies, Sage Loreman, T, (2009), Respecting Childhood, Continuum Madge, N. (2006) Children these days, Policy Press Postman, N. (1994) The Disappearance of Childhood, New York: Random Books Prout, A., (2005), The future of Childhood, London: Routledge/Falmer. Sambell, K., Gibson, M. and Miller, S. (2010) Studying Childhood and Early Childhood: A guide for students, 2nd edition, Sage Study guides Smith, R. (2010) A Universal Child?, Hampshire: Palgrave Macmillan Wyness, M., (2008), Childhood & Society: An Introduction to the Sociology of Childhood, 2nd edition, Basingstoke, Macmillan/Palgrave. KEY JOURNALS Childhood Children’s Geographies Children & Society International Journal of Children’s Rights Youth & Society (Sage) Youth Justice

Courses including this module