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BA (Hons) Early Childhood Studies

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University of Suffolk on Ipswich Waterfront
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Three years full-time.

Four and a half to nine years part-time.

Typical Offer: 

112 UCAS tariff points (or above)
BBC (A-Level), DMM (BTEC).

Please see Entry Requirements below.

  • This course offers an holistic and multi-disciplinary approach to the study of children and childhood.
  • It includes a variety of perspectives including education, health psychology, sociology and social policy.
  • Students have the opportunity to progress to a range of careers with children within education, health and social care, or postgraduate study.
  • Hone employability skills with professional practice modules.


The Early Childhood Studies (ECS) degree course covers higher education levels 4, 5, 6 and is designed for anyone who wants a career working with or for children and/or their families.

The primary focus is children from birth to eight years but it also covers conception through to when a child is approximately eleven years of age (the natural completion of the primary education stage).

The degree takes a multi-disciplinary approach and offers a fascinating and stimulating course of academic study. This means it includes educational, health, welfare, psychological, sociological, legal, philosophical, political and economic perspectives. A holistic philosophy permeates the programme.

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Course modules

This course covers a variety of areas including early childhood health and social care, safeguarding children, early and primary education, and personal and professional development. The course includes seminars, lectures, group work and independent learning.

Full downloadable information regarding all University of Suffolk courses, including Key Facts, Course Aims, Course Structure and Assessment, is available in the Definitive Course Record.

Introduction to academic and research skills (Requisite)

This module is designed to provide students with an important set of study skills that are relevant across all modules. Particular emphasis is placed on developing student’s academic and critical writing skills. Practical exercises are designed during teaching sessions to give students the opportunity to experiment, practice, and reflect on their developing study and research skills.

The sociology of childhood and families (Requisite)

This module will introduce sociology as a discipline and highlight the role of the sociological imagination in critically exploring the social category of childhood and young children’s everyday lives. The social structures which define, govern and locate children and childhood are examined including for example the family, the early years setting and the school.

Psychology and the family (Requisite)

This module seeks to develop knowledge and understanding of family theories, family structures, family functions, and the reciprocal influences between family and the developing child. You will develop knowledge and understanding of key concepts, theories, and research in developmental psychology

Early and Primary Education (Mandatory)

This module introduces students to early and primary education and the underpinning values of professional practice. Students are encouraged to consider how the theoretical study of the child underpins the early years and primary curriculum and adult role. The module will also support students in adopting a professional approach to work with children and the development of employability skills.

Children, families and welfare (Requisite)

This module explores the historical development of welfare and the changing role of the state in provision, introducing you to key theoretical perspectives, concepts and debates in welfare service provision for children and families.

Healthy children and families? (Requisite)

This module aims to provide an introduction to the study of  health and wellbeing of children and families. It seeks to explore the roles and experiences of children and families in relation to health, illness and family life.

Safeguarding (Mandatory)

This module will help you to develop a sound understanding of the inter-professional and inter-agency context. You will engage in critical evaluation of current inter-professional practice including the move towards greater integration and co-location of front line children's services.

Developing Practice (Optional)*

QAA subject benchmarks for Early Childhood Studies (Oct. 2014) state that professional and practice development should be encouraged, therefore  the structure and content of the module will also support students towards meeting the relevant requirements of particular statutory or regulatory bodies. The module content will relate and be determined by this and will be updated accordingly to ensure currency.

Play and Learning (Optional)

This module will explore whether ‘play’ and ‘learning’ interact to further children’s development. Students will be encouraged to reflect on and explore historical and cultural perspectives on play and observed play behaviour, as well as significant theoretical views on the role of play in a child’s development.

Children’s Geographies (Optional)

This module explores children’s everyday lives within various cultures, spaces, places and environments that they inhabit as such understanding is critical to making their worlds safer, facilitating their participatory roles in society, and implementing policies relevant to their geographies.

Language and Literacy (Optional)

This module offers an in-depth study of the development of language and literacy and the close interlinks between the two areas. The module will cover development of communication, language and literacy from a range of different viewpoints, socio-cultural, psychological/development, and educational. The module will examine the role of multimodal and digital literacies within children’s experiences.

Children’s Health and Wellbeing (Optional)

This module follows on from the level 4 module Children and Health by providing students with a more in-depth perspective of the historical, political, cultural, sociological and psychological factors relevant to children’s health and wellbeing. This module seeks to critically explore the changing patterns of children’s health and disease and key determinants of child health.

Social Psychology and Children (Optional)

Children are by nature social beings influenced by many factors including individual differences, relationships with others, social interactions, biological predispositions, emotional intelligence, cultural differences and many more. This module provides an introduction to the study of social psychology, exploring a range of differing perspectives, methodologies and current debates within this field that relate to children and childhood.

Children’s Rights and Citizenship (Optional)

This module seeks to follow on from Level 4 modules in the sociology and social policy of early childhood. It sets out to investigate the nature, philosophies and significant processes of children’s rights with in depth exploration of children within their day-to-day social and cultural environments.

Research Methods (Mandatory)

This module focuses on research methods in general but will also cover methods and methodologies specific to understanding childhood and the child-centred participatory (participant-led) approaches. In exploring a range of research methods, students will acquire knowledge and understanding of the research process and issues related to doing research with children.

Dissertation (Mandatory)

This module provides students with an opportunity to carry out an in-depth investigation on a topic of their own choice, and seeks to equip them with the skills of project planning, design, analysis and critical evaluation. The module involves independent study under the guidance of a research supervisor. Students are expected to engage in a wide literature search, to support either a literature based, primary or secondary research study.

Dissertation - Additional assignment (available to part-time students only)

Part-time students have the option of undertaking an additional piece of work to the research methods dissertation. The student has the opportunity to extend their understanding of research methodology, to demonstrate awareness of where their research is situated in the relevant subject area and critically evaluate ethical approaches, selected research method, findings and possible limitations.

Early Childhood Intervention (Optional)

This module encourages students to critically explore and evaluate current debates that surround early intervention, relevant theories, policy and practice in relation to young children and their families. A range of interventions are reviewed in the light of the holistic needs of children within an increasingly inclusive and culturally diverse society, and changing trends in supporting families.

Young Children’s Cultural Worlds (Optional)

This module will cover a wide variety of topics dictated to some extent by the very latest academic and current affairs coverage relating to the early years. This will currently include for example children and friendships; the sexualisation debate, children’s literature, the politics of family life, children art and visual cultures; immigration and community etc.

International and Comparative Education (Optional)

The provision of education for young children throughout the world has developed due to a range of factors and influences (political, economic, environmental, socio-cultural and technological). This module sets out to develop students’ knowledge, understanding and critical awareness of these factors and influences and the impact they have on young children’s access and experience  of education in different countries.

Professional Practice in Early Year Contexts (Optional)

This module is a further opportunity for students to develop their professional practice or ensure they have relevant and validated practice experience in their final year as an undergraduate. This module will support and develop students’ potential for employment. It will also provide the opportunity to develop reflective practice and support employability skills.

International Perspectives on Children's Health and Wellbeing (Optional)

This module sets out to develop students’ critical awareness and understanding of the existing and potential effects of political, economic, environmental, socio-cultural and technological influences which impact upon children’s health and wellbeing in an increasingly international context.

The Child as Creative and Critical Thinker (optional)

This module looks at the role of creative development in supporting flexible thinking in early years, educational and care settings and considers the extent to which children are required to use critical and creative thinking processes. The range of forms children use for exploring, questioning, conceptualising and symbolically representing their understanding of their world are considered.

Career opportunities

The Early Childhood Studies degree enables students to go in to a range of careers in the early years, as well as completing post graduate qualifications in order to work in the education, health and social care fields.

Careers including Primary Teacher Training, Family Support and Social Work, Nursing and related disciplines, Early Year’s settings, International, National and Regional Aid work with children and their families, post-graduate study and research.

What our students say

"When I began the degree I was unsure what I wanted to do career-wise except that I wanted to work with children. The modules that I had to study in the first year were fascinating and really opened my eyes to the breadth of ideas out there about children and childhood. In the second and third years I really enjoyed the mandatory modules we covered and being able to choose options based on what was of interest to me was really great. I’ve now been accepted for Primary Teacher Training and at interview was able to confidently discuss some challenging issues. I think I surprised myself, but that’s what the Early Childhood Studies degree does to you and I would recommend it to anyone!"

"I always knew I wanted to work with children and my interest in children with additional needs grew during the course. I’m now part of a team working for a local charity who support children with additional needs so I’ve got my dream job."

"I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do with my ECS degree, initially it was teacher training but now I’m studying at post-graduate level and see my future in children’s advocacy."

Fees and finance


  • Full-time tuition fee: £9,250 p.a.
  • Part-time tuition fee: £1,454 per 20 credits (Please contact the Infozone for further information)
  • International tuition fee: £11,790 p.a.

Further Information                                       

  • Detailed information about Tuition Fees.
  • Find out more about Financial Support eligibility.
  • Also see Loans and Grants.
  • At University of Suffolk, your tuition fees provide access to all the usual teaching and learning facilities that you would expect. However, there may be additional costs associated with you course that you will need to budget for. See Course Costs.

Entry requirements

Academic Requirements

112 UCAS tariff points (or above), BBC (A-Level), DMM (BTEC).

Applicants are expected to hold GCSE in English at grade 4/C or above.

Also see How To Apply

International Requirements

IELTS 6.0 overall (minimum 5.5 in all components) where English is not the students' first language.

Also see International and EU.

Transferring Credit

If you have previously studied at higher education level before you may be able to transfer credits to a related course at the University of Suffolk and reduce the period of study time necessary to achieve your degree.


Senior Lecturer in Early Childhood Studies

Senior Lecturer for Early Childhood Studies

Senior Lecturer (Psychology & ECS)

Senior Lecturer

Senior Lecturer in Early Childhood Studies

Course Leader in MA Childhood Studies and Lecturer in Early Childhood Studies

Lecturer in Early Childhood Studies

Senior Lecturer in Early Childhood Studies

Facilities and Resources

Most of our teaching takes place at our Waterfront Building situated on Ipswich marina. The Waterfront Building has modern seminar rooms, lecture rooms and an auditorium that can seat 200 people. It’s also home to several flexible open-study spaces with iMacs available for students to use as well as picturesque views across the waterfront.

The Atrium Building is another location for our teaching and it boasts modern seminar rooms with AV equipment and a café on the ground floor, perfect for refreshments or studying.