Plymouth Institute of Education

BA (Hons) Early Childhood Studies

Take a fresh look at childhood. Exploring the theory and reality of children’s early years from many points of view, this innovative course will help you find your niche in this competitive sector. Investigate issues through the lenses of sociology, social psychology, history, and philosophy. Work directly with young children and their families on placements at home or abroad for up to a year. Graduate with a clear view of where your career is going.

Make the most of the opportunities presented by being part of a department that has strong links with universities in Europe, Canada, Africa and the USA and through the International Students’ Exchange Programme. In the 2016 NSS, 90 per cent of students agreed staff were good at explaining things and according to the 2016 DLHE survey, 97 per cent of students were in work/study six months after graduating*.

Key features

  • 90 per cent of students agreed staff were good at explaining things and 97 per cent of students were in work/study six months after graduating (source: 2016 NSS and 2016 DLHE survey results available on Unistats*). 
  • Develop your relational skills in a programme built around a core of care, which extends from ethics of work with children to reflecting on how students can support each other.
  • Explore the relationships between play and learning in your own studies as well as in child development
  • Expand your options beyond traditional teaching and open up further career opportunities in education, social care, community work, psychology, management and research.
  • See for yourself how theories and policies are applied in practice by visiting a wide range of mainstream and specialist early years settings.
  • Learn on the job with work-based modules to help you gain the practical skills employers are looking for. Choose to gain a whole 12-months of hands-on experience with an optional placement year.
  • Take a broader view of children’s development by studying the subject in practical, historical and international contexts. 
  • Develop essential skills through a variety of coursework-based assessments – from essays, surveys and child observations to group presentations and video commentaries.
  • Learn from experienced lecturers and tutors who are actively engaged in national and international research projects.
  • Make the most of the opportunities presented by being part of a department that has strong links with universities in Europe, Canada, Africa and the USA and through the International Students’ Exchange Programme.

Course details

  • Year 1
  • In the first year, you’ll get an overview of the factors that affect children’s lives and begin considering your own professional identity within the sector. You’ll explore how children grow and develop, drawing on the latest research around thinking, playing and learning. You’ll also gain an understanding of different approaches to observing children. Modules on social policy and equality and diversity will introduce you to key contemporary issues.
    Core modules
    • EEC401 An introduction to Early Childhood Studies

      A series of lectures given by members of the whole ECS team, focusing on their own research, interests and enthusiasms, and weekly seminars, will introduce students to the wide range of areas of study which are included in Early Childhood Studies. The diversity of interests and approaches introduced in lectures will be balanced by a year-long process of developing study skills and dispositions and integrating themes and ideas by means of active engagement in small seminar groups.

    • EEC404 Understanding development: biology and psychology

      In this module we will explore the nature of the disciplines of biology and psychology. We will look at how biologists and psychologists study young children. We will look at some current biological and psychological perspectives of child development. Students will carry out psychological tasks with young children and reflect upon the implications of what they have found and the nature of their own learning and understanding of children and themselves.

    • EEC405 Politics for Equality in Early Childhood

      This module focuses on concepts of equality, inclusion, diversity and anti-discrimination to investigate cultural structures, discrimination, social exclusion, power and participation. Students will consider the impact of political and policy developments at global, European, UK and local levels drawing on theoretical frameworks and real examples, including students¿ experiences, to explore how culture and policy impact on young children and their families.

    • EEC403 Children in Society: Sociology and Culture

      This module will focus on the complexity and diversity of young children's experiences of early childhood in contemporary British society. It will examine some of the key structural changes in important social institutions and services and how this has been influenced by long term historical changes in the relations between men, women and young children.

    • EEC412 Multi-Professional Perspectives: Working Together in the Early Years

      An introduction to the diversity of early childhood settings, their structures and the varied heritages of the practitioners that work with them/in them. Notions such as leadership, control, decision making, argument, persuasion in a multi-professional context are explored along with an understanding of self as a reflective practitioner

    Optional modules
    • EDU402PP Knowing Inside Out: Learning outside Formal Education

      This module will facilitate students conceptualisation of learning as something that does not only happen in designated educational settings. All students will be expected to undertake a practical assignment to experience and support life wide learning and consider what supports and obstructs learning outside formal education.

    • EDU400PP Autism in the 21st century; research from a range of disciplines

      This module will help students to develop a critical approach to their own studies and research. We will explore cutting edge research on the unusual strengths of individuals with autism. Areas covered will include synaesthesia, mathematical, artistic and musical savant skills and feats of memory. To celebrate the talents of people with autism we will explore current work from a variety of disciplines including mathematics, performing and visual arts, science, technology and education.

    • EDU403PP Philosophy into Practice: Enquiry, Reflection and Dialogue

      This module provides a democratic forum for thoughtful critical exploration of pressing philosophical or ethical questions and issues brought by participants. These will be addressed through collaborative engagement with philosophical texts and through philosophical questioning, reasoning, meaning making and dialogue. Students will keep a log and engage in a reflexive assignment on participation in a community of philosophical enquiry.

    • EDU405PP Global Futures

      This module will facilitate students' conceptualisation of issues around education for sustainable development. The module will explore and facilitate the development of active learning approaches to be carried out and evaluated in designated educational settings. Students will be expected to develop, implement and critically review a learning activity in context to the wider issues related to learning for sustainability.

  • Year 2
  • Your second year focuses on developing your analytical and reflective skills, and expands your hands-on experience of early years roles. You will develop your understanding of research while studying children’s development and communication. You’ll choose two modules from a range of options including disability, the developing world, eco-education and children and stories. You’ll work directly with young children and families, learning both academically and practically from these experiences.
    Core modules
    • EEC504 Perspectives on Child Development

      The module will draw on approaches from Sociology, Psychology, Education and Biology to explore physical, emotional, social and cultural influences on child development. Multidisciplinary study of early childhood and children's roles as active agents in their own development will be emphasised. Students will construct an informed personal perspective on early development, based on a critical and playful understanding of relationships between theoretical models and research findings.

    • EEC503 Developing Communication in the Early Years

      This module has two related purposes: to give students a sound understanding of how children develop their ability to communicate and to help them develop their own communication skills. Language development is a central focus, but set within a wider understanding of different forms of communication.

    • EEC501 Introduction to Research in Early Childhood Studies

      This module is an introduction to research methods and approaches in Early Childhood Studies. Students will critically examine methodological approaches and existing research studies in the field of early childhood. Students will consider how theoretical positions, practice and policy can shape research agendas and how research looks to inform both policy and practice.

    • PIEC526 Preparation for Employability and Optional Placement Year

      This module is made up of 4 x 2 hour sessions in the first semester, looking at preparation for further study or work; future employability and the optional year in placement.

    • EEC526 Workbased Learning

      This module is intended to provide students with the opportunity to maximise learning opportunities which accrue from work-place experience in a setting which involves work with young children (0-8) or with children and their families. This could include paid or unpaid work. There is recognition that such work-based learning can take place in a wide variety of situations and settings, but for this module it will normally involve more than one child and more than one family.

    Optional modules
    • EDST506 Intersectionality and Disabling Conditions

      This module will deconstruct models of identification, assessment, diagnosis and the practice of labelling of disabled people. It will look at causation from a historical, social, educational, political national and international standpoint. It will explore disability in terms of intersectionality (including: gender, social class, race, sexuality) and the implications of this for education and society in the light of an inclusivity and diversity ethos.

    • EEC523 Families in Focus

      This module introduces the key sociological perspectives on families and their place in society. It offers a critical examination of young children's position and relationships within families, highlighting changes and continuities in families across generations.

    • EEC525 Childhood & Well-being in the Majority World

      This module focuses on childhood and well-being of young children in the majority world, by looking critically at issues such as family patterns, access to resources, education, health, conflict and livelihoods and making links with the situation in the UK. It will offer students a critical perspective on what factors provide opportunities for, and challenges to, improving outcomes for children.

    • EEC512 Working with a range of Professionals: the impact on young children

      This module is intended for those who wish to understand more about working with other professionals whose work impacts on young children and their families in some way; in Case Conferences; strategy meetings as well as report writing, producing and implementing developmental and/or safeguarding plans, etc.

    • PSYC204 Applied Topics in Health and Cognition

      This module explores applications of basic research and psychological theory in two areas: health psychology and cognitive psychology

    • EDST513 Sustainability and Environmental Education

      Teaching and learning about sustainability and environmental issues is crucial at all levels. Through direct experience in the natural world this module explores the central notions of education for sustainable development, ecological literacy and the practicalities of interpretation, teaching and learning outdoors.

    • EEC536 Placement for Practitioner Options

      This module is intended to provide students with the opportunity to maximise professional learning opportunities which accrue from work-place experience in a setting working (paid or unpaid) with young children (0-8) or with children and their families. Students will be assessed in placement against level 3 standards and may be awarded certification acceptable by Ofsted for working with children (for award of Practitioner Options on final degree certificate).

  • Year 3 - optional placement year
  • You may choose to undertake a year of supervised work experience between the second year and the final year of study. You will work full-time in an organisation which has relevance to professional practice in Early Childhood; school, day care or other setting, at home or abroad. Successful completion of the degree with the year of professional practice entitles you to a BA (Hons) with Certificate of Professional Experience. 

    Optional modules
    • PIEC616 Early Childhood Studies Placement Year

      A 48-week period of professional training spent as the third year of a sandwich programme undertaking an approved placement with a suitable company/setting. This provides an opportunity for the student to gain relevant placement experience to consolidate the first two stages of study and to prepare for the final stage and employment after graduation.

  • Year 4 - final stage
  • In the final stage of the programme you will be helped to make the transition from ‘knowledge consumer’ to ‘knowledge producer’. You will use your developing knowledge and experience to challenge, extend and critique other people’s ideas and your own. You will plan and carry out a research project to develop and disseminate understanding of what you have identified as an area of interest and you will continue to develop your capacity to act as a strong advocate for young children and families. If you are joining the final stage from a partner college you may choose to study on our FLECS (Flexible Learning in Early Childhood Studies) route. 

    Further information about placements, modules and FLECS.

    Core modules
    • EEC603 Adults' Concepts of Childhood: their impact on the past and present treatment of children

      This module will explore how childhood and adulthood are related concepts with deep historical roots. It will explain contemporary changes in young children's lives by tracing the historical forces that have shaped different concepts of childhood, defining the ways in which adults think, act and behave with young children.

    • EEC601 Research in Early Childhood Studies

      This module is an introduction to research in Early Childhood Studies. Students will critically examine a variety of approaches and methods of data collection and consider the ethical issues involved in carrying out investigations in naturalistic settings. It provides students with the opportunity to design an investigation in their chosen aspect of ECS, carry out a sustained and rigorous piece of work, and analyse and discuss their findings through both a written study in appropriate ways using ICT and an oral presentation.

    • EEC625 Current Issues in Early Childhood Studies

      This module will enable participants to focus on current debates related to early childhood studies. By its nature the content of the module will change each year, as issues change, new understandings emerge and different perspectives apply. The module will debate current issues critically, analytically and theoretically, whilst considering implications for practice.

    Optional modules
    • EEC611 Independent Study Module

      This module allows students to conduct an in depth study of an area of interest in the field of Early Childhood Studies that is not fully covered by the taught modules they are currently studying. It develops their independent thinking by critically exploring an area of personal importance in Early Childhood Studies.

    • EDST611 Ecoliteracy

      This module investigates the ideas and efficacy of Education for Sustainability and its assertions that both cognitive and affective understanding of our place in the natural world are essential for all aspects of planetary and human welfare.

    • EEC614 Understanding Understanding

      Conscious understanding may be seen as the key feature which separates humans from other animals. This module will provide opportunities for students to develop their understanding both of how conscious awareness emerges during infancy and of the broader nature of understanding at any stage of life. Students will participate in knowledge-building (Bereiter, 2002), using discussion and argument to develop the group's understanding of issues encountered in reading and in sessions.

    • EEC615 Politics, Welfare and Society

      Key social, political and educational issues that affect the lives of young children, 0-8, and their families will be studied in this module. Some comparisons will be made with Europe and other countries. Students will be encouraged to develop a considerable personal perspective on social questions related to early childhood services.

    • EEC632 Early Years Business Management

      This module will give students the opportunity to explore the intricacies of running a small early years business, from business models, to finance, staff management, marketing, partnership working and strategy. Over the course of twelve two-hour lectures and ten one hour seminars, students will go on a journey from identifying political and market needs to funding and setting up a business and planning operational needs.

    • EEC617 Enabling environments for young children's learning

      This module considers issues surrounding the spaces in which adults interact with children in teaching and learning relationships. Students will examine the concept of curriculum, where it exists, the different roles adults play within it and how it might be shaped to support effective practice with young children.

    • PSYC392 Current Topics in Applied Psychology

      This module allows students to develop a critical appreciation of recent research in applied psychology. Students study four topics in depth. These are introduced by staff teaching in their specialist research area.

    • EDST604 Global Education: Teaching and Learning for an Interconnected World

      Global education is based upon the interconnectedness of everything. It asks the learner to explore contemporary global issues ¿ development, environment, human rights, social justice, peace and conflict ¿ within the framework of the world as a system. This module offers an introduction to global education theory and practice.

    • EDST607 Drawing upon the Margins for Inclusion in Education and Society

      The module engages with a range of approaches to, and understandings of, inclusive values, practices and cultures within educational settings. The module is organised around two central questions. First, What is the difference between being in and being of an educational setting? Second, How might we best live and learn together?

    • EEC616 Work Based Learning in the early years

      This module is intended to provide students with the opportunity to maximise learning opportunities which accrue from part-time, term-time (PT/TT) and vacation experience, which could include paid or unpaid work, based on the recognition that learning takes place in a wide variety of situations and settings. The module has a particular emphasis on reflective practice.

    • EEC628 Children and Risk

      Looking at the complexity of child protection issues, within a personal, institutional and community context, addressing the issue of risk and the decision-making process ¿ the right decision against the defensible decision, in order to develop a personal, and critical perspective on issues of protection and control. In addition an exploration of the concept of `Risk `In the wider context.

Every undergraduate taught course has a detailed programme specification document describing the course aims, the course structure, the teaching and learning methods, the learning outcomes and the rules of assessment.

The following programme specification represents the latest course structure and may be subject to change:

BA Hons Early Childhood Studies Programme Specification 4714

The modules shown for this course are those currently being studied by our students, or are proposed new modules. Please note that programme structures and individual modules are subject to amendment from time to time as part of the University’s curriculum enrichment programme and in line with changes in the University’s policies and requirements.

Entry requirements

UCAS tariff


Academic requirements

A minimum of 2 A levels

BTEC: Distinction, Merit, Merit

BTEC National Diploma modules
If you hold a BTEC qualification it is vital that you provide our Admissions team with details of the exact modules you have studied as part of the BTEC. Without this information we may be unable to process your application quickly and you could experience significant delays in the progress of your application to study with us. Please explicitly state the full list of modules within your qualification at the time of application.

International baccalaureate: 28 points to include 5 points in one subject at Higher Level

Pass Access to HE Diploma with at least 33 credits at Merit or Distinction

Third year entry possible with foundation degree or HND in a related subject.

Although you do not require GCSE grade C or above in English language and mathematics for this course, please note that if you choose to go on to study a PGCE or EYITT you will require them.

Individual offers for this course may vary. 
Equivalent qualifications may be considered, please contact

English language requirements

Non-academic requirements

  • All candidates will be required to complete a satisfactory DBS (formerly CRB) Enhanced Disclosure, register with the Independent Safeguarding Authority and complete a criminal convictions self-declaration form.
  • All candidates will be expected to demonstrate an active interest in work with young children, evidenced through placement/practice experience.

For a full list of all acceptable qualifications please refer to our tariff glossary.

Fees, costs and funding

New Student 2017 2018
Home/EU £9,250 To be confirmed
International £12,250 To be confirmed
Part time (Home/EU) Check with School To be confirmed
Part time (International) Check with School To be confirmed
Full time fees shown are per annum. Part time fees shown are per a number of credits. Fees are correct at the time of publication and may be subject to change.

How to apply

All applications for undergraduate courses are made through UCAS (Universities and Colleges Admissions Service). 

UCAS will ask for the information contained in the box at the top of this course page including the UCAS course code and the institution code. 

To apply for this course and for more information about submitting an application including application deadline dates, please visit the UCAS website.

Support is also available to overseas students applying to the University from our International Office via our how to apply webpage or email

  • , Visit a wide range of mainstream and specialist early years settings
  • ' Learn on the job with work-based modules
  • A 98 per cent of students agreed staff made the subject interesting (Unistats)

Graduate insight - Amy Coulling

The Early Childhood Studies degree is everything I thought it would be and more…so many exciting opportunities during the course – travelling abroad, helping in the community, working with charities and meeting so many different and interesting people.

Amy Coulling - BA (Hons) Early Childhood Studies graduate

Graduate insight - Katherine Baldwin

The opportunity to visit Africa and Europe is a great aspect of the undergraduate course. I found that helping and volunteering in countries across these continents was an eye-opening experience: we met so many interesting people.

Katherine talks to us about choosing optional modules and tailoring the course to her interests, part-time work, and the perks of studying at Plymouth

Learn more about Katherine

Careers with BA (Hons) Early Childhood Studies

Do you dream of working with young children, in a children’s centre, nursery or school setting or as a social worker or psychologist or as a researcher? Wherever you want to end up, BA (Hons) Early Childhood Studies is a great place to start.

It’s the combination of academic knowledge and practical skills that makes graduates from this course stand out from the crowd.

Learn more about careers with BA (Hons) Early Childhood Studies

DBS assessments and other requirements

It is important to note all offers of a place to study with us are made subject to receipt of satisfactory screenings prior to starting your course.

If you do not pass these checks satisfactorily you will not be able to start a course with us.

Learn more about DBS assessments and other requirements

Your progression

One of the possible progression routes is on to the Early Years Initial Teacher Training programme where you will qualify to teach in an early years setting


*The results of the National Student Survey (NSS) and the Destination of Leavers from Higher Education survey (DLHE) are made available to prospective students and their advisors through the Unistats website.