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Exploring childhood and youth

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This module asks the question “What does it mean to be a child or young person in today’s world?” Explore children and young people’s everyday lives (ages 0–23) and gain deeper insight into contemporary childhood and youth studies. You’ll examine diverse experiences of childhood and youth in the UK and across the world, looking at topics including identity, disability, gender, and climate change. Do you work with or aspire to work with children and young people? We’ve designed it for anyone with an interest in the field of childhood and youth studies.

What you will study

Throughout the module, there’s an emphasis on children’s and young people’s own perspectives, as well as their rights. You’ll be encouraged to challenge common assumptions about childhood and youth, thinking about where information comes from and how ideas about childhood are developed. The module asks you to consider everyday aspects of children’s and young people’s lives and contexts that might otherwise go unexamined.

Exploring childhood and youth (E232) is made up of four online study blocks, each focused around a key theme.

Block 1: Bodies and minds
The first block looks at how children and young people experience their identities and shape their own worlds. You’ll learn about the importance of everyday items like food and toys as they affect children’s fluid and changing identities. This study block explores different ways of thinking about children’s bodies, and how gender affects children’s lives.

Block 2: Space, place and belonging
In Block 2, the focus shifts to the physical and social environments around the child. It looks at everyday places and everyday violence experienced by children across the world, and different ways that adults intervene in children's and young people’s lives internationally. You’ll also consider the meanings and purposes of play and schooling.

Block 3: Inequalities and inclusion
This block explores different forms of inequality in the context of children and young people’s lives. You’ll think about ideas of ‘normality’ and otherness, exploring questions of poverty, disability and educational inequalities.

Block 4: Childhood: past, present and future
The final block looks at developing ideas of childhood and youth across history, including changing models of health and wellbeing. You’ll think about how childhood is changing in the context of new technologies and climate change, what the future looks like for children and young people, and how they are working to change it.

Entry requirements

There are no formal entry requirements to study this module.

However, you may find it easier if you have previously studied OU level 1 modules in a related area.

Preparatory work

If you’re looking for an introductory module in childhood and youth studies, we recommend An introduction to childhood and youth studies (E102).

What's included

This module includes a module website made up of a series of learning guides and a module reader. Each learning guide will support your though your studies. The online learning guides include a range of newly produced audiovisual material, and are accompanied by a specially produced module reader with chapters written by a range of experts in childhood and youth studies.

Computing requirements

A computing device with a browser and broadband internet access is required for this module. Any modern browser will be suitable for most computer activities. Functionality may be limited on mobile devices.

Any additional software will be provided, or is generally freely available. However, some activities may have more specific requirements. For this reason, you will need to be able to install and run additional software on a device that meets the requirements below.

  • A desktop or laptop computer with an up-to-date version of Windows
  • The screen must have a resolution of at least 1024 pixels horizontally and 768 pixels vertically.

To join in the spoken conversation in our online rooms we recommend a headset (headphones or earphones with an integrated microphone).

Our Skills for OU study website has further information including computing skills for study, computer security, acquiring a computer and Microsoft software offers for students.

Teaching and assessment

Support from your tutor

Upon registration you’ll be assigned to a tutor. Your tutor will be your first point of contact throughout your studies.


The assessment details for this module can be found in the facts box.

You must use the online eTMA system to submit your tutor-marked assignments (TMAs).

If you have a disability

The OU strives to make all aspects of study accessible to everyone and this Accessibility Statement outlines what studying E232 involves. You should use this information to inform your study preparations and any discussions with us about how we can meet your needs.

Future availability

Exploring childhood and youth starts once a year – in October.

This page describes the module that will start in October 2021. We expect it to start for the last time in October 2027.

Course work includes:

4 Tutor-marked assignments (TMAs)
End-of-module assessment
No residential school