Level 6

Early Years Education BA (Hons)

Duration Age Group Study Start Cost Available Locations
£8000 per year * Southend Campus
Duration Age Group Study Start Cost Available Locations
£8000 per year * Southend Campus
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Course code: X310

Please note: This programme is subject to revalidation with our university partner, UEA, ready to accept new entrants from September 2023. Therefore, for next year there may be some changes to this advertised course content following the revalidation process.

Early years education is one of the most exciting and rewarding occupations. As an early years professional you can help to transform children’s lives and play an instrumental role in helping to prepare them for learning and later life.

Why study this degree at University Centre South Essex?

  • The course is taught on a part-time basis over three days, consisting of one day placement and two days theoretical training
  • The teaching is tailored to meet your needs
  • You will get a personalised experience

This programme will provide you with an option of career choices in which professional skills used within the early years industry (0 – 7 years) are investigated, developed and reflected upon. The programme is underpinned by three strands; theoretical knowledge, research methods and work-based skills & experiences. These bring together two key disciplines; psychology and sociology, which will enable you to identify the importance of them when working with children and their families.

This knowledge will enable you to make a more informed decision on whether to progress to a higher level of study or onto a different career path within the sector. Most importantly, you will be better equipped for your chosen career path. The first year will provide the underpinning knowledge, such as identifying theory and work-based practices and an introduction to the impact of research on the educational sector. Year two provides you with opportunities to apply the theory and skills learnt into practice; here, the main focus is on work-based skills and professional standards. In the third year you will be equipped with the necessary knowledge and skills to make more informed decisions through critical examination and discussions.

The professional practice module enables you to show that you are an autonomous learner with a creative approach to teaching and learning and will bring together all that you have learned to date. You will be expected to reflect on learning and the different career paths available to you.

Entry Requirements

A Minimum of 64 UCAS Points from one or more of the following:

  • A Levels
  • T Levels
  • BTEC/UAL Extended Diploma
  • Foundation Diploma in Art and Design (Level 3 or 4)
  • Or equivalent EU/International qualifications, such as International Baccalaureate Diploma
  • And English GCSE passes at grade 4 or above (grade A*-C) 

This list is not exhaustive, other qualifications may be considered. Entry to this course will also be determined by the quality of your application, looking primarily at your portfolio/showreel of work,
personal statement and reference.

Course Structure

Year one modules

Play and learning

The module evaluates the main theoretical perspectives and research on play and its relationship to learning. Additionally, an exploration of the ways in which children’s imagination and creativity underpins their play will be undertaken, including changes to play in the digital age.

The early years professional

This module will provide an introduction to what it means to be a professional in all areas of working with children and families. The module will begin with a focus on self-awareness, communication and reflection, before moving on to examine the importance of equality and inclusion in early years practice.

Social constructs of childhood (1)

This module will introduce you to the changing conceptions over time about childhood and attitudes towards children, including the place of children in society and children's rights. It includes a consideration of cross-cultural perspectives.

Curriculum studies

This module identifies and examines different curricula and their impact on children’s learning and development. You will gain an awareness of curriculum design to understand the purpose, scope and breadth of the EYFS & NC. Alternative curricula will also be explored including Forest Schools, Montessori, Steiner, Froebel, Home schooling movement, the digital classroom, Steven Heppell – barefoot learning, Pie-Corbett – creative teaching approaches and developments in classroom practice and the approaches in other countries.

Perspectives on children’s development

You will examine the biological and physiological factors that impact upon children’s development, including cultural and social impacts. Areas such as cultural bias and children’s self-concept, including gender awareness, will also be explored.

Introduction to research

This module introduces the processes that researchers use and examines the ways in which different methodologies have been used in early years’ studies.

Year two modules

Social constructs of childhood (2)

This module continues from the year one module changing nature of childhood, by looking at policy and legislation and considering the impact of class, gender, ethnicity, culture, language, disability, sexual orientation and age on children and families and the effects of discrimination. The module examines inclusion and diversity both in early years settings and wider society.

Transition and the role of the professional

This module will bring together knowledge gained from year one modules curriculum studies and the early years professional. It will enable you to identify and appraise the need for professionals to put the child at the heart of their practice. Focus will be given to values, attitudes and beliefs of the early years professional in supporting children and families.

Pedagogy: linking theory to practice

This module requires you to examine a range of theories and research studies on children’s learning, with questions such as 'what is pedagogy, and how does it influence professional practice?' You will evaluate the effectiveness of a range of pedagogical models on early childhood learning as a means of linking theoretical understandings of how to teach effective classroom practice.

Research methods and proposal

This module will build on the knowledge gained in year one which you will extend through critically appraising various research methods and their ethical implication. The module will prepare you for your independent research project in year three.

Exploring and investigating mathematics and science in the early years curriculum

The module will introduce you to the delivery of maths and science subjects in early years settings, with the aim of developing students’ own skills in effectively delivering these subjects.

Language, literacy and communication

You will examine the theories and research underpinning the development and acquisition of language and literacy in the early years, together with the impact this has on children’s learning.

Year three modules


An independent research project.

Professional practice

This module will bring together a series of professional issues, including leadership and management in a multi-professional context; You will be guided through the process of business planning which will support those who wish to set up their own business in the future. You will need to reflect on your practice whilst also researching the different pathways in which you can take your degree.

Social constructs of childhood (3)

The purpose of this module is to consider the impact of structural barriers and discrimination upon children’s rights, by addressing the impact of these on children’s positions within the systems of stratification: class, gender, race/ethnicity, culture, disability, sexual orientation and age. The module will also consider the policies and legislation that seek and have sought to address and ameliorate structural barriers and inequalities.

Creativity in the curriculum: a holistic approach

There is now a firm argument that creative teaching is effective teaching. You will critically reflect upon your own practice to inform and enhance your professional development as a teacher/practitioner with the aim of teaching creatively and encouraging children to learn.

Psychological perspectives on children’s behaviour

This module seeks to introduce you to five psychological perspectives (psychodynamic, behaviourist, cognitive, humanist & eco-systemic) and the ways in which early years professionals can use this knowledge to inform their practice in meeting the individual developmental and learning needs of children. Focus will be given to multi-professional/disciplinary working practices that will draw on the communication and organisation skills needed when working directly with families.

Work placements

You will need to be in a placement for one day a week in term-time only (minimum six hours per day across the three years). In year one you will learn to convert theory into practice and in year two there are three modules in which you will apply the theory into practice by the planning and delivery of lessons and activities. Placement in year three will focus on the dissertation module and professional practice.


Timetables are normally available one month prior to registration, though we endeavour to let you know an outline as soon as possible. Please note that we make every effort to ensure timetables are as student friendly as possible. Scheduled teaching can take place on any day of the week. Typically timetables are scheduled for 13 hours per week across two days between 9am-5pm (however there may be events during the year, for example guest speakers that may run until 6pm). We expect you to build on your learning through Independent study for which we have space available within the campus or at the Forum in Southend.

Overall workload

Across each year of the degree programme you will study 120 credits, this is split into 20, 30 or 40 credit modules. Each 10 credits equate to approximately 100 hours of taught and independent study. Class contact hours of 13 per week are included on the scheduled timetable. Additionally, independent study time, including assessment activities and group work will equate to approximately 26 hours of independent learning per week.

Teaching & Learning


You are taught through a combination of lectures, seminars and workshops, which enable you to discuss and develop your understanding of the disciplines of psychology and sociology. Typically across all years of the programme you will have 13 hours of contact time per week across two days. Contact time will consist of:

  • 2-4 hour lectures/seminars
  • Tutorial and dedicated one-to-one support when necessary

Independent learning

When not attending lectures, seminars, workshops or other timetabled sessions you will be expected to continue to learn independently through self-guided, independent activities. This may typically include reading journal articles, books, periodicals and preparing coursework and presentations. A range of excellent facilities, including the library and online learning resources, the Learning Resource Centre and the Forum will support your independent learning. Typically, independent learning will approximately equate to 70% in Year one and 53% in Year two (with 17% making up placement learning) and 75% in Year three.

Assessment & Feedback

You will be assessed using a variety of methods including:

  • Essays
  • Research Projects
  • Presentations
  • Role plays
  • Portfolios


You will receive formative feedback as part of your modules and taught sessions with your Module Lead. You will also receive summative comments on all formal assessments undertaken by coursework. You will be provided with written feedback within 20 working days of submission through Turnitin. You can request alternative forms of feedback through meetings with your Module Assessor or Module Leader.

Feedback on the Final Major Project/Dissertation module in Year three is provided throughout and through supervision meetings.

Course Cost

Adult, full_time: £8000 per year

Fees are per academic year for Home/UK students.

The following course-related costs are included in the fees:

  • Level 2 safeguarding training
  • Paediatric First Aid
  • Library resources: Books, Journals
  • You will receive an allocation of pages for printing

Additional course costs can be found here

What Next...

What can I do after this?

The great majority of the students on this course progress on to teacher training via the following routes:

  • Primary Postgraduate Certificate in Education (Primary PGCE)
  • Graduate Teacher Training programme (GTTP)
  • School-based Initial Teacher Training (SCITT)

Graduate destinations

You can progress to an outstanding range of jobs, including:

  • Working in an early years setting overseas, including Japan
  • Nursery management
  • Children’s centres
  • Sure Start centres
  • Portage services within social services
  • Police family liaison worker

Some graduates also decide to work for a year as a Teaching Assistant before progressing to the PGCE.

Students who successfully complete the BA (Hons) Early Years Education degree are typically very successful at finding employment in professional roles within the early years and wider education sectors. For example, students completing placements in a school environment may find themselves subsequently employed by their placement setting in a variety of roles which utilise their knowledge and experience together with their transferable skills.

In addition, students have been offered opportunities to complete their Teacher Training with the placement. Students also utilise their knowledge and experience in supporting roles which accommodate their transferable skills, for example, as Family Support Workers and Learning Support assistants (LSA). A number progress to Masters qualifications in order to take up roles as Social Workers, or within the fields of Psychology and SEND. Students also enter the teaching profession at FE level, securing roles as Associate and Full Time lecturers. Indeed, the College has previously employed several of the programme's former graduates as Lecturers in Early Years, Health and Social Care and mathematics.

Success Stories...

Success Stories -  Louis Papagavriel

Success Stories - Louis Papagavriel

Course studied

Early Years Education BA (Hons)

You are never too old to achieve your dreams, it might just take some hard work, but anyone can make it.

My name is Louis Papagavriel I am 32, studying the BA Hons Early Years and this is my story.

I decided to return to education not long after my 30th birthday. This was after a spell of major mental health issues causing me to be unable to work.

I did a lot of extensive research and reflected on my strengths and weaknesses when looking for new careers to pursue and decided that I wanted to become a primary school teacher.  I attended the college when I was 17 so I decided to look up what adult courses they offered, discovered Access courses and was able to find out that they clearly fitted into my career goal as the college offered an Access to Teaching course. 

Whilst studying the Access course, we were visited by students on the Early Years Education degree at the college and from what they told us about the course I decided this was the course I wanted to progress on to after I finished my Access course. Since starting the course, I have also visited this year's Access course to inform them about my current course.

The course covers many interesting subjects and has developed my knowledge of Early Years education. The course tutor is also very passionate about the subject which makes some of the more, less exciting subjects more interesting. Also, being in a class of likeminded people and being able to share our experiences and passion for the subject is amazing.

Having a young child who is also having to be home-schooled and trying to complete assignments has been difficult during lockdown but luckily the university has been very accommodating and given me extra time to complete tasks and assignments. Also, an important part of the course is having a placement in local schools. However, due to the pandemic this has not been possible. We have however, been making videos from home for children to watch.

The advice I would give to anyone who is looking to go into higher education is that if you have the drive and determination to change your career or to advance in your current career, then go for it. You are never too old to achieve your dreams, it might just take some hard work, but anyone can make it. 

To learn more about the university centre, visit: www.southessex.ac.uk/events 

Helen Barker, Early Years Education student, talks about her experience of returning to education

Helen Barker, Early Years Education student, talks about her experience of returning to education

Course studied

Early Years Education BA (Hons)

I would like to tell those who are considering going back to education to not let fear or uncertainty get in the way. It's been one of the best decisions I've made for myself.

Hello, I'm Helen Barker, aged 26, studying an undergraduate degree in Early Years Education at University Centre South Essex and this is my story.

I decided to go back to education because I felt stuck in the job I was in. I didn't complete A- levels and I wasn't sure what I could do career wise and studying seemed the best option to open up other opportunities. I decided to do the Social Studies Access course as it was the most broad and I thought it would give me the best chance to identify an area of most interest, which it did, as I am now doing Early Years Education. 

I found the information for the Access course through the South Essex College website and it was really easy to apply and get information on funding for the access course. For my undergraduate degree, one of my tutors on the Access course suggested the Early Years Degree to me, based on conversations we'd had over the year and their awareness of my interests in the assignments. Part of the access course was to complete a personal statement and application through UCAS, which was really helpful for my writing skills. 

I'm really enjoying early years education as the topics are interesting and quite broad. We've looked at the physical and mental developmental stages and each year has been more in-depth, looking at these from a sociological and psychological perspective, parents perspective, and in a teaching context. The course has opened my eyes to how many paths there are in life to take and how we can help children to navigate those paths as they grow up. 

One of my initial concerns was that the only career path this Early Years Education degree would take me towards was a teacher. That’s not been true at all. Each assignment introduces me to a new aspect to child development and because of this, I am aiming to complete a masters in psychology to work towards becoming an educational psychologist. 

Studying during lockdown has been difficult, certainly in terms of finding the motivation. I believe that I've been lucky to be studying at such a time, where jobs are in trouble. Being able to study has kept my mind fresh. It's helped me to develop a better routine and taking accountability in my decisions. The hardest part has been not being able to see classmates and tutors face to face, I really miss the discussion that we would have in class. Yet we've adapted really well to working online, which is a silver lining. 

I would like to tell those who are considering going back to education, especially if they have been out of it for some time, to not let fear or uncertainty get in the way. It's been one of the best decisions I've made for myself. Studying is very hard but I wouldn't change a thing about my journey so far, from crying over my first essay for the Access course to now writing my dissertation in my final year, I know I've improved. I'm so proud of myself for doing it and that confidence has flowed into other areas of my life as well. 

Success story: Jess Fleming

Success story: Jess Fleming

Course studied

Early Years Education BA (Hons)

The support you get is the best possible and they really get to understand you as a student, how you learn and how they can best support you.

My name is Jess Fleming, I am 26 years old and I studied Early Years Education at University Centre South Essex from October 2018 until May 2021 and this is my story.

I have just finished my Early Years Education Degree and I am moving on start my PGCE in Further Education in September. My overall aim is to gain a 2:2 in Early Years but obviously part of me is hoping for that 2:1.

I have a level 3 diploma in Childcare and Education that I achieved through an apprenticeship in 2013 after dropping out of college due to a poor experience. I worked in Nurseries and also as a Ride Host at Adventure island. In 2015 I gave birth to my little girl who has just turned 6 and I wanted to do something in my career for the long-term and I’ve always wanted to teach. 

It wasn’t so much I chose the University Centre South Essex but that it chose me if that makes any sense? University was not in my plan and was not even a consideration. I spoke to South Essex College about careers advice on what I can do with my current level 3 qualification and they invited me in to speak to the lead of the Early Years programme to see if they had any insight. After speaking with Maria Cruickshank about where I wanted to go in life and her suggesting this course, I felt ready to jump into the deep end and get my degree. 

There are many opportunities that are available for both personal and professional growth. During this course I have been a student rep, a uni-buddy and spoke to students from other courses to share experiences and knowledge. Also, with the CPD courses we have done alongside the degree, I have had a career change while studying and went from ride-host to security guard which is an amazing experience in itself. 

Being in higher education gives you the motivation to work hard to achieve what you set out to do. It helps you time manage, but the best thing is self-confidence. ‘Knowing your stuff’, seeing how much you have grown and developed over the time period and having the confidence to have an opinion and know your worth.
In my first year I was diagnosed as dyslexic and with dyspraxia. It was overwhelming but the university has supported me not only academically but emotionally too. It has not been an easy three years outside of my studies but they were still there to support and guide me in any way possible. You can ask for help and they will find every possible way they are able to support, even if it’s just to listen. 

As a student that is also a parent, the university centre have been great when it has come to child care and would never mind if I had to leave to pick the children up or look after them if they were ill. My daughter adored my lecturers and when we were online would often sit next to me on her tablet and she would wave and it was nice not to feel like a burden. 

Some people may be put off by the University Centre South Essex being a small centre but in fact I believe that it is their biggest asset. By having smaller classes then some larger traditional universities it makes it a much more personal leaning experience. You feel noticed and recognised, where as you may get lost in the large crowds of students elsewhere. They make you feel as though you matter, and you are important which in itself is a reason so many push through the tougher parts of studying in order to have the end results.

The support you get is the best possible and they really get to understand you as a student, how you learn and how they can best support you. Not only that but they also help you in decisions after completing your degree and show you the many options are available and help you understand what they are and where you go. I think if I had studied anywhere else, I would have given up before I finished. 

There are so many things I have achieved, personally and also academically but my best moment was submitting my dissertation. Researching something I had keen interest in, gather the information and then create this document that was my work was an extremely proud moment and never in my life before did I think I would get to this moment. 

Originally, I wanted to teach primary education however within the last year of this course it has changed. Through the opportunities I have been given within the University Centre I have realised that I have a real passion for supporting older students so have decided to change my teacher training to one that is specific to Further Education. I plan to stay within F.E for a couple of years and learn, experience, and take opportunities within that before completing my Masters degree and moving forward to teach Higher Education. You could say I plan to do a full circle which is strange for a girl who four years ago never thought she would go back in education, who was shy and who thought very little of her own self-worth. I am now a woman who is confident, who can fight for what she wants and has a passion for knowledge and students.

For more information on the Early Years programme, visit: www.southessex.ac.uk/course/early-years-education-ba-hons

Success story: Mikki Barrett

Success story: Mikki Barrett

Course studied

Early Years Education BA (Hons)

I wanted to stay local and felt that I had gained a lot of success in my academic and professional life since leaving. I am a Southend resident as well as a single parent who wanted to demonstrate to the community here that anything is possible.

My name is Mikki Barrett, I am 30-years-old, I studied the Access to Teaching Diploma and the first year and a half of the Early Years degree at University Centre South Essex from 2014 until 2017 and this is my story.

I studied the Access to Teaching course in 2014-2015 with Anne Tothill which provided me with a wealth of knowledge and a plethora of research interests. Having taken a gap from education after secondary school and having my first child aged nineteen, I felt nervous and anxious as to what this course would hold. However, upon meeting the course leader, she sparked my passion in the academic field of education and without her, I do not feel I would be in the position I am in today. This course was perfect for my return to education and I have always promoted it to students thinking about a new avenue. 

My time on the Early Years BA Hons course began with meeting the manager which ignited my passion for early years practices. Maria’s strong ethos of inclusivity and knowledge challenged my assumptions on refuting higher education with the belief that ‘you don’t need a degree to succeed.’ Whilst I still loosely believe this, I could not imagine what my life would be like without my academic achievements. 

I received an overall distinction for the Access to Teaching course and after transferring to the University of East London to finish my degree due to personal circumstances, I completed my BA Hons in Early Childhood Studies with a 1st. I am currently studying my MSc Education (Research, Design and Methodology) at the University of Oxford.
Before studying at the university centre, I was a young single parent working in a call centre and working as a bar assistant in the hospitality sector. 

Since completing my course, I have completed voluntary work within local primary schools and nurseries, stood as a voluntary student seminar leader at the University of East London and worked as a research assistant on Child Rights Chat. Additionally, I also worked at Southend Adult Community College as a well-being tutor and was fortunate enough to gain a role as an outreach tutor. This post meant I was able to work with people recovering from alcohol and drugs addiction. Not only did I gain new knowledge from this experience but became incredibly inspired by the efforts the organisers from the charity went and still go to. I will also be eternally grateful to them for showing me new methods in how marginalised people should be integrated into society. 

I am now working at the University Centre South Essex as an associated lecturer on the Early Years undergraduate degree, teaching on the year two modules of pedagogy and research methods.

I wanted to stay local and felt that I had gained a lot of success in my academic and professional life since leaving. I am a Southend resident as well as a single parent who wanted to demonstrate to the community here that anything is possible. The University Centre has so many benefits such as smaller class sizes to allow for a more personal approach to teaching and student led knowledge. 

The most valuable skill I feel I have gained is the aptitude to become incredibly open-minded and submerged in different social contexts whether this be working with people from a higher social class or working with people from grass roots and charitable organisations. This has helped me innovate my approach to listening and advocating for all voices, as well as readjusting my assumptions regarding the value of each individual, regardless of their personal, professional, or academic background.

My favourite memories of being at the University Centre was the extra mile both the leader for Access to Teaching and the Early Years degree took to help students succeed. This could be by providing extra readings tailored to my interests or arranging small one-to-one sessions to push and enhance my knowledge.

I would recommend the University Centre South Essex as I feel the access to higher education courses provide students with excellent opportunities. The course leader proved effortlessly that her expertise was invaluable, and that no student was ever discredited. 

My greatest achievement so far has been finishing my degree and obtaining a place the University of Oxford.

I hope to complete my MSc at the University of Oxford and follow with a second degree in Children’s International Law as well as working within the research field to bridge the gap between children and policy. I feel this would allow for greater advocacy regarding children’s rights to which need to be addressed to make inclusive practices for education and policy making.

My time at the university helped me gain more confidence, especially due to having a young child at the time. As a young, single parent it was difficult to battle systemic issues with prejudice however, this slowly started to change when studying on the Access to Teaching course. This has also been the driving force for me to achieve greatness, something of which every student is possible of. 

For more information on the Early Years programme, visit: www.southessex.ac.uk/course/early-years-education-ba-hons