MA Childhood and Youth Studies

Why do we assume that all children go to school? Does outdoor education increase children’s literacy levels? How do experiences of childhood vary around the world?

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Explore global expectations of children, theories of belonging, free will, and individual empowerment. Develop your understanding of how communities and families shape children and young people, and reflect on how policy affects whether children fulfil their potential.

On our full-time masters course, you’ll explore how issues relating to education, social care, health and society affect childhood in different parts of the world.

You’ll reflect on ways to enhance equality and empower children and young people, as well as considering the interaction between individual differences and the structures of society.

Some of the topics you’ll study include global attitudes towards children, communities’ expectations of young people (such as the age of consent), and children’s rights across cultural contexts.

You’ll study three core units and two option units of your choice. The option units give you the opportunity to delve deeper into the areas you are passionate about.

You could choose to look into topics such as how families shape children, rights and responsibilities, ideas of discipline, or philosophies of belonging. You’ll also have the opportunity to choose the Practice Based Project unit, where you will observe and reflect on teaching in an educational setting (from museums to schools).

Your final assignment is a dissertation where you’ll choose the topic. Past dissertation topics have included the importance of play, how schools manage competing models of behaviour management, outdoor education, and the youth justice system.


Features and Benefits

Career Prospects

Our masters degree in Childhood and Youth Studies helps to develop your career across the education, arts, social care, criminal justice, and healthcare sectors.

As a graduate, you might work with children and young people in places such as local government services, social enterprises, and charities.

Learn more about graduate careers

Entry requirements

You should have an honours degree or a postgraduate diploma or a professional qualification recognised as being equivalent to a UK honours degree. Other qualifications or experience may be acceptable if they demonstrate appropriate knowledge and skills to a UK honours degree standard.

Language requirements

Overseas applicants will require IELTS with an overall score of 6.5 with no less than 5.5 in any category, or an equivalent accepted English qualification. Accepted English qualifications can be viewed here.

Course details

Through MA Childhood and Youth Studies, you’ll explore how children and young people are shaped by the opportunities available to them in their communities. You’ll also use this knowledge to critically reflect on your own childhood and discover your sense of self.

Some of the topics you might consider include national and international practices, the ways societies influence children, and the values different cultures place on childhood.

In the first term, you’ll typically study the research design process, including how to formulate research questions and data collection approaches. This is to help you learn the skills you will need for your dissertation.

You will usually begin working on your dissertation in the second term (January onwards). You will be allocated a supervisor and have enhancement sessions to support you with tasks such as literature reviews, writing for academic purposes, and data analysis.

You can also attend the regular research seminars run by our on-campus research centre, the Education and Social Research Institute (ESRI). This includes our weekly ‘beginner’s guide to…’ series where guest speakers discuss theories. Past topics include Alfred North Whitehead, Jacques Lacan, and Michel Foucault.

Over the one year course, you'll cover the following units:

Core units

  • Introduction to Educational and Social Research Design
  • International Comparisons of Childhood
  • Dissertation

Option units

You'll choose two option units from:

  • Collaborative Research Project
  • Globalisation, Social Justice and Social Change
  • Identity, Equality and Empowerment in Childhood
  • Independent Study
  • Key Issues in Managing Diversity, Disability and Special Educational Needs
  • Practice Based Project
  • Transformative and Ethical Leadership in Educational Settings 

For the full unit descriptions, click read more about this year of study below.

Read more about this year of study

Core Units

Introduction to Education and Social Research Design

Through this unit, we aim to provide you with an understanding of the research design process. You'll start by framing the issues and reviewing literature. You'll learn how to formulate research questions and hypotheses, and how decisions made at this stage can shape the research design. We'll present you with a selection of common research designs and a wide range of research data collection approaches and analytical tools. Throughout the unit, you'll focus on the decision making process that researchers need to go through. You'll also examine the political, methodological and ethical issues which need to be taken into account.  

International Comparisons of Childhoods

In this unit, we'll introduce you to masters level comparative education principles. This enables you to be able to examine how different nations policies, practices and cultures construct children's and young people's childhoods and development. You'll explore the range of different values placed on childhood in different cultural and national contexts. And, you'll consider national and international policies and practices. We'll enable you to examine how alternative frameworks of activity engage with the way children and childhoods are constructed by societies. 


In your dissertation, you'll undertake an extended piece of independent writing reporting on research. Throughout the research project, you'll be guided by a supervisor.

You'll identify and define an appropriate research topic and locate relevant textual resources to support literature reviews, documentary analysis, policy and professional documents, and official statistics. You'll discuss and select an appropriate research strategy and develop a research proposal. You'll also develop meaningful research questions from initial concepts, ontological and epistemological considerations, methodology, approach, ethical issues, data analysis, and dissemination. We'll support you to establish ethical clearance for research undertaken, and implementation of the research and writing a research report, and presenting research findings.

Likely Optional Units

Identity, Equality and Empowerment in Childhood

In this unit, you'll focus on issues of personal agency and identity. We'll help you to establish your own critical positioning as a professional in a childhood and youth setting. We'll enable you to identify and articulate effective methods of investigating experiences that inform the critical development of structures and practices that support children. You'll reflect on a range of philosophies, disciplines and ideas that can inform ways of enhancing equality, empowering individuals and communities. This unit complements your studies carried out in the unit ‘International comparisons of childhoods’ but can also be taken as an option unit by other full-time education award students.

You'll draw on critical philosophical accounts of identity and inequality. This enables you to consider how these accounts can inform research and practice. In the unit, you'll explore studies of personal learning and professional relationships to consider how individual agency can be nurtured and how tensions between individuals can be reduced. We'll encourage to consider the relevance of engaging in research to support your own areas of interest.

Transformative and Ethical Leadership in Educational Settings

In this unit, you'll focus on developing your understanding of transformative and ethical leadership in educational contexts. You'll explore the contribution of educational leadership in delivering social change and equality. You'll also analyse democratic leadership approaches in educational organisations and educational values in an age of performativity. You'll explore the notion of educational leadership as an ethical endeavour. 

Globalisation, Social Justice and Social Change

In this unit, you'll explore the relationship between education, social justice and the state within a global context.  We'll provide theoretical frameworks to enable you to develop a critical understanding of educational inequalities in national, international and global contexts. You'll also consider strategies adopted to address these inequalities.

We'll introduce you to the key concepts of social justice, globalization and identity. You'll engage in critical thought and discussion about the social, political, and economic mechanisms that perpetuate educational inequalities globally. You'll then apply appropriate theoretical perspectives to case studies, or your own professional contexts, to explore implications for the development of more equitable practice and global citizens.

Key Issues in Managing Diversity, Disability and Special Educational Needs (SEN)

In this unit, you'll examine issues of exclusion and marginalisation, disability and difference, race and culture.  You'll focus on critical issues for equity and diversity rather than on particular categories of special educational need. We place an emphasis understanding different perspectives (sociological, psychological, medical, educational, rights-based etc). We'll encourage you to locate your take in the debates, and on the implications for policy and practice.

You'll analysis and explore a range of contexts as well as drawing on specialist and discrete fields of knowledge such as autism, specific learning difficulties, social emotional mental health. This way, we aim to enable you to articulate and explore wider questions relating to theory, policy and practice in the field of inclusion, disability and SEN. For example, how can education promote greater equity in an increasingly diverse society? What does inclusion mean in an age of austerity and Globalization? How should we understand the complexities of inclusive education in a rapidly changing world? You'll draw from fields as critical pedagogy, disability studies and multicultural education. You'll explore critical theory and research, and examine a range of alternative approaches to promoting social justice in education.

We encourage you to pursue your own areas of interest using analysis, reflection and evaluation. You'll undertake a presentation and report on an issue of your choice. 

Independent Study

In this unit, you'll articulate, plan, and pursue a topic of your choice related to your award area and individual interests. Throughout your independent study, you'll be guided and supported by your tutor.

You'll negotiate an appropriate area of study and demonstrate how this will enable you to meet unit learning outcomes, how it fits with your award area, and your own learning and experiences.

You'll carefully consider and agree with your unit leader which approach you will adopt. You'll outline how you'll carry out the agreed work to support the agreed output, and how you'll reflect on the process of independent study.

We'll teach mainly through tutorials, however your tutor will usually offer further guidance via email, and appointments for formative assessment. We encourage you to integrate other activities, such as conferences or courses in other programmes of study, where possible, to support your learning. 

Practice-based Project

This unit involves significant, practice-based, independent study. Here, you'll critically address current knowledge in your award area, and develop context of engagement with a practice setting.

You'll look at reflective practice in education and approaches to reflective writing. You'll identify an area of focus, context, your aims and objectives and the ethical issues that need to be considered. You'll prepare, negotiate access and plan for practice engagement. You'll be supported and guided by your tutor and additional University functions, such as IT, to help you complete your project. 

You'll undertake independent study based on your involvement in a practice setting or with practitioners, relating to your masters study focus and future employment and interests.

This will take the form of a practice-based project plan, and related critically reflective journal and evaluation. We'll support you to choose a relevant and appropriate topic area, potential practice setting, and to negotiate access. But, you'll be expected to lead this project.

Once you've identified your topic, you'll outline the practice engagement remit, relevant education related policy and research, and discuss implications for your own understanding and professional development. The form of practice engagement will vary depending on your focus of interest and practical constraints. This might include observations or shadowing, professional conversations with practitioners and managers, or visits to organisations. You may participate in a professional network or meetings, engage with online and library-based research, and other activities related to an educational setting.

Your time in practice will normally always include agreed activities in the practice setting. With support from your tutor, you'll negotiate and agree an opportunity and time-frame. This normally comprises of 15 days (or equivalent) directly in practice-related activities.

Please note that access to particular practice settings cannot be guaranteed and that access to settings for most activities normally also requires DBS clearance. You'll be required to plan well ahead of the unit and with your supporting tutor to ensure that DBS clearance can be achieved in time, where this is needed.   

Collaborative Research Project

We aim to provide you with the practical and analytical skills you need to embark upon collaborative research.

Through your studies, you'll gain a grounding in theory and methodology and in process of research design. In this unit, you'll apply your learnings to a real-world research context.

You'll work in small groups of 3-4 students and, to research a ‘real-life’ issue or problem. Collaboratively, you'll clarify research questions and perspectives, decide on a methodological approach, and select data collection and data analysis methods to carrying out the project, write up and disseminate findings. Throughout the unit, you'll be expected to critically engage with the political and ethical implications of generating research knowledge, as well as practical challenges and constraints including word limits, and research issues arising from working together. You'll analyse the ways in which theory informs practice as you develop your understanding research literacy.

Assessment weightings and contact hours

10 credits equates to 100 hours of study, which is a combination of lectures, seminars and practical sessions, and independent study. A masters qualification typically comprises of 180 credits, a PGDip 120 credits, a PGCert 60 credits and an MFA 300 credits. The exact composition of your study time and assessments for the course will vary according to your option choices and style of learning, but it could be:


Placement options

Although there isn’t a formal placement for this course, you can visit an educational setting to observe lessons and teaching methods through the option unit Practice Based Project.

You will usually identify an area of interest and create a proposal that includes the location you’d like to visit. For example, you might observe science lessons in a secondary school.

Your assignment for the unit reflects your observations and the implications for future practice. This gives you the opportunity to apply your knowledge to your role.

Your placement can be in any educational setting, such as a museum, school or charity.

School of Childhood, Youth and Education Studies

Our School of Childhood, Youth and Education Studies specialises in teaching and research around education disciplines focused on children, young people, families and communities.

The department works collaboratively with communities, partners, local authorities and arts organisations on social enterprise projects, and has been at the forefront of developments in its field for over 20 years.

More about the department

Taught by experts

Your studies are supported by a team of committed and enthusiastic teachers and researchers, experts in their chosen field. We also work with external professionals, many of whom are Manchester Met alumni, to enhance your learning and appreciation of the wider subject.

Meet our expert staff


UK and EU students

UK and EU students: Full-time fee: £8,500 per year. Tuition fees will remain the same for each year of your course providing you complete it in the normal timeframe (no repeat years or breaks in study).

UK and EU students: Part-time fee: £1417 per 30 credits studied per year. Tuition fees will remain the same for each year of your course providing you complete it in the normal timeframe (no repeat years or breaks in study).

Non-EU and Channel Island students

Non-EU international and Channel Island students: Full-time fee: £16,000 per year. Tuition fees will remain the same for each year of your course providing you complete it in the normal timeframe (no repeat years or breaks in study).

Non-EU international and Channel Island students: Part-time fee: £2667 per 30 credits studied per year. Tuition fees will remain the same for each year of your course providing you complete it in the normal timeframe (no repeat years or breaks in study).

Additional Information

A Masters qualification typically comprises 180 credits, a PGDip 120 credits, a PGCert 60 credits, and an MFA 300 credits. Tuition fees will remain the same for each year of study provided the course is completed in the normal timeframe (no repeat years or breaks in study).

Additional costs

All of the books required for the course are available from the library. The University also has PC labs and a laptop loan service. However, many students choose to buy some of the core textbooks for the course and/or a laptop. Students may also need to print their assignments and other documents. Campus printing costs start from 5p per page. Estimated costs are £300 for a laptop up to £100 for books and printing. Total optional cost: £400

Postgraduate Loan Scheme

Loans of up to £10,906 for many Postgraduate Courses

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Alumni Loyalty Discount

Rewarding our graduates

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How to apply

The quickest and most efficient way to apply for this course is to apply online. This way, you can also track your application at each stage of the process.

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You can review our current Terms and Conditions before you make your application. If you are successful with your application, we will send you up to date information alongside your offer letter.


Programme Review
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