Anthropology of Childhood, Youth and Education MSc

  • Overview
  • Course Content
  • Special Features
  • Teaching & Assessment
  • Employability
  • Fees
  • Entry Criteria

About the Course

This MSc was the first degree of its kind in the world when it was established and is still unique in its thorough-going anthropological perspective on what it is to be a child or to be young. Its key organising principle is that understanding children requires the study of how their relations with others - peers, older and younger children, parents, teachers and other adults - inform their practices, identities and world views.

Anthropology at Brunel is well-known for its focus on ethnographic fieldwork: as well as undertaking rigorous intellectual training, all our students are expected to get out of the library and undertake their own, original research – whether in the UK or overseas – and to present their findings in a dissertation.  Students take this opportunity to travel to a wide variety of locations across the world – see “Special Features” for more details.

Aims

  • Do children of ‘different cultures’ live ‘different worlds’?
  • How does education impact upon children’s worlds and upon social and cultural practices more broadly?
  • How do everyday processes of learning – both formal and informal - help to shape children’s ideas of and engagement with society at large?
  • What is the role of schools in the transmission and acquisition of cultural values to children and youth?
  • And why are adults’ ideas about childhood and youth so important for what children learn and aspire to become?

This course addresses such issues from an anthropological perspective. The first of its kind in the UK, its distinctiveness derives from an anthropological approach that focuses on the importance of children’s and youth’s perspectives, and on the role that education (formal and informal) plays in children’s learning processes and in the transmission and acquisition of cultural knowledge. Through an examination of ethnographic cases from the around the world (including the UK), participants will learn about the different ways in which childhood and youth are understood and conceptualised, along with the different educational forms and processes through which cultural knowledge is transmitted and acquired, and how culture impacts upon these processes.

Enquiries

Admissions and Course Enquiries
Web: Admissions Enquiries Information
Tel (before application): +44 (0)1895 265599 (Course Enquiries)
Tel (after application): +44 (0)1895 265265 (Admissions Office)
Contact Admissions or Course Enquiries Online

Course director: Dr Peggy Froerer

Related Courses

Course Content

The course is designed to show postgraduate students how anthropological approaches can be used to gain access to and understand children and young people's lived experience, their ideas about the world and themselves, and their relations with peers and adults. In so doing, it aims to provide a rigorous grounding in key anthropological ideas and research methods and to show how a comparative social analysis illuminates our understanding of ourselves and other people.

Full-time

  • Dissertation in Anthropology of Childhood, Youth and Education (60 credits)

Term 1 (September to December)

  • The Anthropology of Childhood (15 credits)
  • The Anthropology of Youth (15 credits)
  • Ethnographic Research Methods 1 (15 credits)
  • Compulsory Reading Module: Political and Economic Issues in Anthropology (0 credits)

Term 2 (January to April)

  • Ethnographic Research Methods 2 (15 credits)
  • Anthropology of Education (15 credits)
  • Anthropology of Learning (15 credits)
  • Compulsory Reading Module:Contemporary Anthropological Theory (0 credits)

Plus 30 credits from:

Term 1 (September to December)
  • The Anthropology of the Body (15 credits)
  • Ethnicity, Culture and Identity (15 credits)
  • * Foundation Disciplines of Education (30 credits)
  • * Literature and Policy Analysis (30 credits)
  • * International Development, Children and Youth (30 credits)
Term 2 (January to April)
  • Anthropology of the Person (15 credits)
  • Kinship, Sex and Gender (15 credits)
  • * Global Agendas on Young People, Rights and Participation (15 credits)

Part-time

Year 1

Term 1 (September to December)
  • The Anthropology of Childhood (15 credits)
  • The Anthropology of Youth (15 credits)
  • Compulsory Reading Module: Political and Economic Issues in Anthropology (0 credits)
Term 2 (January to April)
  • Anthropology of Education (15 credits)
  • Anthropology of Learning (15 credits)
  • Compulsory Reading Module: Contemporary Anthropological Theory (0 credits)

Year 2

  • Dissertation in Anthropology of Childhood, Youth and Education (60 credits)
Term 1 (September to December)
  • Ethnographic Research Methods 1 (15 credits)
Term 2 (January to April)
  • Ethnographic Research Methods 2 (15 credits)

Plus 30 credits from:

Term 1 (September to December)
  • The Anthropology of the Body (15 credits)
  • Ethnicity, Culture and Identity (15 credits)
  • * Foundation Disciplines of Education (30 credits)
  • * Literature and Policy Analysis (30 credits)
  • * International Development, Children and Youth (30 credits)
Term 2 (January to April)
  • Anthropology of the Person (15 credits)
  • Kinship, Sex and Gender (15 credits)
  • * Global Agendas on Young People, Rights and Participation (15 credits)

* As these modules are offered by different colleges, they maybe taught on different days from the normal attendance days.

Module descriptions View module descriptions

Special Features

Our course team has worked in countries across the globe including South, West and East Africa, Papua New Guinea, Indonesia, India and Sri Lanka, as well as Britain.

All our degrees (whether full- or part-time) combine intensive coursework, rigorous training in ethnographic research methods, and a period of fieldwork in the summer term (final summer term if part-time) leading to a 15,000 word dissertation. Students are free to choose their own research topic and geographic area, in consultation with their academic supervisor. In all cases, the dissertation research project provides valuable experience and in many cases it leads to job contacts – forming a bridge to a future career or time out for career development. In recent years, students have undertaken fieldwork in locations across the world, including India, Mexico, Bolivia, Papua New Guinea, China, Nepal, Peru, Morocco, and New Zealand as well as within the UK and the rest of Europe.

 A few examples of completed dissertations across our Anthropology courses include:

  • Psychological suffering on the borders of Myanmar/Thailand
  • An Inuit trauma unit in Ottawa, Canada
  • NGOs and youth activism in Trinidad
  • Neo-shamanism in Germany
  • Outcast London: attitudes and perspectives among hard-to-reach TB patients
  • Volunteer tourism and its impact on children in Nepal
  • Rap music and politics in Equatorial Guinea
  • Ayahuasca use among Westerners in the Amazon
  • Religious education in London’s secondary schools
  • Mental health in Ghana
  • The Tibetan diaspora in India
  • Life on a forensic psychiatric ward in Britain
  • Gender and sexuality in a hammam in Cairo
  • Youth and unemployment in Bari, Italy
  • Cultural factors and the experience of dementia in the UK
  • Management of diabetes in Cambodia
  • Trachoma and medical pluralism in Ethiopia
  • Training as a transcultural psychic in London

Research interests of our current team of internationally respected anthropologists are as follows:

Dr Nicolas Argenti has undertaken long-term fieldwork in Cameroon and in Sri Lanka. He is an expert on children’s and young people’s experience of conflict and on theories of child play, embodiment, and collective memory.

Dr Andrew Beatty specialises in religion, kinship and emotion. He has worked on the relation between family forms and styles of thinking (conceptual and moral relativism) in Java, has a research interest in Mexico and has published on the anthropology of emotion.

Dr Liana Chua works on conversion to Christianity, ethnic and religious politics, development, resettlement and changing landscapes in Sarawak, Malaysian Borneo. She also has long-standing research and teaching interests in theories of materiality, visuality and the body. Her newest project explores orangutan conservation as a social, political and pop cultural phenomenon that bridges individuals and communities in Borneo and the UK.

Dr Peggy Froerer has conducted extensive field research in India. She is an expert on the anthropology of childhood, education and schooling, and is interested in theories of learning and cognition. Her earlier work focused on Hindu nationalism and Christian/Hindu ethnic relations. She is currently working on a monograph on education and social mobility in central India.

Dr Eric Hirsch has a long-standing interest in the ethnography and history of Papua New Guinea. His research focuses on issues of historicity, landscape, power and property relations. He has also carried out fieldwork in Britain on the relations between new technologies and personhood.

Dr Maria Kastrinou works on power, politics, and religion in the wider Middle East and South-Eastern Mediterranean, focusing on the relations between State and ‘sect’ in Syria. She has conducted long term fieldwork with the Druze community in Damascus, and writes about youth , materiality and historicity of sect, marriage, and the cultural policies of the Syrian State. Maria’s recent work tries to understand the ongoing war and sectarianism in Syria by combining anthropological perspectives of energy with historical and political economy approaches.

Dr Isak Niehaus works on the diverse fields of population removals, cosmology, witchcraft, masculinity, sexuality, politics and AIDS in the South African lowveld, and is interested in the parallels between post-Apartheid in South Africa and post-Communism in the Czech Republic. He is currently writing the biography of a South African teacher.

Dr Will Rollason's research is based in south-east Papua New Guinea, focusing on issues of development, race and work in the post-colony. He has written on clothing, sports, tourism and colonial politics. Currently, he is working on the way in which indigenous ideas about the future affect contemporary engagements with capitalism and development.

Dr James Staples conducts fieldwork in South India, including long-term research with leprosy-affected people in a rural coastal community and, more recently, with disabled people in the major city of Hyderabad. His thematic interests include personhood, performance and the body; disability and notions of human rights; and marginal livelihoods, including begging.

The Anthropology Department has an associated research centre focusing on children, child development, youth education and learning - Centre for Anthropological Research on Childhood, Youth and Education (CARCYE).

Teaching and Learning

You will be taught via a combination of lectures, seminars, workshops, tutorials and film.

Assessment

Assessment is variously by essay, practical assignments (eg, analysis of a short field exercise), and a dissertation of approximately 15,000 words. This dissertation is based upon fieldwork undertaken by the candidate. There are no examinations.

Careers

Candidates will acquire analytical and research skills that can be used in a wide range of careers. In addition to providing a firm grounding for doctoral research on childhood and youth, graduates will find that the degree enhances professional development in fields such as teaching, social work, counselling, educational and child psychology, health-visiting, nursing and midwifery, paediatric specialisms, non-governmental agencies and international development. Every year, some of our graduates also go on to do further research for a PhD in child-focused anthropology as members of the Centre for Child-Focused Anthropological Research (C-FAR).

At Brunel we provide many opportunities and experiences within your degree programme and beyond – work-based learning, professional support services, volunteering, mentoring, sports, arts, clubs, societies, and much, much more – and we encourage you to make the most of them, so that you can make the most of yourself.

» More about Employability

Fees for 2015/16 entry

UK/EU students: £7,000 full-time; £3,500 part-time

International students: £13,500 full-time; £6,750 part-time

Read about funding opportunities available to postgraduate students

Fees quoted are per annum and are subject to an annual increase.

Entry Requirements

A UK first or second class Honours degree or an equivalent internationally recognised qualification 

Applicants with other degrees that have relevant experience will be considered on an individual basis.

Applicants will be interviewed either in person or by telephone. 

Entry criteria are subject to change.

English Language Requirements

  • IELTS: 6.5 (min 6 in all areas)
  • Pearson: 58 (51 in all subscores)
  • BrunELT: 65% (min 60% in all areas)

Brunel also offers our own BrunELT English Test and accept a range of other language courses. We also have a range of Pre-sessional English language courses, for students who do not meet these requirements, or who wish to improve their English.

Our International Pathways and Language Centre offers a range of foundation and pre-masters courses to provide you with the academic skills required for your chosen course.

Page last updated: Monday 08 December 2014