Childhood Studies BA (Hons)

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Course starts: 16 September 2019Apply now

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This course will provide you with skills, knowledge and understanding in a range of subject areas that combine to form childhood studies. You will learn about child development, children's needs, and the historical, social and cultural issues that impacts their lives. You will also develop your knowledge and understanding of the child as an individual and the position of the child in society.

You will have the opportunity to register on a new pathway, Early Childhood Graduate Practitioner Competencies in your first semester. This will allow you to become a practitioner and assures employers that you have completed relevant practice experience. If you choose to take this pathway, you will graduate with the degree title BA (Hons) Childhood Studies with Early Childhood Graduate Practitioner Competencies.

Why us?

  • We are one of eight Higher Education institutions in the UK providing the optional Early Childhood Graduate Practitioner pathway, an optional pathway for students who meet the requirements
  • Teaching staff are research-active in a variety of childhood related subjects including; children's development, early years practice, inclusive education, Special Educational Needs and Disability, education for sustainable development, childhood identity and social media
  • 93.4% of our graduates are in employment, further study or training within six months of graduating, according to DLHE 2016/17 (based on full-time, first degree, home leavers)
  • This course has over 90% Overall Satisfaction according to the National Student Survey 2018
  • Our Social Work courses were ranked 1st overall in the UK in the 2018 UK Engagement Survey
  • Our Social Work courses were ranked 2nd in the UK for Assessment and Feedback, and 2nd in the UK for Retention and Progression in the 2018 UK Engagement Survey
  • The University of Sunderland was ranked 12th in the Courses and Lecturers category of the Whatuni Student Choice Awards 2019

Course structure

Your progress will be assessed with essays, reports, group work, seminar presentations and self-evaluation. Throughout your degree you'll have one-to-one support from academic staff.

Year 1 (national level 4):

You will reflect on a range of psychological, sociological, health, historical and philosophical perspectives and consider how these underpin different understandings of children and childhood. Throughout your first year modules, you will demonstrate knowledge and awareness of the skills needed for building relationships with individual children, children in groups, families, colleagues, other professionals and communities.

Core modules:

  • The Nature and Culture of Childhood (20 credits)
  • An Introduction to Child Development (20 credits)
  • Inclusion, Integration and Exclusion (20 credits)
  • Building Graduate Skills for the Professional and Reflective Childhood Practitioner (20 credits)
  • Teaching and Learning Across the Curriculum (20 credits)
  • Child Development: Theory into Practice (20 credits) or Child Development: Practice Competencies for Early Childhood Graduate Practitioner (20 credits)


Some modules have prerequisites. Read more about what this means in our Help and Advice article.

Year 2 (national level 5):

You will critically explore, examine and evaluate the significance of the cultural, historical and contemporary features of various policies, institutions and agencies regarding childhood. You will plan for and implement: play, the curriculum, assessment, evaluation, and improvement of creative learning opportunities, taking into account children's health and emotional wellbeing. You will also reflect upon the ethics of studying children and their families and communities through field work. You will become more independent, resilient, responsible and pragmatic and develop as an autonomous learner.

Core modules:

  • The Child and the Social and Economic Environment (20 credits)
  • Health and Childhood (20 credits)
  • Researching Childhood (20 credits)
  • Creative Approaches (20 credits)
  • Children and Young People in Global Contexts (20 credits)
  • Observing, Assessing and Reporting Young Children’s Learning and Development (20 credits) or Assessing Young Children’s Development: Practice Competencies for Early Childhood Graduate Practitioner (20 credits)

Final year (national level 6):

You will apply multiple perspectives to childhood issues, recognising that childhood studies involves a range of research methods, theories, evidence and applications. You will begin to lead, support and work collaboratively with others and demonstrate an understanding of working effectively in teams with parents, carers and other professionals. You will also produce critical arguments for improvements to multi-agency and multi-professional practices for children, families and communities.

Core modules:

  • Childhood Studies Research Project (40 credits)
  • Equality and Diversity in Contemporary Society (20 credits)
  • Leading Practice for Children and Young People (20 credits)
  • Education and Society (20 credits)
  • The First Three Years of Childhood (20 credits) or The First Three Years of Childhood: Practice Competencies for Early Childhood Graduate Practitioner (20 credits)
  • You can access free Wi-Fi throughout the University campus, so you can work from anywhere. If you don't want to carry a laptop around, just use one of the University’s PCs or Apple Macs. We have hundreds of computers for you to use in the Murray Library, St Peter's Library, and the David Goldman Informatics Centre. If you ever have any technical problems, just ask the friendly helpdesk team.

    IT provision
  • We’ve got thousands social science books and e-books, with many more titles available through the inter-library loan service. We also subscribe to a comprehensive range of print and electronic journals so you can access the most reliable and up-to-date academic and industry articles.

    Library resources which you might find particularly useful for Childhood Studies include:

    • Project Muse, which provides over 180 full-text humanities and social sciences journals
    • JSTOR (short for ‘Journal Storage’), which provides access to important journals across the humanities, social sciences and sciences
    • Lexis, which provides access to legal information as well as full-text newspaper articles
    • Professional Development Collection, which features hundreds of education journals and reports
    • Psychology and Behavioural Sciences Database, which includes full-text journal articles on topics spanning emotional and behavioural sciences, psychiatry and psychology
    • Community Care Inform, which helps professionals who work with children and young people to make, and evidence, their decisions
    • EBSCO Professional Development Collection, which is a specialised collection of over 500 education journals
    Library Services - childhood studies
  • Map and directions


You'll be based at The Reg Vardy Centre, situated on the award-winning St Peter's riverside campus. The location benefits from dedicated library services and has superb transport links with the city centre and City Campus.

Entry requirements

Our typical offer is 104 UCAS points from a minimum of two A Levels or equivalent (e.g. 1 x AVCE double award). We do not accept General Studies.

Find out how many points your qualifications are worth using the UCAS Tariff calculator.

We accept a maximum of 6 points from Level 3 Key Skills qualifications.

We also require three passes at GCSE grade C or above, which must include Mathematics and English Language, or a minimum of Level 2 Key Skills in Communication and Application of Number. If you have studied for a GCSE which has a numerical grade then you will need to achieve a grade 4 or above.

You must have a Disclosure Barring Service (DBS) check before you can start this course, and you will also need to complete a medical pro forma.

If you don't meet our standard entry requirements, we also offer this course with an Integrated Foundation Year.

If English is not your first language, please see our English language requirements.

Fees and finance

The annual, full-time fee for this course is:

  • £9,250 if you are from the UK or EU
  • £12,000 if you are from outside the EU

The part-time fee is £6,935 per 120 credits if you are from the UK or EU.

This part-time course is not available to international students who require a Tier 4 visa to study in the UK.

If you are not sure whether you qualify as a UK, EU or international student, find out more in our Help and Advice article.

If you currently serve (or have recently served) within the Armed Forces, then the Ministry of Defence's ELCAS scheme may be able to help cover your funding for this course. For more information, see our Funding for Armed Forces personnel page.

Take a look at the Your Finances section to find out about the scholarships and bursaries that may be available to you.

Use our scholarships calculator to see what you may be entitled to.

Scholarships calculator

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This information was correct at the time of publication.

The Sir Tom Cowie Campus at St Peter's by night


BA (Hons) Childhood Studies leads to a range of careers in children's services. Many of our graduates go on to work in health, social care, education, childcare, charities, and voluntary organisations, while many go on to study postgraduate courses such as PGCE Primary Education, MSc Practice Development and MSc Inequality and Society.

Our graduates also qualify as teachers by undertaking the Teach First and School Direct programmes.

Early Childhood Graduate Practitioner

As an Early Childhood Graduate Practitioner, you will be an advocate for young children’s rights and participation and recognise that young children are active co-constructors of their own learning. By becoming a Practitioner, you will critically apply academic knowledge of pedagogy and research evidence, to the holistic development of infants and young children, in a practice context that is respectful of the child, their family and community.

You will need to undertake the competencies modules across all levels which are observed and assessed during placement. This new option will be registered and linked to the Department for Education website and assures employers that graduates on this pathway have completed relevant practice experience. This enables the wider workforce to be clear about individual early career graduates’ expected level of knowledge, skills and actual experiences in practice.

Centre for Applied Social Sciences

The University of Sunderland’s Centre for Applied Social Studies (CASS) regularly hosts visiting speakers, and it can be an excellent way to learn from the experiences of people who already have a strong track record in social policy.

CASS is the centre for applied social science research at the University, and you may find opportunities to collaborate with the academic team – particularly on areas relating to children, young people and families.

Research-active staff 

The Childhood Studies team come from a diverse range of professional and academic backgrounds. They are research-active in a variety of childhood related subjects including: children's development, early years practice, inclusive education, special educational needs and disability, education for sustainable development, childhood identity and social media, children's literature and childhood transitions. Their expertise in these areas is used to inform modules on the course. Members of the team are also involved with external activities such as working with children's charities, local schools and early years settings. Actively engaging with our employer networks in this way supports our emphasis on developing your employability.

Meet the students

  • The support provided by the lecturers and the facilities that are on offer are the best aspects.
    Jordan Robertson Square

    Jordan Kyle Robertson

  • University of Sunderland is a phenomenal place to become inspired and educated.
    Reg Vardy building

    Louise Darwin

  • The University of Sunderland helped me realise my dream.

    Stephen Day

  • A fantastic university with a wide range of support in place and very nice lecturers.

    Sylwia Szymczyk

Meet the team

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