Higher Education at the University of Gloucestershire
Higher Education at the University of Gloucestershire

MA Professional Studies in Children's Play

There's more to children's play than meets the eye and we can show you why.

If you are working in or with the field of children's play, our programme can help you articulate the unique nature of children's play and its relevance to the current social policy agenda.

Our MA in Professional Studies in Children's Play is an academic programme that has been developed in conjunction with practitioners and professionals from a range of sectors. The programme aims to meet the needs of professionals including playworkers, early year's workers, educators, landscape designers, planners, environmental educators, health professionals and animateurs in a variety of contexts; museums, zoos, tourism, public space. The programme places an understanding of the nature and benefits of play for its own sake at the centre of study rather than seeing play as an instrument to achieve other purposes.

The overall aim of the programme is to provide students with the opportunity for both work-based and desk-based active
learning and research in order to develop a critical appreciation of the role of adults in providing for, and supporting children's play.

Find out more at http://www.glos.ac.uk/courses/postgraduate/psc


What is the content of the programme? 

The programme is made up of a number of modules and each is worth a set number of CAT points. Students completing 60 CATS are awarded the Postgraduate Certificate, 120 CATS the Postgraduate Diploma and 180 CATS, including independent Project (Dissertation), the full Masters.

Perspectives on Play (15 CATS)

This module focuses on understandings of play and the ways in which this phenomenon has been defined
and valued from minority and majority world perspectives. The intention of the module is to broaden and deepen understanding to enable practitioners to better articulate and advocate for the importance of children's play, and to consider how this increased understanding has an impact on their professional role.

Play and Space (15 CATS)

This module develops a critical appreciation of the relationship between play and space. Drawing on contemporary concepts from philosophy, biology, psychology, human geography and the social studies of childhood the module examines the production of space through the complex and dynamic encounters and interplay between human and non-human materials and symbols.

Perspectives on Playwork (15 CATS)

This module is designed to be relevant for practising playworkers or those supporting, training or managing playworkers. It builds on the 'Perspectives on Play' module to consider how this might be critically applied to playwork practice, drawing largely (but not exclusively) on the UK historical and theoretical foundations for playwork as a specific approach to working with children at play. The approach in the module encourages critical comparison of the diverse practices of the student group.

Strategic Leadership and Management (15 CATS)

This module introduces key themes associated with management and leadership in a variety of contexts. It offers the opportunity to explore critically the inherent tensions between traditional management approaches and the effective support for practice in an uncertain landscpae, and appraise alternative perspectives that offer the potential to align management and organisational practices.

Applied and Contemporary Practice (15 or 30 CATS)

This module provides students with the opportunity to undertake a practice based programme of study, which addresses the educational objectives of their course. Students may work individually or in a group with other students. The programme of study will be
based in a relevant occupational or applied setting and will incorporate current discipline practice.

Advocacy in Professional Practice (30 CATS)

This multidisciplinary module aims to provide a forum for students to undertake a critical exploration of the key facets of the policy process that underpin practice in the sport,
physical activity, play and cultural sectors. Consideration is given to how policy and practice are informed by both sector-specific and broader strategic drivers. Through a critical analysis of policy materials students will be encouraged to examine the discourses shaping their work environment. 

Evidence Based Practice (30 CATS)

This multidisciplinary module aims to develop a critical appreciation of evidence-based practice within physical activity, sport, play and leisure contexts. In doing so, the module examines critcally the philosophy and theory underpinning the concept of evidence in these contexts, and explores its relationship to policy and practice. A number of course-specific workshops will allow students to apply specific analytical skills pertinent to investigative and exploratory conventions in their area of study.

Research Methods (15 CATS)

The module provides students with an opportunity to reflect critically on the methods and purposes of their subject and/or practice, within the broad context of enquiry, including training in specific methods and/or techniques as preparation for research or professional practice.

Independent Project (Dissertation) (60 CATS)

The Independent Project is the single largest piece of assessed work undertaken by the student and is designed to further develop the knowledge and skills acquired throughout
the course. The Independent Project provides students with an opportunity to conduct a sustained, intensive and independent investigation into an area of study and to present their findings in a formal manner in accordance with academic conventions and the requirements of the subject.


  • a course which helps develop a critical appreciation of the importance of play in
    the lives of children
  • a course that draws upon a diverse range of academic disciplines and historical
    and contemporary research 
  • a course which helps develop a critical appreciation of contemporary issues in providing
    play spaces.

Entry requirements

Applicants will need a good honours degree or show capacity to study at Masters level. You will need to have an up-to-date CRB/DBS check (or equivalent), available through the University, and access to an environment to observe play for some modules.

Start date:  September 2013

Mode of attendance:  Part time distance learning with occasional study days.

Fees Sep 2013 start

Home International
PG Cert £2205 £4250
PG Dip £4430 £8500
Full MA £6725 £10750


Enquiries and applications

Tel: 01242 715207

Email: hsmith@glos.ac.uk

Web: http://www.glos.ac.uk/courses/postgraduate/psc/Pages/default.aspx




Playwork Resources

Playwork Partnerships has developed a variety of playwork training products that have been developed over a number of years. Here you can access useful materials to help you promote quality play and playwork opportunities.


Want to get involved?

Please contact us if you are interested in finding out about our work in more detail or would like to discuss working together on a development project or commission some research. For information on past project work please click here or for details of past research work click here.