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Children, Youth and International Development MA

Subject area: Anthropology Open Evening

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Mode of study

1-year full-time

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Children, Youth and International Development MA


Please note the application deadline for this course is Friday 25th August 2017. Any applications after this date will be considered on an individual basis, subject to course vacancies.

Postgraduate Loans: From 1 August 2016, students who live in England will be able to apply for a Postgraduate Loan in academic year 2016/17 of up to £10,000. Find out more

About the course

This programme is unique within the UK in catering specifically for those working, or interested in working, in the field of children, youth and international development.

The Children, Youth and International Development MA will equip you with the conceptual understanding and breadth of empirical knowledge to critically evaluate policy and practice in the area of children, youth and development.

The core modules focus on key issues relating to children, youth and international development, including the rights and participation of young people. They also prepare students in research design and practice. The optional modules offer a unique opportunity to appreciate in depth how children and youth-related issues are addressed from alternative disciplinary perspectives.


Working with and for young people in the Global South offers an exciting career full of challenges and rewards. This MA provides a varied programme with a global perspective that equips students for roles at senior levels in international development organisations, government ministries and global agencies.

The programme equips you with:

  • The conceptual understanding and breadth of empirical knowledge that will enable you to critically evaluate research, policy and practice in the area of children, youth and development.
  • An understanding of differing disciplinary perspectives on childhood and youth, and their theoretical and empirical contributions.
  • The skills necessary to design and undertake research relating to children, youth and international development.
  • Methodological, cognitive and transferable skills and substantive knowledge that will prepare you for employment, further study and civic engagement.


Course Director
Professor Nicola Ansell

College of Business, Arts and Social Sciences
Brunel University London
Middlesex UB8 3PH
Email nicola.ansell@brunel.ac.uk

Course Content

The programme combines four core taught modules (accounting for 90 credits) with 30 credits worth of options.

The programme is intended to relate to the needs of organisations working in the field of children, youth and international development. Students will have the opportunity to undertake a sustained project with an external organisation as part of a placement module. This may be an organisation with which they already have links, such as a current of former employer. They may also choose to apply their 60 credit dissertation to the needs of an identified community or organisation.


International Development, Childhood and Youth

Main topics of study: theories of, and historical approaches to, development; the contested moral terrain of international development: social justice, responsibility and the construction of passive subjects (including the mobilisation of ‘the child’ as the ultimate passive, apolitical development object); poverty and wellbeing; livelihoods and sustainability; globalisation, global agendas and global institutions (including the export of a ‘global model of childhood’ through international conventions and organisations such as UNICEF); international aid policy and politics; the state and NGOs; development programmes and projects.

Young Lives in the Global South

Focusing on the 'global south' countries that are predominantly in the southern hemisphere, the main topics of study cover: popular and academic perspectives on childhood and youth, in particular the ‘new social studies of childhood’; intergenerational relations (roles of families and social reproduction); youth transitions; vulnerability and resilience; debates around the roles of work, education, health, sexuality and migration in young people’s lives.

Global Agendas on Young People, Rights and Participation

Main topics of study: human rights: history, critiques and mobilisation; theorising children’s rights: child liberation and caretaker views; changing conceptions of children’s rights; the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child: history and critiques; alternative conceptions of children’s rights: the African Charter; children’s rights in practice: children’s rights in national laws; claiming rights; participatory development: history and practices; children’s participation: the arguments; participatory projects with children; problematising children’s participation; youth and participation; youth politics and activism.

Researching Children, Childhood and Youth

Main topics of study: the nature and philosophical foundations of social research; politics and ethics of social research, including considerations for cross-cultural research; special considerations for researching with children (including ethical issues); designing a research strategy for academic and policy research; designing monitoring and evaluation of projects; researching with/ in organisations; data collection (secondary data sources, fieldwork, collecting quantitative data, collecting qualitative data, visual methods, PAR etc); data analysis (quantitative and qualitative, discourse analysis, policy analysis, programme evaluation); communicating research – writing up and other dissemination strategies.


The choice of the topic for the research project is suggested by the individual student, but is subject to the formal agreement of the module leader. In general the topic is likely to be developed from substantive material covered elsewhere in the programme, and related to individual interest, experience and opportunities. The dissertation is usually developed from the research proposal produced in the research methods module, in discussion with a member of staff – the project supervisor.


(Please note, not all options are available every year and some have capped intakes.)

Sociology of Youth and Youth Work

Main topics of study: the study of the social world; society and social processes; the sociology of youth; deviance, control, crime and young people; sociology, youth work and the youth service; young people in non-western cultures.

Contemporary Issues in Youth and Community Work

Main topics of study: education and lifelong learning: roles for youth work; dimensions of social cohesion: class, race, gender and disability in youth and community work; the significance of community and community work; listening to young people’s voices; youth work, citizenship and society.

Social Policy

Main topics of study: youth work, youth service and contemporary social policy; the welfare state, youth work and youth service in the 21st century; young people's position in neoliberal societies; youth service in the welfare state; consensus and conflict in welfare policy; local and national services and NGOS.

Anthropology of Education and Learning

Main topics of study: education and learning: culture and cognition; learning and embodiment; education, learning and apprenticeship; learning, language and knowledge; learning, identity and social difference; learning and social memory

Anthropological Perspectives on War and Humanitarianism

Main topics of study: contemporary warfare and complex emergencies; humanitarian responses to contemporary warfare; origins of humanitarianism: from the founding of the Red Cross to Médecins Sans Frontières; war and ethnic violence; war, famine and scarcity; refugees and mass forced displacement; international criminal justice and humanitarian assistance; re-building war-torn societies. Ethnographic case studies from East Africa, West Africa, South America, Eastern Europe and the Middle East will be used to engage with these topics.

Psychological Development

Main topics of study: models and theories of development of children and young people; a critique of developmental norms, and of universalism; criticisms of the psychological gaze; a critique of developmentalism as applied to nations or individuals.

Applied Learning (via placement)

Students opting for this module will undertake a short placement (a day a week for ten weeks) with an organisation that works in the field of children, youth and international development. Through the placement, a series of workshops and coursework assignments they will examine the relevance and responsibility of their academic studies to community, voluntary action and paid work, as well as having the opportunity to develop transferable, personal and subject specific skills to enhance their employability on completing their postgraduate degree.

Read more about the structure of postgraduate degrees at Brunel and what you will learn on the course.

Typical Dissertations

  • 'Our film is very good … and the London film is good too': children's experiences of creating their own films to explore and exchange their everyday life experience
  • Exploring the individualised relationships between donors and recipients that are created through child sponsorship programmes
  • Evaluating the impact of participatory action research with young refugees and asylum seekers
  • A critical exploration of the relationship between young people's agency and their access to information in the context of a rural Zimbabwean secondary school
  • Awareness, empowerment, change: unveilling child sexual abuse through participatory action research in Munsieville, South Africa
  • Emotional support program for children with HIV in Vietnam - Camp 'Colors of Love': a case study of global-local negotiation and internalisation
  • The Trinidad Youth Council perspective on policymaking and implementation
  • Gap year projects abroad: young people's motivations, experiences and challenges
  • Children and young people's participation throughout the development project's life-cycle: a practitioners' perspective
  • The impact of school linking projects upon young people's perceptions of the Global South - a case study
  • Developing an understanding of the experience of children with international short-term volunteer tourists - a case study in an orphanage project in Ghana
  • Young people with disabilities' perceptions of self-efficacy and sport: a case study of Action Network for Disabled Youth (ANDY) in Nairobi, Kenya
  • Conceptualisations of childhood embraced by INGO Vietnamese staff in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
  • Exploring the reasons behind girls' attractions into Kayayoo (portering) in urban Ghana: a case study from Madina and Makola in Accra
  • Encouraging students to stay in primary school in Kenya: perspectives from students, parents and teachers
  • 'It's all about children with their necks out like dinosaurs': exploring British Black Africans' views and attitudes towards images of African children
  • The impact of large-scale land acquisitions on children and young people's rights: the case of Dominion Farm Ltd in Kenya - children and young people, NGOs and government officials' perspective
  • Unaccompanied minors and the transition to adulthood: a qualitative study of their experiences in the care system of the UK and Spain
  • The negotiation of children's knowledge of the distant 'other': the role of the link between Oriel West London Academy in the UK and Victory School in Uganda in shaping children's understanding of life in Africa
  • Finding your voice in a culture of silence: a study of youth engagement with an INGO activism project in The Gambia
  • Children and adolescents from street situations in a drug rehabilitation residential setting - experiences and aspirations
  • Entrepreneurship: the best future for Ethiopia's youth?
  • 'But they are wicked … we do not need them in this country': young offenders' understanding of their relationship with the police in Sierra Leone
  • How do cultural conceptions of care transform within a UK context? Experiences of young carers from minority ethnic backgrounds in the UK
  • Young people experiences of business trading apprenticeships in Anambra State, Nigeria.

Special Features

High value placements: Students may opt for the ‘Applied Learning’ module which involves a short placement (one or two days a week for 10 weeks) with an organisation that works in the field of children, youth and international development. Through the placement, a series of workshops and coursework assignments they will examine the relevance and responsibility of their academic studies to community work, voluntary action and paid work, as well as having the opportunity to develop transferable, personal and subject specific skills to enhance their employability on completing their postgraduate degree. Examples of the placements students have undertaken on the Applied Learning module include:

  • Anti-Slavery International – A Nepalese student worked on a project aiming to eradicate caste-based bonded labour from her home country. She created district profiles for 10 areas and communicated with project partners in order to identify cases for ASI to follow up.
  • Basti RAM – This is a very small organisation run from the home of its founders which seeks to improve health and education in rural India (especially Rajasthan). The student’s task was to plan lessons for a Global Citizenship project.
  • BookAid International – The Brunel student built up an evidence base for Book Aid’s international programmes.
  • Action Aid – The student worked on a campaign targeting exploitation in the garment industry.
  • Commonwealth Secretariat – The students worked on the CS’s Youth Programme in Uganda.
  • International Refugee Trust – A Brunel student helped to develop an online classroom from which children could learn about refugees. She posted articles on their blog and created some online learning activities.
  • The Mouth That Roars – The student worked with children in London and Saudi Arabia to create videos through which they communicated their everyday lives to each other.
  • National Deaf Children's Society – The student helped to develop a programme of international exchanges for deaf young people.

Pioneering research: In both core and specialist option modules, students will be exposed to innovative high profile research in the field of children, youth and international development.

Eramus Exchange: An Erasmus agreement exists between the Brunel University’s MA in Children, Youth and International Development, and the MPhil in Childhood Studies at the Norwegian Centre for Child Research (NOSEB), Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) in Trondheim. The exchange programme has two places for students from the MA Children, Youth and International Development. The exchange period is the second term / semester (approximately January to May). Erasmus students do not pay tuition fees at NOSEB, and are entitled to an Erasmus grant (€375/month) to cover any additional costs.

MA in Children, Youth and International Development


“Five years ago, Project HOPE UK accepted an important challenge: to rethink the standard NGO approach to the empowerment of impoverished communities in sub-Saharan Africa and discover truly sustainable models of community mobilisation focused on the health and total well-being of seriously vulnerable children. Brunel students have been some of the most creative, innovative and enthusiastic fellow-travelers on that journey of discovering, each leaving their own unique footprint on the path to excellence and contributing directly to life-changing benefits to thousands of children.”

Paul H Brooks

Executive Director: Project HOPE UK


Teaching and Assessment


A range of teaching and learning techniques are employed on the programme, most of which stress the active involvement of students in discussion and debate. The MA also emphasises reflective, independent learning, both by individuals and groups, and students are well supported to achieve this - through tutorials, workshops and seminar discussions.

Staff place a strong emphasis on tutorial support and all students are assigned to a tutorial group. Regular tutorials focus on the development of study skills (critical reading and writing), careers support, exam and assignment preparation, feedback on assessments and help in developing research proposals.



Students from the programme have progressed to a variety of careers in different types of organisations, primarily in international development NGOs or in government ministries and agencies in countries in the global south. A number have pursued PhDs following completion of the MA. Here are a few examples:

  • National / International NGOs
  • AbleChildAfrica
  • Anti-Slavery International
  • Community Development Foundation
  • Fairtrade Foundation
  • Feed the Children
  • Operation Mobilisation
  • Restless Development
  • Save the Children
  • SOS Children’s Villages.
  • Government ministries / agencies
  • Ministry of Gender, Youth and Child Development, Trinidad and Tobago
  • British Council
  • International organisations
  • Commonwealth Secretariat (Youth Affairs).
  • Education and youth work
  • Social worker in Mexico
  • Teachers in India and Zambia
  • Youth work in the UK and elsewhere.
  • PhDs
  • Students at Liverpool John Moores University and University of Manchester
  • Studentship at University of Reading (Geographies of Care, Disability and Family Relationships in Sub-Saharan Africa).

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 2017/18 entry

UK/EU students: £7,500 full-time

International students: £14,400 full-time

Additional course related costs

Read about funding opportunities available to postgraduate students

UK/EU students can opt to pay in six equal monthly instalments: the first instalment is payable on enrolment and the remaining five by Direct Debit or credit/debit card.

Overseas students can opt to pay in two instalments: 60% on enrolment, and 40% in January for students who commence their course in September (or the remaining 40% in March for selected courses that start in January).

Entry Criteria 2017/18

  • A UK 2.2 Honours degree or equivalent internationally recognised qualification in a social science, education studies, childhood studies, youth work, international relations, development studies or related discipline.  
  • Other disciplines and qualifications with relevant experience in international development work or work with children or young people will be considered on an individual basis and an interview may be required.

Entry criteria are subject to review and change each academic year.

International and EU Entry Requirements

If your country or institution is not listed or if you are not sure whether your institution is eligible, please contact Admissions

This information is for guidance only by Brunel University London and by meeting the academic requirements does not guarantee entry for our courses as applications are assessed on case-by-case basis.

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 University London strongly recommends that if you will require a Tier 4 visa, you sit your IELTS test at a test centre that has been approved by UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) as being a provider of a Secure English Language Test (SELT). Not all test centres have this status. The University can accept IELTS (with the required scores) taken at any official test centre or other English Language qualifications we accept as meeting our main award entry requirements.

However, if you wish to undertake a Pre-sessional English course to further improve your English prior to the start of your degree course, you must sit the test at an approved SELT provider. This is because you will only be able to apply for a Tier 4 student visa to undertake a Pre-sessional English course if you hold a SELT from a UKVI approved test centre. Find out more information about it.

Brunel also offers our own BrunELT English Test and accepts a range of other language courses. We also have Pre-sessional English language courses for students who do not meet these requirements, or who wish to improve their English. Find out more information about English course and test options.