Early Childhood Studies

BA (Hons)

UCAS code: X315

Start dates: September 2024 / September 2025

Full time: 3 years

Part time: a maximum of 8 years

Location: Harcourt Hill

Department(s): School of Education, Humanities and Languages

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We designed our Early Childhood Studies BA to help you explore the issues children face in today’s uncertain world. From exploring how we can nurture inclusivity, to considering how creative and therapeutic approaches can provide support for children and families. You may want to work with children directly, or you might be keen to advocate for the next generation who are growing up in an uncertain world.

There are many factors that influence children’s development in the UK and worldwide. Our experienced team will help you look at a range of topics such as children’s emotional health and their understanding of outdoor learning and sustainable practice.

Unlike other courses, we put a real focus on social justice and equality. From day 1, you’ll start thinking about what impact these areas have on children – and your own life.

To boost your employability, you’ll complete a placement each year. This might be in a school or nursery, but we’ve also had students who put theory into practice at sports clubs and hospices. This experience can help you secure interviews after graduating.

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Why Oxford Brookes University?

  • Compulsory placements 

    We work with the Early Childhood Studies Degree Network to help you get practical experience supporting children.

  • Social justice lens 

    Our course focuses on social justice and inclusivity to help you make a real difference to the lives of children, families and communities.

  • Diverse careers

    Armed with this degree, you could find a role where you support families, continue your training or complete postgraduate studies.

  • Experienced team

    Our team is from a diverse range of backgrounds and brings their experience into your learning opportunities.

  • Freedom to explore

    Each year you’ll get to pick from a variety of optional modules that cover areas like outdoor learning, therapeutic approaches and diverse needs.

  • Free language courses

    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.

  • Study abroad

    You may be able to go on a European or international study exchange while you are at Oxford Brookes. Although we will help as much as we can with your plans, ultimately you are responsible for organising and funding this study abroad.

Course details

Course structure

You’ll start your studies by looking at the importance of social justice and inclusivity in this field. At the same time, we’ll cover the key areas of child and adolescent development. Your first year also gives you a chance to polish your study skills. This includes essay planning, referencing and literature searches.

As you move into your second year, you’ll look at the subject in more depth. We’ll also help you develop research skills in interviews, observation and questionnaires. You’ll have the chance to pick from more optional modules covering everything from literature to therapeutic approaches.

In your final year, you’ll continue to build your knowledge and apply everything you’ve learned to your dissertation. It’s up to you what your dissertation explores – perhaps there’s an area you haven’t covered on the course. Past students have looked at how to support single parents, or the best approach for helping children with long-term medical conditions.

Student studying

Learning and teaching

You’ll learn at our Harcourt Hill campus, home of our School of Education, where you’ll have access to specialist education teaching spaces. You’ll explore forest school approaches in our outdoor learning spaces and be able to borrow teaching resources from our Education Resources Centre. You can choose to live at Harcourt Hill - or apply for a space in any of our other halls across Oxford.

You’ll also spend time every year out on placement. On placement, you’ll apply your knowledge as a professional and build sought-after practitioner skills. We can support you in finding a placement and actively encourage you to be proactive to source an early years setting that suits your personal interests.

Many of our students work part-time as private tutors, nursery school bank staff or in after school clubs, you can use this as your work placement and your timetable is designed to accommodate this.




Early Childhood Studies modules are 100% assessed by coursework. These could be presentations, essays and/or project reports.

Assessment for some modules includes group assignments that encourage collaborative and team working skills.

Study modules

Year 1

Compulsory modules

  • Placement 1: Working with Children

    You’ll gain the real-life experience you need to succeed in your Early Childhood Studies Degree. You’ll explore how children learn, and focus on:

    • learning through play
    • children in early years settings
    • children’s representations 
    • child development in action.

    You’ll gain hands-on experience by engaging with work placement opportunities in early years and childcare settings, and explore and examine UK early years policy. You’ll have fantastic preparation for practice, as you get to know key issues such as:

    • safeguarding
    • child protection
    • ethical and inclusive practice
    • attachment theory in practice.
  • Child and Adolescent Development

    You'll explore important aspects of childrens’ and adolescents' development from different perspectives. You'll learn theoretical knowledge about how growth, play, and learning interconnect in development. 

    You'll also explore practical applications for supporting holistic development. You'll draw on theories from:

    • developmental psychology
    • sociological and anthropological research.

    You'll also study practitioner texts and theoretical materials related to supporting children and adolescents' learning and development.

  • Nurturing Inclusivity

    You'll focus on the importance of nurture and care in education, with a specific emphasis on promoting inclusion and wellbeing. By studying this module, you will learn about inclusive practices and how to put them into action. This will help you prepare for work placements and to gain insights into policy and legislation in this area. You'll also explore the long-term effects of promoting inclusion and wellbeing for everyone. 

    We'll look at national and international perspectives on how children and young people experience inclusion and understand diversity. You'll consider various perspectives from different fields such as:

    • history
    • sociology
    • psychology
    • and philosophy. 

    You'll examine policy, teaching methods, and actual practices related to fostering inclusivity. You will gain an understanding of how to create an environment that reflects the needs of all individuals by reviewing research and analyzing relevant materials.

  • Introduction to Studying in Education

    While studying early childhood and education you'll read various texts, such as:

    • research papers
    • government policies
    • and media reports. 

    It's important to learn how to interpret texts and gain knowledge creation understanding.  On this module you'll start to develop key academic and study skills necessary for higher education:

    • library skills
    • literature searches
    • academic writing
    • essay planning
    • and referencing. 

    Additionally, you'll also learn through an academic integrity course. You'll focus on personal learning, with opportunities for reflection. You'll finish the module able to work on your own or collaboratively. You'll also advance your skills for academic reading and writing. 

Optional modules

Pedagogies to Promote Play

You'll focus on understanding play from various personal and professional perspectives. Exploring how children, young people, and adults engage in play, make decisions, and express their creativity. You'll also look at the role of professionals in developing effective teaching methods. To support exploration and play  in different environments:

  • indoors
  • outdoors
  • or in virtual settings.

Throughout the module, you will learn how children use play to express their knowledge, skills, ideas, and interests. You'll examine the importance of inclusion in play. Also you'll be evaluating the impact of physical and virtual creative spaces on promoting play.

You'll study the foundations and principles of play, helping you to identify appropriate strategies and interventions to meet the needs and preferences of individuals and groups. We'll also explore how to create play spaces and places, as well as develop an understanding of managing "risky" play.

Pedagogies to Promote STEAM

You'll start an exploration of how educators can support and encourage curiosity and exploration in children, through the use of Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics (STEAM). 

You'll focus on understanding and developing teaching methods that can enhance childrens' learning. Incorporating STEAM concepts into each of these areas. You will have the chance to 

  • investigate
  • observe
  • and create opportunities for hands-on experiments and problem-based learning. 

You'll also join discussions on the challenges and difficulties that may arise when implementing STEAM in different educational settings.

Young Children's Outdoor Learning

You’ll explore how young children learn through play. You’ll also discover how adults plan exploration and play for children in outdoors environments. You’ll get to grips with two key areas: 

  • maintaining good provisions and interactions in an early years outdoors area
  • teaching and learning through the Forest School approach. 

You’ll look at how children and adults interact in a variety of situations. You’ll also gain core knowledge of health and safety training, as you study issues such as: 

  • children as risk-takers
  • off-site travel
  • maintaining a safe environment.

You’ll develop core analytical skills as you explore how research and government policy affect children’s outdoor learning. 


Year 2

Compulsory modules

  • Contemporary Issues in Early Childhood Studies

    You'll explore important developments and changes that have shaped the Early Childhood sector. You'll examine the issues from a theoretical standpoint and take a critical approach to current policies and practices, helping you further progress your academic skills.

    A key focus of the module is the early childhood education and care workforce. You'll delve into topics such as the similarities and differences in disciplinary perspectives and values when it comes to education and care provisions. You'll also have the space to question your own educational and practical experiences. Helping you provide an evaluation of familiar situations and practices based on theoretical knowledge.

  • Becoming a Researcher

    What are the ethical issues of doing research on children? You’ll gain the core tools you need to carry out effective research in early years. You’ll develop the confidence and expertise to succeed in your degree, and understand the research methods that social scientists and educational practitioners use, including:

    • interviews
    • observation
    • questionnaires.

    You’ll have a grounding in reliable and valid research, giving you fantastic skills for your future career.


  • Placement 2: Developing Practice and Pedagogy

    You'll build the knowledge, practical skills, and competence needed to work as an Early Childhood professional. You'll learn important topics such as safeguarding, inclusivity, and ethical practices. You'll also analyse relevant policies and frameworks that shape Early Childhood practice and teaching approaches.

    Throughout the module, you will explore the pedagogy and practice of early education. You'll look at the current issues and debates in the field of early childhood care and education. You'll examine theories and research that supports effective practice. You'll also reflect on the role of adults in supporting children during their first eight years of life.

    You will go on placement in an appropriate setting. This allows you to connect policy and research to real-life practice with children aged from birth to eight years old. This will help deepen your academic understanding of the field. Helping you focus on developing suitable teaching approaches. 

Optional modules

Creative and Therapeutic Approaches

You'll learn about therapeutic interventions and creative approaches that support people in different situations. You'll cover various therapies, including:

  • play therapy 
  • art therapy
  • medical health therapy
  • physical health therapy
  • occupational health therapy 
  • and mental health therapy. 

You'll explore the application of approaches to individuals, families, and communities. By the end of the module, you will be able to use this knowledge in your own field, considering individual and group therapy, educational support, supervision, and safeguarding.

Children with Diverse Needs

You'll build on what you learned in previous modules. You'll focus on celebrating diversity. Including ways to support children, families, and siblings in accessing services to meet their needs. 

You'll look at a wide range of needs that can affect children and families. You'll also look at educational settings and communities, going beyond special educational needs. You'll examine the issues and difficulties surrounding inclusive services for children and young people with special educational needs or disabilities. 

Our goal is to help you understand how policies and practices related to special educational needs have evolved over time. We'll also delve into the legal framework that governs special educational needs provision.  Also we'll discuss discrimination and challenge you to reflect on your own attitudes and beliefs.

Outdoor Learning

You'll learn about the natural environment and its importance in relation to childrens' learning and development. 

You'll explore ways to enhance learning experiences. You'll look at engaging in ecological projects and developing your understanding of global climate issues. 

You'll also examine outdoor learning and environmental education in: 

  • early years settings
  • schools
  • and communities.

Unequal Childhoods

Not all childhoods are equal. You’ll reflect on the ways we respond to differences in:

  • economies
  • ethnicity
  • Education
  • genders
  • cultures
  • Race
  • social class
  • ability.  

You’ll build on your knowledge of equality, diversity and human justice that you’ve gained from earlier modules. You’ll also increase your knowledge of United Nations conventions and United Kingdom equality legislation, increasing your professional understanding of legislation and equality.

Children's Literature

In this module, you'll deepen your knowledge and understanding of children's literature and the importance of positive early literacy experiences for young children. You'll have the opportunity to read and think about a variety of texts and authors, with a focus on picture books. Also you'll discuss the significance of diversity and representation in children's literature.

You'll develop your critical reading skills and explore how words and pictures work together. You'll look at how children learn to read. You'll also learn to choose texts that support their reading development and enjoyment. 

Finally, you'll consider how the digital world might affect children's experiences with literature.

Supporting Wellbeing

You'll build on what you've learned in your first year. You'll explore ways to support people's physical, mental, social, and emotional needs through education. You'll review existing policies and practices that aim to promote wellbeing.

Throughout the module, you'll develop a critical understanding of the factors that influence health and wellbeing in 

  • children, 
  • teenagers, 
  • and adults. 

You'll gain insights into the complexities of supporting and promoting wellbeing within the education system. This includes working together with different agencies and facing practical challenges when planning, implementing, and evaluating strategies and services for mental health and wellbeing in schools.

The Social World of Childhood and Youth

Do you remember how you felt as a child? We’ll explore the world of children, and how our ideas about childhood have changed through time. You’ll consider the impact of different models of socialisation on children. And you’ll explore the factors - cultural, structural and experimental - which develop a child’s identity.  We’ll make good use of life and historical material. 

Independent Study Module

You'll have the opportunity to focus in depth on a specialist area of research or other co-curricular topic not otherwise available in modules on the course.

You'll discuss with your academic supervisor on what you will focus on. Your independent study focus will be approved by this module's leader.

International Year Abroad

Optional modules

International Year Abroad

This is your opportunity to work or study in another country, so you can experience a different culture from the UK. You’ll be able to apply and test your knowledge and skills in new contexts that will significantly develop your employability profile.

Choosing this module will allow you to exhibit the development of self-management and working or studying in unfamiliar contexts, alongside practising cross-cultural communication and interpersonal skills.

You will receive support and guidance to help you find a place in an available partner university, or to find a work placement for your international year abroad. This international year abroad module lasts for one academic year and is taken after the conclusion of your second year of study, once you’ve completed all your level 5 studies. Your international year abroad is not credit-bearing.

The opportunity can be approached in 2 different ways. Please see your options below: 

Study in a non UK University Option

You can attend a non-UK higher education institution for a full academic year. You’ll be able to choose modules in your own subject or in a subject you consider would benefit your overall course of study. You may choose to deepen your knowledge of your degree subject or enhance it by developing complementary skills.

By studying in an international university you’ll progress your interpersonal skills through cross-cultural communication with fellow students and tutors, building lasting relationships. Also you’ll further develop your study skills as you focus on your selected areas of interest to you - while developing and progressing an international study experience that will add significance to your CV.

Work-based Learning Option

Undertake a work placement or work-related project based on your interests and existing skills. You will create an initial learning contract that shows clearly how your proposed placement or project will link with your academic and/or professional aims.

This pathway helps you to have full control over what your work-related learning looks like. You will advance your skills in a practical setting, gain first-hand experience in a work environment, and begin to create your professional network. Also, taking initiative of your learning in such a way will mean that you will stand out when you apply for jobs after graduation.

Final Year

Compulsory modules

  • Dissertation (Double)

    You’ll undertake independent research on a topic in Early Childhood Studies which fascinates you. You’ll have the support of an expert supervisor who will help you negotiate a key issue in Early Childhood Studies and develop it into a dissertation.

  • Placement 3: Graduate leadership in Practice

    In your final placement module of the Early Childhood Studies program, you will have the chance to show what you've learned. Showing how well you can work as an Early Childhood professional. 

    You'll have the support to reflect on your role as a graduate in the field and encourage you to take on different responsibilities. You'll build on your previous knowledge of 

    • policies
    • safeguarding
    • inclusivity
    • ethics
    • teaching approaches
    • and professional roles in the field. 

    Your reflection will help you connect theory with practice. Through your reflection you'll expand your knowledge and challenge your practices. Empowering you to lead and make a difference rather than being a 'student' in the workplace.

    You will complete a placement in a suitable setting. This will give you the opportunity to immerse yourself in the provision, deepen your academic understanding of the field, and showcase your skills as a graduate leader in practice. 

Optional modules

STEAM in Pedagogy and Research

You'll look at how we can study teaching and research from different viewpoints like,

  • science
  • technology
  • engineering
  • the Arts
  • and maths. 

By examining things from different angles, you'll get a better understanding of the whole picture instead of just focusing on one. We'll learn about the similarities and differences between these approaches on paper and in practice. We'll also discuss creativity and how it's seen from psychological, sociological, and teaching perspectives.

Environments for Learning

You'll build on what you already know about learning and growing up. You'll explore different places and spaces that help us learn and develop. By studying and thinking about physical and psychological spaces, you will gain a better understanding of where and how learning can happen. You'll also learn about the role that professionals play in planning and creating these learning environments in different settings.

You'll discuss practices and places that try to address challenges. Also you'll consider how to make sure these environments are accessible to everyone and celebrate diversity.


Children in the Outdoors: Critical Issues

You'll explore the discourse around children being in the natural environment. You'll also look at the contested discussions about children being outdoors. 

You'll build on previous knowledge you've gained about children learning outside and playing in ways that might be a bit risky. We'll look at how children use and feel about natural spaces like,

  • forests
  • adventure playgrounds
  • and parks. 

Also you'll learn how these places can help children learn about the environment and understand important issues, through programs like Forest School or Environmental Education.

Children, Youth and Families in Society

You'll study how people think about and treat children, young people, and families in the UK. You'll look at different ideas and beliefs about them, how they interact with society, and how society responds to their needs. 

You'll explore different ways that children, young people, and families are raised and influenced by society. Also you'll consider the cultural and personal factors that shape policies and practices. As part of the module, you will choose a specific topic to study on your own. You will investigate how society has viewed and supported a particular group of people. Whether they are children, young people, or families.

The Team Around the Child

You'll learn about different jobs that help and speak up for children. Especially those who may be in difficult situations. Those who have less, feel left out, or have no support. You'll study how professionals like, 

  • caregivers
  • teachers
  • various health professionals
  • and social workers

play important roles in caring for children and their families. 

You'll also look at how they communicate, collaborate, and work together in partnerships. You'll gain understanding of how these individuals from different fields can come together. To support children's well-being and growth, making their lives better.

Compassion and Care in Practice

You'll build upon what you've learned before about inclusive teaching methods. You'll focus on ways to help others grow and develop, showing kindness, understanding, and strength when providing care. 

You'll look at compassion and care practice, considering different theories and ideas. Then you'll explore how these concepts apply to various professions. Also you'll learn about the current policies in the UK and study educational approaches that emphasize compassion and care. Throughout the module, you'll use research to gain knowledge and understanding, building your critical thinking skills in exploring these topics.

Representations of Childhood

In this module, you'll become more aware of the portrayal of childhood in different:

  • cultures
  • media 
  • and throughout history. 

You'll look at how people have understood and depicted childhood. Including the depiction of schools, teaching professionals, and children themselves. You'll also have the opportunity to choose a specific topic that interests you, so you can dive into researching it.

International Contexts and Comparisons

You'll learn about education and care policies and practices. You'll look at previous practices and compare them in the four countries of the UK. You' ll also study education and care practice in different cultures and countries. 

You'll see how education is part of programs that can help development in countries. Also you'll look at how provision and policy differs between countries, and look at it from different points of view like 

  • financial support
  • political support
  • and media perceptions. 

To understand how it works in real life, you'll study real projects from around the world. You'll learn about important things in education and care. Seeing how different countries develop their education systems.

Independent Study

In this module, you will work on your own project, choosing a suitable topic or set of topics. The module leader will guide you and provide supervision. Your project may involve practical work if relevant. The specific focus of your project and how it will be assessed will be discussed and agreed upon by the module leader and you. Instead of traditional lectures, you will have tutorial support to help you throughout the module.


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


By the time you finish this course, you could have a CV jam-packed with professional skills and qualities employers look for. At interviews, they’ll be able to quickly see that you’re a strong communicator and top problem solver.

Having completed placements on the course, you’ll be confident working with children and families from a diverse range of backgrounds.

Our graduates make a difference to children by working in:

  • social work
  • therapeutic roles including play therapy, speech and language therapy and physical therapy
  • family support
  • special educational needs.

Want to specialise further? You might decide to progress to postgraduate studies in education, psychology or law. You could also complete professional qualifications like teaching, nursing and social work.

Student profiles

Entry requirements

Wherever possible we make our conditional offers using the UCAS Tariff. The combination of A-level grades listed here would be just one way of achieving the UCAS Tariff points for this course.

Standard offer

UCAS Tariff Points: 104

A Level: BCC

IB Points: 29


Contextual offer

UCAS Tariff Points: 88

A Level: CCD

IB Points: 27


Further offer details

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. Above all, enthusiasm and a keen interest in human development and children's learning are the key attributes of our students.

Applications are also welcomed for consideration from applicants with European qualifications, international qualifications or recognised foundation courses. For advice on eligibility please contact Admissions: admissions@brookes.ac.uk


International qualifications and equivalences

Tuition fees

Please see the fees note
Home (UK) full time

Home (UK) part time
£1,155 per single module

International full time

Home (UK) full time

Home (UK) part time
£1,155 per single module

International full time

Questions about fees?

Contact Student Finance on:

Tuition fees

2024 / 25
Home (UK) full time

Home (UK) part time
£1,155 per single module

International full time

2025 / 26
Home (UK) full time

Home (UK) part time
£1,155 per single module

International full time

Questions about fees?

Contact Student Finance on:

+44 (0)1865 534400


Please note, tuition fees for Home students may increase in subsequent years both for new and continuing students in line with an inflationary amount determined by government. Oxford Brookes University intends to maintain its fees for new and returning Home students at the maximum permitted level.

Tuition fees for International students may increase in subsequent years both for new and continuing students. 

The following factors will be taken into account by the University when it is setting the annual fees: inflationary measures such as the retail price indices, projected increases in University costs, changes in the level of funding received from Government sources, admissions statistics and access considerations including the availability of student support. 

How and when to pay

Tuition fee instalments for the semester are due by the Monday of week 1 of each semester. Students are not liable for full fees for that semester if they leave before week 4. If the leaving date is after week 4, full fees for the semester are payable.

  • For information on payment methods please see our Make a Payment page.
  • For information about refunds please visit our Refund policy page

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 are detailed below.

Information from Discover Uni

Full-time study

Part-time study

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.