University of Chester

Programme Specification
Early Childhood Studies BA (Hons) (Single Honours)
2014 - 2015

Bachelor of Arts (Single Honours)

Early Childhood Studies

Early Childhood Studies

University of Chester

University of Chester



Undergraduate Modular Programme

Full-time and Part-time

Classroom / Laboratory,

3 years

7 Years

Annual - September




17a. Faculty

17b. Department

Education & Children's Services Academic and Professional Programmes

Education Studies and proposed new Early Childhood Studies

Not applicable

Early Childhood Studies

Sunday 1st April 2007

  • To provide an academically challenging course in the area of early childhood studies that equips students to contribute to the provision of services for children and in other areas of employment
  • To have a systematic understanding of the key factors in the study of early childhood producing informed and reflective students who will be aware of current academic understanding and debate and will continue to be engaged professionals following completion of the programme
  • To enable early childhood specialists to apply the methods and techniques that they have learned, to explain, reflect upon and critically assess their own practice, and the legislative and historical framework in which they work and to take a well informed part in current debates in the field
  • To develop a critical understanding of appropriate pedagogical approaches to work with children and families
  • To enable students to understand the development and learning needs and experience of all children in a diverse society without prejudice or discrimination

The University of Chester acknowledges the importance of improving outcomes for children and families at the centre of policy making and delivery at national and local level and as such this programme reflects a set of beliefs, values, morals and ethical principles for practitioners seeking qualifications and employment in the childhood sector that promotes equality, respect for diversity and challenges prejudices and stereotypes.

Knowledge and Understanding
Students will be able to:

  • demonstrate knowledge and understanding of the key principles underpinning the early social, emotional, cognitive and physical development of young children;
  • express their knowledge and understanding of interdisciplinary working;
  • express and understand the main provisions of the national and local statutory and non-statutory frameworks within which children's services work and their implications for early childhood settings;
  • explain orally and in writing, clearly and accurately the issues surrounding child protection;
  • demonstrate a depth of knowledge and reflective understanding of the literature related to relevant field of study;
  • demonstrate how the family, social, economic, environmental, political and cultural factors influence the construction of early childhood;
  • understand the diversity of children's rights and needs and analyse responses to these;
  • understand and critically analyse legislation relating to young children and families;

Thinking or Cognitive Skills
Student will be able to:
  • discuss critically a range of ideas and concepts relevant to how young children learn;
  • analyse and interpret the effects of society on children and their families;
  • understand and critically evaluate different theories of child development and their influence on policy and practice;
  • describe and critically analyse the nature and quality of a range of early childhood provision;
  • review cultural and social diversity and inequality in society and evaluate how these are expressed and addressed;
  • discuss critically a range of ideas and concepts relevant to the study of inclusion in early childhood settings;
  • analyse, interpret and evaluate how young children acquire language;
  • discuss critically a broad range of complex ideas and concepts relevant to the study of early childhood;
  • analyse, interpret and evaluate a broad range of research;

Practical Skills
Students will be able to put principles of key documentation into practice through the development of practice with children from birth to age five and in some cases with children in school settings aged 5 - 8 years:
  • develop and enhance transferable skills
  • plan and help provide safe and appropriate child-led and adult initiated experiences, activities and play opportunities in indoor, outdoor and in out-of-setting contexts, which enable children to develop and learn;
  • monitor, observe and assess children aged 0 - 5 years in their learning and development;
  • give constructive and sensitive feedback to help children understand what they have achieved and think about what they need to do next and, when appropriate, encourage children to think about, evaluate and improve on their own performance;
  • establish fair, respectful, trusting, supportive and constructive relationships with children;
  • communicate sensitively and effectively with children from birth to the end of the early years foundation stage;
  • recognise and respect the influential and enduring contribution that families and parents/carers can make to children's development, well-being and learning;
  • provide formal and informal opportunities through which information about childre's well-being, development and learning can be shared between a setting and families and parents/carers;
  • contribute towards establishing a culture of collaborative and cooperative working between colleagues;

Key Skills
For successful completion of this programme students will have demonstrated competences in the following key skill areas
  • Communication
  • Application of Number
  • Information Literacy and Technology
  • Improving own learning and performance
  • Working with others
  • Problem solving
Students will be alert to their own personal development in these key skill areas and develop reflection, evaluation and review of any action planning in respect of these key skills. It is expected that students will record this personal development in their Progress File. Over all they will have the ability to:
  • learn in a number of ways and from a variety of sources;
  • communicate effectively ir oral and written form
  • interpret and present data in qualitative and/or quantitiate form
  • exploit ICT as a tool for learning, research and presentation
  • use their communication skills through selecting and researching topics and making verbal presentations using visual aids, etc and in the development of an effective working relationship with families, children and other professionals that they may meet in a work-related context
  • demonstrate their collaborative and group working skills through active participation in module activities and in the work-place, where appropriate
  • work as a creative and responsible member of a team
  • use evaluative feedback as a positive aid to self-improvement
  • fully utilise the learning resources and support services of the institution as a whole

Transferable Professional Skills
This Single honours degree programme provides opportunity to develop practitioner skills, particularly in the Early Years Foundation Stage, children from birth to age 5 years). These skills can be transferred to professional practice in other areas as many are generic. For example:
  • meeting the diverse needs of children
  • partnership working
  • valuing play as a tool for learning and recreation
  • learning from observation and assessment
  • reflective practitioner skills
  • resourcing effective learning environments which are safe and stimulating, including the outdoors
  • safeguarding children
  • providing for children's physical needs and well being
  • recognition of the family's role in supporting learning and development needs
  • children valued as unique individuals and development of inclusive practice
  • keeping accurate records and data that respect relevant rules and regulations and take account of ethical considerations

A full-time student would normally follow six 20-credit modules (or equivalent) at the appropriate level in each year, giving a total of 120 credits at each level.

Only marks at Level 5 and Level 6 contribute towards the final degree classification.

All modules at level 4 are compulsory.

There are compulsory modules at level 5 with some opportunity for option. Students may take either ED5707 or WB5001 only.

All modules at level 6 are compulsory.

The structure of the programme is based on themes:

  • Year 1 The Developing Child
  • Year 2 Children and Families in the Community
  • Year 3 Critical Thinkers

The programme is concerned to develop graduate skills in addition to specific programme skills and whilst this is drawn on and developed throughout the programme there are opportunities in a range of modules for the continuing development of key skills. Opportunities to develop effective practice in the Early Years is a key feature of the programme but there are also opportunities in the 2nd year for alternative experiential learning. Sometimes this is explicit to students but at other times this is integral to some aspects of learning within different modules. Study skills to support transition at entry point and between levels is addressed within module sessions and through specialised input from the Learning Support Services. The nature of multi-agency working is interwoven across modules at each level and upwardly through all levels.  Research skills are a key element of the Level 6 study, placed at this point deliberately to accommodate the needs of Foundation Arts Degree graduates transferring in at this level.

The core content includes a strong first year input on child development, learning and child needs issues. This is based on psychological and educational perspectives and includes learning about child protection but this also allows the student to explore theoretical issues in the context of relevant placement in early years' settings. An important focus in this is the teaching of observational and assessment techniques that can be used to inform planning for creative learning experiences and health and well being experiences for children.

The child's place in contemporary British society and the support from services and agencies is developed through modules in year two. Inclusion issues, analysis of cultural, gender inequality and class issues highlighting the child as an individual also feature in the range of modules in year two. Learning about additional needs is complemented by relevant placement experience which may reflect upon this area of study. Furthermore, at this level, there is an opportunity for students to investigate professional practice through a concentrated work experience for which they will gain academic credit for learning in the workplace. The application of many of the issues raised can therefore be explored in a professional context.

In the final year the extent of the discipline of early childhood studies is explored under the theme of critical thinkers. The probing of current issues in this field, of leadership, management and inspection of practice and of international influences  feature strongly at this level as well as the opportunity to undertake independent research.

Successful completion of Level 4 of the programme entitles a student to an exit award of a Certificate of Higher Education.

Successful completion of Level 5 of the programme entitles a student to an exit award of a Diploma in Higher Education.

Successful completion of Level 6 of the programme entitles a student to an exit award of a Bachelor of Arts Degree with Honours.




Mod-Code Level Title Credit Single
ED4702 4 Getting to Know the Infant (0 - 2 years) 20 Comp
ED4703 4 Getting to Know the Young Child (3 - 5 years) 20 Comp
ED4704 4 The Social Child 20 Comp
ED4705 4 Learning Alongside the Child 20 Comp
ED4706 4 Developing Practice 20 Comp
ED4707 4 Child Care and Protection 20 Comp
ED5701 5 The Changing Face of Childhood 20 Comp
ED5702 5 Family and Professional Partnerships 20 Comp
ED5704 5 Powerful Communicators 20 Comp
ED5705 5 Every Child Special 20 Comp
ED5706 5 Developing Inclusive Practice in the Early Years 20 Comp
ED5707 5 Developing Effective Practice in the Early Years 20 Optional
WB5101 5 Enhancing your Employability through Work Based Learning 20 Optional
ED6701 6 The Pedagogy of Early Years Provision 20 Comp
ED6702 6 The Early Childhood Professional 20 Comp
ED6703 6 Principles Underpinning Practice in the Early Years 20 Comp
ED6704 6 Contemporary Issues in the Early Years 20 Comp
ED6705 6 Dissertation 40 Comp

Level 4 120 credits
Level 5 120 credits
Level 6 120 Credits

Admission of students shall be based on the University of Chester's expectation that the student will be able to achieve the standard required for the academic award. Within the admissions process the University seeks to give advanced standing/credit for prior learning appropriate to specified learning outcomes.

The level 6 Early Childhood Studies modules is also be available as a full-time option to students who have completed a Foundation Degree (Early Years) and wish to gain full honours. It is also available as a part - time option.

The typical applicant will have a minimum of 200 UCAS points of which 180 points must be obtained from GCE A2 or Vocational A level (6 or 12 unit) awards, including a grade C, or above, in English and Mathematics. The remaining points may be from A2, AS, Vocational A/AS level (2, 6 or 12 units) awards, or from level 3 skills certification in early years care/education. Applicants may be required to take part in group interviews prior to being made an offer.

An applicant who has met the entry requirements and who has acquired 120 level 4 credits through the completion of a course or courses at another HEI may apply for exemption as appropriate from modules within level 4.

Consistent with the University's commitment to widen access and participation, the Faculty of Education and Children's Services encourages applications from mature students and from groups normally under represented in higher education. The general policy is to look for a good level of literacy, together with proven interest and/or experience in an appropriate subject. Prospective candidates can take advantage of the university 'Open' and 'Applicant Days' that take place across the year where they can meet with programme team members and wider university staff and have specific questions answered.

The programme has taken account of the QAA Benchmarking Statements for Early Childhood Studies degrees. This set of Benchmarking Statements is divided into categories: 'Threshold standards' which are the minimal standards necessary for a student to graduate with a single honours degree in ECS and 'Modal standards' which are those which a typical ECS student would be expected to attain. Best standards are those which the highest attaining ECS student would be expected to achieve.' The statements are phrased in terms of what knowledge or skills a graduate at that level (threshold, modal or best) would be expected to be able to demonstrate. The areas of knowledge and skills are the same at each level but modal standards are more securely demonstrated than threshold and best standards reflect a high level of proficiency and understanding.

The programme aims to develop graduates who will demonstrate the characteristics described in the QAA Early Childhood Studies Benchmark Statements which cover: Knowledge and Understanding; Application, Reflection, Transferable Skills:- Communication and presentation; ICT, Application of Number, Working with Others, Improving own Learning, Analytical and problem solving skills.

A distinguishing feature of Early Childhood Studies degrees is the emphasis placed on the application of theory to practical understanding of child development and early childhood multi-professional and inter- and intra-professional work. Early Childhood Studies benchmarking offers a set of defining principles but states that 'the aim of the degree should be to produce an understanding of the ecology of early childhood, and children in ecological contexts. Ecological context should be understood as encompassing both time and geographical space and encompassing the contexts of family, and children's and family services (i.e. early childhood services).' It is the study of early childhood in context. 'This necessarily draws on many disciplines, including those of psychology, sociology, philosophy, social policy, education, health, history, cultural and media studies and in doing so has established a distinctive area of study and research. The area of study should enable students to develop insights and understandings relating to how children and childhood are understood from a range of academic and professional perspectives and to understand the philosophies, beliefs and attitudes that inform them.'

A range of learning and teaching approaches take account of best practice, particularly those which maximise active learning and take account of the learning styles of students. Examples of learning and teaching strategies will include:

  • group lectures with students encouraged to question and discuss
  • seminars as a whole group; small groups, pairs as appropriate
  • project work in learner groups
  • student led discussions, seminars and presentations
  • individual and small group tutorials
  • use of audio-visual and eLearning material

The Early Childhood Studies team recognises the programme provides students with a programme that is theoretical by design. However, many students do enter the programme with a view to progressing into a career working with children and families. The programme, therefore, provides opportunities to work alongside professionals across a range of children's services provision enabling students to seriously consider their own vocational preference. Placement opportunities inform and are informed by student knowledge, skills and attributes providing enrichment and experiential learning within the overall programme.

Teaching approaches will be regularly monitored and evaluated by tutors incorporating information from student feedback, self reflection and peer review. The learning outcomes for each module will be shared and made explicit to students to enable them to evaluate their learning. There is an expectation that as students progress through the programme they will be required to take increasingly more responsibility for organising and managing their own learning. To facilitate progression, students will be provided with reading lists and eLearning material designed to support independent learning.

Learning in the workplace is a feature at level 4 and level 5. Experiential learning is assessed mostly through evidenced-based portfolio at these levels. A University tutor may visit settings to assess the quality of the contribution that the student has made. This collaborative model between setting, university and student is seen as a key element of the programme.

Attendance is monitored and a register taken by the tutor for taught sessions. Students will not be penalised formally for non-attendance but they are expected to attend all sessions, in the context of developing mature self-discipline and a culture a mutual responsibility. Support is offered where students may be experiencing difficulties in attending. Attendance at placement is logged by the student and verified by the tutor and mentor.

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

  • demonstrate knowledge and understanding, in breadth and in depth, of the subject matter studied;
  • discuss, interpret and critically analyse a range of literature;
  • utilise the transferable communication and rhetorical skills of speaking, listening, reading, writing and arguing;
  • conduct independent and collaborative research, using relevant skills and methods.

The assessment methods used in each module correlate with the learning outcomes for that module. A range of assessment approaches is used to provide evidence of learning for the specified outcomes for each module. Not all learning outcomes are explicitly assessed. Where feasible, assessment should be used to inform planning to ensure that subsequent teaching addresses the identified needs of the students. Students are kept informed about the assessment requirements of each element of their programme. The formal assessment requirements are described in each module descriptor and outlined in each module handbook. As well as the generic assessment criteria, students may be provided with assignment specific criteria: this is provided in module handbooks, available to students at the beginning of each module. Module handbooks and learning outcomes are also accessible on-line. Reassessment generally takes the same form as the original. Where this differs this is made clear in each module handbook, (based on information showing in each approved module descriptor). QAA national level descriptors for levels 4, 5 and 6 also show in the Programme Learning Toolkit (on-line) for reference.

Following successful completion of this programme, students may progress to a range of careers and/or further study and professional training. It is also anticipated that some students will go on to work in areas which require non-specialist degree qualifications. Students may, therefore, consider employment or further study aligned to health, social service or other children's services related disciplines. Some seek postgraduate study which would enable them to teach.

The University 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.




A distinguishing feature of the Early Childhood Studies programme is the opportunity for students to learn in the workplace and gain valuable practice skills, knowledge and understanding. The focus of practical experience is mainly in the Early Years Foundation Stage, that is children aged from birth to five years but experience with children aged from 0-8 years is appropriate. An optional module exists in the programme for alternative work experience which can include school-based work or indeed international work/global project work experience. Students opt for either the work-based learning module (WB5001) or (ED5707) at level 5. Experiential learning at level 5 builds on that contained at level 4.

Although the CWDC now locates within National College for Teaching and Leadership the ECS programme was included on the CWDC Qualifications List for those delivering the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) which provides advice to OfSTED Child Care Inspectors (CCIs), employers and practitioners on whether qualifications met the CWDC requirements for 'full and relevant' qualifications, as stated in the Statutory Framework for the EYFS.



Back - to previous page  Print - launches the print options panel