MA Education: Early Years

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Fact file

Start date: September or January 

Course length: Full-time: one year; part-time: three to six years.

Campus: Kedleston Road, Derby

College: College of Education

Department: Postgraduate and Initial Teacher Training

Why choose this pathway?

  • Our Early Years pathway is right for you if you like working with young children.
  • It will make you think about where children are found and how the adults in their lives have 'constructed' the worlds in which children find themselves.
  • You will reflect on the nature of childhood; what do we really want from the children with whom we work? What are our early childhood institutions really for?
  • You will also be given the opportunity to look at how things have changed with regards to the expectation of having a highly qualified and professional workforce and consider adults who work in these environments.
  • You will explore the issue of leadership in the early years workforce.

What you will cover

Part time students 

As a part time student your studying will normally take place over three academic years, potentially choosing one module per term. 

Your first module will be ‘Crafting Your Masters Study’. The other pathway, core and optional modules will be available according to the schedule of delivery.

Here is an example of possible combination modules:

Year 1 - Postgraduate Certificate (60 credits) Crafting Your Masters Study Pathway module Option module
Year 2 - Postgraduate Diploma (120 credits) Evidence Based Practice Pathway module Option module
Year 3 - Masters (180 credits) Independent study with Early Years Focus

Full time students 

As a full time student your studying will normally take place over one academic year.  The optional modules and pathway modules will be available according to the schedule of delivery

Here is an example of the combination of modules that you would choose:

Term 1 (Sept - Dec) Crafting Your Masters Study (20 credits) Evidence Based Practice (20 credits) Optional or pathway module (20 credits)
Term 2 (Jan - March) Applying Educational Thinkers and Theorists (20 credits) Independent Study (60 credits) Attend workshop Optional or pathway module (20 credits)
Term 3 (April - June) Comparative Education (20 credits) Independent Study (Submit in August) Optional or pathway module (20 credits) if not already taken in term 1 or 2

For both part time and full time students 

Core modules

  • Crafting Your Masters Study
  • Evidence Based Practice‌
  • Independent Study‌

Prescribed pathway modules   

There are two modules, each of which has a different focus. Each of them are rooted in practice, and draw extensively from recent academic literature. You will reflect critically on recent government policies and consider them in relation to their work environment, as well as local, national and international practice.

The two prescribed pathway modules are:

Children's Places

You will be given the opportunity to conduct a small project into real children’s places and examine current academic writing on how British society sees 'childhood'. You will consider:

  • To what extent do we allow children the experience of childhood?
  • What does research tell us about children’s experience of childhood and how it changes as they move from care into formal educational provision?

Children's Workforce Development

In this module, discussion will focus on the skills, knowledge and attitudes expected of those people who work with young children. You will consider:

  • How has this changed in recent years, as the expectation of a highly qualified and professional workforce has emerged?
  • How does the British early childhood workforce compare to that of other countries?

How you will learn

The basis of the teaching and learning is teacher-led discussion. The material for each class is published online before the class, giving students the opportunity to reflect on the content and read a little beforehand.

There is an expectation that you will bring your experience to the class and be willing to share in a dialogue with other student colleagues.

Careers and employability

An audit of the career pathways of our recent graduates suggests that the pathway is having a significant impact on their practice and career development. There is recognition that the MA Education enhances professionalism as well as boosting career development.

We hear from our graduates that they have achieved promotion, are more confident in asking critical questions regarding practice and are carrying out their own research in their setting.

Some of our graduates have become co-ordinators of research into particular aspects of practice, leading practice within a range of settings. Some are undertaking their own research projects that are soon to be published.

What our students say

"The module introducing me to research (Evidence Based Practice) has not only pushed me to new levels, and ways, of thinking, but has also been of enormous benefit both personally and professionally already. I have applied my skills and knowledge in ways that I would not have even considered before I undertook the module and can only thank you for the superb course content, volume of support and information available and the highest quality lecturing."

Abigail Simpson, graduate

"This course has boosted my confidence massively. In the workplace I now have the information that others have - reading and discussion on topical issues. I have a wider understanding of my position within education and my school’s position within the system. Until I took this course I generally focussed on what I was teaching a small group of children in the classroom - this course helps me to place this within a wider context." 

Nicki Pursglove, graduate

Entry requirements

You’ll usually need an undergraduate degree or an equivalent qualification and a role within education that will allow you to complete the work based assignments. Even if you don’t have these entry requirements it’s worth contacting us if you have relevant professional experience as we may be able to consider your application.

Fees and finance

2016/17 Fees (August 2016 - July 2017)


£580 per 20 credits*

£580 per 20 credits*


£12,000 for the full programme


*Note – at postgraduate level, you’ll need to gain the following number of credits in total to obtain the awards below.

Postgraduate Certificate60 Credits
Postgraduate Diploma120 Credits
MA or MSc180 Credits

This means you will gain 180 credits in total to complete the full MA or MSc. If you’re studying full-time you will normally complete 180 credits over one year. If you are studying part time you will normally complete your studies over two or three years, depending on the course structure.

Please note that all fees may be subject to annual increase.

Funding your studies

Find out more about fees, postgraduate loans and support you may be entitled to.

Alumni discount for Derby graduates

We offer a 10% discount on postgraduate course fees for all Derby alumni.

Scholarships and bursaries

We also offer a number of funding opportunities for all International students, including discounts, scholarships and bursaries.

How to apply

UK/EU students

International students

Information for international applicants

Applying for a postgraduate degree

UK/EU Students

International students

Information for international applicants

Applying for an postgraduate degree

Pathway enquiries

Contact name: Judith Schoch
T: +44 (0)1332 591703

Where will I study?

Kedleston Road, Derby