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Woman and Child Abuse - MA

Why study this course?

Supported by the internationally renowned Child and Woman Abuse Studies Unit, the MA in Woman and Child Abuse provides a solid grounding in theoretical frameworks, policy and practice approaches.

The course is ideal for those who are working in specialised services for women and children who have experienced violence, in policymaking or delivery at local, regional or national levels, or are wishing to establish careers in these sectors.

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This course provides a comprehensive grounding in theoretical frameworks, research, policy and practice approaches to woman and child abuse.

The MA content covers all forms of violence against women and child abuse, including sexual violence, domestic violence, sexual exploitation, trafficking and harmful practices. Reflecting the work of the Child and Woman Abuse Studies Unit, a specialist research unit, the MA focuses on what we know about these forms of abuse, the contexts in which they occur and the connections between them. While the main focus will be on the UK, intellectual, policy and practice approaches from across the globe will be discussed.

The course content will be cross-disciplinary, mainly drawing on sociology and including social policy, criminology and psychology.


Assessment approaches vary according to the aims of each module and how it is delivered. Examples include essays or other written coursework and individual presentations. 

You will be required to have:

  • a good honours degree in a relevant subject
  • experience of developing/delivering policy or service provision in the field (though the course is also relevant to those with a professional interest in violence against women and children)
  • Extensive relevant professional experience may be acceptable if you do not have sufficient academic qualifications.

If you don't meet the entry criteria for the MA you have the option of taking a core module as a short course and on successful completion of assessments can then apply to join the MA.

Everyone who applies for the course is interviewed, with importance placed on the statement of application. Please contact the course leader, Dr Maddy Coy, on to talk about making an application or if you have any questions about the course.

All applicants must be able to demonstrate proficiency in the English language. Applicants who require a Tier 4 student visa may need to provide a Secure English Language Test (SELT) such as Academic IELTS. For more information about English qualifications please see our English language requirements.

The modules listed below are for the academic year 2016/17 and represent the course modules at this time. Modules and module details (including, but not limited to, location and time) are subject to change over time.

Year 1 modules include:

  • This module currently runs:
    • autumn semester

    Within communities and environments where 'user involvement' and public participation in a range of social and political processes has received increased attention in recent years, so too has the need for effective participation in social research and evaluation activities. Moving beyond ideas of people as research participants, this module examines ways of involving different communities and reasons for using participatory methods, its contexts and how these approaches increase understanding of people's lived experiences. It will further focus on how to decide the appropriateness of different approaches in varied contexts.

    2013-14 timeslots:

    SS7055 will run on 6 single days (9.30-4.30pm) in Autumn Semester - ie not throughout the semester.

    Autumn Semester slots:

    October 7 and 8 (Mon-Tue) 9:30-4:30
    November 8 and 9 (Fri-Sat) 9:30-4:30
    December 5 and 6 (Thur-Fri) 9:30-4:30

    Read full details.
  • This module currently runs:
    • summer studies

    This module runs in block format

    In 2015-16:
    5th, 6th, 19th and 20th May
    9th and 10th June

    This course focuses on sexual exploitation of children and young people in UK and global contexts. Sessions cover definitions and framings, including feminist debates on the sex industry, researching sexual exploitation, evidence and prevalence, abusers and coercers, policy and legislative approaches, and promising practices in intervention, protection and prevention. Specific forms of exploitation will be explored, such as trafficking, sex tourism, abusive images of children (including 'sexting'), and online grooming.

    Read full details.
  • This module currently runs:
    • spring semester

    This module runs in block mode.

    In 2015-16 this module should run in Spring Semester - 11th, 12th, 25th, 26th February and 10th ,11th March.

    This module will focus on forms of sexual violence in child and adulthood. We will address: incidence, prevalence and reporting; theoretical and explanatory frameworks; impacts and meaning for victims/survivors; persistence and change with respect to legal frameworks, the justice system and support services; perpetrators and approaches to prevention.

    Read full details.
  • This module currently runs:
    • autumn semester

    This module runs in block mode.

    In 2014-15 it should run in Autumn Semester - 9, 10, 23, 24 October
    20 and 21 November

    This module introduces students to the range of forms of violence against women, their prevalence and consequences: intimate partner violence, rape and sexual assault, sexual harassment, sexual exploitation, FGM and crimes in the name of honour. We will address explanatory frameworks and perspectives, including human rights, and critically assess current policy approaches.

    Read full details.
  • This module currently runs:
    • autumn semester
    • summer studies
    • spring semester

    This triple weighted module provides the student with opportunity to conduct an extended investigation into a topic of their choice within the area of violence against women and/or children. Students will submit a dissertation of between 12,000 and 15,000 words.

    Read full details.
  • This module currently runs:
    • summer studies

    This module is Block delivered, over the Summer period

    Students are introduced to a range of policy initiatives relating to children and families, and practice implications for professionals are critically appraised.

    Read full details.
  • Students will be equipped with a strategic and theoretical undepinning to enhance their practice skills.

    Read full details.
  • This module currently runs:
    • spring semester - Monday afternoon

    This module allows students to identify and critically assess patterns in specific forms of crime and offending behaviour, as well as to consider the prevalence, characteristics and typologies of specific types of offence. Models used to explain crime and offender patterns, as well as recidivism and desistance, will be considered. These will be related to the wider theoretical criminological field.

    To begin with, the module is structured around identifying and evaluating key patterns and characteristics of recorded crime and offending behaviour, with a particular (but not exclusive) emphasis on the UK. The module also aims to present and assess explanatory models used to explicate crime trends, and changes in offending patterns.

    The module then focuses on specific types of offence category (including violent and sexual offences, financial, organised crime and environmental crime), and identifies specific trends. As a corollary, the escalation of offending behaviour and the concept of criminal 'career' is evaluated.

    The third and final element of the module centres on an analysis of 'serial offenders', and the ways in which offender and geographic profiling might (or might not) assist in understanding and detecting such offenders.

    Read full details.
  • High quality evaluation is achieved through the collection, analysis, interpretation and presentation of evidence. This module introduces the range of skills and techniques available and suitable to a variety of policy, programme and project evaluation designs.

    Read full details.
  • The module focuses on the developing area of children's human rights, using both an international and domestic perspective.

    Read full details.
  • This module currently runs:
    • spring semester - Wednesday afternoon

    This module allows students to explore the relationship between key aspects of the law, rights and code of professionals’ ethics within mental health. This module will look at the science base behind legal and policy developments across a range of mental health problems.

    Read full details.
  • This module currently runs:
    • autumn semester - Thursday

    The module starts from the proposition that the study of social policy includes much more than the study of western welfare states. It examines critically the ways in which societies and communities from the local to the transnational, not just governments, address (or fail to address) basic needs. The module uses a selection of policy examples which aim to address a range of basic needs such as access to paid employment, healthcare, schooling, citizenship, family benefits, in and out of work benefits, pensions, affordable housing, adult care, early childhood education and care. It will look at aspects of these through various analytic lenses, including the impact of policies on social divisions, and the roles of neoliberalism, globalisation, social investment, human development, social development, antiracist and feminist perspectives. The module includes a ‘regional’ approach, covering some of the following: the European Union; Latin America; North America; sub-Saharan Africa; East Asia; the Indian sub-continent. The most prominent approaches to comparative social policy are pervasive, namely: regime analysis, path dependency/institutionalism, and convergent functionalism.

    Read full details.
  • This module provides a critical understanding of social research in public policy arenas, its interrelation with social policy development and an evidence base, including an overview of styles and processes of research, underpinning principles, main methods and the potential of extant sources of information. Social, cultural and political dimensions of knowledge production will be considered and how research design and practice may contribute to understanding experiences of diverse and often marginalised groups, how social justice and other values enter into research, its use and interpretation. Topical research and policy issues will be drawn upon for illustration, such as education, welfare benefits, development, health, equalities.

    Read full details.
  • This module introduces the consideration of the possibility of a structural gender bias in the construction of both human rights rhetoric and the actual instruments, and its effects on women’s rights. It aims to encourage critical reflection on the underlying principles, using the skills of philosophical analysis, as well as introducing them to the legal framework.

    Read full details.

The course consists of four core modules:

  • Violence Against Women: Issues, Research and Policy
  • Sexual Exploitation of Children and Young People
  • Sexual Violence: Causes, Consequences and Interventions
  • Researching Communities

Other modules

  • One elective module from any other postgraduate course within the university

One designate module from the following list:

  • International Child Law and Human Rights Law
  • Qualitative Research
  • Survey Design and Practice
  • Women Gender and Human Rights
  • Promoting Equality, Human Rights and Active Citizenship
  • Crime and Offender Patterns
  • Quantitative Data Analysis
  • Context and Practice of Criminal Psychology
  • Global Social Policies
  • Children and Families: Policy and Practice
  • Evaluation: Principles and Practice

You also undertake a triple-module dissertation.

It is possible to enrol on the MA and opt to take a Postgraduate Diploma in Woman and Child Abuse after the completion of 6 modules. You can also opt to take a Postgraduate Certificate in Woman and Child Abuse after the completion of three modules.

"The course exceeded my original hopes and expectations. The knowledge of the staff within the unit was not only academic but was also informed by frontline work in the violence against women sector. This experience gave a depth and a passion to the lectures and course materials."
Woman and Child Abuse MA graduate, 2012

"The course has been rigorous and thorough and very enlightening.  It strengthened my academic reading and writing and vastly improved my knowledge of the subject.  The quality of the teaching is excellent."
Woman and Child Abuse MA graduate, 2011

"It has really shaped my way of working and given me so much important knowledge and awareness, and a conviction that we can all make a difference."
Woman and Child Abuse MA graduate, 2010

The course is particularly suited to those who are working in specialised services for women and children who have experienced violence. It is also excellent preparation for those who are wishing to establish careers in this sector.

Our graduates have gone on to key roles in policymaking or service delivery at local, regional and national levels, and some pursue further studies to PhD level, including with the Child and Woman Abuse Studies Unit.

Between 2016 and 2020 we're investing £125 million in the London Metropolitan University campus, moving all of our activity to our current Holloway campus in Islington, north London. This will mean the teaching location of some courses will change over time.

Whether you will be affected will depend on the duration of your course, when you start and your mode of study. The earliest moves affecting new students will be in September 2017. This may mean you begin your course at one location, but over the duration of the course you are relocated to one of our other campuses. Our intention is that no full-time student will change campus more than once during a course of typical duration.

All students will benefit from our move to one campus, which will allow us to develop state-of-the-art facilities, flexible teaching areas and stunning social spaces.

Please note, in addition to the tuition fee there may be additional costs for things like equipment, materials, printing, textbooks, trips or professional body fees.

Additionally, there may be other activities that are not formally part of your course and not required to complete your course, but which you may find helpful (for example, optional field trips). The costs of these are additional to your tuition fee and the fees set out above and will be notified when the activity is being arranged.

How to apply

Use the apply button to begin your application.

Please note, fees and course details may be subject to change.

When to apply

You are advised to apply as early as possible as applications will only be considered if there are places available on the course.

Fees and key information


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