University of Chester

Programme Specification
Early Childhood PGCert
2017 - 2018

Postgraduate Certificate

Early Childhood

Early Childhood

University of Chester

University of Chester

University of Chester campuses; educational and professional settings.

Postgraduate (Taught)


Classroom / Laboratory,

1 year Part Time

3 Years

Variable - January - April - September



17a. Faculty

17b. Department

Education & Children's Services Academic and Professional Programmes

QAA Framework for Higher Education Qualifications (2008; updated 2014)

Academic & Professional Programmes Postgraduate MAB

Wednesday 22nd July 2015

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

Thinking or Cognitive Skills

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


  • Use the university’s VLE to access information; (ED7701, ED7704, ED7705, ED7708, ED7709, ED7710, ED7109)
  • Use electronic research skills; (ED7701, ED7704, ED7705, ED7708, ED7709, ED7710, ED7109)
  • Access data bases for research and information; (ED7701, ED7704, ED7705, ED7708, ED7709, ED7710, ED7109)


Working with others

  • Engage in group presentations and disseminations; (ED7701, ED7704, ED7708, ED7709, ED7710)
  • Work with professional colleagues to share ideas, research and good practice. (ED7701, ED7704, ED7708, ED7709, ED7710)


Problem solving

  • Generate and applied new knowledge; (ED7701, ED7704, ED7705, ED7708, ED7709, ED7710, ED7109)
  • Analyse complex concepts. (ED7701, ED7704, ED7705, ED7708, ED7709, ED7710, ED7109)


  • Write to academic standards required at M level; (ED7701, ED7704, ED7705, ED7708, ED7709, ED7710, ED7109)
  • Engage in meaningful debate and critical discussion; (ED7701, ED7704, ED7708, ED7709, ED7710)
  • Read critically; (ED7701, ED7704, ED7705, ED7708, ED7709, ED7710, ED7109)
  • Synthesise written and oral information; (ED7701, ED7704, ED7705, ED7708, ED7709, ED7710,ED7109)

The qualifications offered are in line with The QAA Framework for Higher Education Qualifications (2008; updated 2014)

The programme is at Level 7 of the framework. 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 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 one year to complete the PG Cert.

Mod-Code Level Title Credit Single
ED7109 7 Negotiated Study 1 20 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

  • 60 credits at Level 7 entitles the student to a Postgraduate Certificate 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 6.5 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 Postgraduate Certificate in Early Childhood Programme draws on and extends the Subject Benchmark Statements for the BA (Hons) Early Childhood Studies QAA (2014) but as there are no QAA benchmark statements for postgraduate study in Education or Early Childhood, the QAA (2010; updated 2015) Master’s Degree Characteristics contextualise the level of study within the new programme.

This qualifications at Postgraduate 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 programme adheres to the central University Learning and Teaching Strategy. From this, the Faculty of Education and Children’s Services have developed a local level response in the form of the Faculty Learning, Teaching, Assessment Improvement and Development Plan. This commits to pedagogical principles which include:     

  • Promoting professional engagement and reflective practice;      
  • Encouraging independent and autonomous learning;         
  • Supporting continuing professional development;     
  • Valuing students' professional experience and prior learning;        
  • Supporting diversity and personalised learning;       
  • Encouraging dynamic and participative learning;
  • Promoting collaborative learning;
  • Encouraging Internet and Web-based approaches;         
  • Supporting reflective and Practitioner enquiry.

For further details, please access:

The programme 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. These methodologies include lectures, seminars, group work, directed tasks, independent research and individual, group tutorials and blended learning.
  • Independent Learning -Independent Learning is a philosophy of education which students are encouraged to adopt. It includes the opportunity to work with a supervising tutor who offers support as students work towards completing assessment tasks but is fundamentally a more over-arching concept about an autonomous approach to work.
  • Electronic Support Materials - The Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) is an essential feature of the Programme. Each module has a dedicated module site where key information about the module and a range of materials and interactive elements to support learning and assessment, is available.
  • Electronic Tutorial Support – Students are able to contact their module tutor or module supervisor by email whenever they wish. Tutors will endeavour to respond to student queries within 3-5 days but often sooner. Tutorial support includes face-to-face tutorial support meetings and the opportunity for students to engage with online tutorial support. Individual tutorials can also be offered using a range of technologies such as Skype and Facetime.  This is an important feature of the Programme as it enables students who may not live in close proximity to the University to access tutorial support remotely.

The programme strives to maintain a diverse assessment palette and rigorous, consistent assessment practices which aims to enable students to demonstrate their skills, knowledge and understanding in a variety of ways.


All modules have a handbook that complies with University and Faculty Guidelines. All handbooks are available to students on the dedicated module space on Moodle (The University's VLE).

The module handbook includes:       

  • Module aims and learning outcomes;       
  • Outline content;       
  • Assessment method;       
  • Procedures for submission of work;        
  • Recommended reading;
  • Appropriate grading criteria;
  • 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 grading criteria linked to the appropriate QAA requirements All marking procedures comply with the central University Assessment Policies. Feedback to students is available electronically using the Turnitin and Grademark systems. 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.

Assessment criteria are communicated to students through Programme and Module handbooks with specific assignment guidance explaining the important features of each assignment.

Students who successfully engage in the Postgraduate Certificate in 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 Postgraduate Certificate in Early Childhood Programme will be able to choose from one or more of the following progression routes:

  • Progress to the Postgraduate Diploma or MA in Early Childhood
  • 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 (after further professional study) 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 Postgraduate Certificate 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 brings a much-needed Postgraduate progression route with a focus on the distinct field of Early Childhood and a successful weekend delivery pattern to enhance accessibility. It is delivered by committed, high calibre staff, who are active researchers in the field of Early Childhood.  

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