Malmö University
Course syllabus

Children's Best Interests in Theory and Practice
Children's Best Interests in Theory and Practice
Syllabus approval
Faculty of Culture and Society

Children's Best Interests in Theory and Practice
UA / Excellent (A), Very Good (B), Good (C), Satisfactory (D), Pass (E) or Fail (U)
Children's Best Interests in Theory and Practice
7,5 hp

Entry requirements
Admission to the course requires a minimum of 60 approved credits with a certain progression in one of the following Major Subjects: European Studies, Human Rights, International Migration and Ethnic Relations, International Relations or Peace and Conflict Studies or similar.

Bachelor's level

No main field of study.

Depth of study
G2F / First cycle, has at least 60 credits in first-cycle course/s as entry requirements

Depth of study in relation to degree requirements
The course is not part of a main field of study.

Course objectives
The aim of this course is for the students to independently acquire deepened knowledge of Human rights studies with a focus on children’s rights. The course aims to critically analyse the concept of Children’s best interests from a legal, philosophical, historical, sociological and political perspective. The course has as its starting point the societal processes that led to the development of the concept children’s best interest and the adaptation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC). These processes are then applied as a theoretical framework to gain in depth knowledge of contemporary issues that concern and affect children.

Course contents
The course includes independent theoretically oriented literature studies of the concept of Children’s best interests. It also includes studies of reports and articles describing the situation for children in the contemporary world, linked to migration, education, participation, development and non-discrimination.

Learning outcomes
Upon completion of the course the student can:
  • demonstrate, orally and in writing, based on research, contemporary issues concerning the concept of children’s best interests, and critically relate to these;
  • explain, orally and in writing, by referencing to current research in various scientific disciplines, the usage and consequences of the concept children’s best interests;
  • critically reflect, in dialogue with others, on human rights in relation to the concept of children’s best interests;
  • demonstrate an ability to write structured and well written academic texts with proper references.

Learning activities
The course is designed for full-time study based on lectures and seminars. Students are responsible for keeping up with the reading and for coming prepared to each class. Students are expected to take their own initiatives to form reading groups.

The course contents and learning outcomes are assessed by the following:
  • a written paper that critically relates to the concept of Children’s best interests (4,5 credits).
  • presentation of a written paper at a mini conference. Additionally and opposition of two other papers presented by fellow student is required. The oppositions will also be summarised in writing and submitted at the mini conference (3 credits).
Passing the course requires that all parts of the examination has been completed and approved.

Course literature and other study material
  • Alston, Philip (1994) ”The Best Interests of the Child: Reconciling Culture and Human Rights” International Journal of Law, Policy and the Family 8(1): 1–25.
  • Archard David (2004) Rights and Childhood Routledge
  • Aries, Philippe (1962) Centuries of Childhood, Vintage Books
  • Children’s Rights Committee (2003) General Comment No. 5 General measures of implementation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (arts. 4, 42 and 44, para. 6)
  • Children’s Rights Committee (2013) General Comment No. 14 on the right of the child to have his or her best interests taken as a primary consideration (art. 3, para. 1)
  • Donzelot, Jacques (1997) The Policing of Families, Johns Hopkins Univ. Press, 1997
  • Engels, Friedrich (2010)The Origin of the Family, Private Property and the State, Penguin
  • Foucault, Michel (1979), The History of Sexuality Vol I, An Introduction. Peguin Books, 1979
  • Freeman, Michael (2007) Article 3: The Best Interests of the Child. Leiden: Martinus Nijhoff
  • Jenks Chris (2005) Childhood Routledge
  • Quennerstedt, Ann (2013): “Children’s rights research moving into the future-challenges on the way forward.” The International Journal of Children’s Rights 21.2 ,233-247
  • Reynaert, Didier, Maria Bouverne-de-Bie, and Stijn Vandevelde (2009) ”A review of children’s rights literature since the adoption of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.” Childhood 16.4: 518-534.
  • Reynaert, Didier, Maria De Bie, and Stijn Vandevelde (2012) ”Between ’believers’ and ’opponents’: critical discussions on children’s rights.” The International Journal of Children’s Rights 20.1: 1-15
  • Rousseau, Jacques (1979) ´Emile or On Education. Basic Books Publications.
  • UNICEF (2014) State of the World’s children 2015, available:

Course evaluation
The University provides students who participate in or who have completed a course with the opportunity to make known their experiences and viewpoints with regards to the course by completing a course evaluation administered by the University. The University will compile and summarize the results of course evaluations as well as informing participants of the results and any decisions relating to measures initiated in response to the course evaluations. The results will be made available to the students (HF 1:14).

Interim rules
If a course is no longer offered or has undergone major changes, students will be offered two re-take sessions based on the syllabus in force at registration during a period of one year from the date of the implementation of the changes.

Additional information
The Language of instruction is English