University of Chester

Programme Specification
Early Childhood MA
2015 - 2016

Master of Arts

Early Childhood

Early Childhood

University of Chester

University of Chester

University of Chester campuses; educational and professional settings.

Postgraduate (Taught)

Full-time and Part-time

Classroom / Laboratory,

3 years Part-time; 1 year Full-time

6 Years

Variable - January - April - September



17a. Faculty

17b. Department

Education & Children's Services Academic and Professional Programmes

National Framework for Higher Education Qualifications

Academic & Professional Programmes Postgraduate MAB

Wednesday 22nd July 2015

The MA Early Childhood provides a focused specialism in Early Childhood for those working with or planning to work with young children in a wide range of professional contexts.  The programme does not focus solely on Early Childhood Education but examines a wide range of areas related to Early Childhood including education, health, social care, sociology, psychology and philosophy.

To secure professional learning consistent with a Masters level philosophy, the programme aims to:   

  1. Promote scholarship of Early Childhood practitioners around current knowledge and critical understanding of childhood in different contexts;       
  2. Cultivate original thinking of early childhood practitioners relating to contemporary debates around early childhood and the development of young children;        
  3. Facilitate critical reflection of professional practice linking to theory and policy at different levels;       
  4. Stimulate research and enquiry into early childhood in a wide range of contexts;        
  5. Influence change in early childhood provision in line with the changes driven by contemporary issues.

Knowledge and Understanding

  • Critically engage with theoretical frameworks and literature; (ED7701, ED7704, ED7705, ED7708, ED7709, ED7710, ED7712, ED7109, ED7110)
  • Harness insights into subject knowledge; (ED7701, ED7704, ED7705, ED7708, ED7709, ED7710, ED7712, ED7109, ED7110)
  • Critically reflect on the ways in which research methodology supports professional enquiry; (ED7712)
  • Apply critical considerations when undertaking research; (ED7712)
  • Make effectual use of professional learning to assess impact on practice. (ED7701, ED7704, ED7705, ED7708, ED7709, ED7710, ED7109, ED7110)

Thinking or Cognitive Skills

  • Make critical use of research evidence; (ED7701, ED7704, ED7705, ED7708, ED7709, ED7710, ED7712, ED7109, ED7110)
  • Formulate valid conclusions that link theory to practice; (ED7701, ED7704, ED7705, ED7708, ED7709, ED7710, ED7712, ED7109, ED7110)
  • Think independently about essential issues, concepts and ideas. (ED7701, ED7704, ED7705, ED7708, ED7709, ED7710, ED7712, ED7109, ED7110)

Application of Number

  • Select and use appropriate research methodology, methods and applications for data handling. (ED7712)



  • Use the university’s VLE to access information; (ED7704, ED7705, ED7708, ED7709, ED7710, ED7712, ED7109. ED7110)
  • Use electronic research skills; (ED7704, ED7705, ED7708, ED7709, ED7710, ED7712, ED7109, ED7110)
  • Access data bases for research and information; (ED7704, ED7705, ED7708, ED7709, ED7710, ED7712, ED7109, ED7110)


Working with others

  • Engage in group presentations and disseminations; (ED7704, ED7708, ED7709, ED7710)
  • Work with professional colleagues to share ideas, research and good practice. (ED7704, ED7708, ED7709, ED7710)


Problem solving

  • Generate and applied new knowledge; (ED7704, ED7705, ED7708, ED7709, ED7710, ED7712, ED7109, ED7110)
  • Analyse complex concepts. (ED7704, ED7705, ED7708, ED7709, ED7710, ED7712, ED7109, ED7110)


  • Write to academic standards required at M level; (ED7704, ED7705, ED7708, ED7709, ED7710, ED7712, ED7109, ED7110)
  • Engage in meaningful debate and critical discussion; (ED7704, ED7708, ED7709, ED7710)
  • Read critically; (ED7704, ED7705, ED7708, ED7709, ED7710, ED7712, ED7109, ED7110)
  • Synthesise written and oral information; (ED7704, ED7705, ED7708, ED7709, ED7710, ED7712, ED7109, ED7110)

The qualifications offered are in line with QAA (2008) The Framework for Higher Education Qualifications in England, Wales and Northern Ireland (FHEQ). The programme is at Level 7 of the FHEQ. It has a Postgraduate Certificate (PG Cert) and a Postgraduate Diploma (PG Dip) as exit points. Participants may exit with credit for single modules.

Modules are at 20 Credit Accumulation Transfer (CAT) points and 10 European Credit Transfer (ECT) points; the dissertation is at 60 CAT and 30 ECT points. The taught modules earn 20 CAT points and attract thirty-five hours of tutor contact time through lectures, tutorials, seminars and online learning.

Students studying in part-time mode normally take three years to complete an MA within a maximum registration period of 6 years. The full-time route takes one year.

The full time pathway of the MA Early Childhood is offered, subject to levels of recruitment. This opportunity for a focused specialism in Early Childhood enables undergraduate students in the final year of study to consider a full – time postgraduate route in the field of early childhood.

Mod-Code Level Title Credit Single
CD7032 7 Research design 20 Optional
ED7109 7 Negotiated Study 1 20 Optional
ED7110 7 Negotiated Study 2 40 Optional
ED7701 7 Professional Practice: a pedagogy and curriculum for the early years 20 Optional
ED7704 7 The 21st Century Child 20 Optional
ED7705 7 Leadership and Management in Early Childhood 20 Optional
ED7708 7 Technology and Childhood 20 Optional
ED7709 7 Children and Communities 20 Optional
ED7710 7 The Developing Child (0-5 Years) 20 Optional
ED7712 7 Dissertation 60 Comp

  • 60 credits at Level 7 entitles the student to a Postgraduate Certificate in Early Childhood
  • 120 credits at Level 7 entitles the student to a Postgraduate Diploma in Early Childhood
  • 180 credits at Level 7 (60 of which must be through a dissertation which takes the subject of Early Childhood as its focus) entitles the student to a Masters Degree  in Early Childhood


The admission criteria for student entry to the MA Early Childhood will normally be:

A Bachelors degree. All applicants should normally have at least an upper second class Honours degree in an appropriate discipline. Where the first degree is lower than a 2:1 honours degree and/or more than 10 years old the following may be taken in its place:

  • other more recent qualifications (or a substantial amount of study) at levels 6 or 7 (e.g. PGCE, Masters)
  • a reflective portfolio documenting experience of at least 3 years work at a professional level within the last 5 years

Applicants shall also satisfy the requirements for English Language, where English is not their first language (IELTS 7.0 is the minimum requirement). Students presenting international qualifications which are not judged to be the equivalent of an Honours degree, would normally be required to undertake and attain a good pass on at least one 7 level module as a condition of entry.

Students with additional needs should declare this at the time of application, and an assessment made by Student Support and Guidance of the University's ability to support these needs.

The MA Early Childhood Programme draws on and extends the Subject Benchmark Statements for the BA (Hons) Early Childhood Studies QAA (2007) but as there are no QAA benchmark statements for postgraduate study in Education or Early Childhood, the QAA (2010) Master’s Degree Characteristics contextualise the level of study within the new programme.

This qualifications at Masters level is awarded to students who have demonstrated:       

  • A systematic understanding of knowledge, and a critical awareness of current problems and/or new insights, much of which is at the forefront of the Early Childhood field of study and area of professional practice;         
  • A comprehensive understanding of techniques applicable to their own research or advanced scholarship;         
  • Originality in the application of knowledge, together with a practical understanding of how established techniques of research and enquiry are used to create and interpret knowledge in Early Childhood;      
  • Conceptual understanding that enables the student to evaluate critically current research and advanced scholarship in Early Childhood;
  • An ability to evaluate methodologies and develop critiques of them and, where appropriate, to propose new hypotheses.

Typically, holders of the qualification will:       

  • Be able to deal with complex issues both systematically and creatively, making sound judgements in the absence of complete data, and communicate their conclusions clearly to specialist and non specialist audiences;      
  • Be able to demonstrate self-direction and originality in tackling and solving problems, and act autonomously in planning and implementing tasks at a professional level;       
  • Continue to advance their knowledge and understanding, and to develop new skills to a high level;        
  • Have the qualities and transferable skills necessary for employment requiring the exercise of initiative and responsibility, decision–making in complex and unpredictable situations and the independent learning ability required for continuing professional development.

The MA Early Childhood complements existing APP Programmes and is within the compass of the current staffing expertise. A number of tutors and active researchers in the field contribute to the programme. Tutors in the Faculty have experience in the delivery of professional development for those practising in this field and are skilled at working to meet the needs of part-time students.

The MA Early Childhood adheres to the Learning and Teaching Strategy for the Faculty of Education and Children's Services which commits to pedagogical principles which:      

  • Promote professional engagement and reflective practice;      
  • Encourage independent and autonomous learning;         
  • Support continuing professional development;     
  • Value students' professional experience and prior learning;        
  • Support diversity and personalised learning;       
  • Encourage dynamic and participative learning;
  • Promote collaborative learning;
  • Encourage Internet and Web-based approaches;         
  • Support reflective and Practitioner enquiry.

The MA Early Childhood at the University of Chester includes a range of approaches to learning and teaching:

  • University-based Modules- These modules are held at the University in technology rich environments. A range of methodologies are employed which take account of best practice and maximise active learning, sensitive to the learning styles and needs of students (Faculty Learning, Teaching and Assessment Policy). These methodologies include lectures, seminars, group work, directed tasks, independent research and individual and group tutorials.
  • Independent Study -Independent Study enables a participant to work with a supervising tutor who offers support as participants work towards completing an assignment on a chosen topic. This will count towards academic credit;
  • Electronic Support Materials - The Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) is an essential feature of the Programme. Each module has a dedicated module site in which a range of support materials is accessible. On the module site, specific information about the module is also available.
  • Electronic Tutorial Support - Participants are able to contact their module tutor or module supervisor by email whenever they wish. Tutors will endeavour to respond to participant queries within 3-5 days but often sooner. Tutorial support includes face-to-face tutorial support meetings and the opportunity for participants to engage with Online Tutorial Support. This allows for a tutorial dialogue to continue between module tutors/supervisors and participants. Individual tutorials can also be offered using a range of modern technologies such as Skype and Facetime.  This is an important feature of the Programme as it enables participants who may not live in close proximity to the University to access tutorial support remotely.

The MA Early Childhood adheres to the Assessment Policy of the Faculty of Education and Children's Services and to the University Regulations pertaining to the assessment of students. Central to the Faculty of Education and Children's Services' learning, teaching, and assessment strategy is the concept of tutor-supported, student-centred learning. The Faculty is committed to the view that students should become increasingly autonomous learners enabled to develop and enhance knowledge and transferable skills as they become more mature, reflective and critical readers and writers. The QAA (2008) recommends that ‘programmes need to be able to demonstrate how the design of curricula facilitates academic and intellectual progression'. The MA Early Childhood team has taken account of this in the development of assessment strategies on the programme. 

In general terms, students are assessed on their ability to:         

  • Demonstrate a systematic knowledge and understanding, in breadth and in depth, of issues related to Early Childhood;         
  • Critically analyse a range of literature from covergent and convergent sources and research evidence related to the field of Early Childhood;       
  • Effectively utilise the transferable communication and rhetorical skills of speaking, listening, reading, writing, and arguing;
  • Conduct independent and collaborative research, using relevant skills and methods in the field of Early Childhood.

The assessment methods used in each module correlate with the learning outcomes for that module. An appropriate range of assessments is used to enable students to demonstrate their achievement of the stated module learning outcomes. In line with University of Chester policy, not all learning outcomes may be explicitly assessed. Where appropriate, formative assessment is used to support student learning and to ensure that subsequent teaching addresses the identified needs of the students. Students are kept informed about assessment requirements and the formal assessment requirements are described in each module descriptor.

As well as the generic assessment criteria, students will be provided with assignment specific criteria. This will be provided in module handbooks, available to students at the beginning of each module. Reassessment will, as far as possible, follow the original intention as detailed in the module descriptor and will be in accordance with University Regulations regarding the assessment of students. Where a form of assessment cannot be repeated, for example, as with some presentations, an alternative will be prescribed which gives the student a similar opportunity to demonstrate achievement of the specified module learning outcomes.


All modules have a handbook that complies with University and Faculty Guidelines. All handbooks are available to students in hard copy. In addition, they are accessible on the dedicated module space on Moodle (The University's VLE).

The module handbook includes:       

  • Module aims and learning outcomes;       
  • Outline content;       
  • Assessment method;       
  • Dates and procedures for submission of work;        
  • Recommended reading;
  • Links to relevant documentation and University Policy eg. The Diversity and Equality Policy, The Disability, Gender and Race Equality Scheme, guidance on regulations governing the assessment of students.


All assessed work is graded according to a percentage scale 0-100 using the University's level 7 grading criteria linked to the QAA requirements for level 7. All marking procedures comply with the Faculty Assessment Policies. Feedback to students is available electronically using the Turnitin and Grademark systems. Feedback is given in the context of the module learning outcomes assessed and the Level 7 criteria. Areas for improvement and development are presented as targets. Feedback on the work is intended to identify strengths and points of development. Assignments are not pre-marked.  Students may receive formative, verbal feedback on plans or on a specified amount of work identified by the tutor.

The MA Early Childhood programme adheres to University Policy on the assessment of students. All work is first marked and an appropriate sample, in line with university regulations, is monitored. All dissertations are double marked, usually by the supervisor and then by another marker. A representative sample of work is made available to an external examiner and includes all fails and distinctions.

Assessment criteria are communicated to students through Programme and Module handbooks. Assignment guidance explains the important features of each assignment. Feedback and assessment judgements are made using module specific interpretations of the following criteria:

  • Knowledge  & understanding
  • Research i: reading & use of other appropriate resources
  • Research ii: methodology
  • Critical analysis & interpretation
  • Communication skills & presentation
  • Critical reflection: personal &/or professional application & evaluation.

The programme employs a range of assessment methods, which are linked to the University’s level 7 assessment and marking criteria and include:

  • A Digital Presentation using a technology of choice;       
  • Critical Analysis;      
  • Essay;       
  • Case Study;        
  • Dissertation.

Students who successfully engage in the MA Early Childhood Programme will become reflective practitioners and critical thinkers who can articulate their views with confidence and conviction. They will have expert knowledge of the political arena of learning, teaching, health, care and early years’ provision. They will have read widely and engaged with theoretical frameworks which have challenged their values, beliefs and understanding. They will have become confident researchers, finding solutions to challenges in their professional settings and practice. Their professional integrity will have been affirmed and they will have secured a professional confidence to embrace and manage change and to lead others, should they choose.

Graduates from the MA Early Childhood Programme will be able to choose from one or more of the following progression routes:

  • Remain as a practitioner within the context of early years;
  • Gain promotion within early years’ settings;
  • Move to work in Higher Education as a teacher or researcher;
  • Move to work in a range of situations, for example, social work, research, childcare, behaviour therapy, play therapy and family support.

The political drive to raise the qualifications and skills of early years’ workers is reflected in the MA in Early Childhood.    

The University of Chester is committed to the promotion of diversity, equality and inclusion in all its forms; through different ideas and perspectives, age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or belief, sex and sexual orientation. We are, in particular, committed to widening access to higher education. Within an ethically aware and professional environment, we acknowledge our responsibilities to promote freedom of enquiry and scholarly expression.

This programme is delivered by committed, high calibre staff, who are active researchers in the field of Early Childhood.      

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