module specification

SE6001 - Debates on Children and Childhood (2018/19)

Module specification Module approved to run in 2018/19
Module title Debates on Children and Childhood
Module level Honours (06)
Credit rating for module 30
School Faculty of Social Sciences and Humanities
Total study hours 300
90 hours Scheduled learning & teaching activities
150 hours Guided independent study
60 hours Placement / study abroad
Assessment components
Type Weighting Qualifying mark Description
Coursework 50%   An essay focussing on social constructions of children and childhood.
Coursework 50%   A critical analysis of 2 representations of babies and/or young children, i.e. a poem, a visual image, a media report. 3
Running in 2018/19

(Please note that module timeslots are subject to change)
No instances running in the year

Module summary

This module aims to examine a range of theories relating to social constructions of childhood and the implications of this for Early Years practice. It will consider representations of children and childhood, including those in the media. It will consider a range of historical, cultural, philosophical and theoretical perspectives on early childhood such as feminism and post-modernism and including lived global childhoods and majority world perspectives

Prior learning requirements

It is expected that students will be in a work placement providing for children in the birth to six age range for a minimum of 2 hours each week throughout the module, normally in a group setting.

Module aims

This module aims to enable students to:

  • Examine social constructions of infancy and childhood and the implications of these for Early Years practice
  • Critically evaluate how infants, children and childhood are represented
  • Consider the global, cultural, historical and economic context of early childhood and how issues of discrimination and inequality impact on young children’s lives
  • Examine contemporary debates in relation to early childhood


This module will examine changing definitions of children and childhood, drawing on the history of children and childhood and how personal experiences impact on our own work with babies and young children.  The ways in which views about children and childhood are reflected in popular imagery and literature will form the basis of specific sessions.  The extent to which these views are culturally specific will also be considered. The module will include an examination of the impact of poverty and inequality, race, class and gender on children’s lives.  The debates and controversies around children and childhood - such as consumerism, the commodity culture and the impact of mass media will be studied as well as a range of historical, cultural, philosophical and theoretical perspectives on early childhood such as feminism and post-modernism andincluding lived global childhoods and majority world perspectives.

Learning and teaching

For taught course students theoretical input will be through lectures and seminars. Distance Learning students will receive the same theoretical input through bespoke on-line module materials with access to an allocated tutor who is available to support them either face-to-face, by e-mail or by telephone. All students will benefit from a blended learning approach through the use of WebLearn for supplementary materials, links to E-books, on-line discussions and self-assessment exercises such as quizzes and reflective tasks.

Reflection and discussion are key to teaching for all students – for taught students this will be in the context of tutor-led sessions while for distance learning students reflection will be promoted by the exercises incorporated into the web-based materials.  For all students experiential learning promotes their growing ability to act as a reflective practitioner.

Teaching and learning strategies and methods also focus on workplace skills and professionalism. All students undertake and reflect on observations in the workplace and weekly tasks and reflective exercises support increased knowledge and understanding. Observations, action research, work-related tasks and the use of development planning tools support the growth of practitioners’ professional competence. 

The development of transferable skills in presenting evidence, arguments and points of view to a range of audiences, through a range of media, including the use of ICT also supports individual learning.

Learning outcomes

On successful completion of this module students will be able to:

  1. Explain the different social constructions of infancy and childhood and discuss the implications of these constructions of childhood for early years practice
  2. Critically analyse representations of children and childhood
  3. Discuss infants, children and childhood in an historical and ecological context, giving consideration to the impact of global, social and economic inequalities
  4. Critically evaluate contemporary debates in relation to early childhood

Assessment strategy

Students will demonstrate that they have met the learning outcomes through the submission of two pieces of work. The first is an essay discussing social constructions of childhood. The second is an critical analysis of representations of babies and/or young children.

Formative feedback will be available from in class / on line discussions and written tutor feedback on one text. Students will also be encouraged to access on-line self assessment, quizzes and short answer questions.

All students for both taught and distance learning modes will be invited to attend a face to face tutorial to discuss their summative assessment in advance of submission deadlines and to receive detailed formative feedback.  Where a personal meeting is not possible, (for example, students living abroad and studying in distance learning mode) this will take place by telephone or e-mail.  Students will receive detailed formative written feedback following these tutorials.
All students will receive written feedback against all learning outcomes following the publication of marks. This will be the most comprehensive in cases of failure, where this will support learning for reassessment.


Aries, P. (1973)  Centuries of Childhood.  Harmandsworth: Penguin
Buckingham D. (2011) The Material Child. Bristol:Policy Press
Cannella, G.S. andViruru, R. (2004) Childhood and Postcolonialism. London: Routledge/Falmer
Davidoff, L, Dolittle, M, Fink, J & Holden, K (1999) The Family Story: Blood, Contract and Intimacy 1830-1960  London. Longman
Holland, P. (2004) Picturing Childhood: The Myth of the Child in Popular Imagery.London: Taurus
James, A and Prout, A. (eds.) (1990) Constructing and Reconstructing Childhood: Contemporary Issues in the Sociological Study of Childhood.  Brighton: Falmer
Kenway, J. and Bullen, E. (2001) Consuming Children. Buckingham: Open University Press
Layard, R, and Dunn, J. (2010) A Good Childhood. London: Penguin
Lohr, P. and Meyer, M. (eds) (1999) Children, Television and the New Media. Luton, Beds: University of Luton Press
Nutbrown, C (ed.) (1996) Respectful Educators, Capable Learners; Children’s Rights and Early Education London: Paul Chapman

Marsh, J. (2010) Young children’s play in online virtual worlds.Journal of early childhood research, vol 8 no 23, pp23-39
Contemporary Issues in Early Childhood September 2010 issue on ‘risky’ childhoods.

Playtimes: A century of Children’s games and rhymes