Degrees and courses for international students
You are viewing information for England.  Change country or region.

Young lives, parenting and families

Qualification dates
Start End

What does it mean to be a child or young person today? How is childhood, youth, parenting and family shaped by society and culture, and how do current ideas compare with those of the past? Is this a good time to be young? What is the influence of age, gender, sexuality, ethnicity, disability and geography? This module takes an interdisciplinary approach to exploring these issues, drawing on a range of data, research and audio-visual material. It will develop your study and employability skills and provide you with opportunities to debate issues with academics and other students.

What you will study

The study material for this module is organised into 8 learning guides, which include audio-visual material and online and print-based readings:

1: Young lives – begins to examine the range of factors that influence the divergent lives and complex experiences of children and young people today. Issues that students will explore include whether this is a good time to be young, and the impact of discrimination, poverty and inequality. They will also begin to consider the many issues for people working in children’s services today .

2: Society and community – encourages students to use a range of data and research in order to critically examine how community and society are experienced and related to the wellbeing and life chances of children and young people. Students will examine the concept of time within individual everyday experience and wider social change, such as demographic changes, changes in the law and changes in relationships. They will also critically reflect on the extent to which society is a meritocracy and apply theories of social capital and cultural capital to explain social mobility and inequalities.

3: Working together – focuses on practice and explores how practitioners work together to support children, young people, parents and families. Students will consider the opportunities, as well as the potential challenges, presented by multi-agency and inter-professional working, and they will look at ways in which values, ethics and legal frameworks inform practice in this area. They will also examine some of the ethical dilemmas that practitioners may encounter, and the ways in which they might deal with ethical dilemmas in their practice with children, young people, parents and families.

4: Children and childhood – focuses on children (particularly those aged 0–12 years) and examines several of the key issues embedded in modern childhood such as inclusion, gender, rights and child protection. It uses a range of material to enable students to acquire a deeper and more nuanced understanding of children and childhood and of the skills and values of effective and equitable work with children.

5: Youth and young people – looks at social and cultural aspects of being young and the concept of ‘youth’. Students critically explore changing understandings of young people’s lives and examine how different professionals engage with young people. Young people’s involvement in crime and policing, music and popular culture are featured, alongside questions of gender, race and class.

6: Parents and parenting – focuses on parents and parenting, and relationships between practitioners and parents. Students are asked to consider a range of perspectives on parenting, including what it means to be a ‘good parent’, and to look at case studies and research related to the intersection of parenting and society. Issues examined include the role and function of parenting support and education, for example, parenting classes, programmes targeted for ‘troubled families’, and the role of informal support and online communities. Children and young people’s perspectives on parenting will also be explored.

7: Families matter – examines the family and family structures historically and in relation to contemporary social change. It considers ways in which social and economic change impact on families and the role of service providers in addressing the disadvantages arising from these. It looks at the experience of children and young people living outside of their ‘birth families’, and their experience of the care system. It also reflects on some of the problems that families might encounter, such as domestic abuse.

8: Reviewing your learning – focuses on supporting students in reviewing their learning over the course of the module and preparing for the end-of-module assessment (which is an EMA).

Entry requirements

This is an OU level 3 module. It’s designed to build on study skills and subject knowledge acquired from studies at OU levels 1 and 2, or equivalent study at another university. Level 3 modules are specifically written for students who are working towards a degree level qualification. Your previous higher education study does not have to include study in a relevant curriculum area (e.g. early childhood, childhood and youth studies, or health and social care). A general interest in issues related to children, young people, parenting and families will be of great value.

If you have any doubt about the suitability of the module, please speak to an adviser.

What's included

You’ll have access to a module website, which includes:

  • a week-by-week study planner
  • the module guide and assessment guide
  • course-specific module materials organised into learning guides
  • audio and video content
  • assignment details and submission section
  • online tutorial access.

There are online tutor group forums and module-wide forums. You’ll also be provided with a printed KE322 Readings book, also available online.

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 either an up-to-date version of Windows or macOS.

The screen of the device 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

You'll have a tutor who will provide support and guidance throughout your studies and mark and comment on your assignments.

We aim to provide face-to-face tutorials in a range of locations students can travel to, though we cannot guarantee availability close to where you live. Online alternatives may also be provided, and recordings of these will typically be made available to students. Student numbers on the module, and where tutors are based, will affect the locations of where tutorials are held, and what online alternatives are provided. We cannot guarantee that face-to-face tutorials will be hosted in specific locations, or in locations that have been used previously or that they will be led by your own tutor. While you’re not obliged to attend any of these tutorial events, you are strongly encouraged to take part.

Contact us if you want to know more about study with The Open University before you register.


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

There are 4 compulsory tutor-marked assignments (TMAs). You must use the online eTMA system to submit your tutor-marked assignments (TMAs).

One TMA will ask you to select data and analysis and to create a visual representation of it. The other three TMAs are essays.  These assessments are designed to enable you to demonstrate both what you have learnt from the module material and your developing ability to think and write critically. The TMAs are between 1,000 and 3,000 words in length.

An end-of-module assessment will cover the key themes and issues from across the module. This will be in the form of an essay.

If you have a disability

The OU strives to make all aspects of study accessible to everyone and this Accessibility Statement outlines what studying KE322 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

Young lives, parenting and families starts once a year in October. This page describes the module that will start in October 2020. We expect it to start for the last time in October 2025.

Course work includes:

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

Student Reviews

See what other students thought.