Course details

Study options

Full-time: 1 year, Part-time: 2 years

UK fee

£9,250 per year (2022/23)

International fee

£14,045 per year (2022/23)

Course level



BA (Hons)

Start date



Kedleston Road, Derby Campus

Course description

If you’d like to make a genuine and lasting difference to children’s lives, our BA (Hons) Early Childhood Studies (Top-Up) is an excellent foundation for vital roles in health, education and social care.

  • Explore how children learn and develop from birth to eight years, building professional skills and knowledge to meet their needs
  • The opportunities to focus on modules specific to your Personal interests and careers aspirations (subject to demand)
  • Benefit from the expertise of a multi-disciplinary academic team who will ensure your learning is relevant, up to date and research informed
  • If you complete this course and meet the entry requirements for PGCE Primary, we will guarantee you an interview - see below for full details.

There can be few more rewarding professions than working with young children, helping them to reach important milestones and to develop skills that will last a lifetime. Our BA (Hons) Early Childhood Studies degree (Top-Up) is your first step to a successful and worthwhile future.

Top 30for Education**The Guardian University Guide 2022
Top15overall satisfaction for Education**Complete University Guide 2022
little girl measuring herself against a wall

Explore how children develop

You’ll gain a thorough understanding of early childhood from birth to eight years, exploring how children develop, learn and think. You’ll look at the importance of early childhood from a broad range of perspectives.

Our focus throughout is on identifying and meeting children’s holistic needs, so you’ll consider all the challenges and opportunities faced by early years professionals working in a variety of children’s services.

The role of professional and personal development is an important theme for this course. By spending a substantial amount of time on placement, you'll draw on your own practical experiences with young children to advance your knowledge. 

Be inspired by leading experts

Our course is delivered by a highly experienced team, including influential researchers and published authors. It means your course is shaped by the latest thinking and innovative ideas which are changing the face of early childhood studies.

Our staff have conducted important studies into a wide range of subjects, from creativity for early years professionals to social constructions of childhood, from the pressures faced by new parents to ways of engaging fathers in early years settings.

You may even take part in fascinating research initiatives yourself. Our students have, for instance, worked with school children and community groups to draw up ideas for improving the play and educational potential of various parks in Nottinghamshire.

A vibrant learning experience

We pride ourselves on offering a friendly, welcoming learning environment where you will receive plenty of encouragement and guidance. Our tutors are approachable, dedicated and passionate about their subjects.

You’ll learn in our Kirtley Building which offers first-rate facilities for our Education and Childhood Studies students. It includes specially designed collaborative learning spaces and a large hall for practical activities and observing learning in action.

Students will also learn off site which includes opportunities to learn off site e.g. forest school sessions.

Guaranteed interviews for our PGCE Primary

If you complete this degree and meet the entry requirements for our course, we will guarantee you an interview during your final year of undergraduate study (subject to places being available). 

Places on our PGCE are highly sought after, so we recommend you apply as early as possible.

Terms and conditions:

  • There are a limited number of places on the PGCE Primary. Once the course is full, applications will close and no further interviews will be held
  • Interviews are guaranteed for students who meet the entry requirements for the PGCE Primary, including GCSE grades, degree classification, experience and successful completion of the Skills Tests
  • An interview does not guarantee an offer to study on the course
little boy running and playing with toy plane

The University of Derby Leads the Way

From September 2018, The University of Derby will be one of only four Universities in the country to offer graduate level practitioner competencies for students studying BA (Hons) Early Childhood Studies from Stage 1 of the degree.

The Competencies have been developed by members of the Early Childhood Studies Degrees Network (ECSDN) in consultation with students and employers, with an aim of ‘strengthening a graduate-led Early Childhood workforce that is responsive to workforce needs and improves outcomes for children’ (ECSDN, 2018). 

Students that achieve the Early Childhood Graduate Practitioner competencies will meet the nine competencies through assessed observations of practice, practice-based tasks and academic assessment.

The Early Childhood Graduate 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


'We are delighted to have been part of the development of these competencies and to be able to offer our students this important opportunity. These developments will enhance reflective practice, graduate employability and the progression onto post-graduate study. The Early Childhood Competencies will not only serve to strengthen the practice of our students and their critical application of theory to practice but will also make an important contribution towards meeting our on-going aim of building a graduate led workforce for children and families.'  Carol Fenton and Dr Helen Simmons, Senior Lecturers: BA (Hons) Early Childhood Studies

BA (Hons) Early Childhood Studies lecturers, students and graduates talk about the course and how it can benefit a career working with young children

What you will study

    Please note that our modules are subject to change - we review the content of our courses regularly, making changes where necessary to improve your experience and graduate prospects.

    Kedleston Road, Derby Campus entrance

    Undergraduate Open Days

    The best way to find out if studying at Derby is right for you is to experience an Open Day. Get a feel for the city and campus, tour our first-class facilities and see where you could be living.

    Book your Undergraduate Open DayBook your Undergraduate Open Day

    How you will learn

    You’ll be taught through lectures, seminar activities and tutorials to support you through your assessments and group work.

    How you're assessed

    You’ll be assessed using case studies, essays, independent research, online tests, posters, presentations and reports. There are no exams.

    Children playing in a forest area

    Outdoor Learning Space

    Learn how to apply education in an outdoor setting, using nature to improve the personal, social and technical skills of children.

    Take a lookTake a look

    Personal academic tutoring

    Your personal academic tutor will work with you to help you get the most out of your time at university. Having someone to talk to about your academic progress, your university experience and your professional aspirations is hugely valuable. We want you to feel challenged in your studies, stretched but confident to achieve your academic and professional goals.

    Find out more about personal academic tutoring

    Who will teach you

    Emma Twigg in the classroom.

    Emma Twigg
    Programme leader

    Emma Twigg is a Senior Lecturer and Programme Leader on the BA (Hons) Early Childhood Studies degree at the University of Derby.

    View full staff profileView full staff profile

    Entry requirements

    You will need to have a foundation degree passed with grades above 50% and 240 credits.

    You need at least five GCSEs (or equivalent) including Maths and English at grade 4/C or above.

    English language requirements

    IELTS: 6.0 (with at least 5.5 in each skills area)

    Fees and funding

    2022/23 Fees (August 2022 - July 2023)


    £9,250 per year

    £1,155 per 20 credit module


    £14,045 per year


    Further information about our fees and support you may be entitled to.

    Additional costs and optional extras

    How to apply

    Please look at our application deadlines before you apply.

    UK students

    Students should apply directly to the University.

    Apply directly to the University
    International students

    On-campus courses starting in September 2022 are now closed to new applications from international students due to unprecedented demand. We have a number of courses starting in January 2023 which are open for applications. Applications for September 2023 will open in October. If you have any questions, please email

    Students should apply directly to the University.

    Apply directly to the University


    This degree is your chance to shape and influence many young lives. Early childhood roles are a rapidly growing area of employment in the UK – opening doors to stimulating careers in the independent, private, public or voluntary sectors.

    Well qualified and dedicated early childhood professionals are in demand across health, education and social care settings. Our graduates are now enjoying successful careers as early years practitioners and managers. You’ll also find there are ample opportunities for promotion and progression to leadership positions in children’s services.

    Our degree is an excellent platform to broaden your career scope by taking additional qualifications. Some of our graduates have, for instance, gone on to train as children’s nurses by undertaking a shortened two-year Paediatric Nursing qualification. You can also consider our exciting range of postgraduate courses, including the  or .

    This route is known as the ‘non-practitioner route’ and is academic only, with no full practitioner status attached to it.

    Please note that this course does not lead to Qualified Teacher Status. However, if you’d like to train to be a teacher, you will be guaranteed an interview for our PGCE Primary if you meet the entry requirements.

    You could also apply to study our  or .

    Student testimonial quote from Charlotte Baker
    Charlotte Baker, Early Childhood Studies graduate

    Contact us

    If you need any more information from us, eg on courses, accommodation, applying, car parking, fees or funding, please contact us and we will do everything we can to help you.

    Contact us Contact us

    Additional information about your studies

    Teaching hours

    Like most universities, we operate extended teaching hours at the University of Derby, so contact time with your lecturers and tutors could be anytime between 9am and 9pm. Your timetable will usually be available on the website 24 hours after enrolment on to your course.

    Additional costs and optional extras

    We’re committed to providing you with an outstanding learning experience. Our expert teaching, excellent facilities and great employability prepare you for your future career. As part of our commitment to you we aim to keep any additional study costs to a minimum. However, there are occasions where students may incur some additional costs.

    Please also note that due to the current Covid-19 situation, if your course offers fieldtrips, the location of these may change or be cancelled. If this happens, you will be communicated to in advance and we will do our very best to seek out other practical opportunities to ensure your experience is not affected.

    The information provided on this page is correct at the time of publication but course content, costs and other individual course details do change from time to time and are updated as often as possible, so please do check these pages again when making your final decision to apply for a course. Any updated course details will also be confirmed to you at application, enrolment and in your offer letter.

    Included in your fees
    • The initial DBS check (if required for placement purposes)
    • Induction activities and visits
    • Any in-class visits (Guest workshops)
    • All visiting speakers to enhance module content
    • Discipline Area Conferences such as Education & SEND Conferences and Symposium, Careers Conferences, Early Childhood Studies Conferences
    • Placement travel costs that exceed stated amount per day (2020-21 stated amount currently £5 per day) for the mandatory days/hours required for the placement module (Level 5) and pathway mandatory requirements (TESOL / SEND) (policy guidance must be followed)
    Mandatory costs not included in your fees
    • Print costs above the allowance
    • Binding of IS dissertation at stage 3, approx. cost £6
    • Replacement DBS if lost, approx. £50
    Optional costs not included in your fees
    • Field trips abroad that offer enrichment opportunities. These are optional, approx. cost £430-£1000
    • Memberships to sports clubs and societies encouraged but not mandatory, approx. cost £17 for Athletic Union membership plus club fee, £7 for societies card plus society fee

    Please note: Our courses are refreshed and updated on a regular basis. If you are thinking about transferring onto this course (into the second year for example), you should contact the programme leader for the relevant course information as modules may vary from those shown on this page.