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EQ105-15 Social Contexts of Childhood and Education

Education Studies
Undergraduate Level 1
Module leader
Mark Pulsford
Credit value
Module duration
10 weeks
100% coursework
Study location
University of Warwick main campus, Coventry
Introductory description

This module discusses the ways in which childhood, education and schooling are perceived in different social contexts. Throughout the module you will explore a number of arenas through which children are nurtured, protected and socialised, including family, peer group and the virtual world of the mass media and digital technology, considering historical and contemporary developments. Students will also critically analyse the impact of class, poverty, gender and ethnicity on education and childhood.

Module web page

Module aims
  1. To examine the range of contexts within which education takes place
  2. To explore the relationship between children, childhood and schooling
  3. To advance students knowledge of children's engagement with education
  4. To provide a global frame within which children's social relations are analysed
Outline syllabus

This is an indicative module outline only to give an indication of the sort of topics that may be covered. Actual sessions held may differ.

This module will focus on the social and cultural aspects of education, with a particular focus on the relationship between children, childhood and schooling. There is an important historical dimension to this with the rise of school systems in many affluent countries both paralleling and implicated in the shaping of modern childhood. A second general theme explores the relationship between children, their families and education. A number of significant social dimensions to children’s education will be examined, the relationship between poverty and schooling, the gender gap in education, the role of social class in shaping children’s educational life chances and peer relations in school. Thirdly, the cultural dimension to schooling is significant in terms of the attitudes, expectations and practices relating to education at national and global levels. Among other things we look at the work children do in and out of school, issues of children’s participation in school and the role of kinship networks in providing education and guidance.

Indicative Content

  • A short history of childhood and schooling
  • Contexts of education: children and families
  • Poverty and schooling
  • Parents, Schooling and Social Class
  • The gender gap in education
  • Peer relations in school
  • Transnational families (link with ethnicity)
  • Children’ work in and out of school
  • Children’s participation
  • Out of school education – the role of kinship networks
Learning outcomes

By the end of the module, students should be able to:

  • 1. Understand the range of contexts within which education takes place
  • 2. Analyse children's social relations within a global frame
  • 3. Understand the relationship between children, childhood and schooling
  • 4. Understand further ideas of students’ knowledge of children's engagement with education
  • 5. Understand the role of social contexts in shaping differential school based outcomes
  • 6.Understand the relationship between schooling and global diversity
Indicative reading list

Arnot, M Mac an Ghaill, M. (eds) (2006) The Routledge Reader in Gender and Education, Routledge.
Boyden, J. and Bourdillon, M. (eds) (2012) Childhood Poverty: Multi-Disciplinary Approaches, Blackwell.
Fleer, M. Hedegaard, M.and Tudge, J. (eds) (2009) Childhood Studies and the Impact of Globalisation: Practices at Global and Local Levels, London: Routledge, pp: 1-20
Lareau, A. (2011) Unequal Childhoods: Class, Race and Family Life, second edition, University of California press
Percy-Smith, B. and Thomas, N. (eds) (2010) A Handbook of Children and Young People’s Participation: perspectives from theory and practice, London: Routledge.
Thorne, B. (1993) Gender Play: girls and boys in school. Milton Keynes: Open University Press.
Ball, S. (2003) Class strategies and the education market: the middle classes and social advantage, London: Routledge Falmer.
Evans, G. (2006) Educational failure and working class white children in Britain, Basingstoke: Palgrave
Wyness, M (2012) Childhood and Society, second edition, Palgrave.

View reading list on Talis Aspire


The module uses a sociological lens to examine children and childhood. It also covers historical understandings of childhood.


The module draws on research about children and childhood in other cultural and international contexts, for example with a focus on migration and childhood.

Subject specific skills

Students should demonstrate a critical understanding of -

  • the underlying values, theories and concepts relevant to education
  • the diversity of learners and the complexities of the education process
  • the complexity of the interaction between learning and local and global contexts, and the extent to which participants (including learners and teachers) can influence the learning process
  • the societal and organisational structures and purposes of educational systems, and the possible implications for learners and the learning process
  • theories, practice and research in the area of education
  • psychological, sociological, historical and philosophical perspectives and consider how these underpin different understandings of children and childhood
  • competing positions in relation to the construction of children and childhood by different subjects, societal agents and time, place and culture
  • the interrelationships between political, economic, cultural and ideological contexts in the lives of children and their families and communities
Transferable skills
  • Active listening
  • Communication skills
  • Confidence
  • Coordinating with others
  • Critical thinking
  • Interpersonal and communication skills
  • Judgement and decision making
  • Management of learning
  • Motivation, tenacity, commitment
  • Negotiation
  • Passion
  • Personal development skills
  • Planning and organisational skills
  • Team working

Study time

Type Required
Lectures 10 sessions of 1 hour (7%)
Seminars 20 sessions of 1 hour (13%)
Tutorials (0%)
Private study 120 hours (80%)
Total 150 hours
Private study description

Independent study hours include background reading, completing reading/other tasks in preparation for timetabled teaching sessions, undertaking research using the library resources, follow-up reading work, working on individual and group projects, the completion of formative and summative assignments, revision.


No further costs have been identified for this module.

You must pass all assessment components to pass the module.

Assessment group A
Weighting Study time
Exam Week 100%

This assessment will take the form of an 'Exam Week'. In a specified week after the teaching on the module has finished, students will answer a series of questions in essay form (working to a maximum overall word limit). The questions will be made available on the Monday morning and students will have until the Friday afternoon to complete the assessment. The module leader will confirm the exact specification of this assessment once the module teaching begins.

Feedback on assessment

Cohort feedback


This module is Core for:

  • Year 1 of UEQA-X35B Undergraduate Education Studies
  • Year 1 of UIPA-XL38 Undergraduate Education Studies and Global Sustainable Development