Early Childhood Studies - September 2014 entry

BA (Hons) - single

A-level: BBC or equivalent

This course is run by the School of Education

If you are interested in young children and how they learn and grow, this course will enable you to explore this fascinating stage of human development. The early years are a crucial time and you examine childhood from a range of perspectives.

You gain the professional and academic skills as well as the hands-on experience you need to work with children. Thematic links to psychology, sociology, health and social work and issues of policy and educational practice at both national and international level are also included. 


Why choose this course

  • You gain the professional and academic skills, as well as the practical experience, you need to work with children.
  • The course  explores childhood from a range of perspectives, based on research, theory and practice - developmental themes with links to psychology and sociology;health and social work; issues of policy and educational practice and broader international perspectives.
  • The course will enable you to combine theory with direct practical experience of working with young children and early years professionals.
  • You undertake placements across a wide range of early years settings. We have strong links with local providers of early childhood care and education.
  • You can focus on areas that really interest you, the flexibility of the course allows you to select from a wide range of module options.
  • You will be able to enhance your learning by participating in a regular forum on early years research, open both to students and local practitioners.
  • You will be supported by a teaching team committed to supporting both your academic progress and offering strong pastoral support. 

This course in detail

You will begin by learning about how very young children grow and develop, both in the family and in different cultures, examining how toddlers make sense of the world around them through play and interaction with adults. 

Underpinning the theory is an important strand of practical, hands-on work in which you may observe and work with young children in different settings. We have strong links to local settings and providers of early childhood care and education, through placement opportunities and a regular forum on early years research.

As you progress through the course, you can focus on particular areas of study that interest you by selecting from the diverse range of modules available. 

In addition you research particular topics in early years education. Research interests of our staff include children’s language acquisition; the nature of children’s thinking; children and new technologies/media; outdoor learning; children’s spirituality; and children’s identity. There is also a strong strand of research related to the understanding of professionalism and multi-agency working in the early years.

Study modules

All our courses are reviewed regularly to ensure that they respond to developments in the subject area, the sector and the needs of employers. The list below is indicative of the range of modules that we expect to be available.

Year 1

You will be studying modules such as:

  • Early Years: the UK Context
  • Families, Culture and Context
  • Play and Pedagogy
  • Legal Aspects of Social Care
  • Constructions of Childhood

Years 2 and 3

You can expect to choose from a range of modules, including:

  • Child Development
  • Child Development: Researching Development
  • International Comparisons in Early Childhood Care and Education
  • Early Childhood Studies Placement
  • Reflective Practice
  • Equality and Identity
  • Professional Roles in Early Years
  • Literature for Young Children
  • Outdoor Learning
  • The Social World of Childhood
  • Children and the Media
  • Spirituality and Children
  • Research Methods in Childhood and Education
  • Dissertation
  • Controversial Issues in Education
  • Social Work with Children
  • Social Work with Looked After Children

Work placements

There are opportunities for placements across a wide range of early years settings throughout the course. In one of the first year modules you will undertake a number of observational visits to settings that enable you to begin to make links between theory and research, and practice.

During your second and third years there are extended placement modules that will give you direct practical experience of working with young children and early years professionals.

You can choose a third-year placement according to your particular interests, for example working with children with special educational needs. Our close links to the local authority also mean that some students are able to become involved in particular projects such as local mentoring schemes for children.

Study abroad

You may be able to go on a European or international study exchange while you are at Brookes. Most exchanges take place in the second year.

Studying abroad provides an amazing opportunity to add value to your studies by:

  • increasing your employability within an international market
  • boosting your language skills
  • building your confidence in adapting to new situations
  • improving your knowledge of different cultures.

While on exchange you will gain credits which count towards your degree.

We have more than 100 partner universities around the world. Funding is available through the Erasmus scheme, and also via some international programmes such as the Santander Student Awards.

 There is also a European work placement programme which gives you the chance to work abroad as part of your studies.

For more information, visit our pages on studying abroad and exchanges

Departmental research highlights

Several of the lecturers on the Early Childhood Studies course have contributed to the book  "Themes and Debates in Early Childhood" co-edited by Mary Wild, Principal Lecturer in Child Development and Early Years Education and Alison Street, Associate Tutor.

Free language courses for students - the Open Module

Free language courses are available to full-time undergraduate and postgraduate students on many of our courses, and can be taken as a credit on some courses.

Please note that the free language courses are not available if you are:

  • studying at a Brookes partner college
  • studying on any of our teacher education courses or postgraduate education courses.

Teaching, learning and assessment

Teaching and learning

Early Childhood Studies is studied as a modular programme. Each module will follow a similar pattern of lectures, tutorials and seminars with opportunity for discussion.

Approach to assessment

Modules are predominantly assessed by coursework such as presentations, essays and/or project reports. Assessment for some modules includes group assignments that encourage collaborative and teamworking skills.

Learning outcomes

When you have successfully completed your course, you will be able to demonstrate:

  • an understanding of the developmental needs of children and of the role of the family in supporting that development
  • an  appreciation of how practice in childcare and early learning can be informed by theoretical perspectives
  • a comparative understanding of how policy and practice in childcare and early learning varies across the international context
  • effectiveness as a problem solver, team worker and sensitive mediator
  • the knowledge and skills relevant to graduate-level employment as a professional working in education or child care
  • an ability to offer informed critiques of the role of agencies in the support, protection and education of young children
  • knowledge of equal opportunities in childcare and education, and the mechanisms and attitudes through which they can be promoted
  • an understanding of how early childhood and childcare practice can influence human development
  • an in-depth knowledge of a chosen specialist area.

How to apply / Entry requirements

Typical offers

A-level: BBC or equivalent

IB Diploma: 30 points

Other typical offers include:

  • BTEC in a relevant field of study at DMM
  • CACHE Diploma at B
  • Access to Higher Education qualifications in a relevant field of study.

The course welcomes a wide range of students with many different academic backgrounds. You may have studied either arts or science subjects at school, and you may have a mix of A and AS-levels, hold vocational qualifications or have completed an access course. We also welcome mature applicants who can provide evidence of appropriate and successful learning. Above all, enthusiasm and a keen interest in human development and children's learning are the key attributes of our students.

Specific entry requirements


All applicants will be screened for fitness for practice and a Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check will be made.

Please also see the University's general entry requirements.

English language requirements

Please see the University's standard English language requirements

International and EU applications

Preparation courses for International and EU students

We offer a range of courses to help students meet the academic and English language entry requirements for their courses and also familiarise them with university life.

Find out more about the international foundation pathways we offer and our pre-sessional English language courses.

Country specific entry requirements

If you are studying outside the UK, for more details about your specific country entry requirements, translated information and local representatives who can help you to apply, please have a look at our country specific information pages.

English requirements for visas

If you need a student visa to enter the UK you will need to meet the UK Border Agency's minimum language requirements as well as the University's requirements. Find out more about English language requirements.

How to apply

Full-time students should apply for this course through UCAS.

Part-time applications should be made directly to the University using the university application form.

Conditions of acceptance

When you accept our offer, you agree to the conditions of acceptance. You should therefore read those conditions before accepting the offer.

Credit transfer

Oxford Brookes operates the European Credit Transfer System (ECTS). All undergraduate single modules are equivalent to 7.5 ECTS credits and double modules to 15 ECTS credits. More about ECTS credits.

Student experience

Why Oxford is a great place to study this course

As a student in Oxford you'll be in a regional centre for early childhood education and care, giving you a range of options for work placements.

One of the world's great academic cities, Oxford is a key centre of debate, with conferences, seminars and forums taking place across education, science, the arts and many other subjects. It is a vibrant city with plenty of attractions for its large student population, from theatres and cinemas to museums, art galleries and music venues. A bustling and stunning cosmopolitan city, Oxford has excellent shopping, restaurants, cafes, pubs and clubs.

Situated in the heart of rural England and home to around 150,000 people, Oxford offers students a clean and safe environment less than an hour from London and international airports.

Support for students studying Early Childhood Studies

You will be supported by a teaching team committed to both your academic progress and to offering strong pastoral support. These strengths have been consistently recognised in our regular surveys of student opinion and in comments from our external examiners.

Specialist facilities

There are opportunities for placements across a wide range of early years settings throughout the course.  Our close links with the local authority mean that some students are able to become involved in particular projects such as local mentoring schemes for children.

General support services

Supporting your learning

From academic advisers and support co-ordinators to specialist subject librarians and other learning support staff, we want to ensure that you get the best out of your studies.

Personal support services

We want your time at Brookes to be as enjoyable and successful as possible. That's why we provide all the facilities you need to be relaxed, happy and healthy throughout your studies.

After graduation

Career prospects

Graduates of the Early Childhood Studies course embark on a variety of careers when finishing their studies.

Many students use Early Childhood Studies as the basis to go on to train for related jobs such as teachers, social work, educational psychology, play therapy, youth and family work. Recent graduates have taken up jobs in educational publishing and educational charities.

Throughout the course there are regular opportunities for students to meet with careers advisers. A key principle of our approach to teaching and assessment is that it should equip students with the kinds of skills that employers will value such as the ability to work within teams and present to an audience. The direct practical experiences and reflection on the link between theory and practice within the course are also significant factors in our students' subsequent employability.


Further study

The course can lead to a PGCE (Early Years), also offered at Oxford Brookes. You may go into research, perhaps following a specialism such as working with gifted children, or working with young children in care.