MA Early Childhood Education

MA Early Childhood Education

Year of entry

This MA offers you the opportunity to explore current issues within early childhood education in national and international contexts, and can open up a wide range of career opportunities in areas including childcare management, lecturing and research.

It focuses on the crucial role that experiences in early education play in producing happy, healthy and successful children. Drawing on your own professional experience, practice and interests you'll be able to research and develop specialist areas of expertise within this field.

Specifically, our re-validated course provides an exciting new opportunity to:

  • Engage in rigorous and critical professional development
  • Explore issues of relevance to your own workplace
  • Enhance your skills in research and critical enquiry
  • Investigate the latest research
  • Innovate and lead practice

The MA attracts a wide range of graduates from a variety of backgrounds not necessarily Early Years related but those who wish to expand and deepen their knowledge of young children from birth to 8 years. Throughout the course you will have the opportunity to engage in extracurricular activities hosted by the University such as conferences, open lectures, and visits to early years settings.

The course is based at our Medway campus and can be studied on a full or part-time basis. We also offer the course at other locations including the Canterbury Campus, however, this is subject to numbers and module availability.

 “The decision to study on the MA Early Years programme (whilst on an extended period of maternity leave) is one that has genuinely changed both the direction of my career and my confidence and knowledge as a practitioner. The opportunity to reflect on, and study in depth, areas of education that are of most interest to me, has allowed me to develop a professional expertise that I might otherwise not have pursued in any detail. In addition, my final dissertation year project has resulted in a long term venture which is now running as a Community Interest Company delivering outdoor learning opportunities in the form of a Beach School. The support of the tutors proved invaluable along the way and the links with CCCU by no means ended with the completion of the programme. Having self-funded my study, I was particularly keen for it prove professionally worthwhile and, having now graduated, I am thrilled with the impact not only on my career but on my perspective of what 21st Century education should look like.”
(Joanna Sutton MA 2015)

The course is of interest to a wide range of graduates: teachers (early years teachers and those with QTS), early years practitioners, childminders, nursery owners, children’s centre managers and staff, voluntary sector workers and health professionals interested in early childhood education. It may also appeal to policy makers, administrators, managers and team leaders from a variety of professional backgrounds who wish to expand and deepen their knowledge of young children. Voluntary workers and parents are also welcome.

The range of modules is designed to reflect the range of expertise and specialisms within the Early Childhood Directorate teaching team, who are passionate about using insights from their research to enhance your learning experience. You will have the opportunity to develop your own research and specialist areas of expertise, based on personal interests and professional experiences. We encourage you to gain experience as a researcher, and there may be opportunities to get involved in research projects and student internships within the Faculty of Education.

You will study a core module at the outset which will help you develop an understanding of Level 7 learning and the importance of reflection on practice, as you begin to develop effective Level 7 writing skills and abilities.

  • Professional Development through Research, Reflection and Professional Practice (core 20 credit module)

As you progress you will have the opportunity to develop these skills further in a range of optional 20 credit modules. Options include the following although some combinations may be limited due to your mode of study (full/part­time).  All modules are subject to change.

  • Early Childhood Education: Curricular and Pedagogical Approaches (optional)
  • Leading Quality Practice in Early Childhood Education (optional)
  • Policy and Practice in Early Childhood Education (optional)
  • Learning Outdoors in Early Childhood (optional)
  • Children’s Lives in Context: Historical and International Perspectives (optional)
  • Children and Charities in Early Childhood Education (optional)
  • Early Childhood Education for Sustainability (optional) 
  • Early Childhood Education: Negotiated Project (optional)

The final 60 credits of the course are designed to enable you to demonstrate self-direction and originality in conducting an independent research study into a specialist area in early childhood education.

Teaching on the programme is focused on a Tuesday evening (6-9pm) although some modules will be offered during the daytime or on Saturdays. Each 20 credit module has 21.5 taught or supervised hours associated with it. There are typically 7 taught sessions per module as well as a one-to-one tutorial.  In order to maximise choice, some modules may be offered on a blended or distance learning basis.

Part-time pathway

Part-time students normally complete the MA over two years completing a total of 180 credits over the two years. 

Part-time students programme structure
 Semester 1Semester 2Semester 3
Year 1 
(90 credits)
 Core module (20 credits)  Optional module (20 credits)  Optional module (20 credits)
   Optional module (20 credits) to be taken in Semester 1 or 2  Optional module (10 credits)
Year 2
(90 credits)
 Core module (20 credits)  Dissertation (60 credits)

These are mainly taught as evening sessions on a Tuesday (6-9pm). There is one core module (Professional Development) which all students must take. Students can also elect to take a flexible module (Negotiated Project) as an option to further their own specific research interests.  Optional modules are offered subject to viable numbers and the specific requirements of cohorts. All part-time students will take the 60 credit research methods and dissertation module in year 3. This pathway is particularly suitable for applicants in full or part-time work.

Full-time pathway

Full-time students can complete the MA in one year and study TWO modules in each of the three terms alongside Research Methods and Dissertation module which runs throughout the year.  There is one core module (Professional Development) which all students must take.  Students can also elect to take a flexible module (Negotiated Project) as an option during any term to further their own specific research interests.  This pathway is suitable for applicants who are not working or who have minimal work commitments.


It is possible to exit the programme after completing 60 credits. You will be awarded a Postgraduate Certificate in Early Childhood Education.

If you choose to leave after completing 120 credits you will be awarded a Postgraduate Diploma in Early Childhood Education.

The final MA is awarded after the completion of 180 credits including a 15000 word dissertation worth 60 credits.

As a programme of rigorous and critical professional development, the MA Early Childhood Education can open up a wide range of opportunities. Graduates from the MA Early Childhood Education have been successful in pursuing careers in a variety of different professional contexts with roles including Lecturer in Early Years, Nursery Manager, Childrens Centre Manager, Deputy Headteacher (primary) and Creative Early Years Specialist. Some students have gone on to enroll on doctoral programmes and to undertake a PhD based on their particular research interests.


2017/18 tuition fees for this course

Full-time (Full MA) £5,050 (full MA) £11,500** (full MA)
Part-time £2,525 (per year) N/A


Tuition fees for all courses which last more than one academic year are payable on an annual basis, except where stated.

There will not be an annual inflationary increase for this course except where a student should take a break from studying the course for a period of one or more academic years.

Students remain on the fee structure which was in place for each stage of this course when they commenced their studies, unless they have taken a break for a period of one or more academic years.



Government loans of up to £10,000 are available for some postgraduate Master’s courses for students starting their course from 1 August 2017. Loans are subject to both personal and course eligibility criteria. 

The rules around course eligibility mean that in some cases it may depend on how you are studying (full-time or part-time) as to whether you can apply for a postgraduate loan. To check whether your course is eligible, you can email the Student Fees Team or call 01227 923 948

Read more about postgraduate masters student loans.


Students may self-fund their course or a sponsor may fund or part-fund. Bursaries, scholarships and fee discounts may also be available.

Further information

**Overseas fee scholarships may be available. See further information about funding and scholarships or contact the International Office.

Additional course costs

Although we aim to minimise any additional costs to students over and above the course tuition fee, there will be some additional costs which students are expected to meet.

Costs applicable to all students

Text books Own purchase text books
Travel to other sites Where travel to other sites is required, this will be payable by the student
Library Fees and Fines Where students fail to return loaned items within the required time they will be responsible for the cost of any library fees and fines applicable
Printing & Photocopying The cost of printing and photocopying undertaken by students to support their individual learning are payable by the student
Graduation ceremonies It is free for the student to attend the ceremony itself. Guest tickets and robe hire / photography are additional costs payable by the student

General principle policy

The University’s general principles policy for additional course fees are set out here

CategoryIncluded in the tuition feeAdditional cost to student
Field trips (including trips abroad and trips to museums, theatres, workshops etc) No, if the trip contributes to the course as an optional module. Yes if the trip is optional.
Travel and accommodation costs for placements  No

Travel and accommodation costs for professional placements within the Education and Health & Wellbeing Faculties.

Travel and accommodation costs for other work placements. 
Text books No Own purchase text books.
DBS / Health checks No Yes
Professional Body registration No Yes
Travel to other sites (e.g. travel to swimming pool for lessons) No Yes
Clothing / Kit Yes, where the clothing / kit is essential for Health & Safety reasons. Yes, where the clothing is kept by the student and not essential for health and safety reasons.
Learning materials Essential learning materials (excluding text books) in connection with the course. Additional materials beyond the standard provision essential for the course or where the costs are determined by the student’s area of interest and the outputs are retained by the student.
Library fees and fines No Yes
Printing and photocopying No Yes
Social events No, unless the event forms an essential part of the course. Yes, unless the event forms an essential part of the course.
Graduation ceremonies It is free for the student to attend the ceremony itself. Guest tickets and robe hire/ photography are additional costs payable by the student.

You'll study using a variety of learning and teaching strategies involving you as an active participant in the process of learning and teaching depending upon the mode of delivery.  Modules typically consist of a series of lectures, workshops and seminars which are delivered over the course of seven weeks. Some modules may be offered on a blended basis combining face to face Saturday sessions with access to online learning resources.  Blended delivery is particularly appropriate where the module content demands experiential learning and some sessions may include field work as well as classroom based activities. It is also appropriate for modules such as the Negotiated Project where students are encouraged to further their own specific research interests with one-to-one tutor support.

All learning will be supported through the use of the University Virtual Learning Environment (Blackboard) as well as other digital media. Individual tutorials are offered to students in all modules and individual supervision forms an essential part of work on the dissertation. The module tutor or the Programme Director will act as your personal tutor.
The programme uses a range of assessment types including presentations, action research reports, reflective commentaries, literature reviews and document analysis. You will also complete a 15,000 word dissertation based on your research interests.

Fact file


  • 1 year full-time
    2 years part- time

Entry requirements

  • You will normally need a good honours degree to enter a Master's level programme (2.2 or above). However, it is recognised that some applicants may not meet these standard requirements, yet may be desirable candidates with other and appropriate skills and knowledge. In this case they may be offered the opportunity to complete an orientation module or a portfolio to demonstrate their ability to work at level 7. Applicants may be asked to attend an interview.
  • The University normally accepts non-UK qualifications equivalent to those outlined above and confirmed through NARIC.



Last edited 09/02/2018 14:41:00

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Last edited: 09/02/2018 14:41:00