Institute of Education


Sociology of Childhood and Children's Rights MA

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.


Key information

Please note

Unless otherwise indicated, the information on this page relates to September 2019 entry. The information for September 2020 entry will be launching in the online Graduate Prospectus shortly. Applications for most postgraduate taught programmes will open 1 November 2019.

Programme starts

September 2019

Modes and duration

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

Application dates

All applicants
Open: 15 October 2018
Close: 26 July 2019

Tuition fees (2019/20)

UK/EU: £10,440 (FT) £5,275 (PT)
Overseas: £21,790 (FT) £11,060 (PT)

Note on fees: The tuition fees shown are for the year indicated above. Fees for subsequent years may increase or otherwise vary. Further information on fee status, fee increases and the fee schedule can be viewed on the UCL Students website. Fees for flexible, modular study are charged pro-rata to the appropriate full-time Master's fee taken in an academic session.

Location: London, Bloomsbury

Entry requirements

A second-class Bachelor's degree from a UK university or an overseas qualification of an equivalent standard in social science, media or cultural studies, humanities, education or a related field. A similar qualification in another subject is also acceptable if combined with experience in child care, health, education or children's advocacy.

All applicants should preferably have experience of working with and for children.

English language requirements

If your education has not been conducted in the English language, you will be expected to demonstrate evidence of an adequate level of English proficiency.

The English language level for this programme is: Good

Further information can be found on our English language requirements page.

International students

Country-specific information, including details of when UCL representatives are visiting your part of the world, can be obtained from the International Students website.

Visa information

This programme is suitable for international students on a Tier 4 visa - study must be full-time, face-to-face, starting October.

International applicants can find out the equivalent qualification for their country by selecting from the list below.

Select your country:

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 compulsory modules (90 credits), one or two optional module(s) (30 credits) and a dissertation (60 credits).

Compulsory modules

Critical Theoretical Debates about Global Childhoods and Society
Children's Rights in Global Perspectives
Researching Childhood

Optional modules

Up to 30 credits of options drawn from the following:

Sociology of Race and Education
Contemporary Issues in Early Years
Understanding Education Policy
Gender, Education and Development
Gender, Sexuality and Education
Rights and Education
Knowledge, Power and the Cultural Production of Gender
Global Politics of Gender, Sexuality and Security
Thinking Space
Postcolonial Cultural Geographies
Social Theory and the Study of Contemporary Social Problems

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.


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.


Scholarships relevant to this department are displayed below.

IOE Centenary Masters Scholarships

Deadline is 5 April 2019
Accommodation plus tuition fees (1 year)

IOE Fulbright

Now closed for 2019/20

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

What our students and staff say

Alumni view

"I am a Londoner and work full time in London so UCL is the perfect place for me to study. Studying the sociology of childhood provides a unique lens to observe those who are positioned without power. I know that my MA qualification will give me the freedom to explore other research opportunities."

Lucy Benson

Sociology of Childhood and Children's Rights MA (2018)
Alumni view

"I am now in a senior position in my field and it was continual professional development and delivering results for my employers that has enabled me to get this far. I think UCL has shown me that I still have more to learn, that there is a global perspective of childhood that I need to be more aware of and that the social structures in place need to be scrutinised closely to achieve the best outcomes for children."

Haseena Noushad

Sociology of Childhood and Children's Rights MA (2018)

Application and next steps


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: www.ucl.ac.uk/prospective-students/graduate/taught/application.

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

All applicants
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.

Page last modified on 18 October 2019