Undergraduate study
Early Childhood Studies

BA (Hons) Early Childhood Studies

UCAS code: X310 BA/ECS
UCAS code: X318 BA/ECSFY for Year 0 entry

Successive governments have shown a commitment to developing the early childhood care and education workforce into a graduate profession and first-class professional body, equipping those at the frontline to support and enhance children’s development and learning.

Course information


  • Length: 3 years or 4 years including foundation year

More full-time details


  • Up to 5 years

More part-time details

  • Daytime
  • Enrolment date: September
  • Admission enquiries: 01642 342308

Contact details

Further information


You develop relevant and specialist knowledge within sociology, psychology, education, health, legislation and policy. And you develop theoretical and practical skills that can be applied to leading early years practice, supporting learning and further training in various disciplines including social work, nursing and teaching.

Your studies include child development, understanding how practitioners support children's learning and language development, and developing transferable professional skills. This programme introduces you to ideas about teaching and develops emerging skills as a critical and reflective practitioner.

Course structure

Year 0 (foundation year) core modules

Fake News?

Portfolio 1

Portfolio 2

Succeeding in Higher Education & beyond

Succeeding in Higher Education. How to be your best

Teesside and the Region (Tantalising Teesside)


Year 1 core modules

Children's Development

You explore children’s personal, social, emotional and physical development, including theoretical perspectives on how children learn and develop.
You examine the range of theories about children's growth and development and the provision that is made to ensure children develop to reach their own potential.
You also look at the contribution to children's development of parents, practitioners and other professionals.
You are assessed by a short answer examination.

Engaging with Research in Early Childhood, Education and Care

You look at the importance of research in early childhood education and care (ECEC). Increasingly, policy makers and practitioners in various roles connected to young children are asked to account for the policy and practice they produce by making reference to relevant supporting research. You gain a brief introduction to the secondary and primary research processes. You recognize and use certain skills and tools which are important when engaging with research connected to early childhood education and care. You also develop your skills in research, finding research studies, selecting research and critically evaluating it. You are assessed by two 1,500 word assignments.

Foundations of Policy

You are introduced to the importance of policy within the early years sector. Globally, there is unprecedented attention on the early years, which is reflected in the emergence of policy in the areas of young children’s development, education, care, curriculum, needs, safeguarding, welfare, workforce, and families.
You consider what policy is, why it is important and what role it performs. You examine the policy process at different levels - global, supra-national, national, local and setting-based policy and the links between these different levels.
You explore policy implementation and influences on it through practice and whether this is a straightforward process.
You are assessed by a 3,000 word report focusing on one article from The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.

Global Childhoods

You consider how different childhood experiences are influenced worldwide by the interaction of geography, social structures and social systems. This is linked to theories and concepts and key global policy initiatives.
You are assessed by a 2,000 word essay (60%) and a group presentation (40%) to your student group based on the key points of your essay.

Notions of Childhood

You gain an understanding of the conceptual underpinning of early childhood studies. You consider the historic and social notions of childhood. You also consider how childhood is represented in literature and the media and how this has evolved. You gain an understanding of the importance of an ethical approach to studying the discipline of children and early childhood. Your assessment is a 3,000 word essay.

Working Collaboratively in Early Years

You explore the nature of professional practice in early years. In some EU countries and in Malaysia an emphasis is placed on working collaboratively in early years - the state, the private and voluntary sectors come together and work towards shared agendas. You reflect on the theories and philosophies that resulted in this collaborative approach. Not everywhere adopts this understanding of working in early years and there are countries in the developing world where a laissez faire approach to working with children and families is evident. You consider how working collaboratively with children and families in particular cultural contexts have evolved over time. Your assessment is a 3,000 word essay.


Year 2 core modules

Key Issues in Early Years Policy

You build on the Foundations of Policy module from Year 1 and critically evaluate the effects of policy on children and families. You consider key influences (international, social, political, economic) on national policy decisions, and the policy-making process and apply this understanding to a number of key policy areas such as early intervention, family justice, child health, commercialisation, special needs, disability. You choose one of these areas as the focus for your 3,500 word assignment. You develop skills in analysing and questioning policies, using research and professional opinion to evaluate your outcomes, consider what alternatives exist, and how existing policy can be changed and improved.

Language and Literacy in the Early Years

You develop your understanding of language acquisition and development, and how children become literate. You cover major theories of language development and developmental progress. You explore the factors that affect children’s developing language. You examine early literacy and how children become readers and writers.
You are assessed by a 3,500 word report on a case study provided by the University.

Pedagogy in Early Years

You explore approaches to supporting children’s learning and development in the early years. You examine the importance of play in children’s learning and consider the differing approaches developed by early play pioneers and contemporary theories. You build on your understanding of child development to explore the relationship between play and learning and the use of observations and assessments to promote a child-centred learning environment.
You are assessed by a 3,500 word essay responding to a case study provided by your tutor.

Research in Early Years

You plan your own research project in the early childhood education and care context. You develop your understanding, knowledge and skills to carry out aspects of research. You negotiate the focus of this research with your tutor. You cover a range of issues pertinent to planning and completing research within the early years. Your assessment is a 3,500 word research proposal, this is a plan of the research you undertake in the Early Childhood Studies Dissertation module in your final year.

Safeguarding and Protecting Children

You explore safeguarding and protecting children in their early years. You consider how practice based on children’s rights and good practice approaches in working with parents and other professionals, can help to safeguard children. You consider the current evidence base on causes, risk factors and effective help for children in need of protection. You discuss different levels of need and response – early help, children in need and significant harm – and what your role is in each. You consider how policy, law and guidance create a framework for practice. You evaluate this framework using research, professional opinion and international comparisons in order to judge how effective this is in keeping children safe, and how it could be improved. You are assessed by a 1,750 word report, and a two hour seen exam based on a case study provided in advance.

Understanding and Supporting SEN in Early Years

You consider Special Educational Needs (SEN) in relation to early years. You explore the concept of inclusion of children with SEN and the impact of policy and legislation. You look at the systems and processes in place to identify and support children with SEN. You explore the practitioner's role and the expectations of working with the children's families and other agencies. You also consider how the barriers to learning and development can be addressed as far as possible in practice so that children with SEN can be supported and progress towards their full potential. Some of the areas studied include autism, ADHD, hearing-impaired children, Down’s syndrome, visually-impaired children.
You are assessed by a 3,500 word assignment where you critically analyse legislation and impact in relation to the chosen SEN and outline issues and challenges.


Final-year core modules

Critically Analysing Early Years Policy

You develop your critical awareness of the historical, social and political influences that affect the provision of care and education for children in their early years.
You explore comparative practices past and present, in the UK and internationally. You explore key policy areas and themes, how these have developed, and consider the policy directions currently being taken in early years.
You consider the increasingly detailed responsibilities of workers in the sector who use multiple and complex abilities for the delivery of care and education, working with the child, families, carers and other agencies.
You develop an understanding of how policy is created and implemented, and the role of the early years’ worker. You look particularly at your potential role as a senior member of staff in leading and developing practice.
You are assessed by a 1,500 word review of an academic article and 2,500 word literature review on one aspect of current national early years policy.

Early Childhood Studies Dissertation

You complete a research project in a specific topic area relevant to early childhood education and care. This is research you plan in the Research in the Early Years module. Supervisory support is provided to assist you. You emphasize your autonomy in appropriate decision making and challenge your capacities for independent learning and action. You produce an 8,000-10,000 word dissertation outlining the context for your research, the research methods used to collect and analyse data and your findings. Your dissertation demonstrates high levels of research enquiry skills and ethical good practice, an in-depth knowledge of an area of early childhood education and care as well as the ability to collect and analyse data connected to your topic of interest.

Enhancing Learning in Early Years

You understand the importance of pedagogy in an early years context. You explore engagement and implementation of educational frameworks with a particular focus on the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS). There is an emphasis on play as the central belief that practitioners plan for children’s care, learning and development. You consider the individual and collective nature of children’s learning and how to plan for this in an early years environment and across the range of areas of learning.
You are assessed by 1,000 word lesson plan linked to educational guidance and theory and a 3,000 word essay critically discussing the practitioner’s role in providing learning opportunities and educational resources for children.

Inclusion and Diversity

You develop a deeper understanding of a range of influences that impact on children's learning and development. You develop an understanding of diversity in society and examine the ways in which the care and education system can respond. You gain an understanding of working in partnership with parents and the involvement of multi-agency working. You explore the legislation and policies that impact upon this area and aim to promote an understanding of the importance of inclusion within education and society. You consider a number of important areas which are embraced by the concept of inclusion and diversity and critically engage with the literature regarding these issues.
You are assessed by a 4,000 word report.


optional modules

Exploring Curriculum Delivery in Educational Settings

You explore the importance of child-centred teaching and learning across early years foundation stage, Key Stage 1 and Key Stage 2. The different pedagogical approaches between the different key stages are explored with a focus on key subject areas. Different modules of curriculum and their influence on the teaching environment are explored. This is relevant if you are considering working in an educational setting such as schools and nurseries.
You are assessed in two ways - small group work delivering a teaching session and an individual 3,000 word essay.

Professional Identities: Leadership and Support Across Children’s Services

You understand leadership and support within an early years context. You explore critical engagement with leadership and management theories and research.
You explore generic theories of leadership and management, and the application of these to the context of early years. You explore the emerging role of the Early Years Professional (EYP) and critically consider the application of leadership and support within the sector.
You are assessed by a 1,500 word written speech on an agreed aspect of leadership and 2,500 word essay.


Modules offered may vary.

How you learn

We provide you with a range of opportunities to develop the skills and understanding you need for working in early years settings. You study relevant, contemporary material, applying theory to practice.

How you are assessed

You demonstrate achievement through a combination of written and oral assignments, seminar and poster presentations, and case studies which show your development of professional skills and reflective practice.

Our Disability Services team helps students with additional needs resulting from disabilities such as sensory impairment or learning difficulties such as dyslexia
Find out more about our disability services

Find out more about financial support
Find out more about our course related costs

Career opportunities

Graduates are likely to enter careers with families and young children in a range of different roles: for example as support workers and assistants in education and care settings; working in school nurseries, day care centres and children's centres; supporting families through parenting classes; health and well-being sessions and developing the skills of parents to support their own children; roles in registration and inspection; and multi-agency work which assists social work and community care. Some graduates pursue careers in primary school teaching.

With a good honours degree, some students may continue in higher education to gain further postgraduate qualifications such as a PGCE for Primary or Early Years, qualifying as a teacher. With sufficient early years' experience, graduates can gain the Early Years Professional Status (EYPS), a postgraduate certificate which demonstrates professional ability to lead practice, train others and provide first-class environments for children. Some recent graduates have progressed into the fast track MSc Social Work to develop their careers.

All programmes are designed to incorporate employability skills development alongside your degree course. Our staff utilise their extensive connections to provide many and varied opportunities to engage with potential employers through fairs, guest lecture sessions, live projects and site visits. In addition we offer a series of workshops and events in the first, second and third year that ensure all students are equipped with both degree level subject knowledge PLUS the practical skills that employers are looking for in new graduate recruits.

Our award winning careers service works with regional and national employers to advertise graduate positions, in addition to providing post-graduation support for all Teesside University alumni.

Entry requirements

A typical offer is 72-96 tariff points from at least two A levels (or equivalent). You must have GCSE English Language at grade 4 (grade C) or equivalent. And, if you intend to progress into teaching, you must have a grade C in science and maths. We recommend an Access course if you're a mature student.

For entry to Year 0 (Foundation Year) a typical offer is 32-64 tariff points from at least two A levels (or equivalent) and GCSE grade 4 (grade C) or equivalent in English and maths.

For additional information please see the entry requirements in our admissions section

International applicants can find out what qualifications they need by visiting Your Country

You can gain considerable knowledge from work, volunteering and life. Under recognition of prior learning (RPL) you may be awarded credit for this which can be credited towards the course you want to study.
Find out more about RPL

Foundation year


What is Unistats?

How to understand the Unistats data

Course information


  • Length: 3 years or 4 years including foundation year

More full-time details


  • Up to 5 years

More part-time details

  • Daytime
  • Enrolment date: September
  • Admission enquiries: 01642 342308

Contact details

Further information