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 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. 

Core Modules

Developing Criticality(20 credits)

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.

Research in Context: Investigating Early Childhood Education (20 credits)

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.

Optional Modules 

Please note that modules are subject to having a viable cohort in order for them to run.

Learning Outdoors in Early Childhood (20 credits)

You will be encouraged to engage with current issues and debates around the issues of learning in outdoor environments. You will gain an in-depth understanding of the theories of child development, learning and well-being. Some of the sessions will take place outdoors.

Children and Charities in Early Childhood Education (20 credits)

This module will introduce you 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.

You will gain a comprehensive and critical overview of current issues in the third sector both in policy and practice.  You will investigate and evaluate a third sector provider, through placement based volunteering and/or desk top based research.

Early Childhood Education for Sustainability (20 credits)

You will explore the relationship between sustainability and early childhood education. Throughout the module, you will draw on critical theory and the conceptions of young children as active citizens capable of contributing to and creating change. You will conduct action research on an issue of that is of professional or personal interest.

Early Childhood Education: Curricular and Pedagogical Approaches (20 credits)

This module will enable you to develop an understanding of the pedagogical approaches in early childhood education (for children aged birth to 8 years). You will explore the development of curricula approaches in a variety of national and international contexts. You will consider how pedagogy and curricula are influenced by the constructs such as "quality" and "childhood".

Policy and Practice in Early Childhood Education (20 credits)

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

Children’s Lives in Context: Historical and International Perspectives (20 credits)

This module will help you to develop critical perspectives about the nature of childhood. You will be encouraged to consider how the concepts of children and childhood are constructed historically and internationally. You will develop research skills to explore, analyse and interpret both primary and secondary sources of evidence. Through the discussion of key issues and controversies, you will be introduced to philosophers and educationalists whose ideas and practices have influenced early childhood education.

Professional & Career Development in Early Childhood Education (20 credits or 2 x 10 credits)

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

Part 1 (10 credits) 

This module will allow you to reflect upon personal and professional experiences drawing on theories from the field of career and professional development. You will complete a professional learning journal and have the opportunity to undertake voluntary experience if you are not already working in the early childhood sector. Throughout this module, you will be encouraged to identify your professional strengths and weaknesses and to develop an action plan to allow you to further your career.

Part 2 (10 credits)

You will have the opportunity to build upon the learning achieved in part 1 by responding to the professional action plan you have developed. By developing personal and professional networks, you will explore a range of career options within the field of early childhood education. You will take part in a guided learning process in which you interview someone working in a role within the field of early childhood and have the opportunity to reflect on their experience.

Early Childhood Education: Negotiated Project (20 credits)

This module will allow you to develop an early years project which is tailored to your own individual research or practice needs. The focus and design will be developed in negotiation with a supervising tutor.

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.

Full-­time students

Full­-time students can complete the MA in one year and study THREE modules in trimesters 1 & 2 and then work independently on their dissertation in term 3


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

Part-time students

Part­-time 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 15,000 word dissertation worth 60 credits.

The MA Early Childhood Education opens up a wide range of career 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.


2019/20 tuition fees for this course

Full-time £7,700 £12,420
Part-time £3,850 N/A

Alumni of Canterbury Christ Church University are eligible for a 20% discount on this course, subject to terms and conditions.

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

There will be an annual inflationary increase in tuition fees for this course where the course lasts more than one academic year. For further information read the 2019/20 Tuition fee statements and continuing fee information.

Government loans of up to £10,906 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. 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 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

UCAS institution code

  • C10


  • 1 year full-time
    2 years part-time


  • September 2019

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.



Last edited 18/07/2019 13:32:00

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Last edited: 18/07/2019 13:32:00