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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 SPOLM0011
Credit points 20
Level of study M/7
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 2 (weeks 13 - 24)
Unit director Professor. Berridge
Open unit status Open




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

Description including Unit Aims

This unit focuses on research with 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 and outcomes of children's services, including adoption and fostering, safeguarding children, residential care, family support and services for disabled children and their families. The unit considers a range of advanced research methods and does so by applying them to child welfare studies in which they have been used. The use of quantitative and qualitative methods will be exemplified. Ethical issues in research concerning children are explored in detail together with skills in engaging children and families in research.


  • Critically appraise key theoretical and empirical literature concerning children, young people and families and their relationships with education, health and welfare services.
  • Appreciate ethical issues in undertaking research with and for children and young people and learn how to manage conflicts of interest between the researcher, research funders, service providers and children and their carers
  • To explore practical aspects of undertaking research with and for children and young people.
  • Understand 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.

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 understanding of the political, academic and ethical context for research in relation to child and family welfare
  • Know 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 an understanding of the difference between research on children and research with children and young people.
  • Have 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 basic skills in understanding children’s, including disabled children’s, views and experiences, using a variety of methods including interviewing and observation.

Teaching Information

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

Assessment Information

A written assignment of not more than 4,000 words based on a major, completed, empirical study of a child welfare topic. The assignment should critically examine some of the main political, academic and ethical challenges in the study; children and young people’s involvement; and the major potential problems involved in the research.

The assignment will assess all of the intended learning outcomes for this unit.

Reading and References

  • Alderson, P and Morrow, G. (2004) Ethics, Social Research and Consulting with Children and Young People. Barkingside: Barnardo’s.
  • Barter, C. et al. (2009) Partner Exploitation and Violence in Teenage Intimate Relationships. London. NSPCC.

  • Greene, S. and Hogan, D. (2005) Researching Children’s Experience: Approaches and Methods. London: Sage.

Iwaniec, D. and Pinkerton, J. (eds) (1998) Making Research Work: Promoting Child Care Policy and Practice. Chichester: Wiley.