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Education - Early Childhood


Key facts

Start dates

September 2022 / September 2023

Course length

Part time: 12 months


School of Education

This course is not available to students classed as International for fees purposes.


Our PGCert Education - Early Childhood is ideal for early years professionals and managers. 

We designed this course in conjunction with Oxfordshire Local Authority. It provides practitioners with an opportunity to update themselves on the latest research on:

  • child development
  • early years policy
  • early years practice.  

This course is a forum for sharing experience and developing your knowledge of:

  • child development
  • the early years curriculum
  • the particular challenges of leadership in an early years context.

We work in close partnership with schools, nurseries, children's centres and other early years settings across Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire.

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How to apply

Entry requirements

Specific entry requirements

Applicants should normally have a first degree.

Please also see the University's general entry requirements.


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

English language requirements

Please see the University's standard English language requirements.

Pathways courses for EU students

We offer a range of courses to help you meet the entry requirements for your postgraduate course and also familiarise you with university life in the UK.

Take a Pre-Master's course to develop your subject knowledge, study skills and academic language level in preparation for your master's course.

If you need to improve your English language, we offer pre-sessional English language courses to help you meet the English language requirements of your chosen master’s course.

Terms and Conditions of Enrolment

When you accept our offer, you agree to the Terms and Conditions of Enrolment. You should therefore read those conditions before accepting the offer.

Application process

Tuition fees

Please see the fees note
Home (UK) part time
£745 per single module

Home (UK) distance learning
£745 per single module

Home (UK) part time
£765 per single module

Home (UK) distance learning
£765 per single module

International / EU distance learning
£1,690 per single module

Questions about fees?

Contact Student Finance on:

Tuition fees

2021 / 22
Home (UK) part time
£745 per single module

Home (UK) distance learning
£745 per single module

2022 / 23
Home (UK) part time
£765 per single module

Home (UK) distance learning
£765 per single module

International / EU distance learning
£1,690 per single module

Questions about fees?

Contact Student Finance on:

+44 (0)1865 483088

Fees quoted are for the first year only. If you are studying a course that lasts longer than one year your fees will increase each year.

Financial support and scholarships

For general sources of financial support, see our Fees and funding pages.

Additional costs

Please be aware that some courses will involve some additional costs that are not covered by your fees. Specific additional costs for this course, if any, are detailed below.

The published course and module descriptions were accurate when first published and remain the basis of the course, but the University has had to modify some course and module content in response to government restrictions and social distancing requirements. In the event of changes made to the government advice and social distancing rules by national or local government, the University may need to make further alterations to the published course content. Detailed information on the changes will be sent to every student on confirmation in August to ensure you have all the information before you come to Oxford Brookes.

Learning and assessment

This three module course leads to the award of Postgraduate Certificate in Education - Early Childhood.

The course can be taken either on-campus or by distance learning.


In semesters one and two, taught modules are usually taught over eight weeks on Wednesdays 5.00pm - 8.00pm. In semester three there is an independent study module with tutorials.

Distance learning

This involves part-time online learning through the use of our Moodle platform. Each module usually requires about 12 hours a week plus time spent on assessment.

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Study modules

Taught modules

Compulsory modules

Learning and Development in Childhood

You’ll study contemporary theories of social and cognitive development and their implications for children’s learning – both formal and informal. Using research evidence and students’ own observations, we’ll discuss alternative explanations of developmental processes. You’ll think about how children’s social and cultural surroundings affect their development and learning, and question the cultural assumptions that might underlie models of development. As a group, you’ll share your thoughts and findings, and reflect on what they suggest about the experiences and opportunities provided for children.

Choose one compulsory module from:

Children's Imaginative Worlds (20 credits)

You’ll explore the ways in which children and young people appear to use their imaginations to do two distinct things – to create alternative worlds to occupy, and to make sense of their experiences. In doing this, you’ll explore the developmental and psychological purposes of imagination. You’ll have the chance to study one particular domain of imaginative experience in depth, working together with others in a choice of reading groups.

Independent Study: Investigating Practice (Early Childhood Focus) (20 credits)

This is a chance to carry out an independent study/practice investigation. You’ll choose your own topic, with approval from your module leader / subject co-ordinator. The topic will be relevant to your own practice, but areas of investigation might include (for example):

  • developing pedagogical approaches or curriculum materials 
  • evaluating learners’ achievement levels
  • reviewing the evidence base for changes to educational practice
  • appraising learning environments and learning opportunities.

It’s also possible to carry out retrospective evaluation of a project, provided the project took place within the last five years. This might be on:

  • the impact of a professional development programme or initiative
  • the experience of designing and delivering a new scheme of work 
  • the process of implementing an educational change or project. 

Choose one compulsory module from:

Working with Children, Young People and their Families (20 credits)

You’ll look at the role of people who work in services in this sector. Examining the policy and practice developments which are aimed at improving the quality of children’s lives. You’ll question the reasoning behind those developments, examine the evidence base and identify good practice. 

Ensuring effective communication between different services working with children and their families is difficult to achieve. We’ll look at the nature and complexity of this communication.  

We’ll also investigate issues like:

  • cultural capital, social and educational inclusion, children’s and young people’s needs, rights and opportunities
  • rationales for intervention: notions of ‘wellbeing’, ‘vulnerability’, ‘cycles of deprivation’
  • evaluating specialist interventions
  • communicating across disciplinary and professional boundaries 
  • managing complexity in services for children and their families – viewing the whole system
  • international comparisons of policy and practice in education and care.

Leadership in the Early Years (On campus only) (20 credits)

If you’re an experienced early years teacher or manager, this module will be of interest. You’ll take part in critical evaluation of approaches to leadership and management in early years settings. You’ll consider alternative theories of management and leadership styles, and relate them to current practice in both public and private sectors – looking at both UK and international examples. The financial and policy debates that shape contemporary settings will also be examined.


Please note: As our courses are reviewed regularly as part of our quality assurance framework, the modules you can choose from may vary from that shown here. The structure of the course may also mean some modules are not available to you.

Learning and teaching

Our teaching and learning methods are designed to promote constructive and critical reflection on practice and a range of theoretical and research issues. These include:

  • lectures
  • seminars
  • workshops.

Modules are structured to ensure you and other students have opportunities to draw on the knowledge and experience of each other. 


Assessment methods used on this course

Each module has an assignment of approximately 4,000 words.

An example of an indicative assessment is a report on an observational study of children working on a particular activity / experience, focusing on a selected child-development theme.


The School of Education is a thriving centre for educational research and teacher professional development. Students on master's level programmes therefore join a large research community comprising researchers at all levels of higher education study.

We hold two major research conferences each year - the School of Education Research Conference and the EdD Colloquium. All students are invited to attend our annual Research

Seminar Series (which attracts both internal and external speakers). We also organise a number of conferences, lectures, seminars and debates, some of which have an international reach.

The School’s six research groups exist to encourage engagement in research, publication, conference presentations, seminars and workshops:

  • Inclusion and Wellbeing
  • Policy, Partnership and Leadership
  • STEAM pedagogy and learning
  • Humanistic Perspectives on Education
  • Early Years
  • Applied Linguistics

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After you graduate

Career prospects

This course is designed to support you in applying for roles in early years settings and can also be used as credit to build towards a full MA Childhood and Youth Studies or Education. Completion of the course shows a commitment to professional development in the early years sector and can lead to improved promotion prospects. 

Programme Changes: On rare occasions we may need to make changes to our course programmes after they have been published on the website.

For more information, please visit our Changes to programmes page.