The BA in Childhood Studies at Essex is an interdisciplinary degree where we explore the social and emotional worlds of children from birth to 25. It is a wonderful introduction for students wishing to deepen their knowledge about children's live and forge a career in children's education, health and well-being.
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. It can also lead to further study in a range of courses from social work or teaching to speech and language therapy.
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; in year one this placement can be with children of any age, in year two this is focussed on infant observation. Assessment is mainly by course work.
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.
88% of our Department of Psychosocial and Psychoanalytic Studies graduates are in employment or further study (Graduate Outcomes 2022)
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
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.
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.
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:
Community development worker
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.
UK entry requirements
BTEC: DDM, depending on subject studied - advice on acceptability can be provided.
IB: 29 points or three Higher Level certificates with 554.
We are also happy to consider a combination of separate IB Diploma Programme Courses (formerly certificates) at both Higher and Standard Level. Exact offer levels will vary depending on the range of subjects being taken at higher and standard level, and the course applied for.
We can also consider combinations with BTECs or other qualifications in the Career-related programme – the acceptability of BTECs and other qualifications depends on the subject studied, advice on acceptability can be provided. Please contact the Undergraduate Admissions Office for more information.
Access to HE Diploma: 6 level 3 credits at Distinction and 39 level 3 credits at Merit
T-levels: Distinction, depending on subject studied -advice on acceptability can be provided.
You must also have a satisfactory enhanced Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) Check (including child and adult barred list check) - this is organised by the University. A satisfactory Overseas Criminal Record Check/Local Police Certificate is also required, in addition to a DBS Check, where you have lived outside of the UK in the last 5 years for 6 months or more.
What if I have a non-traditional academic background? Don’t worry. To gain a deeper knowledge of your course suitability, we will look at your educational and employment history, together with your personal statement and reference.
You may be considered for entry into Year 1 of your chosen course. Alternatively, some UK and EU applicants may be considered for Essex Pathways, an additional year of study (known as a foundation year/year 0) helping students gain the necessary skills and knowledge in order to succeed on their chosen course. You can find a list of Essex Pathways courses and entry requirements here
If you are a mature student, further information is here
International & EU entry requirements
We accept a wide range of qualifications from applicants studying in the EU and other countries. Get in touch with any questions you may have about the qualifications we accept. Remember to tell us about the qualifications you have already completed or are currently taking.
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Other English language qualifications may be acceptable so please contact us for further details. If we accept the English component of an international qualification then it will be included in the information given about the academic levels listed above. Please note that date restrictions may apply to some English language qualifications
If you are an international student requiring a visa to study in the UK please see our immigration webpages for the latest Home Office guidance on English language qualifications.
If you do not meet our IELTS requirements then you may be able to complete a pre-sessional English pathway that enables you to start your course without retaking IELTS.
If you’re an international student, but do not meet the English language or academic requirements for direct admission to this degree, you could prepare and gain entry through a pathway course. Find out more about opportunities available to you at the University of Essex International College here.
Our research-led teaching is continually evolving to address the latest challenges and breakthroughs in the field. The following modules are based on the current course structure and may change in response to new curriculum developments and innovation.
We understand that deciding where and what to study is a very important decision for you. We’ll make all reasonable efforts to provide you with the courses, services and facilities as described on our website. However, if we need to make material changes, for example due to significant disruption, or in response to COVID-19, we’ll let our applicants and students know as soon as possible.
Components and modules explained
Components are the blocks of study that make up your course. A component may have a set module which you must study, or a number of modules from which you can choose.
Each component has a status and carries a certain number of credits towards your qualification.
What this means
You must take the set module for this component and you must pass. No failure can be permitted.
Core with Options
You can choose which module to study from the available options for this component but you must pass. No failure can be permitted.
You must take the set module for this component. There may be limited opportunities to continue on the course/be eligible for the qualification if you fail.
Compulsory with Options
You can choose which module to study from the available options for this component. There may be limited opportunities to continue on the course/be eligible for the qualification if you fail.
You can choose which module to study from the available options for this component. There may be limited opportunities to continue on the course/be eligible for the qualification if you fail.
The modules that are available for you to choose for each component will depend on several factors, including which modules you have chosen for other components, which modules you have completed in previous years of your course, and which term the module is taught in.
Modules are the individual units of study for your course. Each module has its own set of learning outcomes and assessment criteria and also carries a certain number of credits.
In most cases you will study one module per component, but in some cases you may need to study more than one module. For example, a 30-credit component may comprise of either one 30-credit module, or two 15-credit modules, depending on the options available.
Modules may be taught at different times of the year and by a different department or school to the one your course is primarily based in. You can find this information from the module code. For example, the module code HR100-4-FY means:
The department or school the module will be taught by.
In this example, the module would be taught by the Department of History.
In this module you will explore childhood from a local and a global perspective. You will discover a broad range of topics related to children and childhood, including psychology, sociology, history, media, law and education.
Expand on your knowledge of perspectives and theoretical approaches relating to child development. This module focuses on developmental psychology and includes psychoanalytic and psycho-dynamic theories.
Placement Based Observation Skills and Reflective Practice
For this module you will learn observation skills and reflective practice skills to enhance your working experience and your professional practice. You will also undertake a placement where you have the opportunity to gain hands on experience. This placement will be within the children’s sector, for example a nursery, a school or a children’s centre. You will have support from your lecturer in gaining the placement and whilst you are on the placement.
Assignment and Research Writing for Psychoanalytic Studies
Want guidance in understanding your course? Know how your academic skills will transfer to the world of work? Develop your abilities to undertake independent research. Learn to read critically and to write clearly. Build the employability skills that will help you during your studies and after graduation.
Understanding Individuals Groups and Organisations : An Introduction to Psychodynamic Concepts
How do unconscious dynamics work in individuals, groups and organisations? How can psychodynamic insight be applied to this? Explore how individuals affect one another, how institutions affect those who work there and vice versa. Understand key concepts in psychodynamic thinking and how to apply this to individuals, groups and workplaces.
In this module you will develop your understanding of childhood studies and childcare practice and explore employability and career options within this field. You will have the opportunity to think about your future career aspirations and learn about the graduate employment market.
This module explored a wide range of children’s fiction, both written for children and about children. You read and analyse popular children’s literature from ‘Where the Wild Things are’ to ‘Matilda’. You will build your knowledge of how the perceptions of childhood have changed over the last century and the types of ideals being projected onto the world of children through literature.
Discover the broad range of policies, ethics and professional conduct in the workplace with regards to children. You will develop an understanding of both the practice related and theoretical aspects and learn how to apply this to the workplace, your discipline and the children you are working with.
In this module you will learn about child development, focusing on infancy. You will have the opportunity to gain first-hand experience in observing the early developments of an infant, within a family setting or in the nursery setting. You will learn the unfolding of the infant’s awareness of self and others and the developing of personality and identity within the context in which it is happening.
You will also be learning about the role of the observer. Understanding and developing how this role supports the development of skills and sensitivity around role management and boundaries in preparation for professional life – where working therapeutically or with ordinary children or other settings.
In this module we examine some of the developments in psychoanalytic theory with a special focus on the figure of the child. We consider some of the debates surrounding the development of psychoanalysis of children through the work of Melanie Klein, D. W. Winnicott, Anna Freud, amongst others. We pay attention to the importance of play and practices of observation to understand how and why the figure of the child has been central to the development of psychoanalytic thought.
Consider the ways in which childhood has changed throughout history. In this module you will explore how the concept of childhood has developed particularly from eighteenth century onwards. This module covers a variety of aspects including religion, education, rights and policies, culture, gender and sexuality.
Study a range of difficulties encountered by some children, such as developmental trauma, autism and ADHD. Learn how these can impact on children’s development and increase your knowledge of the strategies that have been developed to try and improve their situation.
Childhood Wellbeing: Play, Socialisation and Resilience
Explore children’s well-being through play, socialisation and resilience. Discover how well-being can vary across cultures, both nationally and globally. In this module you will also learn about current issues facing children today such as technology, internet and the effects that this may have on well-being.
Teaching and Learning with Children: A Psychosocial Approach
Understand what facilitates education and the factors that can also hinder learning. You will explore all areas that can affect a child’s ability to learn, from anxiety to new experiences. You will learn the aspects of learning through a sociological and psycho-social perspective.
Childhood Inc.: Disney and the Globalization of Childhood
How does diversity impact children? How is childhood constructed differently based on differences in race, gender, class, sexuality, nationality, religion, or disability? How do children themselves navigate the larger inequalities of society and eventually internalize an understanding of their own diverse identities?
This module emphasizes the importance of diversity and identity for understanding childhood and offers a critical introduction to some of the main identity categories that impact children's everyday lives. Taking a topical, week-by-week approach, this module considers, for instance, how children navigate racial identities in a landscape of social inequality and how gender differently affects children's development of relational qualities like confidence and caring.
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.
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 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
Your grade is made up mainly of coursework marks, including essays, case studies and reflective reports. There are exams, but these are infrequent
Fees and funding
Fees will increase for each academic year of study.
Applications for our full-time undergraduate courses should be made through the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS). Applications are online at: www.ucas.com. Full details on this process can be obtained from the UCAS website in the how to apply section.
Our UK students, and some of our EU and international students, who are still at school or college, can apply through their school. Your school will be able to check and then submit your completed application to UCAS. Our other international applicants (EU or worldwide) or independent applicants in the UK can also apply online through UCAS Apply.
The UCAS code for our University of Essex is ESSEX E70. The individual campus codes for our Loughton and Southend Campuses are 'L' and 'S' respectively.
You can find further information on how to apply, including information on transferring from another university, applying if you are not currently at a school or college, and applying for readmission on our How to apply and entry requirements page.
If you are an undergraduate student residing in the UK who has received an offer to study with us in October 2023, you will receive an email invitation to book onto one of our Applicant Days. Our Colchester Campus Applicant Days run from February to May 2023 on various Wednesdays and Saturdays, and our Southend Campus Applicant Days run from March to June 2023 on various weekdays and Saturdays. Applicant Days provide the opportunity to meet your department, tour our campus and accommodation, and chat to current students. We appreciate that travelling to university events can be expensive. This is why we have increased our Applicant Day Travel Bursary cap, allowing you to claim up to £150 as reimbursement for travel expenses. For further information about Applicant Days, including Terms and Conditions and eligibility criteria for our Travel Bursary, please visit our Applicant Days webpage.
If you are an overseas offer-holder, you will be invited to attend one of our virtual events. However, you are more than welcome to join us at one of our in-person Applicant Days if you are able to, so if you’d like to book a place, please contact our Applicant Day Team at email@example.com
Visit Colchester Campus
Home to 15,000 students from more than 130 countries, our Colchester Campus is the largest of our three sites, making us one of the most internationally diverse campuses on the planet - we like to think of ourselves as the world in one place.
If you live too far away to come to Essex (or have a busy lifestyle), no problem. Our 360 degree virtual tours allows you to explore our University from the comfort of your home. Check out our Colchester virtual tour and Southend virtual tour to see accommodation options, facilities and social spaces.
Our staff travel the world to speak to people about the courses on offer at Essex. Take a look at our list of exhibition dates to see if we’ll be near you in the future.
At Essex we pride ourselves on being a welcoming and inclusive student community. We offer a wide range of support to individuals and groups of student members who may have specific requirements, interests or responsibilities.
The University makes every effort to ensure that this information on its programme specification is accurate and up-to-date. Exceptionally it can be necessary to make changes, for example to courses, facilities or fees. Examples of such reasons might include, but are not limited to: strikes, other industrial action, staff illness, severe weather, fire, civil commotion, riot, invasion, terrorist attack or threat of terrorist attack (whether declared or not), natural disaster, restrictions imposed by government or public authorities, epidemic or pandemic disease, failure of public utilities or transport systems or the withdrawal/reduction of funding. Changes to courses may for example consist of variations to the content and method of delivery of programmes, courses and other services, to discontinue programmes, courses and other services and to merge or combine programmes or courses. The University will endeavour to keep such changes to a minimum, and will also keep students informed appropriately by updating our programme specifications. The University would inform and engage with you if your course was to be discontinued, and would provide you with options, where appropriate, in line with our Compensation and Refund Policy.
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