Education: Early Years

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How to Apply

This course will enable you to develop expertise in this growing area of education and become a specialist in promoting high quality practice in early years settings. Early Years Education is now recognised globally as crucial for laying the foundation for lifelong learning and development. Critical aspects of social, emotional and cognitive development are established in the first five years of life, emphasising the importance of this phase of education.

Why study Education: Early Years?

You will develop your knowledge and understanding of how children develop and learn, along with the most effective ways to create an enabling learning environment. You will 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.

Course structure

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. In your first trimester you will study the MA Education core module Education: Economics, Politics and Society (30 credits) plus your award core module (30 credits). In the second trimester you will study the core module Social Science Research (30 credits), plus two 15-credit elective modules, one of which may be a shared elective from another MA award. In your third trimester you will research and write your Dissertation (60 credits) on a topic relevant to your award.


Trimester 1

In your first trimester you will study two compulsory core modules totalling 60 credits.

Core Module:

Education: Economics, Politics and Society (30 credits) explores how education can be understood in a complex and globalised world where it is seen by many governments as a significant factor in economic growth and competition. You will learn how to question the policies and organisations involved in defining the purposes, content and outcomes of education.

Award Core Module:

Early Childhood Care and Education (30 credits) updates and extends your critical knowledge and understanding of how young children develop and create a foundation for all future learning. You will develop your skills and expertise in providing supportive learning environments, and will explore sociocultural theoretical perspectives of childhood.

Trimester 2

In your second trimester you will study one compulsory core module, and two 15 credit elective modules, one of which may be a shared elective from another MA award. This will total 60 credits.

Compulsory Core Module:

Social Science Research (30 credits) 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 for your dissertation.

Elective Modules:

Outdoor Play and Learning (option 15 credits) supports you in leading and researching young children's learning and development in the context of outdoor play.

Including Vulnerable Learners (option 15 credits) explores the wider issues of vulnerability and the concept of ‘inclusion’, particularly noting the socio-cultural influences that might impact on children and young people’s engagement with education systems.

Leadership and Team Work (shared option 15 credits) extends your critical knowledge and understanding of the principles and theories of leadership in early childhood settings and will develop your skills and expertise in a range of leadership practices and effective ways of leading a pedagogical team.

Trimester 3

In your third trimester you will research and write your Dissertation (60 credits) on a topic relevant to your award.

Dissertation (60 credits) enables you to study and research an aspect of 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.

All modules are taught through lectures, small-group seminars and individual tutorials.

Teaching methods

Some lectures and seminars will take place during the day, whilst 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.

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 years education a priority and increasing their investment in early years provision.  Therefore, you will acquire specialist expertise in an area of education that is rapidly expanding and opening up new career opportunities. You will 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