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2015/16 Taught Postgraduate Module Catalogue

EDUC5865M Children and young people: citizenship, participation and social justice

30 creditsClass Size: 40

Module manager: Professor Alan Prout

Taught: Semester 2 View Timetable

Year running 2015/16

This module is approved as an Elective

Module summary

Children's participation in 'decisions concerning them' is inscribed in the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and has become a critical issue for communities, parents, policy makers, academics and educators. Nevertheless, despite the intention to include children and young people at a policy level, there are those that argue, that 'a culture of non-participation by children and young people is endemic'. In this module you will consider the relation between participation, democracy, and social justice and the advantages and disadvantages of different forms of participation, from the political to the religious and cultural. You will explore the ways in which the State and various agencies attempt to balance children's rights, parents' rights and the rights of cultural groups. A key question relates to the role of schools in producing future citizens and whether the autonomy of the young person is a legitimate overarching aim of schooling. Furthermore if ethical decision-making is to be encouraged for children and young people as a legitimate means of participation, the importance of the character and values of the child cannot be ignored. This module will explore how particular values required for democratic citizenship are inculcated and critically examine ideas of social justice in relation to children and young people's values formation and participation in different communities and traditions in the context of a plural liberal democracy.


This module investigates the relationship between citizenship, social justice and the participation of children and young people. It aims to:
- Explore the underpinning philosophies associated with citizenship, participation and social justice and how these concepts relate to each other.
- Encourage students to reflect critically on concepts of children and young people's participation and how this is understood, promoted or discouraged in a variety of contexts.
- Develop understanding of how competing demands for rights are balanced by the state and other agencies.
- Explore the variety of different ways in which children and young people's participate in decision making, civic, political and cultural forms of action and how these are understood by different cultural groups and agencies.
- Explore the role of the school in relation to developing children and young people's participation, producing future citizens and challenging inequality and discrimination

Learning outcomes
On completion of this module, students should be able to:
- Demonstrate understanding of different approaches, paradigms and frameworks related to children and young people's participation, citizenship and social justice.
- Demonstrate systematic theoretical understanding and critical awareness of current local and international debates related to young people's citizenship and participation and how this impacts upon issues of social justice.
- Understand and devise appropriate research strategies to explore children and young people's citizenship
- Critically analyse original empirical material and conceptual frameworks in order to evaluate different approaches to participation.

Skills outcomes
Understanding the Convention of the Rights of the Child in relation to participation, citizenship and social justice, in particular.


Indicative content:

Week 1. Citizenship, social justice and democracy: children and young people
What is the relation between democracy and social justice and what are the implications of this for children and young people in the twenty-first century?

Week 2. Children and young people as citizens
What does it mean to be a citizen in the 21st century and how this is viewed differently in different communities and cultures? How have concepts of citizenship changed over time and where have these concepts come from?

Week 3. The education of children as citizens
What is the role of current education in 'producing' citizens? How are values inculcated and which values it is legitimate for schools to teach?

Week 4. The character of young citizens
What are the challenges for education in liberal democracies where citizenship is enjoyed by virtually all? How do 'character' and values' inform ethical decision-making?

Week 5. Participation (of young citizens)
What is the difference between character education and citizenship education in relation to ethical decision-making. What are the motivations for, and benefits of, different forms of participation in relation to social justice?

Week 6. Children's participatory citizenship in families and communities
How do children and young people participate and how are these forms of participation interpreted by different communities? How are children and young people's rights balanced with the rights of parents and communities?

Week 7. Children's participatory citizenship: radicalism and protest
What forms of protest are considered legitimate by different governments, states and by young people themselves? How do we distinguish between radicalism and terrorism and what is the relationship between radicalism and youth?

Week 8. Children and the politics of the body
What is a politics of the body? How do the embodied experiences of young people influence participation? How have young people challenged normative assumptions around the body? How can the body be used as a form of political protest?

Week 9. Children's participatory citizenship in politics and society
How do issues related to race, gender and sexuality and social class influence participation? How should tolerance be defined and how should it be promoted in challenging discrimination and inequality?

Week 10. Children's participatory citizenship at school
Should schools be democratic? Would this make them more socially just places? What does student participation in decision-making at school look like? What are the benefits and limitations of different approaches?

Week 11. Children Social Mobility and Social Justice
What is the relationship between social class and poverty? How do children and young people experience poverty and the effects of class discrimination? What are the implications of social mobility for social justice?

Week 12. Synoptic/synthesis session on: children's citizenship, participation and social justice
Review of the motivation for and benefits of different forms of participatory citizenship and their relation to democracy and social justice.

Teaching methods

Delivery typeNumberLength hoursStudent hours
Independent online learning hours136.00
Private study hours128.00
Total Contact hours36.00
Total hours (100hr per 10 credits)300.00

Private study

Students will be provided with key readings to discuss each week. Additionally students will be expected to research their own case studies and conduct wider reading around children's rights.

Opportunities for Formative Feedback

The module is structured around debates, discussion, the analysis of case studies and other weekly tasks providing students with an opportunity to demonstrate their understanding of the key concepts on the module. Thus tutors will be able to monitor student progress towards the assessment.

Methods of assessment

Assessment typeNotes% of formal assessment
Essay6000 words100.00
Total percentage (Assessment Coursework)100.00

Normally resits will be assessed by the same methodology as the first attempt, unless otherwise stated

Reading list

The reading list is available from the Library website

Last updated: 14/11/2014


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