Taught course

Anthropology of Childhood, Youth and Education

Brunel University, London · Social Sciences, Media and Communications

Entry requirements

Normally a good Honours degree from a UK institution; an equivalent overseas qualification; or an equivalent professional qualification (eg from a teaching or health or child welfare background or similar). Candidates not fully meeting these criteria may nevertheless be considered on an individual basis.

Months of entry


Course content

The MSc in the Anthropology of Childhood, Youth and Education was the first degree of its kind in the world when it was established and is still unique in its thorough-going anthropological perspective on what it is to be a child or to be young. Its key organising principle is that understanding children requires the study of how their relations with others - peers, older and younger children, parents, teachers and other adults - inform their practices, identities and world views.

Issues addressed by the course include:

  • Do children of ‘different cultures’ live ‘different worlds’?
  • How does education impact upon children’s worlds and upon social and cultural practices more broadly?
  • How do everyday processes of learning – both formal and informal - help to shape children’s ideas of and engagement with society at large?
  • What is the role of schools in the transmission and acquisition of cultural values to children and youth?
  • And why are adults’ ideas about childhood and youth so important for what children learn and aspire to become?

This course addresses such issues from an anthropological perspective. The first of its kind in the UK, its distinctiveness derives from an anthropological approach that focuses on the importance of children's and youth's perspectives, and on the role that education (formal and informal) plays in children's learning processes and in the transmission and acquisition of cultural knowledge. Through an examination of ethnographic cases from the around the world (including the UK), participants will learn about the different ways in which childhood and youth are understood and conceptualised, along with the different educational forms and processes through which cultural knowledge is transmitted and acquired, and how culture impacts upon these processes.

The course is designed to show postgraduate students how anthropological approaches can be used to gain access to and understand children and young people's lived experience, their ideas about the world and themselves, and their relations with peers and adults. In so doing, it aims to provide a rigorous grounding in key anthropological ideas and research methods and to show how a comparative social analysis illuminates our understanding of ourselves and other people.

Anthropology at Brunel is well-known for its focus on ethnographic fieldwork: as well as undertaking rigorous intellectual training, all our students are expected to get out of the library and undertake their own, original research – whether in the UK or overseas – and to present their findings in a dissertation. Students take this opportunity to travel to a wide variety of locations across the world.

Full-time (one year), attendance for lectures is just two days a week. Part-time (two years) attendance for lectures is just one day a week. 24 weeks attendance per year.

Typical core modules (subject to change) may include:

  • The Anthropology of Childhood
  • The Anthropology of Youth
  • Ethnographic Research Methods
  • Anthropology of Education
  • Anthropology of Learning

Plus a choice of 30 credits from a range of elective modules such as:

  • The Anthropology of the Body (15 credits)
  • Ethnicity, Identity and Culture (15 credits)
  • Anthropology of the Person (15 credits)
  • Kinship, Sex and Gender (15 credits)
    (other modules may be available from different subject areas.)

Information for international students

International students are welcomed. We require IELTS 6.5 (min 6.0 in all sections) or equivalent. Visit our dedicated international web pages.

Fees and funding

UK students
£7,500 FT, £3,750 PT
International students
£14,400 FT, £7,200 PT

Read about funding opportunities available to postgraduate students

Qualification and course duration


part time
30 months
full time
12 months


AssessmentWhat kind of work will I be doing? (proportionally)
Written coursework / continuous assessment66
Dissertation34 (15000 words)

Course contact details

PG Enquiries
+44 (0)1895 265599