The MA in Childcare Law and Practice is a popular and successful course. It has been fully revised and redesigned in line with other MA courses at the University to facilitate exchange of modules and a longer period of individual research. It is taught jointly by members of the School of Law and the School of Public Policy and Professional Practice as an interdisciplinary course and attracts students from a wide variety of professional backgrounds. The course is specially designed so that it may be taken by those who are in full-time employment. The course content reflects developments and current debates in childcare law and practice. The Keele Law School is highly rated and internationally recognised for teaching and research.
The School is an excellent intellectual environment for postgraduate students. The appropriate infrastructure is also in place, with proper research training, communal areas for postgraduate students and computing equipment. Continued postgraduate expansion is a priority for the School.
"The programme is one that Keele University should be hugely proud of, it was and remains a national leader in the field." "The students are encouraged to reflect on their practice and to explore the dilemmas of applying the law in practice within a value base that challenges oppression and discrimination. The strengths of this course are considerable and unique in this respect." (External Examiner comments)
The central aims of the course are to update and enhance knowledge of relevant law and research literature and to provide an opportunity for experienced practitioners to further develop and critically reflect upon their skills, as applied to a variety of areas and settings in work with children. It also aims to promote anti-discriminatory practice, inter-agency understanding and interdisciplinary working.
The programme is structured in a way that allows students to maintain full-time employment while studying, with teaching for each module taking place over an intensive 3-day period. The programme, therefore, is designed to appeal to both the ‘conventional’ postgraduate student and specifically, those already engaged professionally in this area of activity, in social work, health, the legal profession or otherwise.
Course Structure and Content
The taught Masters programme requires satisfactory completion of at least 180 credits, made up of 4 taught modules each of 30 credits (120 credits) plus a dissertation of 15,000-20,000 words (60 credits). Alternatively, students may finish their studies after obtaining the 120 taught credits and obtain a Postgraduate Diploma. Each student is provided with a personal tutor to assist with studies. The course takes an interdisciplinary approach, drawing upon sociology, social policy, law and childcare practice.
The programme starts with a two day induction course. The teaching of modules takes place over four intensive three-day blocks between September and May. This structure particularly benefits part-time students who appreciate ‘time out’ in an accessible academic environment. If required, the modules can be undertaken over a period of up to four years for further flexibility. During the research year, students wishing to complete the MA attend one, two day block, and a further day later in the year followed by supervision of work towards a dissertation. The full course duration is between two and five years. Any student wishing to study one or two modules should contact the School.
Teaching & Assessment
Assessment is based on coursework and a dissertation. There are no exams. Assessment of each taught module is by written assignment of about 5,000 words each. A choice of essay titles is provided for each block. In the research year the emphasis is on independent research – there is a research methods assignment of 2,000 words formatively assessed and a dissertation of between 15,000 and 20,000 words. The pass mark for all assessments is 50%. The modules are taught through 20 hours of contact time, delivered as an intensive three-day block of teaching.
During the module, students will take part in tutor-led seminars and discussions, small group exercises, and case studies. Each module is accompanied by extensive independent study and throughout the course students are encouraged and required to undertake independent reading to both supplement and consolidate the classes and to broaden individual knowledge and understanding of the subject.
All students receive initial guidance on how to identify, locate and use materials available in libraries and elsewhere (including electronic sources). Guidelines are provided for the production of coursework assignments and dissertations and these are reinforced by seminars and individual supervision, which focus specifically on essay planning and writing, and research methodology. Detailed written and, if requested, oral feedback is provided on all course work. There is also time set aside during each module and outside the modules for students to consult individually with teaching staff and receive guidance and feedback on assessment and module performance.
While away from Keele, between teaching blocks, students will benefit from directed reading, additional resources posted on the KLE together with a KLE based discussion page for ‘virtual’ interaction between students.
Modules across the programme will include recommended core and supplemental texts. Costs will vary depending on the particular text (Law textbooks vary between £20-40).
Apart from additional costs for text books, inter-library loans and potential overdue library fines we do not anticipate any additional costs for this post graduate programme.
'Despite not being particularly academic I have enjoyed the course and the challenge it has posed me. I feel a great sense of achievement this far in 'keeping up' and submitting the work. It has been a massive learning curve to me, being from a nursing background and I have had to work really hard. However I feel this has increased my sense of achievement'
'Very useful to hear perspectives of colleagues from different disciplines'
'The sessions were useful and thought provoking. The mix of ethics, practice and law were well balanced.'
'Very interesting. As a child care lawyer, looking at health issues has been fascinating.'