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.
The programme requires you to take two 20 credit core modules, the equivalent of four 20 credit optional modules and to undertake your own research in the form of a dissertation. The two core modules and the dissertation are studied by all students whichever mode of study you have chosen. They can be studied on a taught or distance learning basis.
Core module 1
This module is an introduction to study at Master’s level within the field of Early Childhood Education. The aim is to foster critical perspectives about the nature of early childhood education through the review of contemporary, published, academic writing. The module will introduce you to key postgraduate academic skills with a particular focus on critical reading, writing and reflexivity. The module also enables you to investigate their role as adult learners, and to reflect on their own academic development and/or early childhood education practice. The overall purpose of the module therefore is for you to explore how post-graduate research, personal learning and practice interact.
Core Module 2
Research in Context: Investigating Early Childhood Education
Rather than examining research designs in an abstract and distant manner, 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. You will be looking at actual situations, real life contexts, where research has taken place. You will be examining the questions researchers posed, the decisions they made and strategies they employed to find answers to these questions. Through an exploration of different research traditions, their conceptualisation but also application, you will be supported in formulating a research focus for your dissertation in the early childhood field. The module must be passed before undertaking the dissertation module.
Dissertation (60 credits)
The final 60 credits of the programme are designed to enable you to demonstrate self- direction and originality in conducting an independent research study (15,000 words) into a specialist area in early childhood education. You will need to have successfully completed the Research in Context module in order to undertake your dissertation. You will be allocated a supervisor who will support you during the research process through individual/group tutorials.
OPTIONAL MODULES OFFERED ON A TAUGHT BASIS ONLY
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.
OPTIONAL MODULES OFFERED ONLINE ONLY
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.
COMMON OPTIONAL MODULES
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.