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An image to illustrate studying Child and youth studies with The Open University.

Child and youth studies is located in the Centre for Research in Education and Educational Technology (CREET). We draw on a range of approaches and methodologies including those from developmental psychology, childhood and youth studies, sociology, anthropology and cultural studies. Themes include:

  • Children and young people: experiences, identities, spaces, voice and agency
  • Young people: gender relations, masculinities and femininities
  • The impacts of social and cultural change on children and young people
  • Learning, education, disability and technology
  • The development of thinking, social relationships and representations
  • International perspectives on childhood and youth.

Childhood and youth studies researchers have good contacts with pre-school institutions, schools, young people and families, and we have an observation suite. We are an active inter-disciplinary group with a research income of over £1,800,000 since 2001. 

Qualifications available:

PhD. See also our Master of Research (MRes) and our Doctorate in Education (EdD).


For detailed information on current fees visit Fees and funding.

Entry requirements:

Minimum 2:1 (or equivalent)

Potential research projects

  • International perspectives on childhood and youth
  • Children’s involvement in the design of health and educational spaces and settings 
  • Children and young people’s agency, participation and voice, and children and young people as researchers
  • Children and disadvantage 
  • Mothers’ representations of their infants, mother-infant relations and social development in infants  
  • Literacy, language and narratives, particularly in relation to impairments 
  • Use of technology for education 
  • Executive functioning 
  • Socio-cognitive development: collaborative learning; critical thinking; problem solving and memory and peer relationships
  • The development of thinking, social relationships and representations  
  • Socio-cognitive development: collaborative learning; critical and creative thinking and peer relationships    
  • Play and narrative for social, emotional and language development in the early years   
  • Learning, education, disability and technology.

We are also interested in projects related to the above themes.

Current / recent research projects

  • Parent-child shared book reading
  • What processes in children’s play empower them to be autonomous learners?
  • The use of pictorial convention in children's drawings
  • Young people and alcohol use: learning and drinking in a new town
  • Executive function and lower attaining adolescents in mainstream education
  • Young motherhood and consumption: an exploration into the consumer practices of young mothers in Bristol
  • School-age mothers: education, parenting and social exclusion
  • Exploring student disengagement within a Caribbean context
  • How do boys experience loneliness in their digitally mediated culture?
  • Time perception in infants

Further information

If you have an enquiry specific to this research area please contact:

Mrs Anne Foward
+44 (0)1908 655364

For general enquiries please contact the Research Degrees Team via the link under ‘Your questions’ on the right of the page.