Children, Youth and International Development (MSc)

This specialist Master's degree is one of the very few in the UK that focuses on childhood and youth studies within their international context. You will explore how childhood and the experience of being a child are defined and experienced in different times, places and cultures. You will develop a sociological understanding of how childhood is constructed differently across cultures and we will also look at how childhood is influenced and shaped by wider changes within societies. 

The course focuses on children, childhood and youth in an international context, so you will consider how global forces, including society and economy, international development and war, shape the experiences of children and young people worldwide. You will also explore other factors that shape childhood, including class, gender and ethnicity. By the end of the course, you will have an advanced understanding of how the complex interaction of the global and the local shape the experience of childhood. 

You can choose from a range of option modules in human geography, international development and sociology. One of our option modules is an international fieldtrip, which will deepen your understanding of globalisation, cultural change, urbanisation and economic development, while also developing your research skills in the field. 

This course will be of interest to anyone working, or intending to work, with children in service provision, in social policy or in international development, particularly in culturally diverse settings, or anyone who has an interest in cultures of childhood. You will study in an environment of active research, taught by world-leading scholars in the field, and you will develop the skills you need to design and produce high-quality, independent research. 


  • This specialist Master's degree will give you a deep understanding of how childhood is understood and experienced in different global contexts.
  • Our location in Bloomsbury, central London gives you easy access to a wide range of research resources, including the Birkbeck Librarythe LSE Library of Political and Economic Science (LSE)the Royal Geographical Society and Senate House Library (University of London).
  • The Department of Geography has contacts with many public and private sector organisations, professional bodies and researchers at other academic institutions, which can lead to important networking opportunities. 
  • Our academic staff are experts in their respective fields, publishing and teaching in a wide range of topics. The programme director is the author of Childhood in a Global Perspective (Polity, 2009) and many other publications on global childhoods. 
  • In the 2014 Research Excellence Framework (REF), Sociology at Birkbeck was ranked 13th in the UK. 

Course structure

The programme comprises of three core modules, one option module and a dissertation. Part-time students take their option module and the core research module in Year 2.

Option modules can be taken in international development studies, law and youth studies. Relevant option modules may also be taken from those offered within the School of Social Sciences, History and Philosophy, with the agreement of the programme director.

Dissertation research in a relevant field is agreed with the programme director.

Classes in Research Methods for Dissertation are taught with students from the MSc International Development, which gives you the opportunity for academic exchange with students working in the development sector.

Module groups

  • Entry Requirements

    Entry requirements

    Good degree (2:2 or above) in social sciences or humanities.

    Previous experience or study of international development issues and/or childhood studies may be an advantage.

    Two references: preferably both academic references, but employer references may be considered.

    International entry requirements

    If English is not your first language or you have not previously studied in English, the requirement for this programme is the equivalent of an International English Language Testing System (IELTS Academic Test) score of 7.0, with not less than 7.0 in each of the sub-tests.

    If you don't meet the minimum IELTS requirement, we offer pre-sessional English courses, foundation programmes and language support services to help you improve your English language skills and get your place at Birkbeck.

    Visit the International section of our website to find out more about our English language entry requirements and relevant requirements by country.

    Visa requirements

    If you are not from the European Economic Area (EEA) and/or Switzerland and you are coming to study in the UK, you may need to apply for a visa.

    The visa you apply for varies according to the length of your course:

    • Courses of more than six months’ duration.
    • Courses of less than six months’ duration.
    • Pre-sessional English language courses.

    International students who require a Tier 4 visa should apply for our three-year evening study BA/BSc/LLB degrees, as these are classified as full-time study and qualify for student visa status. If you are living in the UK on a Tier 4 visa, you will not be eligible to enrol as a student on Birkbeck’s part-time evening study degrees.

    For full information, read our visa information for international students page.

    Credits and Accredited Prior Learning (APL)

    If you have studied at university previously, you may have accumulated credits through the modules you studied. It may be possible to transfer these credits from your previous study to Birkbeck or another institution. You should discuss this with the Programme Director when you are making your application.

    Find out more about credits and Accredited Prior Learning (APL).

  • Fees


    Part-time home/EU students: £4075 pa
    Full-time home/EU students: £8175 pa
    Part-time international students: £7425 pa
    Full-time international students: £14850 pa

    Students are charged a tuition fee in each year of their programme. Tuition fees for students continuing on their programme in following years may be subject to annual inflationary increases. For more information, please see the College Fees Policy.

    Additional costs

    As well as fees, you should expect to pay other study-related expenses, for travel to and from College, books, stationery, etc. Birkbeck provides advice and financial support for students who experience hardship in meeting the travel costs of essential fieldwork or study visits.

    On this programme, you will also have to pay for the following additional costs:

    The field trip to Delhi, India is an optional element of this programme and will cost approximately £1300 per person.

  • Teaching and assessment


    At Birkbeck, almost all of our courses are taught in the evening and our teaching is designed to support students who are juggling evening study with work and other daytime commitments. We actively encourage innovative and engaging ways of teaching, to ensure our students have the best learning experience. In the 2017 Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF), the government’s system for rating university teaching, Birkbeck was allocated a Silver award.

    Teaching may include formal lectures, seminars, and practical classes and tutorials. Formal lectures are used in most degree programmes to give an overview of a particular field of study. They aim to provide the stimulus and the starting point for deeper exploration of the subject during your own personal reading. Seminars give you the chance to explore a specific aspect of your subject in depth and to discuss and exchange ideas with fellow students. They typically require preparatory study.

    Our distance-learning and blended-learning courses and modules are self-directed and we will provide you with interactive learning opportunities and encourage you to collaborate and engage via various learning technologies. These courses involve limited or no face-to-face contact between students and module tutors.

    In addition, you will have access to pastoral support via a named Personal Tutor.

    Methods of teaching on this course

    Lectures, seminars, presentations and tutorials.

    Contact hours

    On our taught courses, you will have scheduled teaching and study sessions each year. Alongside this, you will also undertake assessment activities and independent learning outside of class. Depending on the modules you take, you may also have additional scheduled academic activities, such as tutorials, dissertation supervision, practical classes, visits and fieldtrips.

    On our taught courses, the actual amount of time you spend in the classroom and in contact with your lecturers will depend on your course, the option modules you select and when you undertake your final-year project.

    On our distance-learning and blended-learning courses, discussion, collaboration and interaction with your lecturers and fellow students are encouraged and enabled through various learning technologies, but you may have limited or no face-to-face contact with your module tutors.


    Timetables are usually available from September onwards and you can access your personalised timetable via your My Birkbeck Profile online (if you have been invited to enrol).

    Indicative class size

    Class sizes vary, depending on your course, the module you are undertaking, and the method of teaching. For example, lectures are presented to larger groups, whereas seminars usually consist of small, interactive groups led by a tutor.

    Independent learning

    On our taught courses, much of your time outside of class will be spent on self-directed, independent learning, including preparing for classes and following up afterwards. This will usually include, but is not limited to, reading books and journal articles, undertaking research, working on coursework and assignments, and preparing for presentations and assessments.

    Independent learning is absolutely vital to your success as a student. Everyone is different, and the study time required varies topic by topic, but, as a guide, expect to schedule up to five hours of self-study for each hour of teaching.

    On our distance-learning and blended-learning courses, the emphasis is very much on independent, self-directed learning and you will be expected to manage your own learning, with the support of your module tutors and various learning technologies.

    Study skills and additional support

    Birkbeck offers study and learning support to undergraduate and postgraduate students to help them succeed. Our Learning Development Service can help you in the following areas:

    • academic skills (including planning your workload, research, writing, exam preparation and writing a dissertation)
    • written English (including structure, punctuation and grammar)
    • numerical skills (basic mathematics and statistics).

    Our Disability and Dyslexia Service can support you if you have additional learning needs resulting from a disability or from dyslexia.

    Our Counselling Service can support you if you are struggling with emotional or psychological difficulties during your studies.

    Our Mental Health Advisory Service can support you if you are experiencing short- or long-term mental health difficulties during your studies.


    Assessment is an integral part of your university studies and usually consists of a combination of coursework and examinations, although this will vary from course to course - on some of our courses, assessment is entirely by coursework. The methods of assessment on this course are specified below under 'Methods of assessment on this course'. You will need to allow time to complete coursework and prepare for exams.

    Where a course has unseen written examinations, these may be held termly, but, on the majority of our courses, exams are usually taken in the Summer term, during May to June. Exams may be held at other times of the year as well. In most cases, exams are held during the day on a weekday - if you have daytime commitments, you will need to make arrangements for daytime attendance - but some exams are held in the evening. Exam timetables are published online.

    Find out more about assessment at Birkbeck, including guidance on assessment, feedback and our assessment offences policy.

    Methods of assessment on this course

    Most assessment is by coursework, including critical annotated bibliographies and essays.

  • Careers and employability

    Careers and employability

    Graduates go on to careers in education, international development and social policy settings. Possible professions include social worker, community development worker, or learning mentor. This degree can also be useful in becoming a learning mentor or youth worker.

    Find out more about these professions.

    We offer a comprehensive Careers and Employability Service to help you advance your career, while our in-house, professional recruitment consultancy, Birkbeck Talent, works with London’s top employers to help you gain work experience that fits in with your evening studies.

  • How to apply

    How to apply

    You apply directly to Birkbeck for this course, using the online application.

    Before you apply, please contact the programme director, Dr Karen Wells, to discuss your application.

    Birkbeck can give you all of the information and help you need to complete your application form.

    Application deadlines and interviews

    You should apply as early as possible.