module specification

SS7146 - Sexual Exploitation of Children and Young People (2022/23)

Module specification Module approved to run in 2022/23
Module title Sexual Exploitation of Children and Young People
Module level Masters (07)
Credit rating for module 20
School School of Social Sciences and Professions
Total study hours 200
36 hours Scheduled learning & teaching activities
164 hours Guided independent study
Assessment components
Type Weighting Qualifying mark Description
Coursework 40%   Annotated Bibliography with Commentary
Coursework 60%   Essay
Running in 2022/23

(Please note that module timeslots are subject to change)
Period Campus Day Time Module Leader
Summer studies North Week All day

Module summary

 This course focuses on the sexual exploitation of children and young people in UK and global contexts. Sessions cover definitions and framings, including feminist debates on the sex industry, researching sexual exploitation, evidence and prevalence, abusers and coercers, policy and legislative approaches, and promising practices in intervention, protection and prevention. Specific forms of exploitation will be explored, such as trafficking, sex tourism, abusive images of children (including 'sexting'), and online grooming. The course aims:

• To provide an understanding into the nature and prevalence of sexual exploitation of children and young people in national and international contexts;

• To explore theoretical, policy and legislative perspectives and responses;

• To evaluate the implications for promising practice in supporting sexually exploited young people, particularly in relation to the criminal justice and child protection systems.


Definitions and framings LO1, LO2
How is sexual exploitation of children and young people defined and located in discourses on sexual abuse of children and within debates on the sex industry?
Commercial forms of exploitation of young people: prostitution, pornography, trafficking, sex tourism
Informal exploitation and blurred boundaries: transactional sex, online grooming and 'sexting' 

Researching Sexual Exploitation LO1, LO2
Methodological approaches
Evidence and prevalence: UK and global knowledge bases
Vulnerability to sexual exploitation: routes in and recruitment

Policy and practice responses LO1, LO2
International obligations: human rights obligations and national actions plans
Criminal justice and safeguarding frameworks
Specialised support services

Balance of independent study and scheduled teaching activity

This module is delivered over 6 days, 10am - 5.00pm. Three blocks of 2 days will be spread over the teaching semester. The teaching methods will include groupwork, lectures, guest lectures, workshops, and audio-visual material. Case study material will be supplied, as well as recommended reading to support each session. Additional electronic material and lecture notes will be made available via Weblearn.

Learning outcomes

 By the end of the module students will be able to:

1.  Understand and critically evaluate perspectives on sexual exploitation and the sex industry, including to what extent global research evidence supports them.

2.  Define, identify and explain the contexts of the various forms of sexual exploitation of children and young people.

Assessment strategy

 The first assessment is an annotated bibliography - students are required to assess three websites, three journal articles and three books/book chapters and summarise their content in 150-200 words per entry. This will assess learning outcome 1. The second assessment is a 3,000-3,500 word reflective essay for which students will be provided with a list of titles on Day 3.  This essay will assess learning outcome 1 and 2. If a student wishes to focus on an issue or debate not covered in the list, it may be possible to devise an alternative title but this must be agreed with the Module Leader and must be able to evidence learning outcomes 1 and 2.

Students pass on aggregate.

Coursework 100% comprising an annotated bibliography and an essay.


Core Readings:
Beckett, H. and Pearce, J. (2017) (eds) Understanding and Responding to Sexual Exploitation. London: Routledge.
Coy, M. (2012) (ed.) Prostitution, Harm and Gender Inequality: Theory, Research and Policy. Farnham: Ashgate.
Kelly, L., Regan, L. and Burton, S. (2000) ‘Sexual exploitation: a new discovery or one part of the continuum of sexual abuse in childhood?’ In Itzin, C. Home Truths about Child Sexual Abuse: A Reader. London: Routledge, pp. 70-86.
O’Connell-Davidson, J. (2005) Children in the Global Sex Trade. Cambridge: Polity Press.
Pearce, J. (2009) Young People and Sexual Exploitation: It’s not hidden, you just aren’t looking. Oxon: Routledge.
Melrose, M. & Pearce, J. (2013) (eds) Critical Perspectives on Child Sexual Exploitation and Related Trafficking. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.

Additional Readings:
Bailey, R. (2011) Letting Children be Children - Report of an Independent Review of the Commercialisation and Sexualisation of Childhood London: Department of Education. Available at:  
Cockbain, E. (2013) ‘Grooming and the 'Asian sex gang predator': the construction of a racial crime threat’ in Race & Class 54 (4), pp. 22-32.
Coy, M. (2008) ‘Young Women, Local Authority Care and Selling Sex’ in British Journal of Social Work, 38(7): pp.1408-1424.
Coy, M. (2009) ‘Milkshakes, lady lumps and growing up to want boobies: how the sexualisation of popular culture limits girls’ horizons’ in Child Abuse Review 18(6), pp. 372-383.
Coy, M. (2009) ‘‘Moved around like bags of rubbish nobody wants’: how multiple placement moves make young women vulnerable to sexual exploitation’ in Child Abuse Review 18 (6), pp. 1408-1424.
Coy, M. and Garner, M. (2012) ‘Definitions, discourses and dilemmas: policy and academic engagement with the sexualisation of popular culture’ in Gender & Education 24(3), pp. 285-301.
Coy, M. (2016) ‘Joining the dots on sexual exploitation of children and women: gaps in UK policy approaches’ in Critical Social Policy, Vol. 36(4), pp. 1–20.
Franklin, A. and Smeaton, E. (2017) ‘Recognising and responding to young people with learning disabilities who experience, or are at risk of, child sexual exploitation in the UK’ in Children and Youth Services Review 73, pp. 474–481.
Gill, R. (2012) ‘Media, Empowerment and the "Sexualization of Culture" Debates’ in Sex Roles 66 (11/12), pp. 736-745.
Itzin, C. Home Truths about Child Sexual Abuse: a reader London: Routledge.
Kelly, L., Wingfield, R., Regan, L. & Burton, S. (1995) Splintered Lives: Sexual exploitation of children in the context of children's rights and child protection Barkingside: Barnardos.
Kelly, L. (2002) Journeys of Jeopardy: A Review of Research on Trafficking of Women and Children in Europe. Geneva: IOM.
Kelly, L. (2003) The Wrong Debate: Reflections on Why Force is Not the Key Issue with Respect to Trafficking in Women for Sexual Exploitation Feminist Review 73, pp. 139-144.
Kelly, L. (2007) ‘‘A conducive context’: Trafficking of persons in Central Asia’ in M. Lee (ed) Human Trafficking Cullompton: Willan Publishing.
Kelly, L. and Regan, L. (2000) Stopping Traffic: Exploring the Extent of, and responses to, Trafficking in Women for Sexual Exploitation in the UK. London: Home Office. Available at:
Lillywhite, R. & Skidmore, P. (2006) Boys Are Not Sexually Exploited? A Challenge to Practitioners Child Abuse Review 15 351-361.
MacKinnon, C. (2006) Pornography as Trafficking in Are Women Human? And other international dialogues Cambridge: The Belknap Press
Melrose, M. (2013) ‘Twenty-First Century Party People: Young People and Sexual Exploitation in the New Millennium’ in Child Abuse Review, 22 (3), pp. 155-168.
O’Neill, M. (2001) Prostitution and Feminism: Towards a Politics of Feeling Cambridge, UK: Polity Press.
Patel, N. and Ward, J. (2006) ‘Broadening the discussion on ‘sexual exploitation’: ethnicity, sexual exploitation and young people’ in Child Abuse Review, 15 (5), pp. 341-350.
Westmarland, N & Gangoli, G. (eds) International Approaches to Prostitution: Law and Policy in Europe and Asia. Bristol, UK: Policy Press.

Child Abuse and Neglect: the international journal, Amsterdam: Elsevier.
Child Abuse Review, Oxford: Wiley Blackwell.
Children and Society, Oxford: Wiley Blackwell.
Hypatia: a feminist journal of philosophy, Oxford: Wiley Blackwell.
International Journal for Crime Justice and Social Democracy, Brisbane, Australia: Crime and Justice Research Centre, School of Justice, Faculty of Law, Queensland University of Technology.
The British Journal of Social Work, Oxford: Oxford Journals
The Journal of Child Sexual Abuse, Binghampton, NY: Haworth Press.
The Journal of Sexual Aggression, London: Brunner-Routledge.
Women’s Studies International Forum, Amsterdam, London: Elsevier.
Violence Against Women: an international and interdisciplinary journal, Thousand Oaks, London: Sage.

Centre of Expertise on Child Sexual Abuse
Child and Woman Abuse Studies Unit
Child Exploitation and Online Protection
Contextual Safeguarding Network
ECPAT International
The International Centre: Researching Child Sexual Exploitation, Violence and Trafficking
MSUNDERSTOOD and IC short films for practitioners
National Working Group for sexually exploited children and young people
Nordic Model Information Network
Parents Against Child Sexual Exploitation (formerly known as the Coalition for the Removal of Pimping (CROP)
Prostitution Research
Space International (Survivors of Prostitution-Abuse Calling for Enlightenment)
The Children’s Society

Electronic Databases:
Academic Search Complete
Care Knowledge
Lexis Library
Oxford Journals Archive
Sage journals online
Science Direct
Social Care Online
Web of Science