Early Childhood Studies module descriptions

  • As courses are reviewed regularly the module list you choose from may vary from that shown here.

  • Research and Professional Practice (compulsory double module)

    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. The module will prepare you for the academic study of early childhood by introducing you to a range of study skills and activities to enhance your assessment literacy. 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.

    Working with Children 1 (compulsory double module)
    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.

    Growing up in the 21st Century (compulsory double module)
    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.

    Language Acquisition (recommended optional)
    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.

    Listening to Young Children (recommended optional)
    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.

    Young Children's Outdoor Learning (recommended optional)
    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.

    Education, Childhood and Youth Culture: Film and Literature (recommended optional)
    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?

    Child Development (compulsory double module)
    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 (compulsory)
    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 (compulsory)
    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.

    Working with Children 2 (optional double module)
    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. 

    Practice placements will be organised by the Oxford Brookes Partnership Office, in coordination with a range of local settings, as required by QAA. The Partnership Office will place students across a range of Oxfordshire Early Years settings, including day nurseries, children's centres, schools, and pre-schools. Factors influencing placement decisions, such as location and preference of setting, will be taken into account by the Partnership Office. In exceptional circumstances, it may be possible to have a placement outside of Oxfordshire: you will need to talk to the module leader and Partnership Office early in semester 1 if you wish to request this. The majority of settings that work with the module to offer placements are rated Good or Outstanding by Ofsted. It should be noted that there are no travel subsidies available for any students in the School of Education on placement, however, the majority of our placements in Oxford are easily accessed by public transport.

    Please note: Students are required to attend the complete the compulsory safeguarding course at the beginning of the module as a pre-requisite to going into their placement school/setting. Students must also have DBS clearance and the relevant documentation before they can start their placement - it is recommended that students begin this process of application before semester 1 begins.

    Children’s Outdoor Learning (optional)
    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.

    Gender and 21st Century Education (optional)
    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.

    Literature for Young Children (optional)
    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.

    Cultural and Arts-Based Learning (optional)
    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.

    Independent Study: Work and Community related learning (optional)
    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.

    Young Children’s Health and Wellbeing (optional)
    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 (optional)
    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.

    Year 3

    Dissertation (compulsory double module, 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.

    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.

    Controversial and Contemporary Research in Education (optional 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. In semester two, you will have the opportunity to write an extended essay (title to be agreed with module leader) on one of these themes.

    Becoming a Reader (optional 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) can be completed in semester 1 or 2
    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.

    International Comparisons in Early Childhood Care/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.

    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.

    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.

    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.

    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.

    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.