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Unit information: Researching Child and Family Welfare in 2015/16

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Unit name Researching Child and Family Welfare
Unit code SPOLD2031
Credit points 20
Level of study D/8
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 2 (weeks 13 - 24)
Unit director Professor. Berridge
Open unit status Not open




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


This unit is concerned with a critical approach to conceptualisation and methodological approaches in research on children, young people and families and their relationships with education, health and welfare services. It is taught by researchers in the School for Policy Studies who have undertaken significant work for government and charitable foundations on the processes, outcomes and costs of children&�s services, including adoption and fostering, safeguarding children, residential care, family support and services for disabled children and their families. The use of quantitative and qualitative methods will be exemplified and the application of specific research approaches in particular complex studies will be discussed. Ethical and governance issues in research concerning children are critically explored together with skills in engaging children families in research.


  • Critically appraise theoretical, conceptual and methodological approaches towards research with children, young people and families and their relationships with education, health and welfare services.
  • Understand conceptual and practical approaches to the assessment of a variety of outcomes and costs of services for children, young people, their families and carers. These include the outcomes of family support services, adoption and fostering, and interventions to safeguard children from abuse and neglect.
  • Analyse ethical issues and dilemmas in undertaking research with children and young people; and learn how to understand and manage conflicts of interest between the researcher, research funders, service providers and children and their carers
  • To investigate applied research practice with children and young people, including the practical problems in specific studies and their resolution.
  • To understand the relationship between research and policy, and social work practice with children and families.

Intended learning outcomes

On completion of the unit, students will:

  • Demonstrate an advanced understanding of the political, social and ethical context for research in relation to child and family welfare
  • Obtain a detailed knowledge about the advantages and disadvantages of different methods for understanding users and carers experiences of services and the costs and outcomes of those services.
  • Demonstrate high level understanding of the difference between research on children and research with children and young people.
  • Have advanced understanding and skills in the process of ensuring informed assent and consent from children and young people, and their carers to participate in research.
  • Have acquired very good skills in understanding childrens, including disabled childrens, views and experiences, using a variety of methods including interviewing and observation.

Teaching details

Teaching will take place in 12 x 1.5 sessions over a 3 day block. The unit will combine lectures, seminar discussion and practical exercises.

Assessment Details

A written assignment of 4000 words that requires the student to demonstrate high level understanding of the political, social and ethical context for research in relation to child and family welfare; to develop and justify an appropriate methodology for researching a selected topic; and to discuss the potential problems in executing such a research study, including strategies for how this might be averted.

Reading and References

  • Alderson, P. and Morrow, G. (2004) Ethics, Social Research and Consulting with Children and Young People, Barkingside, Barnardo's.
  • Greene, S. and Hogan, D. (2005) Researching Childrens Experience. Approaches and methods. London, Sage.
  • Fraser, S. et al. (eds.) (2004) Doing Research with Children and Young People, London, Sage.
  • Iwaniec, D. and Pinkerton, J. (Eds.) (1998) Making Research Work. Promoting Child Care Policy and Practice. Chichester: Wiley.
  • Kirby, P. (1999) Involving Young Researchers. How to enable young people to design and conduct research. York, Joseph Rowntree Foundation
  • Sinclair, I. and Beecham, J. (2006) Costs and Outcomes in Childrens Social Care: Messages from Research. London: Jessica Kingsley .