This module is designed to provide a fundamental grounding in a range of appropriate research methods and research skills along with the opportunity to specialise in more advanced training in qualitative participant centered research, ethical frameworks and in practical applications of research techniques. Children and young people have become a central feature within social science challenging previously held notions of competence. The discourse of child and youth advocacy and participation rights for children are now at the forefront of childhood and youth studies and increasingly recognised in globalised childhood and youth policy and legislation. These developments have necessitated alternative child/young person centred research methods that provide opportunities for the active participation and meaningful inclusion of children and young people as social agents. The idealisations of children and young people as 'beings' rather than as 'becomings' and as 'experts in their own lives' have gained considerable attention in the conceptual research 'new paradigms'. This module enables students to become familiar with methodological approaches and developments in research with children and young people but it also provides opportunities for a reflexive approach.
The critical approach adopted encourages students to question the political, cultural, economic and social context in which research is situated. Students critically examine the previously dominant approaches in research, to evaluate research methodologies and methods deemed 'appropriate' to understanding children's and young people's experiences in a variety of contexts. However, the module also critically examines the approaches of these more reflexive, creative and innovative 'child/young person-centred' participatory approaches which actively attempt to challenge notions of adult 'expert' knowledge and questions how child/young person centred these approached are. In addition students will have knowledge of historical, theoretical and philosophical issues underlying the development of research paradigms in childhood and youth studies. In exploring methodologies that draw on children's strengths rather that focusing on assumed incompetence, issues of power and social exclusion can allegedly be addressed but whilst this facilitates a more reflexive approach to understanding children's and young people's participation in research, it is questioned whether methodological reflexivity can overcome the more traditional power relationships and conceptual dualisms that still dominate the research arena.