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    Full time & Part time available

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    Full time: 1 year Part time: 2 years Flexible: up to 5 years

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  • Last Updated

    10 January 2019

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This MA examines a range of contemporary social theories about global childhoods and children's rights. By cultivating sociological understandings of varied and unequal childhoods and engaging with research-active lecturers, professionals from charitable and government sectors, and international activists, you will develop skills to critically analyse policy and practice and explore new possibilities for achieving social justice for children and young people.

About this degree

This programme provides you with the opportunity to identify, examine, and understand key sociological perspectives on the complex links between childhood, children’s rights, and social justice. You will develop conceptual and research skills to analyse how social, political and economic changes affect and produce childhoods, the shifting social status of children and childhood, as well as young people’s contributions and creative responses to dynamic global contexts.

Students undertake modules to the value of 180 credits.

The programme consists of three core modules (90 credits), one optional module (30 credits) and a research dissertation (60 credits).

Compulsory modules

  • Theories of Childhood and Society
  • Children's Rights in Practice
  • Social Theory and the Study of Contemporary Social Problems

Optional modules

Researching Childhood is the recommended optional module to help prepare for the MA SCCR dissertation.

  • Researching Childhood
  • Understanding Research

Visit the UCL Institute of Education website for more information, including module descriptions, which can be seen by clicking on the module title.


All students undertake an independent research project which culminates in a dissertation of 20,000 words.

Teaching and learning

Face-to-face teaching includes lectures, discussions and debates. You will have the opportunity to explore and analyse readings, real world case studies, images, and films with other students. Students are encouraged to reflect upon their own personal, academic and/or professional experiences during sessions.

An online environment is provided for interactive activities between teaching sessions. 

Each core module is assessed by a 5,000-word written assignment, and the dissertation is a 20,000 word piece of independent research. There are tutorials for essay preparation and seminars to support dissertation research.

Please note that the list of modules given here is indicative. This information is published a long time in advance of enrolment and module content and availability is subject to change.


For a comprehensive list of the funding opportunities available at UCL, including funding relevant to your nationality, please visit the Scholarships and Funding website.


Graduates of this programme benefit from a wide variety of career destinations. Our graduates are currently working as international NGO staff, children's charity workers, child advocacy workers and policy advisors. As a result of studying on this MA, health professionals, legal practitioners, and educators have moved into positions of leadership and management. Graduates are also working as teachers and early years practitioners, while others have jobs as university and college lecturers and researchers. Inspired by their MA studies in a dynamic and growing field of academic scholarship, our graduates also go on to doctoral-level study.


Students on this MA will develop skills for:

  • Conducting creative and participatory research with children
  • Critically analysing childhood policy and professional practice with children
  • Contributing to public debates about challenging issues ranging from child labour to children’s use of social media
  • Undertaking collaborative projects with diverse participants
  • Exploring and developing innovative approaches to working with and for children

With a home in a vibrant centre of research on childhood and children’s rights, students can build networks with research-active staff and students, attend departmental events with visiting childhood scholars, and find out about opportunities for internships with children’s organisations.

Why study this degree at UCL?

This MA explores cutting-edge research and theorising about the politics of children and childhood. Examining childhood in global contexts, as well as how childhood is cross-cut by class, ‘race’, gender, and ability, will enable you to question taken-for-granted assumptions about children and childhood. Historical perspectives will support you to identify and examine how childhoods are shifting in contemporary contexts of neoliberalism, post-colonialism, conflict, and transnational migration.

You will have the opportunity to hear from internationally-renowned academics and leading international children's organisations, and engage with a diverse group of students from around the world.

The MA is based in UCL Social Science which houses five prestigious research-intensive units. Together they provide a foundation for world-leading work in childhood studies, social work, social pedagogy, and sociology of the family.

Department: Social Science


Students are advised to apply as early as possible due to competition for places. Those applying for scholarship funding (particularly overseas applicants) should take note of application deadlines.

There is an application processing fee for this programme of £75 for online applications and £100 for paper applications. Further information can be found at:

Who can apply?

This MA is relevant for applicants interested in academic careers researching childhood and those seeking to develop professional practice with children, both in the UK and other international contexts. It is especially relevant for applicants aiming for careers in children’s services; education, health, legal, policy, and social care sectors; youth work; and children’s rights organisations.

Application deadlines

26 July 2019

For more information see our Applications page.

Apply now

What are we looking for?

When we assess your application we would like to learn:

  • why you want to study Sociology of Childhood and Children's Rights at graduate level
  • why you want to study Sociology of Childhood and Children's Rights at UCL
  • what particularly attracts you to the chosen programme
  • how your academic and professional background meets the demands of this challenging programme
  • where you would like to go professionally with your degree

Together with essential academic requirements, the personal statement is your opportunity to illustrate whether your reasons for applying to this programme match what the programme will deliver.

Visit the Sociology of Childhood and Children's Rights MA page on the University College London website for more details!