Early Childhood Studies (Top-Up) BA (Hons)

Key Facts

  • Level:


  • Duration:

    1 year full time

  • Starting:


  • Fees UK 23/24:

    Full Time: £9,250
    Part Time: £1,540 per 20 credit module

  • Location:


Get in touch

For questions regarding study and admissions please contact us:

UK/EU Students enquiries

0300 303 2772

International Students enquiries

+44 (0)1604 893981

Follow the Early Years team


If you have a Foundation Degree or HND, this course will progress you onto an honours degree. You will consolidate your knowledge of the holistic development of young children and have opportunities to apply your learning in the workplace or in a placement setting. This is a particularly useful course if you are already working in this field.
Top 10 For Childhood And Youth

The University of Northampton is a top 10 institution for Childhood and Youth Studies in the Complete University Guide league tables for 2022.

Top 10 in Childhood & Youth Studies, from the Complete University Guide League Tables 2022

Updated 20/03/2023


  • Early Childhood Graduate Practitioner Competencies
  • Course sessions tailored around work placements
  • Allows students to top-up qualification already gained
  • Guaranteed interview for PGCE Primary Education (5-11) (QTS) on completion (T&Cs apply)

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Course Content

  • Your studies will be supported by tutors from a range of professional areas in the field of Early Childhood and you will have the opportunity to build on your knowledge and practice skills through the academic study of Graduate Leadership, Research and Inquiry, Early Years Pedagogy or Health and Social Care.  You will also have the opportunity to undertake a research project in Early Childhood.

    Along with your practical placements, you will gain real-world knowledge and expertise.

    We will help you to:

    • establish a rigorous understanding of young children’s holistic development in the early years through detailed analysis and evaluation of inter-disciplinary theoretical perspectives and research evidence
    • develop a comprehensive and critical understanding of contemporary services and support for young children and families in a multi-agency context
    • extend and refine your critical reflection on your own practice in the Early Years Foundation Stage and your graduate leadership and support of others
    • support your progress towards the achievement of relevant professional standards and roles, for example in relation to Early Years Teacher Status or as preparation for further training in teaching with QTS or social work

    The course is made up of modules covering diverse, cultural, inter-disciplinary and multi-agency contexts including leadership and management issues. There is also a specialist module to help you develop a critical analysis of contemporary issues in early childhood policy, practice and services for children and families. Alternatively you can complete a module in Health and Social Care on an alternative day.

    You will complete an independent dissertation, which we will prepare you for, with specific modules on theory and research skills.

    Graduate Practitioner Competencies

    Early Childhood Graduate Practitioner Competencies

    These Competencies focus heavily on the application the academic elements of degree programmes in placements. You will meet the nine competencies through assessed observations of practice, practice-based tasks and academic assessment.

    The nine Competencies are:

    1. Advocating for young children’s rights and participation
    2. Promote holistic child development
    3. Work directly with young children, families and colleagues to promote health, well-being, safety and nurturing care
    4. Observe, listen and plan for young children to support their well-being, early learning, progression and transitions
    5. Safeguarding and child protection
    6. Inclusive practice
    7. Partnership with parents and caregivers
    8. Collaborating with others
    9. Professional Development

    Please note the modules shown here relate to the academic year 22/23. The modules relating to the academic year 23/24 will be available from June 2023.

      • Module code: EYS3126
        Status: Compulsory
        The purpose of this module is to provide a framework for students to develop their understanding of research, to enable them to critique and evaluate published research in relation to work with children and families. Practical exercises will help students to build their own research capacities prior to undertaking research for their Dissertation.
      • Module code: EYS3136
        Status: Designate
        The purpose of this module is to build on and extend previous learning. It is designed to support students in their application of knowledge and skills in health and social care and to inform their practice and research in early years.
      • Module code: EYS3137
        Status: Designate
        The purpose of this module is to support students' further development as reflective Early Years practitioners, who are able to apply their knowledge of theories and principles of child development and organisational and regulatory requirements to their individual practice and pedagogy. It aims to establish confident Early Years graduates who draw on integrated knowledge to lead and support colleagues, raise expectations, manage change, transitions and improve practice within Early Years settings and services being mindful of multi-agency working.
      • Module code: EYS3139
        Status: Compulsory
        The purpose of this module is to involve students in the study of the theory and practice of leadership and management techniques used in the provision of Early Years and children's services. The growing body of international research concerning management and leadership in early years and children's services is analysed and considered, in the context of preparing students for future professional roles in leading and supporting others.
      • Module code: EYS3140
        Status: Designate
      • Module code: EYS3141
        Status: Compulsory
        The purpose of this module is to focus on students? professional development. It supports the application of theoretical perspectives of Early Childhood Education and Care in a placement setting and the development of reflective professional practice and employability skills. Students are encouraged to seek placement opportunities, authorised by the Partnership Tutor to ensure that the organisation is providing a suitable safe learning experience. Students will be expected to adhere to the expectations of the placement, and that of the placement organisation. All students will either have a placement visit or, for those students who have organised a placement at a distance from the University, a telephone conversation with a member of the module team.For work-based students the placement is their employment setting.
      • Module code: EYS4105
        Status: Compulsory
        The purpose of this module is to support students design and carry out a small-scale investigation into a topic/aspect of practice or policy of their own choosing within the broad area of services for young children and families. In doing this students are demonstrating graduate skills associated with a significant piece of small-scale independent research. Normally students are expected to have had some preparation in research methodologies and methods before embarking on this module through the completion of EYS 3126.
  • You will need to hold a Foundation Degree or HND in Early Years or closely related subject. In addition to general entry requirements, applicants are expected to have written English and Mathematics GCSEs grade C/4 or above. You will be expected to demonstrate your commitment to Early Childhood Studies by having previous experience of working with children under the age of eight.

    A Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check is required if you are not already working in an early years setting. An employer DBS declaration form can be completed if you are working in an early years setting.

    For information on how to apply to study with us, please see our How to Apply page.

    English Language Requirements

    All International and EU students applying for a course with us must meet the following minimum English language requirements:

    • IELTS 6.0 (or equivalent) with a minimum of 6 in all bands
      for study at undergraduate level

    For information regarding English language requirements at the University, please see our IELTS page.

  • 2023/24 Tuition Fees

    Fees quoted relate to study in the Academic Year 23/24 only and may be subject to inflationary increases in future years.

    • UK – Full Time: £9,250
    • UK – Part Time: £1,540 per 20 credit module
    2022/23 Tuition Fees

    Fees quoted relate to study in the Academic Year 22/23 only and may be subject to inflationary increases in future years.

    • UK – Full Time: £9,250
    • UK – Part Time: £1,500 per 20 credit module
    • International – Full Time: £14,500
    Additional costs

    Placement is compulsory on this course and this may involve you traveling between campus and the placement setting.  You will be the responsible for the cost of this travel.

  • How am I taught?

    The course sessions are delivered on one day a week, giving you time to work and study in the best way that suits you. The course starts in early September, with an induction day at the end of August. You can also study an optional module in Health and Social Care alongside students on the three-year undergraduate degree.

    How am I assessed?

    There are no exams for this course, instead you will be assessed on essays, online debate and discussion, individual projects and your dissertation.

    Are there work placements?

    If you are not currently in employment in an early years setting you will have the opportunity to undertake a four week placement to build your experience, and two weeks of fieldwork to gather research for your dissertation.

    If you are already working in an early years setting, you can undertake one of the placements in your own workplace, or you can choose to work somewhere else to expand your experience.

Student story: Karen Malcolmson

"The best bit about the course was meeting other people who worked in the Early YearsIt was interesting to hear other people's opinions and experiences about the Early Years, both in school and nursery settings."


Postgraduate and Careers

Guaranteed Interview: Teacher Training

If you complete your degree with us and apply for the PGCE Primary Education (5-11) (QTS) programme at the University of Northampton during your final undergraduate year, you are guaranteed an interview.

Terms and conditions apply:

  • Interviews are subject to you meeting the entry criteria for the course, we require a minimum 2:2 degree and relevant GCSEs
  • An interview does not guarantee an offer to study on the course
  • Places are limited and applications will close once the limit has been reached

Our postgraduate courses are a great way to enhance the skills you have already learnt. Benefit from our 20% alumni discount on postgraduate fees to give you a CV that will catch the eye of employers.

This degree is excellent preparation for any leadership role in an Early Years setting. It is also a strong foundation for a Postgraduate Certificate in Education (PGCE), Early Years Teacher Status course or the School Direct route into teaching. If you want to continue along the academic route, the MA in Education (Early Years) or the MA in Social Work is also available to you.

Is this course for you?