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Unit information: Critical Skills for Social Scientists: Childhood Studies in 2021/22

Unit name Critical Skills for Social Scientists: Childhood Studies
Unit code SPOL10025
Credit points 20
Level of study C/4
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 1 (weeks 1 - 12)
Unit director Dr. Phil Sayer
Open unit status Not open




School/department School for Policy Studies
Faculty Faculty of Social Sciences and Law

Description including Unit Aims

This unit will introduce students to key study and research skills relevant to their discipline and will provide a foundation to the 2nd year Social Research Methods unit. The first part of the unit will provide students with essential study skills in critical thinking, reading, and writing. It will introduce them to the Harvard referencing system and strategies for plagiarism avoidance. The second part of the unit will introduce students to commonly used research methods in childhood studies. Set in the context of relevant political and theoretical debates, the unit will explore the uses of data and research in childhood studies and examine how data shapes understandings of childhood problems. It will also introduce students to different approaches (e.g. quantitative, qualitative), research design and sampling, methods of data collection (e.g. interviews, surveys), methods of analysis (e.g. statistical analyses, thematic analysis), and the particular ethical issues relevant to their discipline. Specifically, the unit will:

  • Support students in their transition from school/college to university through the development of key study skills
  • Provide students with introductory knowledge and skills relating to research with children and young people

Intended Learning Outcomes

  1. Demonstrate the critical thinking, reading, writing, presentation and learning skills required for higher education.
  2. Understand the development of childhood studies and the political and theoretical debates informing childhood studies research.
  3. Reflect on the range of approaches, methods, forms of analysis ethical issues and uses of research in childhood studies and how it can shape understandings of childhood research.

Teaching Information

Teaching will be delivered through blended learning involving a combination of synchronous and asynchronous sessions, including weekly lectures, practical activities supported by study-group sessions and self-directed exercises.

Assessment Information

Summative assessment:

Portfolio Part 1 (1000 words) (40%)

Portfolio Part 2 (2000 words) (60%)

Learning outcomes 1 and 2 are assessed through Portfolio Part 1; Learning outcomes 1, 2 and 3 are assessed through Portfolio Part 2.


If this unit has a Resource List, you will normally find a link to it in the Blackboard area for the unit. Sometimes there will be a separate link for each weekly topic.

If you are unable to access a list through Blackboard, you can also find it via the Resource Lists homepage. Search for the list by the unit name or code (e.g. SPOL10025).

How much time the unit requires
Each credit equates to 10 hours of total student input. For example a 20 credit unit will take you 200 hours of study to complete. Your total learning time is made up of contact time, directed learning tasks, independent learning and assessment activity.

See the Faculty workload statement relating to this unit for more information.

The Board of Examiners will consider all cases where students have failed or not completed the assessments required for credit. The Board considers each student's outcomes across all the units which contribute to each year's programme of study. If you have self-certificated your absence from an assessment, you will normally be required to complete it the next time it runs (this is usually in the next assessment period).
The Board of Examiners will take into account any extenuating circumstances and operates within the Regulations and Code of Practice for Taught Programmes.