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Child Law (Senior Status)


  • Credit value: 15 credits at Level 7
  • Convenor and tutor: Professor Daniel Monk
  • Assessment: a 4000-word essay (100%)

Module description

Child Law is a dynamic subject that directly or indirectly impacts on all our lives: everyone was once a child. On this module we ask three key questions 'what is a child and how does law portray childhood?', ‘what is the difference between children’s rights and human rights?’ and ‘what are the meanings and limits of parental rights?'

In answering these questions we will look at controversial debates about shifting definitions of parenthood/parental responsibility, contact disputes and the father’s rights movement, surrogacy and assisted reproduction, adoption, child abuse scandals and in each case take a historical perspective.

In this module you will achieve not only a sound knowledge of the legal framework relating to children but also a good grasp of the sociological context in which the legal questions arise. We will focus on what happens in practice as well as what should happen in theory.

Indicative module syllabus

  • Introduction: ‘Best Interests’ and ‘Children’s Rights’
  • Parental Responsibility
  • Child Protection
  • Concepts of Childhood
  • Adoption
  • Resolving Private Disputes: I and II
  • Assisted Reproduction and Children’s Rights
  • Education Law
  • Essay Guidance

Learning objectives

By the end of this module, you will be able to:

  • demonstrate knowledge and understanding of the key legal concepts, values and principles underlying the child-related aspects of family law
  • critically appraise the key aspects of the law about the legal status of the child
  • identify and critically engage with the political, social and cultural factors that inform and underlie this area of law
  • critically assess the problems, tensions and contradictions underlying contemporary debates about the family and the role of law in regulating and defining it.