This MSc 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.Entry RequirementsNormally 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. Students whose first language is not English must have IELTS of at least 6.5 or equivalent. Course AimsDo children of ‘different cultures’ live ‘different worlds’?
Do children have their own world, distinct from the world of adults?
How do the rituals of day-to-day life inform children’s ideas of society at large?
Why are adults’ ideas about children and childhood always so important for what children are and what they can become?
Everywhere in the world adult ideas and practices structure the conditions of children and young people's lives, but adults cannot control what children make of those conditions. It was once assumed in the social sciences that developmental processes applied to children universally, but anthropological research calls this assumption into question.
Local ethnographic knowledge provides the means to question taken-for-granted models of childhood and youth current in Western society, study children on their own terms and in doing so make children's own ideas and practices of central importance.
How we come to grips with this new understanding of children and young people, and childhood and youth, is of vital importance to anyone who works, or wants to work, with children. Teachers, health professionals, psychologists, social workers and parents will benefit from the cross-cultural and anthropological perspective of this degree, as will those intending to go on to conduct doctoral research.Course ContentThe 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.Compulsory ModulesThe Anthropology of Childhood and YouthMain topics of study: the concept of the child in society; children's participation in society; children's ways of coping with violence; child play; child labour; the history of youth as a political category; young people's resistance to marginalisation; the radicalisation of young people.Anthropological and Psychological Perspectives on LearningMain topics of study: models of learning in anthropology and psychology; children as subjects and objects; learning as an embodied microhistorical process; space-time coordinates of learning; kinship and intersubjectivity; person and gender; language and consciousness; ritual and learning.Ethnographic Research MethodsMain topics of study: the centrality of fieldwork to anthropological research; theoretical and practical issues of participant observation, open-ended unstructured interviews and semi-structured interviews; the advantages and disadvantages of using questionnaires during fieldwork; different styles of ethnographic writing; gaining access in ethnographic research; ethical clearance and ethical dilemmas arising in the course of fieldwork; constructing a research proposal.DissertationThe specific topics and/or research problems discussed in the dissertation are a function of the student’s particular research interest in the domain of the anthropology of children, child development and youth, and the data generated by the student’s own fieldwork.
Recent examples of dissertations by students taking this course include:
A happy, carefree childhood? Telling children that someone in the family has HIV/AIDS.
Dangerous Lives: the experiences of British Asian women and children in the aftermath of domestic violence.
The language of learning: how children become learners.Optional ModulesKinship and New Directions in AnthropologyMain topics of study: descent and alliance, the household, the incest taboo, new reproductive technologies, kinship and the state, gay kinship, the abortion debate, conceptions of social reproduction, kinship and migration, the social and cultural construction of paternity.Anthropology of the BodyMain Topics of Study: The social body; embodiment, ‘habitus’ and phenomenological approaches to the body; cross-cultural perceptions of the body; the body in parts; sex and gender; childhood and the body; bodily norms, beauty and ideas of the perfect body; biomedicine and the body; death and the dying body.Anthropology of the PersonMain topics of study: theories of the person; the notion of 'normality'; the emergence of memero-politics; classifications, kinds, and kind-making; 'looping effects'; cultural bound syndrome and 'ecological niche'.International Development, Children and YouthMain topics of study: Exploring definitions of childhood, youth and international development, and theories of childhood and youth. In particular students will be introduced to the new social studies of childhood. The key tenets of this approach – the social construction of childhood and youth, and the agency of young people – will subsequently be used to examine how theory, policy and practice in international development has accounted for and impacted on young people’s lives. Global Agendas on Young People, Rights and ParticipationMain topics of study: Human rights: history, critiques and mobilisation; Theorising children’s rights: child liberation and caretaker views; Changing conceptions of children’s rights; The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child: history and critiques; Alternative conceptions of children’s rights: the African Charter; Children’s rights in practice: children’s rights in national laws; claiming rights; Participatory development: history and practices; Children’s participation: the arguments; Participatory projects with children; Problematising children’s participation; Youth and participation; Youth politics and activism.Applied Learning for Children, Youth and International DevelopmentMain topics of study: this module will consist primarily of a placement activity, lasting a minimum of 10 days, which can take place in their own place of employment (paid or unpaid) or another organisation. The placement must be approved by the module co-ordinator and the project worked on must demonstrate relevance to the study of children, youth and international development.Anthropology of Disability and DifferenceMain Topics of Study: A critical overview of the medical and social models of disability that have framed discourse on disability; ethnographic and phenomenological alternatives to such approaches; conducting fieldwork with cognitively and physically impaired people; disability across the life course, with a focus on childhood disability; identity and disability; social policy, development, the state and disability; ethical dilemmas and the new genetics.Plus two unassessed reading modulesHistory and Theory of Social AnthropologyMain topics of study: evolutionary' anthropology; 'race', 'civilisation'; diffusionism and the Boas school; the development of ethnographic research; functional, structure and comparison; structuralism; neo-evolutionism; culture and the interpretation of cultures; critiques (Marxism, feminism, post-modernism).Issues in Social AnthropologyMain topics of study: kinship; gender; religion; anthropology of the body.
Further detailshttp://www.brunel.ac.uk/about/acad/sss/depts/anthropology/postgraduate (School of Social Sciences web pages)Teaching and LearningYou will be taught via a combination of lectures, seminars, workshops, tutorials and film.AssessmentAssessment is variously by essay, practical assignments (eg, analysis of a short field exercise), and a dissertation of approximately 15,000 words. This dissertation is based upon fieldwork undertaken by the candidate. There are no examinations.CareersCandidates will acquire analytical and research skills that can be used in a wide range of careers. In addition to providing a firm grounding for doctoral research on childhood and youth, graduates will find that the degree enhances professional development in fields such as teaching, social work, health-visiting, nursing and midwifery, pediatric specialisms, non-governmental agencies and international development. Every year, some of our graduates also go on to do further research for a PhD in child-focused anthropology as members of the Centre for Child-Focused Anthropological Research (C-FAR).