Children's Rights

Course - first cycle - 15 credits

Syllabus for students spring 2013, autumn 2012

Course Code:
BU123E revision 1
Level of specialisation
Main fields of study:
No main fields
Date of establishment:
14 November 2003
Date of ratification:
02 March 2012
Decision-making body:
Faculty of Education and Society
Enforcement date:
03 September 2012

Course description

The main aim of the course is to introduce the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC), and to review its practice in the Swedish community. Another aim is to introduce the participants to modern childhood research and discuss connections between concepts as the Child’s perspective, the Childs best and Children’s Rights, in theory as well as in practice. The objectives are to offer the participants various learning methods and possibilities to collect, analyze and demonstrate and share knowledge of the UNCRC, childhood theories and of Swedish childhood.

Advancement in relation to the degree requirements

Single Subject Course.

Entry requirements

General entry requirements + English B.

Learning outcomes

After participating in the course the participants will be able to:

  • Understand and analyze the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child
  • Discuss main theories and methods of modern childhood research
  • Revise and analyze relations between modern childhood theory, the UNCRC and children’s environments and conditions in practice.


Since the participants of the course have various cultural, geographical and social experiences as well as various educational plans and future aims, the detailed forms of assessments are determined in discussion with the participants. Though, in an aim of designing assessments evaluating the participants learning outcomes, the outer frames for this process are set in advance. The participants will (during the course) in group or individually, be set out to design, create, present and analyze three different projects, related to three main themes of the course. Finally, those projects are summarized and discussed in an individual portfolio, which is supposed to reflect all the expected learning outcomes presented above. The different grading levels and expected learning outcomes will be presented at the upstart of the course.

Course content

The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child is used as a point of departure to discuss, analyze and evaluate modern childhood and its’ new frames for understanding childhood and children. The UNCRC is discussed and demonstrated in the light of various perspectives, such as policy, democracy, culture, school, family, gender, ethnicity and social interaction. The convention is seen as a document reflecting new policies as well as new social and cultural conceptualizations about the Child and its needs, interests and competencies, whereas modern theories on childhood make another main perspective. The course consists of three main themes, Children’s outdoor environment, The perspective of the child and Modern childhood and Swedish practice each including lectures, seminars and projects related to its main subjects and literature.

Learning activities

The learning methods consist of designing, participate in and presenting fieldwork, evaluate and analyze literature and presentations/works of other participants, participate in small group discussions as well as engage in in-class assessment exercise. The participants will have opportunities to take part in planning as well as creating the learning methods to a certain extent. The three different projects of the course are partly set in advance though offer possibilities to make individual selections and designs as well. In the first project participants are set out to (in group) prepare and create a movie on children’s conditions in different outdoor environments/places. The second project consists of writing an article on a selected subject discussing and analyzing relations between the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child with literature on childhood, personal experiences and experiences from Swedish practice. In the third project participants will (in group) design a field work study, including interviews and observations. Data are then analyzed and discussed in relation to literature, personal experiences and possible future work situations. All projects are to be presented in-class or in smaller groups, and evaluated by other participants. The teaching methods offer possibilities to reflect on, to discuss and to demonstrate new experiences and learning. Peer-reviews as well as analyzing each others texts are opportunities to think critically on central subjects. In all parts of the course the participants will have access to computers and support by the course leaders.

Grading system

Excellent (A), Very Good (B), Good (C), Satisfactory (D), Pass (E) or Fail (U).

Course literature and other teaching materials

The bibliography consists of a few mandatory books. Participants are supposed to choose the remaining literature (about 1000 pages) in connection with project work and from a reference list. Articles from scientific international journals and Internet can be included, as well as relevant fiction and literature from the students’ home country.

Mandatory books

Cummins, Jim (1996) Negotiating identities: Education for empowerment in a diverse society. Ontario: California Association for Bilingual Education (290 p)
Osler, Audrey (2000) (ed) Citizenship and democracy in schools: Diversity, identity, equality. Oakhill: Trentham Books (211 p)
James, Allison & Adrian L. James (2004) Constructing Childhood. Theory, Policy and Social Practice. Hampshire: Palgrave McMillan (218 p)
Joseph, Sandra (1999) A Voice for the Child. The inspirational words of Janusz Korczak.
UK: Thorsons (224 p)
Mayall, Berry (2001) The sociology of childhood in relation to children’s rights. The International Journal of Children’s Rights, 8, p 243-259
Rädda Barnen/UNICEF (2002) Children’s Rights. Turning Principles into Practice. Stockholm: Rädda Barnen
The United Nations Convention of Children’s Rights
Verhellen, Eugeen (1997) Convention on the Rights of the Child. Leuven: Garant

Reference list

Allison, James & Alan Prout (eds) (1990/1997) Constructing and Reconstructing Childhood. London: Falmer Press
van Beers, Henk (2002) Children’s Participation. Experiences in capacity building and training. Stockholm: Rädda Barnen
Boyden, Jo, Birgitta Ling & William Myers (eds) What works for working children. Stockholm: Rädda Barnen
Christensen, Pia & Allison James (eds) (2002) Research with Children. Perspectives and practices. London: RoutledgeFalmer
Cohen, Adir (1994) The Gate of Light. Janusz Korczak, the Educator and Writer Who Overcame the Holocaust. Fairleigh Dickinson University Press: London (329)
Hartman, Sven G (1994) Janusz Korczak and The Century of the Child. Scandinavian Journal of Educational Research, 38 (2) p 97-105
Heath, Shirley Brice (1983) Ways with words. Language, life and work in communities and classrooms. New York: Cambridge UP
Hännikkainen, Maritta, Marjanna de Jong & Lena Reich Rubinstein (1997) Our heads are the same size. A study of the quality of the child’s life in Nordic day care centers. Malmö: School of Education
Internationella Rädda Barnen (1999) Children’s Rights: reality or rhetoric? The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. The first ten years.
Jones, David P.H (2003) Communicating with vulnerable children. A guide for practitioners. London: Gaskell
Lewis, Ann & Geoff Lindsay (eds) (2000) Researching children’s perspectives. Buckingham: Open University Press
Mooney, Carol Garhart (2000)Theories of Childhood. An introduction to Dewey, Montessori, Erikson, Piaget and Vygotsky. St Paul: Redleaf Press
Regeringskansliet (1999) Early childhood education and care policy in Sweden.
Said, Edward (1998) The importance of Education for Democracy. Svenska Unescorådets skriftserie nr 1
Save the Children – Publications in English
Sheridan, Sonja (2001) Pedagogical quality in preschool. An issue of perspectives. Göteborg: Acta Universitatis Gothoburgensis, Gothenburg Studies in Educational Sciences
Verhellen, Eugeen (ed) (1999) Understanding Children’s Rights. Collected papers presented at the fourth international interdisciplinary course of Children’s Rights. Ghent: Children’s Rights Centre, University of Ghent
de Winter, Micha (1997) Children as fellow citizens. Participation and commitment. Oxford: Radcliffe Medical Press

Perspectives of gender, environment, migration and ethnicity at Malmö University
The course of Children’s Rights is also a course of modern childhood and modern conditions of the Child, which have to be analyzed and reviewed in the light of social categories as gender, ethnicity and class. The participants of the course will have several possibilities to develop their knowledge and insights according to those issues. They will also be set out to create their own projects and field works, and thereby learn by act and react on the outdoor and indoor environments and resources of children. The assessments are designed so that the participants will have to evaluate, analyze as well as present their insights and experiences from different perspectives.

Course evaluation

Evaluation is an integral part of the course, though a final individual and written evaluation based on the aims, learning outcomes and methods will be offered at the end of the course. This evaluation is used as a starting point for a concluding oral course evaluation which includes measures that need to be taken to develop the course. The result of the oral course

evaluation is summarized in a protocol to be used as a basis for future courses. The protocol is given or sent to the participants and made available for future students.