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Unit information: Contemporary Debates in Global Childhood in 2020/21

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Unit name Contemporary Debates in Global Childhood
Unit code SPOL10024
Credit points 20
Level of study C/4
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 2 (weeks 13 - 24)
Unit director Dr. Aghtaie
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 critically analyse the various national and international perspectives on children and young people’s place in contemporary society. These perspectives will be examined through an interdisciplinary approach illustrating the construction of childhood which is effected by both culture and nature. Reference to theoretical debates will be made on various substantive topics including: ; children’s access to education; different global models of parenting; children’s rights - and their access to their rights; the impact of global child poverty, climate change, family policies and healthcare policies on children; the use of power against children, and children and young people’s experiences of violence. Within this the unit will look at governmental and non- governmental responses to the issue of childhood where relevant.

There will be a particular emphasis on children’s rights on a local, national and international level and how the conception of rights is closely linked to cultural values and structural frameworks within one’s society. The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and children’s rights and welfare under UK law will be examined in addition to looking at policies, laws and practices in the European and wider context.


To consider:

  • the diverse nature of children and young people’s experiences and their place in society within a national and international context.
  • contemporary debates about children and young people’s needs, rights and responsibilities in the UK and elsewhere, with a particular focus on the UNCRC;
  • how the conception of rights is inter-related with cultural values and the structural frameworks of one’s society.
  • the relationship between the state, parents and children and young people

Intended Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of the unit students will be able to demonstrate:

  1. an understating of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child
  2. an understanding of the impact of intersecting factors on the lives of children and young people
  3. an awareness of some of the key contemporary theories and debates on children’s rights, needs and responsibilities;
  4. an ability to draw on interdisciplinary knowledge to analyse some of the ways in which differing perspectives on childhood are reflected in state policies and allocation of resources; and in approaches to research and theory in this area.

Teaching Information

Teaching will be delivered through blended learning involving a combination of weekly synchronous and asynchronous sessions. Small group exercises will be used to foster collaborative learning. Feedback will be provided for formal assessments.

Assessment Information

Presentation (25%) - assesses ILOs 1 & 3, and to a lesser extent 2&4

Essay (2000 words) (75%) assesses ILOs 1,2,3 & 4, with a greater emphasis on 2&4

Reading and References

  • James, A. & Prout, A. (eds)(2015) Constructing and Reconstructing Childhood: Contemporary issues in the sociological study of childhood. London: Routledg.
  • Qvortrup, J. et al. (2011) The Palgrave Handbook of Childhood Studies. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.
  • Maynard, T. and Thomas, N. (Eds.) (2009) An Introduction to Early Childhood Studies (2nd Edition). London: Sage
  • Kehily, M. (ed)(2013) Understanding Childhood: A Cross Disciplinary Approach. Bristol: Policy Press.
  • Kehily, M. and Swann, J. (2003) Children’s Cultural Worlds. Chichester: John Wiley