MA Early Childhood Education

PG Cert/PGDip/MA Early Childhood Education

Year of entry

This MA will give you the opportunity to develop postgraduate academic skills within the context of your own professional experience and/or personal interests.  Supported by a small team of academics from within the Early Childhood Directorate, you will have the opportunity to research and develop specialist areas of expertise within the field.  During the programme you will also be encouraged to reflect on the ways this learning supports your professional and career development.

You will focus on the role early education plays in producing happy, healthy and successful children. During the programme you will have the opportunity to research and develop specialist areas of expertise within this field.

You will have the opportunity to

  • Investigate the latest research
  • Engage in critical enquiry
  • Design your own research based on issues of personal or professional relevance
  • Innovate and lead practice
  • Reflect on your professional and career development.

 “The MA 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. 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. I am thrilled with the impact not only on my career but on my perspective of what 21st Century education should look like.” 

(Joanna, MA student, 2015)

The MA  Early Childhood Education is designed to appeal to a wide range of graduates (nationally and internationally) 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.  

The programme can be studied in three ways – taught, blended and distance.

Whichever way you choose to study, the part-time route is structured to suit those in employment whilst the full-time programme is aimed at those not currently working (or working a very limited number of hours).  The expectation is that for each 20 credit module students will need to commit around 200 hours of time, the majority of this as independent study.   

All modes of study (Taught/Blended/Distance)

The MA Early Childhood Education programme reflects 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.

You will take two 20 credit core modules, 80 credits of optional modules and complete a 60 credit dissertation based on your own research. The two core modules and the dissertation are completed by all students whichever mode of study you have chosen.  They can be studied on a taught or distance learning basis.

Core module 1 (20 credits)

Developing Criticality

This module will help you develop key postgraduate academic skills with a particular focus on critical reading, writing and reflexivity. By engaging with a variety of sources including writing and multimedia, you will develop critical perspectives about the nature of early childhood education. You will be encouraged to explore your role as an adult learner and to reflect on your academic developments and/or your practice. You will explore how postgraduate research, personal learning and practice interact.

Core Module 2 (20 credits)

Research in Context: Investigating Early Childhood Education

This module seeks to bring research to life; it shows how it has been used to achieve certain outcomes, the knowledge it has generated and the extent to which this knowledge is valid, useful and/or relevant.  By engaging with examples of research in the field, you will explore aspects of research design. Through the exploration of different research traditions, you will be supported in formulating a research focus for your dissertation . You must pass this module before undertaking the dissertation. 

Dissertation (60 credits)

The dissertation module will allow you to undertake a piece of independent research. You will explore a specialist area in early childhood education and write a dissertation (15,000 words). You will need to have successfully completed the Research in Context module in order to undertake your dissertation.  A supervisor will support you during the research process through individual/group tutorials.


The optional modules offered on a taught basis only have more of an experiential component and often draw upon the professional and research networks of teaching staff on the programme.  Consequently, there may be opportunities for you to develop their own empirical research and to make professional connections through engagement with the modules.  Please note that these modules require a viable cohort to run.

 Learning Outdoors in Early Childhood

The aim of this module is to provide students with in-depth knowledge and understanding of theories of child development, learning and well-being and their application to outdoor early childhood education.  It aims to encourage critical engagement with current issues and debates around the value of learning in outdoor environments.  The content is aimed ultimately to enable participants to develop their own practice with greater knowledge and critical insight.

Children and Charities in Early Childhood Education

This module introduces students to the role of charities and wider third sector activity in the lives of young children. It focuses on three central themes of activity:

  • How and why the third sector is involved in early childhood and families
  • What the varied role of the third sector in children’s education looks like
  • How the third sector is represented and used within children’s early intervention education policy.

The module aims to provide students with a comprehensive and critical overview of current issues in the third sector both in policy and practice.  Specifically, it provides students with the opportunity to investigate and evaluate a third sector provider, through placement based volunteering and/or desk top based research

 Early Childhood Education for Sustainability

This module aims to explore the notion of sustainability and to identify philosophical and practical connections with early childhood education. Drawing on critical theory and conceptions of young children as active citizens capable of contributing to and creating change, the module will consider the potential of early childhood education to contribute to sustainable development. It will encourage students to develop their thinking about sustainable futures, to challenge assumptions and to seek creative alternatives within the context of early childhood education.


The optional modules offered on an online basis tend to have a more conceptual orientation making them particular suited for distance learning.  They are not offered on a taught basis.

Early Childhood Education: Curricular and Pedagogical Approaches

This module aims to enable you to develop an understanding of pedagogical approaches in early childhood education (for children aged birth to 8 years). It aims to explore the rationale and philosophical underpinning of the development of diverse curricula approaches in a national and international context. It will give you the opportunity to question the way that pedagogy and curricula are shaped by constructs of quality and childhood as well as philosophical and societal imperatives. 

Policy and Practice in Early Childhood Education

This module aims to enable you to critically evaluate the interaction of policy and practice in early years. You will also be able to explore their personal philosophy and a range of factors affecting provision in the UK and elsewhere.  You will be able to develop their ability to analyse critically policy documentation, research and related literature.

Babies and Toddlers: The Wonder Years

The aims of the module are to explore and debate the current understanding of babies and their development in the first two years of life.  It is an area of research which highlights that human growth is the fastest in this period and babies in this short time learn about their social world, attachment, self-regulation and control in the context of a rapidly developing brain and body.

The role of the adult in supporting or facilitating the development of babies and toddlers  will be explored through contemporary research and scholarship in the UK and internationally. Child care for children under two years of age is a highly political area with many contested views about what is best. The module will look at international approaches the care and education of children from birth to two years.


The following modules are available as options for all students (whichever mode of study they are following):

Children’s Lives in Context: Historical and International Perspectives (Taught and Distance)

The aims of this module are to develop critical perspectives about the nature of childhood and how this concept is interpreted differently according to time and place. The module will also develop students’ ability to engage in systematic, critical thought to explore the value and belief systems concerned with children in the first years of life in different cultures and societies, and at different points in history. You will develop research skills to explore, analyse and interpret both primary and secondary sources of evidence by looking at major philosophers and educationalists whose ideas and practice have influenced systems developed to support and educate young children and families, and through discussing key issues and controversies in context.  You will be introduced to research using a qualitative paradigm. 

Professional & Career Development in Early Childhood Education

This module may be taken as a one 20 credit or two 10 credit options.

Part 1 (10 credits) This first part of the module draws upon theory from the field of career and professional development and aims to provide a framework for reflecting upon personal and professional experiences.  Those already in employment within the field of early childhood will be encouraged to reflect on their professional values and identity through a professional learning journal.  Those not already working within the sector will be encouraged to undertake voluntary professional experience and to use this as a focus for critical reflection. Through the reflective process, you will be encouraged to identify your professional strengths and those they need to develop in order to further their career.  These will be presented in the form of a professional action plan.  

Part 2 (10 credits)

In this second part of the module you will be given the opportunity to build upon the learning achieved in part 1 by responding to the professional action plan they have developed.  You will be encouraged to explore the range of career options within the field of early childhood education through the development of personal and professional networks.  Specifically, all students will take part in a guided learning process in which they interview someone working in a role within the field of early childhood. You will need to develop appropriate questions to elicit a career trajectory that they will then critically analyse and reflect upon.  

Early Childhood Education: Negotiated Project

This independent unit of study aims to offer the programme member the opportunity to develop an individual early years project, which is tailored to their individual research or practice needs, in negotiation with a supervising tutor.


Students choosing the TAUGHT mode can choose optional modules from the taught and common options. 

Students choosing the DISTANCE module can choose optional modules from the online and common options.

Blended students can select optional modules from the taught, online and common options

Full-­time students

Full­time students can complete the MA in one year and study THREE modules in terms 1 & 2 and then work independently on their dissertation in term 3


Part-time students programme structure
Module 1 Core module 1
(20 credits)
Optional module
(20 credits)
Module 2 Core module 2
(20 credits)
Optional module 
(20 credits)
(60 credits)
Module 3 Optional module
(20 credits)
 Optional module 
(20 credits)

Part-time students

Part­time students complete the MA over two years typically taking 90 credits in each of the two years.


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


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.

The MA Early Childhood Education opens up a wide range of opportunities. Graduates from the programme have been successful in pursuing careers in a variety of contexts with roles including Lecturer in Early Years, Nursery Manager, Children’s Centre Manager, and Creative Early Years Specialist.  Some of our students have progressed on to taught doctoral programmes or undertaken PhDs based on their particular research interests whilst others have gone on to set up their own business.


2018/19 tuition fees for this course

Full-time  £5,200 £12,000
Part-time  £2,600  N/A

Government loans of up to £10,280 are available for some postgraduate Master’s courses for students starting their course from 1 August 2018. 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

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 will study using a variety of strategies involving you as an active participant in the process of learning and teaching.   All learning will be supported through the use of the University Virtual Learning Environment (Blackboard) as well as other digital media.  If you are studying on a distance learning or blended basis you will have access to specially developed interactive resources to enable you to communicate with your tutor and peers regularly. You will be encouraged to work closely with your peer group, to provide support for you outside the teaching and learning sessions. Individual tutorials are offered to students in all modules and individual supervision forms an essential part of work on the dissertation.

You will be allocated a Personal Academic Tutor who will help you make module choices and plan your learning.  Each module will be overseen by the module tutor who will offer you a one-to-one tutorial either in person, by phone, email or via skype depending upon your mode of study and preference.

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

Institutional code

  • C10


  • 1 year full-time
    2 years part-time

Entry requirements

  • A good undergraduate degree (2:2 or above) and two supporting academic/professional references.
    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.

    The programme can be studied in three modes.
    Taught – students attend regular sessions that will be based at one of our campuses (Canterbury/Medway depending upon recruitment and cohort viability).
    Blended – students can study a combination of taught and online modules. This offers additional flexibility and is particularly suited to students already working within the early years sector.
    Distance – students study at a distance using specifically developed online learning resources via our Virtual Learning Environment. This is particularly suitable for international students and for UK-based students not able to access our campuses.



Last edited 18/05/2018 10:49:00

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Last edited: 18/05/2018 10:49:00