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EQ935-20 The Young Child in Context

Education Studies
Taught Postgraduate Level
Module leader
Sarah Dahl
Credit value
Module duration
10 weeks
100% coursework
Study location
University of Warwick main campus, Coventry
Introductory description

This module provides an interdisciplinary analysis of contemporary policy and practice, in early childhood in diverse societies and at different points of time, for instance, in education, health and social work. It examines the interplay between family, work, schooling and other influences in the lives of young children. It considers the distinct cultural worlds they inhabit by exploring their everyday activities, their friendships, relationships and identities, including the role of media and information technology in their lives. Early childhood is now high on the agenda of policy makers across the world and the module explores the status of young children, their rights and participation in a global context. Significant are the effects of poverty and other adversities such as war on life-chances, health and well-being.

Module web page

Module aims
  • To explore different perspectives on early childhood in diverse societies, at different times and shaped by different disciplines;
  • To examine what theories are being used to guide and inform concepts of learning and development;
  • To identify the dominant methodological approaches and methods being used;
  • To interrogate the agendas of policy-makers with respect to provision for young children and equitable services for low-income families;
  • To critically analyse the array of maintained, private, voluntary and independent early childhood settings available and consider the range of services provided (childcare, schooling, learning, family support and early intervention) in terms of quality, access and affordability.
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.

The module introduction will consider issues relating to constructions of childhood that rely on a knowledge base from the global North. The next 8 sessions cohere round four themes of i) multiple perspectives; ii) current and emerging theoretical viewpoints; iii) policy and provision; iv) what counts as effective practice. Each one will have preparatory reading, a formal presentation followed by a seminar/reading group activity for discussion and debate that will include examples from the global North and the South with a view to theorizing new perspectives. The concluding session will review the module and issues raised in session 1, considering how we might interrogate future directions for early childhood global policy.

Learning outcomes

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

  • Demonstrate awareness that early childhood studies have many discipline discourses;
  • Recognise that there are dominant theories of child development that have powerfully shaped the way we think about young children and that these are being increasingly challenged by writers with alternative viewpoints;
  • Understand that political, economic and social factors shape the lives of young children and that there is wide disparity across the world in terms of equality of access to high standards of care and education;
  • Develop understanding of the role of early childhood services in supporting families;
  • Demonstrate the ability to explore the relationship between poverty and early childhood services in terms of quality, affordability and accessibility.
Indicative reading list

Introductory text:
Powell, S. and Smith, K. (Eds.) (2018) Introduction to Early Childhood Studies. London: Sage.
Illustrative bibliography:
Alasuutari, M., Markstrom and Valberg-Roth, A-C., (2014) Assessment and Documentation in Early
Childhood Education. London: Routledge.
Corsaro, W. (2017) The Sociology of Childhood, Fifth Edition, Thousand Oaks: Sage.
Davies, B (2014) Listening to Children: Being and Becoming. London: Routledge.
Ferraris, M. (2012) Why is it Necessary to Leave Traces. New York: Fordham University Press.
Fleer, M. and Van Oers, B., (2017) International Handbook of Early Childhood Education. London: Routledge.
Mac Naughton, G. (2005) Doing Foucault in Early Childhood Studies. Applying postural ideas. London: Routedge.
Marsh, J. and Bishop, J. C. (2014) Changing Play: Play Media and Commercial Culture from the 1950s to the Present day. Maidenhead: Open University Press.
Miller, L., Cameron, C., Dalli, D. and Barbour, N. (2017) Sage Handbook of Early Childhood Policy. London: Sage.
Penn, H. (2011) Travelling policies and global buzzwords: how international non-governmental
organisations and charities spread the word about early childhood in the global South, Childhood, 18, (1), 94-113.

View reading list on Talis Aspire


The module draws from disciplines including education, sociology, international studies, psychology and philosophy. Students also come from different disciplinary backgrounds and are encouraged to share knowledge from their disciplinary perspective.


This module explores different perspectives on early childhood in diverse societies, globally. It explores the status of young children, their rights and participation in a global context. It also considers the effects of poverty and other adversities such as war on life-chances, health and well-being, looking at examples from different countries.

Subject specific skills
  • reflect upon a range of psychological, sociological, health, historical and philosophical perspectives and consider how these underpin different understandings of babies and young children and childhood
  • apply multiple perspectives to early childhood issues, recognising that early childhood studies involves a range of research methods, theories, evidence and applications
  • evaluate competing positions in relation to the construction of babies and young children and childhood by different subjects, societal agents and time, place and culture
  • constructively critique theories, practice and research in the area of child development
  • critically explore, examine and evaluate the significance of the cultural, historical and contemporary features of various policies, institutions and agencies in regard to babies, young children and childhood
  • demonstrate a critical understanding of the interrelationships between political, economic, cultural and ideological contexts in the lives of children and their families and communities
Transferable skills
  • Active listening • Analysis and decision making • Attitudes and aptitudes for work • Communication skills • Confidence • Coordinating with others • Critical thinking • Initiative and also follow instructions • Intellectual ability • International cultural awareness • Judgement and decision making • Literacy • Management of learning • Managing others/People Management • Motivation, tenacity, commitment • Negotiation • Passion • Personal development skills • Persuading/influencing • Planning and organisational skills • Positive attitudes to work • Problem solving • Reasoning • Self-management/resilience • Stakeholder and organisational awareness • Team working

Study time

Type Required
Lectures 15 sessions of 1 hour (8%)
Seminars 15 sessions of 1 hour (8%)
Private study 170 hours (85%)
Total 200 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 A1
Weighting Study time
Essay 100%
Feedback on assessment

Written feedback on assignment submission.\r\nStudents can request tutorial for further discussion if they wish.\r\n


Course availability information is based on the current academic year, so it may change.

This module is Option list A for:

  • Year 1 of TIMA-L981 Postgraduate Social Science Research