Education: Early Years

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How to Apply

Develop expertise in early years education and become a specialist in promoting high quality practice.

  • Builds an MA level knowledge in child development theory and research.
  • Develops critical insight into effective practice and pedagogy.
  • Includes a strong international perspective.

“It was challenging, encouraged active participation and stimulated further enquiry. It is not possible to end the year without a strong sense of purpose!”
–Fiona, MA Education: Early Years, Graduated 2015

Why study Education: Early Years?

Early years education is globally recognised as crucial for laying the foundation for lifelong learning and development. It is an important phase of education; critical aspects of social, emotional and cognitive development are established in a child’s early years.

Course structure

You’ll develop your knowledge and understanding of how children develop and learn, along with the most effective ways to create an enabling learning environment. You’ll be introduced to different pedagogical approaches, including international perspectives, which will include a critical analysis of the cultural construction of childhood.

The course incorporates various elective modules which will enhance your skills and insights into developing quality educational provision for young children.


The course is structured over three trimesters (thirds) and totals 180 credits (90 ECTS). You can start in September or February and will study for 60 credits per trimester.

  • Trimester 1
    In your first trimester you will study one award core module, Early Childhood Care and Education (30 credits). This updates and extends your critical knowledge and understanding of how young children develop, and creates a foundation for all future learning and will develop your skills and expertise in creating high quality learning environments. In addition you will complete the 30 credit MA Education core module, Education: Economics, Politics and Society.
  • Trimester 2
    In your second trimester you will study the compulsory core module Social Science Research (30 credits) which sets educational research within the broader context of the social sciences and introduces a range of qualitative and quantitative methodologies and methods from which you can select the most appropriate approach for your dissertation. In addition, two 15 credit elective modules are studied in this trimester. You may choose to study the early years elective module Outdoor Play and Learning in Early Childhood. This module is designed for those who have an interest in the role of outdoor play and learning of children from birth to eight years. This module offers a critical and culturally relevant understanding of outdoor experiences in early childhood education.
    You may choose elective modules from other MA Education awards such as Including Vulnerable Learners; Education: Peace and Conflict; Education and Development; Leadership and Coaching.
  • Trimester 3
    In your third trimester you will research and write your Dissertation (60 credits) on a topic relevant to your award. The dissertation enables you to study and research an aspect of early childhood education theory, policy or practice in depth, guided by an expert to arrive at your own synthesis of a topic to take forward into your career.

Course assessment

There are no written exams on this course; each module is assessed through coursework. This typically involves an essay of 3,500 words for a 15 credit module or 7,000 words for a 30 credit module. For some modules assessment may be by verbal presentation or online activity. The dissertation is 15,000 – 20,000 words and focuses on an area agreed with a specialist tutor, who will offer guidance on structure and academic writing.

Field trips

You may have the opportunity to take part in a field trip to Denmark to study outdoor play and learning. Please note that you will have to pay for this study visit.

Teaching methods

All modules are taught through lectures, small-group seminars and individual tutorials. Some lectures and seminars will take place during the day, while others may be in the evening or at weekends. The course also makes extensive use of individual and shared learning using the Bath Spa University virtual learning environment, minerva.

Staff / Tutors

  • Dr Lone Hattingh: Senior Lecturer and MA Education Early Years Award Leader.

    Lone has many years experience of working in Early Childhood education. Her research interests are in Early Literacy and Outdoor Play.

Several colleagues co-teach on various modules and are all early years specialists with particular expertise in a range of aspects of early years provision.

Application method

Download the application form from

For special information for international students, including entry requirements, visits to your country, fees and scholarships go to

International students should visit our international pages for more information about our entry requirements, fees and scholarships, and student support.

Course enquiries

For all enquiries please contact the CPD Administrator:

Telephone: +44 1225 875593


Entry requirements

You will need to have a bachelor’s degree from a recognised higher education institution. The content and subject matter of your degree is open. For overseas, non-native speakers of English, a minimum language level of IELTS 6.5, or equivalent, is required.

Career opportunities

Governments worldwide are now making early childhood education a priority and increasing their investment in early years provision. You’ll acquire specialist expertise in an area of education that is rapidly expanding and opening up new career opportunities. You’ll be equipped to take on a leadership position or an advisory role in supporting the development of early years provision in your own country.

What students say...

"The MA has enhanced my professional development by making links between theory and practice. It has been a challenge organising the course, my work and personal life. However the satisfaction upon completing is immeasurable - I am embarking on an exciting new role as placement officer for children in Foster Care."
Nira Patel

"The MA in Early Years was definitely an eye opening experience for me…… I was worried about how I would cope, but the support from staff was fantastic. Each module gave a new insight into the field of early years with emphasis on theory and research."
Louise Day

"This course provided us with invaluable insight into theory and practice within Early Years development and education, underpinning the strong emphasis currently placed on preschool learning.
It was challenging, encouraged active participation and stimulated further enquiry. It is not possible to end the year without a strong sense of purpose!"
Fiona Wilson