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Early Childhood Studies

BA (Hons)

Key facts

UCAS code


Start dates

September 2019 / September 2020


Harcourt Hill

Course length

Full time: 3 years

Part time: up to 6 years


School of Education

UCAS Tariff Points



Are you interested in how young children learn, interact and grow? You can explore this fascinating stage of development with our Early Childhood Studies course.

You will:

  • look at childhood from a sociological perspective
  • expand your knowledge of child psychology
  • recall your experiences of childhood and reflect on them to develop your understanding.

You will critique experimental, observational and field studies. And your learning will be based on theory, research and practice.

The course covers a range of topics that include: 

  • UK early years policy
  • a young child’s digital environment
  • how adults support children’s learning
  • health and wellbeing
  • media reports about children
  • inclusion
  • knowledge of practice.

You'll have the opportunity to take placements across a range of early years settings. 

On graduating you'll have the practical experience, academic and professional skills for a range of careers in the sector.

Students leaving seminar

How to apply

Typical offers

UCAS Tariff Points: 104

A Level: BCC

IB Points: 29


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

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.

If you accept a Conditional offer to this course as your Firm choice through UCAS, and the offer does not include a requirement to pass an English language test or improve your English language, we may be able to make the offer Unconditional. Please check your offer carefully where this will be confirmed for each applicant.

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

Entry requirements

Specific entry requirements

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.

International qualifications and equivalences


English requirements for visas

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

Pathways courses for international and EU students

If you do not meet the entry requirements for this degree, or if you would like more preparation before you start, you can take an international foundation course. Once you enrol, you will have a guaranteed pathway to this degree if you pass your foundation course with the required grades.

If you only need to meet the language requirements, you can take our pre-sessional English course. You will develop key language and study skills for academic success and you will not need to take an external language test to progress to your degree.

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.

Credit transfer

Many of our courses consider applications for entry with credit for prior learning. Each application is individually assessed by our credit entry tutors. 

If you would like more information about whether or not you may be eligible for the award of credit, for example from an HND, partly-completed degree or foundation degree, please contact our Admissions team.

We operate 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.

Application process

Full time Home / EU applicants

Apply through UCAS

Part time Home / EU applicants

Apply direct to the University

International applicants

Apply direct to the University

Full time applicants can also apply through UCAS

Tuition fees

Please see the fees note
Home/EU full time

Home/EU part time
£750 per single module

International full time

Home/EU full time
£9,250 (subject to agreement by Office for Students)

Home/EU part time
£1,155 per single module

International full time

Questions about fees?

Contact Student Finance on:

Tuition fees

Home/EU full time

Home/EU part time
£750 per single module

International full time

Home/EU full time
£9,250 (subject to agreement by Office for Students)

Home/EU part time
£1,155 per single module

International full time

Questions about fees?

Contact Student Finance on:
+44 (0)1865 483088

Please note tuition fees for Home/EU students may increase in subsequent years both for new and continuing students in line with an inflationary amount determined by government. Tuition fees for International students may increase in subsequent years both for new and continuing students.

Oxford Brookes University intends to maintain its fees for new and returning home and EU students at the maximum permitted level.

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.

Financial support and scholarships

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

Additional costs

We do not expect students to purchase any compulsory course books, as they are all available in the library. If students wish to purchase additional books to supplement their reading this is at their own discretion.

Field Trips

Field trips on this course are optional and will incur extra costs. The approximate cost for the Gambia trip in 2018 is £1200.

Learning and assessment

You will begin by learning:

  • 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.

As well as theory you will carry out practical, hands-on work. As part of this you might observe and work with young children in different settings.
Your compulsory modules provide you with the knowledge, understanding and skills you'll need to complete the course successfully. We have a diverse range of optional modules. So as you progress through the course, you can focus on particular areas of study that interest you.
You will also 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
  • children’s identity. 

There is also a strand of research related to understanding professionalism and multi-agency working in the early years.

Student studying

Study modules

Year 1

Compulsory modules

Working with Children 1 (double)

An introduction to working with children, providing you with an opportunity to explore how children learn; with a focus on learning through play, children in Early Years settings, children’s representations, and child development in action. This module combines theory with practice by providing opportunities to visit Early Years and childcare settings, alongside opportunities to explore and examine UK Early Years policy. The module also aims to prepare you for practice by introducing key issues such as safeguarding, child protection, ethical and inclusive practice, and attachment theory in practice.

Research and Professional Practice (double)

The academic study of early childhood relies upon critical reading of texts from a range of sources, including research, government policy documents and media reports about children. You will explore texts critically and become familiar with the ways in which knowledge in the field of early childhood studies is produced and shared. You will develop critical reading skills through a range of group activities focusing on texts from a variety of sources. By completing these activities, you will gain an awareness of critical issues in early childhood studies and the skills to take part in discussions; presenting informed arguments on all aspects of the field of study. A key focus will be your learning, and your opportunities throughout the module to reflect on and relate module content to your own experience and to practise key skills in academic reading and writing.

Growing up in the 21st Century (double)

This module begins with an introduction to the field of Early Childhood Studies and aims to provide you with an understanding of the contested, evolving nature childhood along with knowledge of the importance of family and culture in the learning and development of young children. Major theories that shape our understanding of childhood are also introduced, including attachment theory, Socio-Ecological theories and psychological theories relating to families. Childhood as a contested stage of social development is considered as we investigate and reflect upon cultural and social influences upon children and childhood in the light of a growing understanding of children as active agents in society.

Optional modules

Young Children's Outdoor Learning

Explore how young children use play to learn and how adults plan for exploration and play in the Outdoors environment. The module will focus on two important areas: maintaining good provision and interactions in an Early Years outdoors area, and teaching and learning using the Forest School approach. Styles of interaction between children and adults in a variety of situations will be considered. Health and Safety training will cover issues such as children as risk-takers, off-site travel, maintaining a safe environment. The implications for current practice are explored, in the light of recent research and Government curriculum documentation.

Listening to Young Children

You will explore concepts of children's rights and children's voice; introducing some of the theoretical perspectives and considering how these may translate into practice. These two discourses underpin the academic study of early childhood, and are the context in which early childhood policy and practice are set. The debates are set in an international context though the policy and practice discussed are grounded in the national context. The aims of the module are to enable you to consider the complexities inherent in the concepts of children's rights and children's voice, and to become aware of alternative theoretical perspectives. You will also be encouraged to reflect on your own responses and consider how these might affect your approach to the issues discussed.

Language Acquisition

The module is an introduction to the study of how we acquire language from the early processing of language to the role of child directed and how we may learn more than one language. It seeks to familiarise you with the major debates in the field of language acquisition and development. You will develop your understanding of the linguistic evidence used to develop theories of language acquisition and development. We will look at models of language and language acquisition and how to analyse developing language accurately and offer rational explanations for its key features.

Education, Childhood and Youth Culture: Film and Literature

Explore representation of schools, teachers and students in popular culture, specifically in selected key film and television texts and literary works. You will examine educational themes that recur and the way they reflect contemporary debates about the purpose of education, childhood, youth culture and teacher role/ performance. Does popular culture embody alternative perspectives of education and its societal role, or does it tend to reproduce and reinforce common stereotypes and popular myths? How can we explain the enduring popularity of reliving school days through fictional books and moving image texts? How do representations of education and childhood articulate with our own lived experiences as children, young people and learners? What do film and literary texts tell us about the relationship of education to large social questions about power, nurture, enculturation and intergenerational relationships?

Year 2

Compulsory modules

Child Development (double)

You will have the opportunity to explore key aspects of a child's developmental processes from a variety of perspectives and gain an understanding of child development.

Research in the Early Years

This module introduces you to the research methods used within educational and social science research. You will have the opportunity to familiarise themselves with various research tools (interviewing, observation, questionnaires etc.) and appropriate data analysis. Consideration will be given to aspects of reliability, validity and ethical issues. A key focus of the module will be to consider the particular complexities of research that arise when the research participants are children and/or infants. Explore the practical and ethical issues of conducting research with children and how such methods are employed in current research.

Preparing for the Dissertation

Prepare for your dissertation. You will cover a range of topics that will prepare you for all stages of your dissertation, from planning to analysis and write-up. It will extend your knowledge of the processes involved and help you develop critical awareness of yourself as a researcher. A particular emphasis will be given to the ethical procedures that are necessary before conducting fieldwork. There will be opportunities to review the submissions of previous students.

Optional modules

Working with Children 2 (double)

You will acquire the knowledge, practical skills and competence relevant to working as an Early Years' practitioner. The module incorporates an initial safeguarding course and progresses to a focus on the development of knowledge of the EYFS and other relevant Early Years policies and frameworks. In the second semester you will undertake a placement in a childcare or Early Years setting; this provides the opportunity for you to relate policy and research to practice in the birth to five age range, thus enhancing your academic understanding of the field.

Gender and 21st Century Education

This module aims to support you to develop an understanding of how concepts of gender are lived in different ways by teachers and learners. We will examine how these sometimes competing concepts shape social, cultural and educational contexts. The media, socialisation and education play vital roles in shaping teachers, learners and learning contexts. You will be expected to analyse these key domains in relation to your own experiences, and to apply your reflections and analyses to a range of key theories.

Cultural and Arts-Based Learning

Examine how different cultural activity can be addressed in education; including exploring cultural sites and learning contexts, cultural artefacts and arts-based activity. You will critically reflect on theories of culture and learning in and through the arts (art, drama, music, film), how these elements are positioned within the curriculum, and compare theory to current educational policy. Some theoretical strands will be examined and applied in practice, including participation in field trips and practical activities at a range of cultural organisations in Oxford; for example, museums and galleries. This will support a critical analysis of how cultural artefacts and activities can support learning.

Literature for Young Children

Develop your knowledge and understanding of the range of texts available to young children. You will establish skills of reflective and critical reading, encouraging you to investigate and analyse the relationship between words and pictures in texts. Develop your skills in selecting texts that support language development with particular focus on phonological awareness and reading development.

Children's Outdoor Learning

Explore how young children use play to learn and how adults plan for exploration and play in the Outdoors environment. You will focus on two important areas: maintaining good provision and interactions in an Early Years outdoors area, and teaching and learning using the Forest School approach. Styles of interaction between children and adults in a variety of situations will be considered. Health and Safety will cover issues such as children as risk-takers, off-site travel, maintaining a safe environment. The implications for current practice are explored, in the light of recent research and Government curriculum documentation.

Young Children's Health and Wellbeing

Understanding the roles, responsibilities and perspectives of health professionals and others working with young children and their families is essential for effective early childhood partnership and for inter-agency collaboration. This module will promote your understanding of the importance of children's health and wellbeing by reflecting on issues such as health inequalities, health promotion and health provision for young children. You will also learn about children's inner lives and spirituality, touching upon the role of the adult in fostering children's emotional and spiritual wellbeing.

Children in the Digital World

You will develop an understanding of how media and technology impact on our lives and our understanding of the world around us. We will use emerging theories, frameworks and contemporary academic literature explore these dynamic issues and their impact on our concept of education. As part of this exploration you will have some first-hand opportunities to explore some examples of media and technology. These experiences will help you to forge the links between theory and practice which you will be expected to demonstrate through the end of module assignment.

Independent Study: Work and Community related learning

This module aims to support your development in relation to your awareness and understanding of the world of work and your future employability. You will develop graduate attributes and employability skills and you will reflect critically on your learning gained from activities in work, community related and extra-curricular settings. You will gain personally and academically from experiences in the work and community context; Engage in self-directed learning with appropriate academic supervision and structured reflection; Reflect critically on and illustrate using specific examples the learning and personal development gained from work related or extra-curricular experience in relation to possible future professional roles.

Year 3

Compulsory modules

Dissertation (compulsory double honours component)

The module considers an issue, negotiated between the student and module leader/supervisor, which generally arises from aspects of Level 5 & 6 work in Early Childhood Studies.

Optional modules

Controversial and Contemporary Research in Education (double honours component)

This synoptic module starts from the premise that education is a contested and continuously researched subject. It will follow up key controversial issues introduced in previous modules, and introduce new ideas, linked to staff research expertise, enabling you to explore and debate these in some depth, through group discussion in class and online and extended individual research. Staff from within Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences will introduce guest seminar sessions on educational debates and current research linked to their specific expertise. Students will also be leading a rolling programme of seminars to facilitate a detailed consideration of relevant literature in support of different positions on these issues. Students will be encouraged to evaluate ideas and evidence in different forms, including popular media and policy texts, as well as more traditional academic texts.

Becoming a Reader (double honours component)

This module looks at children's literacy, investigating theories and debates about how children learn to read and become readers. The module interrogates various models of how children learn to read exploring the contribution of decoding skills, comprehension of text and attitudinal and motivational dimensions. You will critically explore the issues of multiple literacies in an era of digital communication. The module will build on the level 5 module Literature for Young Children and will enable you to scrutinise a range of developmental theories and to appreciate and articulate your own position within a theoretically complex and controversial aspect of development.

Independent Study (honours component)

This module involves individual or group work on an appropriate topic or set of topics, constructed under the supervision of the module leader, with prior approval of the Field Committee and External Examiner. It may be linked to practical work in an early years setting.

Child Development 2: Researching Child Development (honours component)

You will be examining a range of ways in which child development has been investigated and analyse the strengths and weaknesses of the various approaches. This will include opportunities to critique experimental, observational and field studies and practice research skills through designing and executing a small investigative study.

International Comparisons in Early Childhood Care and Education (honours component)

This module explores the practical, historical and comparative dimensions of policy and practice, acknowledging the differences between the four countries of the UK. It examines and evaluates the impact which comparative international evidence has had on the development of services in the four UK countries. You will study key issues in comparative education and childcare, and the development of national systems in a comparative and international context.

Reflective Practice (honours component)

This single module aims to further enhance your confidence and competence in working as a practitioner in a range of settings.

Equality and Identity (honours component)

You will gain a greater understanding of the formation of child self-identity in the light of issues associated with advantage or disadvantage in the wider society. Good practice in early years' settings has a number of common features. These have a positive impact on young children's learning and development. This module will consider the impact of self-identity on personal learning strategies, and how these can be included in quality planning, implementation and assessment. It will also include the examination of government documentation which is laying the foundation for quality practice in education for the Early Years.

Professional Roles in Early Years (alternative compulsory honours component)

This is a multi-disciplinary module which complements work students undertake as part of their dissertation, the Reflective Practice module and other practical work by looking at key themes of workforce development, partnership and workplace communication. This module will extend your knowledge and understanding of the range of partnerships, which exist to facilitate early learning and care, and the roles undertaken by those partnerships both historically and in current society. Children's rights and entitlement in the home and other settings will inform analyses of the roles of parents and professionals, and the range of partnerships and their contribution to the health welfare and education of young children. Legislation which impinges on the roles of the workers in early years sectors will also be examined.

Unequal Childhoods(honours component)

This module builds on concepts of equality, diversity and human justice encountered earlier in the programme. With reference to United Nations Conventions and United Kingdom equality legislation it provides an opportunity for you to reflect, research and critique educational and societal responses to differences in ethnicity, race, gender, ability and social class.

Philosophy of Education (honours component)

Engage with questions about the nature, aims and justification of education through a distinctively philosophical approach. By examining a range of contemporary, historical and international perspectives, you will appreciate that education is a value-laden enterprise whose core concepts are contested. You will engage in a critical dialogue with some of the seminal texts that have shaped the way we understand the educational endeavour and will be encouraged to examine your own assumptions about education and participate in the contemporary debate through reasoned and cogent arguments.

The Principled Professional (alternative compulsory honours component)

Explore elements of the professional role in early years (and potentially in other areas of employment) so that you are well informed about the nature of professionalism. In this module, you will reflect upon your personal principles and ethics with regard to your professional identity and considered the necessarily political nature of the field. You will also establish your stance as advocates for children and their families where their well-being is concerned.

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 methods include:

  • lectures
  • tutorials
  • seminars
  • discussion.

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

  • an understanding of the developmental needs of children and 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 required as a professional working in education or child care
  • informed critiques of the role of agencies in the support, protection and education of young children
  • knowledge and promotion of equal opportunities in childcare and education
  • an understanding of how early childhood and childcare practice can influence human development.
  • Lectures and seminars
  • Placement
  • Other learning activities (including group work, research, conferences etc.)

Year 1

  • Lectures and seminars - 16%
  • Placement - 0%
  • Other learning activities (including group work, research, conferences etc.) - 84%

Year 2

  • Lectures and seminars - 16%
  • Placement - 8%
  • Other learning activities (including group work, research, conferences etc.) - 76%

Year 3

  • Lectures and seminars - 15%
  • Placement - 0%
  • Other learning activities (including group work, research, conferences etc.) - 85%

Learning and teaching percentages are indicative. There may be slight year-on-year variations.

Field trips

We are always keen to explore ways in which you broaden your experience of education and development. In the past we have visited The Gambia developing long standing relationships with schools and colleges and we are actively exploring international opportunities in other parts of the world, aiming to be responsive to students' needs and interests.

These field trips are optional and will incur extra costs (see the Tuition Fees section for details). 


Assessment methods used on this course

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.

  • Written exams
  • Coursework
  • Practical exams

Year 1

  • Written exams - 0%
  • Coursework - 100%
  • Practical exams - 0%

Year 2

  • Written exams - 0%
  • Coursework - 100%
  • Practical exams - 0%

Year 3

  • Written exams - 0%
  • Coursework - 100%
  • Practical exams - 0%

Assessment method percentages are indicative. There may be slight year-on-year variations.

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. Although we will help as much as we can with your plans, ultimately you are responsible for organising and funding this study abroad.

After you graduate

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.

Some students use the degree as a platform to go onto careers in a wide variety of areas such as marketing, law and business. 

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 key work skills such as team working and presenting 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.

Examples of jobs that recent Early Childhood Studies graduates have gone on to are: 

  • Local Government Communications Support Worker
  • Therapy Support Worker with the NHS
  • Forest school Leader
  • Primary school Manager
  • Nursery Nurse
  • Development Assistant, National Museum of Wales
  • Children's Centre Outreach Worker. 

Further study

The course can lead to a PGCE (Primary), also offered at Oxford Brookes. You may continue your studies at master's level, perhaps following a specialist Post Graduate Certificate in Challenging Behaviour or Children's Literature. We also offer a range of MA Education courses, including the MA Education: Childhood and Youth Studies. 

Student profiles

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.

Information from Discover Uni

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.