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MSc in Children's Rights

Course Description

The MSc Children's Rights is part of a suite of programmes in childhood studies. It meets the increasing demand for a postgraduate qualification in Children's Rights, explicitly focused on interdisciplinary research and child rights-based research methods, delivered flexibly through a blended format of online and face-to-face learning.

The aim of the MSc Children's Rights is to provide high-level knowledge and skills in children's rights law and practice of value to those working with and for children, including public officials and NGOs as well as educators, social workers and health care providers.

The programme is linked to the Centre for Children’s Rights, an innovative inter-disciplinary centre with an international reputation for advancing understanding of children’s rights, promoting children’s participation and developing children’s rights-based research methods. This new and unique MSc incorportates the Centre's expertise and will develop students’ knowledge and skills in two distinct but interconnected areas:

- Children’s Rights - using the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child and other relevant international standards to evaluate the laws, policies and practices which affect children.
- Research with Children - evaluating the best methods of conducting research into children’s lives with a particular focus on approaches which involve children actively in the research process. The CCR has a particular expertise in relation to children’s rights-based research.

The MSc in Children’s Rights will provide students with a thorough grounding in these two areas and the opportunity to explore a range of contexts in which these perspectives can be used to better understand children’s lives and secure improved outcomes for children. Professionals will have the opportunity to improve aspects of their practice and career development.

The Centre for Children’s Rights has extensive links with Northern Ireland charities and NGOs and can provide some opportunities for students to undertake relevant research. This may be of particular interest to students seeking to gain experience in the children’s sector, perhaps to secure a job or to change position. The Centre has a vibrant community of students undertaking PhD research in a range of issues and in several countries. The MSc in Children’s Rights will provide a good foundation for students wishing to pursue their own research through doctoral study.

Why Choose Children's Rights at Queen's?

◦As a prestigious Russell Group University, Queen’s is ranked 8th within the UK in relation to research intensity;
◦Education at Queen’s has been ranked 4th within the UK in relation to research intensity with 87% of the research undertaken within the School assessed as ‘internationally excellent or world leading’ (REF, 2014);
◦The programme features input from leading international children’s rights scholars;
◦There will be some opportunities available to develop advanced workplace skills by collaborating with community organisations to undertake research to help them improve their services for children and young people;
◦The programme incorporates the Centre for Children's Rights expertise in interdisciplinary work and rights-based approaches to research methods. This will empower students to undertake research with children and young people in a range of contexts;
◦The programme is part of an innovative university wide initiative ‘Improving Children’s Lives’ which will give students access to interdisciplinary research and education which aim to improve the quality of life for children in Northern Ireland and beyond;
◦The interdisciplinary nature of the programme reflects the real-life practices of many child-related services;
◦If you don’t want, or need, to study for the research dissertation, flexible exit awards are available (PG Diploma/ PG Certificate);
◦You may also undertake individual course modules without completing a full degree.

“The best thing about studying children’s rights at Queen’s is that it provides you with the opportunity to reflect on your professional practice with academics who are leaders in their field. This has equipped me to return to my workplace and be a better informed and more analytical practitioner. I have taken the learning from this course and applied it directly into my professional practice with positive outcomes for service users and colleagues. It is the sort of training that has given me the confidence and skills to go further and make a real difference." Gerry Marshall (Children’s Services Inspector)

Programme Content

The award of MSc requires the accumulation of 120 credit points from the taught modules and a 15,000-20,000 word dissertation, equivalent to 60 credit points. Modules include:

Core modules

Childhood and Youth Research in Practice
Children's Rights
Children's Rights-Based Research Methods
Perspectives on Childhood and Youth
Research Methods

Optional modules

Childhood Adversity
Children's Rights and Disability
Children's Rights and Education
Children's Rights and Health
Children's Rights and Social Care
Children's Rights; Philosophical Approaches
Qualitative Research in Childhood and Youth
Quantitative Research in Childhood and Youth


Modules are assessed by a variety of methods eg multiple choice exam, essays, project reports, and contributions to an online forum. Students will have the option of undertaking research work for external organisations to submit as part of their dissertation.

Opportunities for Careers

There is increasing demand for postgraduates with high-level skills in interdisciplinary research, participatory research methods and knowledge of children's rights.

Professionals within children/human rights-focused NGOs, public officials, educators, social workers and health professionals who work with children should find this degree beneficial.

Special Features

Flexibility: this programme is designed to meet the needs of local and international professionals and is delivered via blended and online learning.

Choice: there are several entry and exit points to this programme, please see School website.

Visit the MSc in Children's Rights page on the Queen’s University Belfast website for more details!

(Student Profile)


3591.jpg [[Why did you choose to study at Queen's University?]]
I studied both my undergraduate degree and my PGCE at Queen’s. I had already experienced the high quality teaching and felt very at home at Queen’s.

I decided to opt for the MSc in Children’s Rights because it fitted perfectly with both my personal and professional interest. As a politics teacher I already had a keen interest in the rights of the child. The online nature of the course offered a lot of flexibility, which meant I could balance the masters with my job and other commitments.

[[Is the course what you expected?]]
The course has exceeded my expectation; I have found the modules both interesting and very relevant to my role as a teacher. I was apprehensive about the online nature of the course but the videos from the lectures have been so informative and the discussion forums are easy to use.

[[What have you found most interesting?]]
I just absolutely love learning about children’s rights. Before I started the course I thought learning about the UNCRC would be a bit dry but now I find myself quoting articles and relating articles of the convention to current issues on the news. The courses has made me realize how little at times we consult with young people and also how we could better engage with children and young people.

[[What is your experience of the teaching support and student facilities at Queen’s?]]
The teaching staff has been very professional, experts in their fields and also very engaging. The online element of the course has been excellent, the videos and other resources allowed me to study at home. I feel the blend between face to face and online learning has worked well for me and has effectively enabled me to study at Master’s level while working.

[[Where are you in your career at the moment?]]
I am a qualified teacher and like many others I am finding it very difficult to get a more permanent post. I felt the Masters allowed me to continue my professional development whilst still gaining as much experience in the classroom as I could.

[[What do you plan on doing after the course?]]
Whilst I would still like to teach, the course has opened my mind to considering other professions in the children’s sector. This Masters is so relevant to so many different fields, education, health, youth work, social work, research, the list goes on.


Entry Requirements

A 2.1 Honours degree or above or equivalent recognised qualification in any subject discipline.Applicants with a 2.2 Honours degree or equivalent recognised qualification may also be considered if they have at least two years of professional experience in an education, training or relevant context.In line with University Regulations, there is a language requirement for applicants whose first language is not English (IELTS 6.5 (taken within last 2 yrs) or approved equivalent. For IELTs a minimum score of 5.5 is required in all four elements of the test).

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Recipient: Queen’s University Belfast

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