Introduction to Childhood Studies

The details
Psychosocial and Psychoanalytic Studies
Colchester Campus
Full Year
Undergraduate: Level 4
Thursday 07 October 2021
Friday 01 July 2022
31 March 2021


Requisites for this module



Key module for

BA L520 Childhood Studies,
BA L521 Childhood Studies (Including Year Abroad),
BA L522 Childhood Studies (Including Placement Year),
BA L523 Childhood Studies (Including Foundation Year)

Module description

This module offers an introduction to studying childhood issues at local and global levels. The overall aim is to enhance students' interests in children and childhood by exploring diverse issues about and approaches to childhood. It takes an interdisciplinary approach to childhood issues, looking at children and young people in the contexts of psychology, sociology, history, research, media, culture, consumption, law, children's rights, family, education, and work.

The module offers an international perspective by including cultural specificity and variation as well as global concerns about and interventions into childhood issues. The coverage of the topics is also inclusive of some groups of children and young people who might often be marginalised or have more recently emerged or been recognised in society. These include topics related to new digital media, consumer culture, gender and sexuality, delinquency, disability, and diverse forms of family aided by the technology of assisted conception.

Throughout the module, we will explore how we gain an understanding of childhood; how children and childhood are conceptualised and treated by adults and society; how children and young people themselves view and experience their lives; and what kinds of inequality and power relationships might exist in the interplay between childhood and the world.

The module will encourage students to embrace alternative views and ways of thinking, including psychosocial and psychoanalytic approaches, and to think for themselves about how we could gain a closer understanding of individual children and young people's lives and experiences by allow them to advocate for themselves.

Module aims

The aims of the module are:
• To provide a foundation for working either with children or in fields relevant to childhood
• To introduce the basic knowledge and vocabulary for engaging with the extensive fields of research and wide range of topics related to children and young people
• To offer tools for critical engagement with the materials introduced, and encourage students to work towards better informed and considered evaluation of each topic encountered
• To extend students’ knowledge of the wide range of issues surrounding children and childhood, developing students’ awareness of various discourses about childhood in particular contexts
• To encouraging student’s self-awareness about their own beliefs and preconceptions about childhood

Module learning outcomes

• Students will gain an overview of the interdisciplinary field of childhood studies. They will develop their understanding of diverse ways in which children and childhood have been studied, discussed, and treated
• Students will acquire skills to critically assess evidence. They will become able to distinguish grounded evidence from other kinds of information, examine the significance and limitations of evidence, and discuss debates on the basis of balanced evaluation of evidence
• Students will become able to use the evidence of children’s and young people’s own experiences as described in research, and gain an understanding of how children and young people themselves shape childhood as well as how childhood is constructed by adults and society
• Students will become able to question what is considered normal or natural about childhood, and use variety of evidence cautiously to achieve a more holistic understanding of issues about childhood

Module information

No additional information available.

Learning and teaching methods

20 x 1hr lectures 20 x 1hr discussion seminars


  • James, A.; Jenks, C.; Prout, A. (1998) 'Presociological child', in Theorizing childhood, Cambridge: Polity Press., pp.3-21
  • Zelizer, Viviana A. (1994) Pricing the Priceless Child, New Jersey: Princeton University Press.
  • (no date) "Gender Specific Toys: Do You Stereotype Children".
  • Cregan, K.; Cuthbert, D. (2014) 'The Convention on the Rights of the Child and the construction of the normative global child', in Global childhoods: issues and debates, Thousand Oaks, California: Sage Publications.
  • Ogata, Amy Fumiko. (2013) 'Educational Toys and Creative Play Things', in Designing the creative child: playthings and places in midcentury America, Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press., pp.35-70
  • Buckingham, D. (2011) 'Exploited or empowered? Constructing the child consumer', in The material child: growing up in consumer culture, Cambridge: Polity., pp.5-24
  • Kehily, Mary Jane. (2013) Understanding Childhood, Bristol: Policy Press.
  • Clarke, J. (2004) 'Histories of childhood', in Childhood studies: an introduction, Malden, MA: Blackwell Pub., pp.3-12
  • Clavering, Emma. (2016) 'Institutional Norms and Transitions', in Disabled Childhoods: Monitoring Differences and Emerging Identities, Abingdon: Routledge., pp.55-83
  • Buckingham, D. (2011) 'Conclusion: living in a material world', in The material child: growing up in consumer culture, Cambridge: Polity., pp.225-230
  • GeorgetownLawChannel. (2017) Girlhood Interrupted: The Erasure of Black Girls Childhood - YouTube.
  • Bernstein, Robin. (2011) 'Tender Angels, Insensate Pickaninnies: The Divergent Paths of Racial Innocence', in Racial Innocence: Performing American Childhood from Slavery to Civil Rights, New York, NY: NYU Press., pp.30-68
  • Clark, Alison. (2013) Childhoods in Context, Bristol: Policy Press.
  • Bragg, S.; Kehily, M. J.; Montgomery, H. (2013) 'Childhood, culture and innocence', in Children and young people's cultural worlds, Bristol: The Policy Press. vol. 2, pp.1-51
  • Stainton Rogers, W. (2003) 'Gendered childhoods', in Understanding childhood: an indisciplinary approach, Milton Keynes: John Wiley & Sons. vol. 1, pp.179-220
  • Clark, A.; Gallacher, L. (2013) 'Children in and out of place', in Childhoods in context, Bristol: The Policy Press. vol. 3
  • Cuthbert, Denise. (2014) '"Global Childhoods: Children as Objects of National and Global Concern"', in Global childhoods: issues and debates, Thousand Oaks, California: Sage Publications., pp.35-54
  • Ridge, Tess. (2002) Childhood poverty and social exclusion: from a child's perspective, Bristol: Bristol University Press.
  • Clarke, J. (2004) 'Childhood and Juvenile Delinquency', in Childhood studies: an introduction, Malden, MA: Blackwell Pub., pp.83-88
  • Wyse, D. (2004) 'Interdisciplinary perspective: the demonization of childhood', in Childhood studies: an introduction, Malden, MA: Blackwell Pub., pp.205-212
  • Zelizer, Viviana A. Rotman. (c1994) '"Introduction"', in Pricing the priceless child: the changing social value of children, Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press., pp.3-21-
  • Bernstein, Robin. (no date) "Let Black Kids Just Be Kids".
  • Wells, Karen. (©2015) 'Children and Politics', in Childhood in a global perspective, Cambridge: Polity Press., pp.136-158
  • Bragg, Sara; Kehily, Mary Jane. (2013) Children and Young People's Cultural Worlds, Bristol: Policy Press.
  • Woodhead, Martin. (2009) 'Child Development and the Development of Childhood', in The Palgrave handbook of childhood studies, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.
  • Kelly, A. (2004) 'Child health', in An introduction to early childhood studies, London: SAGE., pp.160-175

The above list is indicative of the essential reading for the course. The library makes provision for all reading list items, with digital provision where possible, and these resources are shared between students. Further reading can be obtained from this module's reading list.

Assessment items, weightings and deadlines

Coursework / exam Description Deadline Weighting
Coursework   Critical Summary  03/11/2021  15% 
Coursework   Short Essay  15/12/2021  30% 
Coursework   2000 word Essay   23/03/2022  55% 

Overall assessment

Coursework Exam
100% 0%


Coursework Exam
100% 0%
Module supervisor and teaching staff
Dr Carolyn Laubender, email:
Department of Psychosocial and Psychoanalytic Studies
Student Administrator Room 5A.202; telephone 01206 874969; email



External examiner

Dr Claudia Lapping
Available via Moodle
Of 96 hours, 96 (100%) hours available to students:
0 hours not recorded due to service coverage or fault;
0 hours not recorded due to opt-out by lecturer(s).


Further information

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