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PGCert Education – Early Childhood


School of Education

Postgraduate Certificates

This course is a forum for sharing experience and developing knowledge of child development, the early years curriculum and the particular challenges of leadership in an early years context. It is  designed for early years professionals and managers.

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

Available start dates

September 2019 / September 2020

Teaching location

Harcourt Hill Campus / Distance learning

Course length

  • Part time: 12 months

For full application details, please see the 'How to apply / Entry requirements' section.

  • This course is designed, in conjunction with Oxfordshire Local Authority, to provide an opportunity for practitioners to update themselves on the latest research on child development, early years policy and practice.  
  • It provides a forum for discussion and the sharing of practice in relation to key areas of development and change.
  • We work in close partnership with schools, nurseries, children's centres and other early years settings across Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire.
  • The School of Education at Oxford Brookes is a focal point for lively, informed debate on education through its seminar and lecture programmes.  

This is a three module course leading to the award of Postgraduate Certificate in Education – Early Childhood. The modules are:

  • Learning and Development in Childhood
  • Children's Imaginative Worlds or Independent study: investigating Practice (Early Years focus)
  • Working with Children, Young People and their Families or Leadership in the Early Years.

Learning and Development in Childhood
Content includes:

  • constructivism and social constructivism
  • brain development and core knowledge theories
  • learning in a social context: children shaped by and shaping their context
  • inter-subjectivity and learning through sustained shared thinking
  • narrative understanding and learning through analogy
  • self-esteem and the achievement of mastery
  • the development of values and identity
  • achieving a theory of mind: empathy, social understanding and relationships
  • learning through the body
  • self-regulation, planning and problem solving

Children's Imaginative Worlds
Content includes:

  • the development of memory and alternative narratives of past and future events
  • imagining, mulling and the development of creativity
  • the role of imagination in children's self-directed lives
  • the role of imagination in the construction of knowledge
  • domains of imaginative experience e.g. children's literature / role play / spiritual development / drawing and painting / music and musicality / children and the media

Independent study: investigating Practice (early years focus)
This module provides you with an opportunity to engage in independent study/practice investigation of an approved topic relevant to the programme and is  conducted under supervision with the prior approval of the Module Leader and Subject Coordinator. Content may include:

  • selecting and refining an issue for investigation
  • examining notions of quality and effectiveness in provision for young children
  • evaluating responses to diversity in early years settings
  • understanding the role of play in young children's learning
  • an introduction to action research methods
  • recording and analysing progress and change in young children eg in relation to language / movement / social interaction
  • ethical issues in the collection and holding of data on young children and their families
  • contextualising findings from personal investigations in relation to national and international perspectives on the education and care of young children

Leadership in the Early Years
Content includes:

  • the policy context for education and care in the early years
  • the financial modelling that shapes early years settings
  • theories of leadership, management and motivation
  • principles, values and the development of organisational cultures
  • defining and assuring high quality provision
  • managing for diverse cultures and needs
  • leading, building, maintaining and contributing to teams
  • self-evaluation and planning
  • continuing professional development

Working with Children, Young People and their Families
Content includes:

  • the policy background - social and educational inclusion
  • notions of children's well-being and vulnerability and rationales for intervention
  • managing complexity in services for children and families - having a view of the whole system
  • working with others - communication across professional boundaries
  • intervening in the lives of children and their families - ethical issues and practical challenges
  • evaluating specialist interventions


As our courses are reviewed regularly as part of our quality assurance framework, course content and module choices may change from the details given here.

Teaching and learning

The teaching and learning methods used on the programme are designed to promote constructive and critical reflection on practice and a range of theoretical and research issues.  

Lectures, seminars and workshops provide the format for the timetabled sessions but the modules are structured to ensure students have the opportunities to draw on the knowledge and experience of each other.  

Approach to assessment

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.

Attendance pattern

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

Semesters run from:

  • September - December (module 1)
  • January - April (module 2)
  • May - July (module 3)

Typical course schedule per module / term:

  • Modules are usually taught on Tuesdays, Wednesdays or Thursdays at 17:00 – 20:00
  • six / seven evenings (approx 18/21 hours contact time)
  • one / two online discussions (approx 3/6 hours of contact time)


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.

Tuition fees

Home/EU - part time fee: 2019/20 £620 per single module 2020/21: £725 per single module

Home/EU - distance learning fee: 2019/20 £620 per single module 2020/21: £725 per single module

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 in the 'This course in detail' window above.

Questions about fees?
Contact Student Finance on:
+44 (0)1865 483088

Funding and scholarships

For general sources of financial support, see funding for Postgraduate students from the UK and EU

Entry requirements

Applicants should normally have a first degree.


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

English language requirements

Please see the university's standard English language requirements

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

Preparation courses for EU students

We offer a range of courses to help you to meet the entry requirements for this course and also familiarise you with university life. You may also be able to apply for one student visa to cover both courses.

  • Take our Pre-Master's course to help you to meet both the English language and academic entry requirements for your master's course.
  • If you need to improve your English language, we have pre-sessional English language courses available to help you to meet the English language requirements of your chosen master’s.

If you are studying outside the UK, for more details about your specific country entry requirements, translated information, local contacts and programmes within your country, please have a look at our country pages.

How to apply

To apply for this course please complete the PG Cert Education: Early Childhood application form

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.

How this course helps you develop

The course will develop your knowledge of the main areas of early years practice. You will also learn from working with other students who have a wide range of experience in different types of early years settings.


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. 

How Brookes supports postgraduate students

You will be learning alongside academics and students from a wide range of backgrounds and  with the support of a caring and efficient administrative staff, you will become a member of a rich and diverse intellectual and social environment.

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.

Research highlights

Sustained excellence in research and publication has ensured that a significant proportion of our School of Education staff were entered for the Research Excellence Framework (REF) in 2014 (UoA 25). Almost 90% of our research was deemed to be of international merit, with around one half either ‘world-leading’ or ‘internationally excellent’. Contributions to the REF were spread across all of our research groups.

Our research aims to create impact on contemporary educational issues - supporting knowledge creation and developing innovative approaches to researching pedagogic practices. The School’s research strategy functions at all spatial scales, from local to global. We publish our highest quality research in leading peer-reviewed journals. Emeritus, Honorary and Visiting Research Fellows contribute to our research programmes and outputs.

The School holds two major research conferences each year - the School of Education Research Conference and the EdD Colloquium. Our Research Seminar Series (which attracts both internal and external speakers) runs annually - all students are invited to attend. We also organise a number of conferences, lectures, seminars and debates, some of which have an international reach.

Members of the School are engaged in a variety of funded and unfunded research projects; we have previously enjoyed prestigious funded scholarships (such as the Fulbright – Peabody scholarship) and, when feasible, offer funded Research Studentships to doctoral applicants. Our Centre for Educational Consultancy and Development (CECD) regularly secures consultancy and research money.

As might be expected in such a research active school, many staff are engaged as editors, editorial board members, or reviewers for various peer reviewed academic and professional journals, as well as online journals.

View all staff profiles for School of Education

Research areas and clusters

The School of Education at Oxford Brookes University is a thriving centre for educational research and teacher professional development.

The School’s six research groups reflect a thriving research community of academics, scholars and students. They exist to encourage engagement in research, publication, conference presentations, seminars and workshops. The foci for these groups are:

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

View all staff profiles for School of Education

Course downloads

  • PGCert Early Childhood brochure