BA Childhood Studies

Overview

Are you fascinated by children’s behaviour? What drives their development, what informs their behaviour and shapes their identity? Do you want to help children with emotional, social, behavioural and education difficulties? Why do some children falter through life’s ups and downs, whilst others seem to thrive in adversity and are more resilient? Do you want to make a difference to children’s lives? If so, this course is for you.

Children today face a wide range of new and challenging experiences, including unprecedented access to media, wider cultural diversity, online bullying and larger school numbers. Their early experiences of childhood affect them for the rest of their lives. You can make a positive contribution to these formative years.

Childhood studies is a vibrant and exciting field which has expanded in recent years to include knowledge from psychology, sociology and psychoanalysis. This course lays the foundations for a career working with infants and children, whether in education, health care or children’s services. You gain a solid understanding of child development, the ecology of childhood (the place of children in different societies) and consider the way our concepts of childhood shape and condition children’s lives. You will also learn about the direct work with children through undertaking a placement in each year of study where you can begin to make links between theory and practice. Assessment is mainly by course work.

Topics include:

  • Psychosocial approaches
  • Child development
  • Attachment theory
  • ADHD, developmental trauma and Autism
  • Criminological approaches
  • Play and infant observation
  • The social history of childhood
  • Children in literature
  • Therapeutic work in groups
  • Wellbeing and resilience
  • Psychodynamics of teaching, learning
  • Therapeutic work groups

Our Department of Psychosocial and Psychoanalytic Studies is internationally recognised as one of the leading departments for work on the role of the unconscious mind in mental health, as well as in culture and society more generally. We’re ranked top 10 in the UK for research (REF, 2014) and consistently receive high student satisfaction scores.

Study abroad

Your education extends beyond the university campus. We support you in expanding your education through offering the opportunity to spend a year or a term studying abroad at one of our partner universities. The four-year version of our degree allows you to spend the third year abroad or employed on a placement abroad, while otherwise remaining identical to the three-year course.

Studying abroad allows you to experience other cultures and languages, to broaden your degree socially and academically, and to demonstrate to employers that you are mature, adaptable, and organised.

If you spend a full year abroad you’ll only pay 15% of your usual tuition fee to Essex for that year. You won’t pay any tuition fees to your host university

Placement year

Alternatively, you can spend your third year on a placement year with an external organisation, where you learn about a particular sector, company or job role, apply your academic knowledge in a practical working environment, and receive inspiration for future career pathways. You will be responsible for finding your placement, but with support and guidance provided by both your department and our placements team.

If you complete a placement year you’ll only pay 20% of your usual tuition fee to Essex for that year.

Our expert staff

Our staff blend clinical and professional experience and expertise in their field with the academic rigour that our Department of Psychosocial and Psychoanalytic Studies is known for. You’re taught by lecturers who have years of experience working directly with troubled individuals and groups in specialist settings. This means they are seasoned researchers in the field of childhood and psychoanalytic studies, but also draw upon years of clinical experience as teachers, psychotherapists, and therapeutic community practitioners.

Our staff specialise in areas ranging from creative therapies for children and adolescents, to organisational dynamics, to the practice of psychotherapy, to psychodynamic counselling with children and adolescents.

Specialist facilities

You will experience a lively, informal environment with a number of specialist facilities:

  • At our Colchester Campus, you have access to The Albert Sloman Library which houses a collection of books, journals, electronic resources and major archives
  • Our Department has its own dedicated library of specialist texts which inform and influence our research
  • Attend free evening Open Seminars on topics relevant to childhood studies, education, mental health and psychosocial studies which are open to students, staff and members of the public.

Your future

Whether you want to work with infants in the nursery, children with emotional and behavioural difficulties in children’s homes, support those with learning difficulties, or go on into teaching, our course prepares you to make a difference to children’s lives. Put theory into practice by carrying out reflective practice through infant observation, and a work placement. These give you invaluable experience within your chosen sector.

We help you to explore and understand the kind of role you’re preparing for so you graduate with a valuable balance of theoretical understanding and useful practical experience – rare qualities giving you the edge needed to successfully gain employment upon graduation. There are a range of jobs directly related to this degree including early years teachers, family support workers, learning support workers, primary and secondary teacher, special needs teachers and social workers.

After taking this degree you can also enter further study or training to become a:

  • Child psychotherapist
  • Children’s nurse
  • Community development worker
  • Counsellor
  • Arts Therapist
  • Educational psychologist
  • Speech and language therapist

We also work with the University’s Student Development Team to help you find out about further work experience, internships, placements, and voluntary opportunities.

* Non-specialist higher education institutions with a survey population of at least 500.


Why we’re great

  • You’ll be taught by lecturers who bring both academic and practical knowledge from years of working with children.
  • Our degree will lay the foundations for a career working with infants and children, whether in education, health care or children’s services.
  • Our students learn in small groups with expert practitioners and academics.

Structure

Course structure

We offer a flexible course structure with a mixture of core/compulsory modules, and optional modules chosen from lists.

Our research-led teaching is continually evolving to address the latest challenges and breakthroughs in the field. The course content is therefore reviewed on an annual basis to ensure our courses remain up-to-date so modules listed are subject to change.

Teaching and learning disclaimer

Following the impact of the pandemic, we made changes to our teaching and assessment to ensure our current students could continue with their studies uninterrupted and safely. These changes included courses being taught through blended delivery, normally including some face-to-face teaching, online provision, or a combination of both across the year.

The teaching and assessment methods listed show what is currently approved for 2022 entry; changes may be necessary if, by the beginning of this course, we need to adapt the way we’re delivering them due to the external environment, and to allow you to continue to receive the best education possible safely and seamlessly.

Placement

On a placement year you gain relevant work experience within an external business or organisation, giving you a competitive edge in the graduate job market and providing you with key contacts within the industry. The rest of your course remains identical to the three-year degree.

Year abroad

On your year abroad, you have the opportunity to experience other cultures and languages, to broaden your degree socially and academically, and to demonstrate to employers that you are mature, adaptable, and organised. The rest of your course remains identical to the three-year degree.

Teaching

  • Teaching takes place through lectures and seminars often in relatively small groups, with a focus on group interaction and discussion
  • Discussion in seminars includes discussing theoretical ideas, how these might apply to practice and discussing your own experiences and observation on placement
  • You will also participate in skills based workshops, debates, observation seminars, reflective groups and teach others through presentation of theoretical readings and practice case examples

Assessment

  • Your grade is made up mainly of coursework marks, including essays, case studies and reflective reports. There are exams, but these are infrequent

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