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 and graduate with a clear view of where your career is going. Investigate issues through the lenses of sociology, social psychology, history, and philosophy.

Work directly with young children and their families during the Work Based Learning module or choose the option of gaining professional recognition of your practice. Our Work Based Learning Plus module enables you to meet Early Years Educator standards and be counted in the ratios in an early years setting through relevant assessed practice experience.

Ranked 6th for the education subject area in the Guardian University Guide 2022

The Guardian University Guide 2022

Call our Clearing hotline: 0333 241 6929

Contact us today to discuss your options and secure your place on one of our courses with vacancies this September.

Find out more about Clearing

Careers with this subject

Do you dream of working with young children, in a children’s centre, nursery or school setting or as a social worker, psychologist or researcher? Wherever you want to end up, BA (Hons) Early Childhood Studies is a great place to start. A combination of academic knowledge and practical skills makes graduates from this course stand out from the crowd.

Where can your early childhood studies degree take you?

Key features

  • 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 provision for children and families.
  • Learn on the job during the work-based learning placement.  You will gain the practical skills employers are looking for.
  • Opportunities to extend your early years practice through assessment in placement; gaining valuable experience in working with children and families.
  • 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

    • An Introduction to Early Childhood Studies (EEC411)

      A series of lectures given by members of the Early Childhood Studies 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 process of developing study skills and dispositions and integrating themes and ideas by means of active engagement in small seminar groups.

    • Understanding Development; Biology and Psychology (EEC414)

      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.

    • Politics for Equality (EEC415)

      This module explores the concepts of equality, inclusion, diversity and anti-discrimination and investigates 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 own experiences, to explore how culture and policy impact on young children and their families.

    • Places and Spaces for Learning and Playing (EEC416)

      Throughout this module students will be introduced to a range of places and spaces that facilitates children's learning and play. There will be opportunities to link these experiences with academic theories with an aim to support the students' skills in noticing and understanding the process of learning.

    • Children in Society (EEC423)

      This module will focus on the complexity and diversity of young children’s experiences of growing up in contemporary societies. It will examine how children’s everyday lives are shaped through a wide range of structural influences and through children’s own active engagement with their worlds.

    • Multi Professional Perspectives (EEC432)

      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 communication, team work, working with parents and as part of a multi-professional team are explored along with an understanding of self as a reflective practitioner

  • Year 2

  • Your second year focuses on developing your analytical and reflective skills, and expands your hands-on experience during the work based learning module. You will continue to develop your understanding of research while studying children’s development and communication. Throughout this year you will be encouraged to make links with your learning in practice and your academic learning, which will enable you to have a greater understanding of young children and their families lives.

    Core modules

    • Introduction to Research in Early Childhood Studies (EEC521)

      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.

    • Perspectives on Child Development (EEC524)

      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 childrens 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.

    • Developing Communication in the Early Years (EEC527)

      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.

    • Work Based Learning (in a setting with young children and/or families) (EEC566)

      This module is intended to provide students with the opportunity to experience work-based learning opportunities in a setting which involves work (paid or unpaid) with young children (0-8) or with children and their families. 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. A reflective approach to this learning experience provides students with the opportunity to develop their professional practice.

    Optional modules

    • Outdoor and Experiential Learning (EDST511)

      This module focuses on the understanding and personal exploration of Outdoor and Experiential Learning. Understanding of the ways that the two fields are differentiated and integrated will be gained through theoretical and practical sessions. Students are encouraged to link theory with practice and will produce a personal critique of the way that one influences the other through the medium of their own experiences.

    • Inclusion and Therapeutic Interventions (EDST515)

      This module aims to conceptualise Inclusion through a broad lens, and to explore types of therapies and therapeutic interventions, and the role/s they can play, to encourage and enable social and educational inclusion. It will challenge participants to examine their understanding of key terms and their knowledge of art therapies.

    • Working with a Range of Professionals (EEC522)

      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.

    • Childhood and Well-being in the Developing World (EEC535)

      This module focuses on childhood and well-being of young children in the developing world (defined as those that are low on the UN Human Development Index), by looking critically at issues such as poverty, global inequalities, access to resources, education, health, conflict, livelihoods and sustainability. It will offer students a critical perspective on what factors provide opportunities for, and challenges to, improving outcomes for children.

    • Work Based Learning Plus (in a setting with young children and/or families) (EEC566PLUS)

      This module is intended to provide students with the opportunity to maximise professional learning opportunities during a work-place experience (paid or unpaid) with young children (0-5) or with children and their families. 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 enable students to meet the Early Years Educator Standards. A reflective approach to this learning experience provides students with the opportunity to develop their professional practice.

  • Final year

  • In the final stage of the course 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.

    Core modules

    • Research in Early Childhood Studies (EEC601)

      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.

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

      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.

    • Current Issues in Early Childhood: Politics, Welfare and Society (EEC645)

      This module will enable participants to focus on current debates related to early childhood studies with a focus on the political, welfare and society. By its nature the content of the module will change each year, as issues change, new understandings emerge and different perspectives apply. 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.

    Optional modules

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

      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? (This module is subject to availability)

    • Education for the 21st century: Global, Sustainable and Wild (EDST617)

      This module offers an integrated approach to key themes in envisioning future fit education; namely global citizenship, sustainable development and environmental care. It asks the learner to explore contemporary educational issues such as the impact of the UN Sustainable Development Goals and Global Action Programme for ESD. It critically and creatively considers the role of compassionate engagement in education with regard to ecological literacy, global citizenship, human rights, social justice, peace and planetary well-being.

    • Enabling Environments for Young Children's Learning (EEC627)

      This module considers issues surrounding the spaces in which adults interact with children in teaching and learning relationships. Students will examine governments' and practitioners' beliefs and principles that influence the creation of these `spaces' and the pedagogic practices within them

    • Children and Risk (EEC638)

      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

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.

In light of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, the changeable nature of the situation and any updates to government guidance, we may need to make further, last minute adjustments to how we deliver our teaching and learning on some or all of our programmes, at any time during the academic year. We want to reassure you that even if we do have to adjust the way in which we teach our programmes, we will be working to maintain the quality of the student learning experience and learning outcomes at all times.
Entry requirements

UCAS tariff

96 - 112

Academic requirements

A Level: From a minimum of two A levels. Other combinations will be considered. Preference for social science, health and social care, early years, childcare subjects/qualifications but others are considered.

BTEC: DMM-MMM. Preference for social science/health & social care/early years/childcare qualifications but others are considered

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: 26–27 overall. Preference for social science/health and social care/early years/childcare qualifications but others are considered.
English accepted within - Advanced Level = 4, Standard Level = 5
If overseas and not studying English within IB – MUST have IELTS: 6.0 overall with 5.5 in all elements

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 it is preferable to achieve GCSE grade C/4 or above in English language and Mathematics for this course, it is not mandatory and the admissions tutor will consider alternative grades. If you choose to go on to study a PGCE, EYITT or a health-related course you will require them. Please contact the Admissions Team on +44 1752 585858 or email, where a member of the team can offer you further advice.

Individual offers for this course may vary.

Equivalent qualifications may be considered. Alternatively, if you have any questions or concerns about meeting the entry requirements listed above we would encourage you to contact the Admissions Team on +44 1752 585858 or email, where a member of the team can offer you further advice.

English language requirements

We welcome applicants with international qualifications. To view other accepted qualifications please refer to our tariff glossary.

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

The UK is no longer part of the European Union. EU applicants should refer to our Brexit information to understand the implications.

New Student 2021-2022 2022-2023
Home £9,250 £9,250
International To be confirmed To be confirmed
Part time (Home) To be confirmed To be confirmed
Full time fees shown are per annum. Part time fees shown are per 10 credits. Please note that fees are reviewed on an annual basis. Fees and the conditions that apply to them shown in the prospectus are correct at the time of going to print. Fees shown on the web are the most up to date but are still subject to change in exceptional circumstances. For more information about fees and funding please visit

Undergraduate scholarships for international students

To reward outstanding achievement the University of Plymouth offers scholarship schemes to help towards funding your studies.

Find out whether you are eligible and how you can apply

Additional costs

This course is delivered by the Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Business and more details of any additional costs associated with the faculty's courses are listed on the following page: Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Business additional costs.

Essential technology for your studies 

The university recommends that all students have access to their own technology to access their programme. If you’re purchasing a laptop, you should review the specifications listed below, but if you’re unsure about the requirements for your course, ensure that you ask your programme team before you buy anything:

  • Minimum specifications for basic processing (enabling the use of university web-based systems and general-purpose applications, such as Office 365): Intel Core i3, 8GB RAM, SSD storage, Full HD display or equivalent, Windows 10.
  • Recommended specifications for students intending to run a variety of software applications: Intel Core i5, 16GB RAM, SSD storage, Full HD display or equivalent, Windows 10.

Bursaries and funds

If you’re experiencing financial hardship due to extra costs, unexpected health issues or other factors, there are bursaries and funds to help you. Take a look at our bursaries and other funding options page.

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

  • @ Students say: "Early childhood studies is not about learning how to teach children but learning about children and their families' lives"
  • , Visit a wide range of early years settings that are used by children and their families
  • ' Learn on the job with work-based modules
  • A 86% of students agreed staff made the subject interesting (Discover Uni)
  • } 96% students agreed that staff are good at explaining things (Discover Uni)

Our students talk about their experience of 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

Graduate insight

Student experience

BA (Hons) Early Childhood Studies graduate Hannah Lunnon shares her experience studying her degree with the University of Plymouth. 

Outdoor classroom in Plymouth shortlisted for MacEwen Award 2020

Early Childhood Studies students and architecture students designed and built this amazing outdoor space with the children of a local primary school.

The collaboration has been shortlisted for RIBAs Macewen Awards 2020.

Read more about the project

Image credit: Toshiko Terazono

Image credit: Toshiko Terazono


*These are the latest results from the National Student Survey. Please note that the data published on Discover Uni is updated annually in September.