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Course Code: X316

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Why choose the School of Education

Ofsted – we are a ‘Good’ provider with Outstanding in Quality of leadership and management across our partnerships.

95% of our Education and Teaching graduates are in employment or further studies 15 months after graduating (HESA Graduate Outcomes, 2023)

Over 90% of students across all courses are employed within the first six months of graduation

100% of our undergraduate Primary Education graduates have secured jobs by the end of their course

Our Early Childhood Education course ranks 8th in its subject table for graduate prospects on track (Complete University Guide, 2024)

All teaching-training staff have QTS and were previously employed as teachers and/or head teachers; we also have teaching staff who are school governors or active members of their national subject associations

About the course

This flexible course offers an integrated international pathway into early years education with a focus on building your employability through work placements. It also has options to complete over one or two years depending on your previous related studies.

The degree explores the complexity of early education and child development while placing the developing child within the context of their family and society both in the UK and globally. It allows you to compare and evaluate international and UK-based early childhood education offering international students the opportunity to compare their home nation’s early years practice with the UK.

Areas you may cover through the course include early child development; early childhood settings; teaching practice; families and communities; early numeracy and literacy; inclusive education and practice; and international perspectives on early childhood education.

Why choose this course?

  • Our Education courses have a high student satisfaction rating for our teaching (91%) and academic support (90%) (NSS 2022)
  • Benefit from its strong focus on employability with placements in settings across the age range (birth to 8) as well as opportunities for voluntary experience
  • Learn with a highly experienced research-active academic team
  • Study at a University with over 10 years’ experience delivering degree courses in early years or early childhood education
  • Many of our alumni have gone on to qualify as teachers in the UK primary sector or work as leaders in the early years sector
  • As an international student we offer a transition unit before the start of the course that familiarises you with UK early years education

with Professional Practice Year

This course has the option to be taken over four years which includes a year placement in industry. Undertaking a year in industry has many benefits. You gain practical experience and build your CV, as well as being a great opportunity to sample a profession and network with potential future employers.

There is no tuition fee for the placement year enabling you to gain an extra year of experience for free.

*Only available to UK/EU students.

with Foundation Year

A Degree with a Foundation Year gives you guaranteed entry to an Undergraduate course.

Whether you’re returning to learning and require additional help and support to up-skill, or if you didn’t quite meet the grades to pursue an Undergraduate course, our Degrees with Foundation Year provide a fantastic entry route for you to work towards a degree level qualification.

With our guidance and support you’ll get up to speed within one year, and will be ready to seamlessly progress on to undergraduate study at Bedfordshire.

The Foundation Year provides an opportunity to build up your academic writing skills and numeracy, and will also cover a range of subject specific content to fully prepare you for entry to an Undergraduate degree.

This is an integrated four-year degree, with the foundation year as a key part of the course. You will need to successfully complete the Foundation Year to progress on to the first year of your bachelor’s degree.

Why study a degree with a Foundation Year?

  • Broad-based yet enough depth to give you credible vocational skills
  • Coverage of a variety of areas typically delivered by an expert in this area
  • Gain an understanding of a subject before choosing which route you wish to specialise in
  • Great introduction to further study, and guaranteed progression on to one of our Undergraduate degrees

The degrees offering a Foundation Year provide excellent preparation for your future studies.

During your Foundation Year you will get the opportunity to talk to tutors about your degree study and future career aspirations, and receive guidance on the most appropriate Undergraduate course to help you achieve this; providing you meet the entry requirements and pass the Foundation Year.


Course Leader - Julie Beams

I gained Qualified Teacher Status in 1987 and have worked in a number of educational settings since then. I have taught across the whole primary age range.

My main focus, however, has been working with children in the Foundation Stage (0 – 5) in schools, day nurseries and Children's Centres in both a hands-on practitioner and an advisory capacity and in a range of different local authorities in England.

What will you study?

Narratives Of Childhood

This unit examines children’s lives and education through historical, sociological and philosophical perspectives. It explores the ways in which children and young people’s social and learning worlds are experienced by them and constructed, surveyed and regulated by adults. It draws on different theoretical perspectives to investigate notions of childhood and interrogate the subjective realities of children’s lives and learning across the different spaces and places of family, community and school. It explores how social, economic, technological and cultural change, alongside difference and diversity shape various narratives around contemporary childhood experience and raise critical questions for policy and practice about children’s care, welfare and education.

The unit is relevant to students who intend to work with children, young people and families. It provides a broad understanding of the theories underpinning the studies of childhood and youth and education that is relevant to professional practice across family, school and community contexts. 

The Growing Child In Context

How is our understanding of child development informed by research and theory?

This unit will help you to understand how important it is for Early Years practitioners to have knowledge of child development and the impact of family, societal and policy support and contexts that children will experience.

This unit interconnects with the unit Early Child Development in semester 1, and Early Years Curriculum Studies in Level 4 in semester 1 and its workplace opportunity in semester 2. It will support your future learning in core units in levels 5 and 6.

Understanding Practice In Early Childhood Settings

How is the current Early Childhood curriculum applied in practice?
This unit aims to address the issues relating to application of current policy framework for Early Childhood Education. As part of the unit you will undertake a short placement in an early setting.
This unit interconnects with Early Child Development in Level 4, and will support your future learning in core units in levels 5 and 6.

Early Child Development

How is our understanding of child development informed by research and theory?
This unit will help you to understand how important it is for Early Years practitioners to have knowledge of child development.
This unit interconnects with the unit The Growing Child in Context in semester 2, and Early Years Curriculum Studies at Level 4 in semester 1, and will support your future learning in core units in levels 5 and 6.

Early Years Curriculum Studies

The unit will provide an introduction to the current legislation and guidance for Early Years practitioners. It will demonstrate how current policy has developed from the pioneers in early years education and discuss the limitations of current policy in practice. The value of academic research in developing policy will be explored.

Key Concepts In Education

In this unit we will help you to find the answers to the following questions:

- What do I need to do to produce academic work to a Higher Education standard?

- What are some of the key concepts and ideas that underpin my subject area and how can I approach them academically?

This unit will equip you with the skills you need to succeed in higher education and will introduce you to the key concepts and knowledge base that underpin your field of study. It will act as an extended induction programme to your degree. You will take an active approach to constructing knowledge in the unit. All sessions are workshops where you will take part in learning activities including discussion, information gathering, analysis, evaluation, debate and written exercises. In the sessions you will complete, share, discuss and develop work. You will undertake guided, focused discussion and analysis of literature and concepts. The assessments will be approached in a step-by-step basis to ensure you are confident in what is required to complete a successful assessment at university.

Investigating The Social World

This unit aims to equip students with an understanding of different quantitative and qualitative approaches to investigating the social world and, professional settings in particular. More specifically, the unit will seek to:

  • Develop your understanding of both quantitative and qualitative research methods and the ways in which research data can be collected, analysed and reported.
  • Promote your understanding of the ethical issues involved in undertaking research in professional settings and on sensitive issues.
  • Develop your skills in designing and implementing all aspects of a research project.
  • Equip you with the knowledge and skills you need to undertake your dissertation at Level 6 where you may use both qualitative and quantitative methods

Early Representations Of Numeracy And Literacy

How do young children use representation in the development of their early literacy and numeracy?
This unit aims to explore features of learning specific to very young children’s use of representation, practitioner recognition of the value and importance of this as well as the synthesis between theory, professional literature and the broader contexts of policy.

Developing Teaching Practice

This unit looks at how recent research and developments in teaching help practising teachers deliver effective classroom sessions. It will be of particular relevance if you are considering a career in teaching at any level. It seeks to answer the following questions: What is the conceptual and practical basis of current educational practice? How do teachers create an effective classroom framework?

Understanding The Inclusive Practice In The Early Years

What are the issues around inclusion and inclusive practice in early years education? What does inclusion look like in practice? What do the professionals working for inclusion with children do?

You will undertake a placement within an early years setting for 8 morning or afternoon sessions in this semester. This placement will involve you shadowing the work of an early years professional involved in ensuring inclusion for children and their families and will support and deepen your knowledge of inclusion issues and practice.

This unit enhances understanding gained in Early Child Development, The Growing Child  and Understanding Practice in Early Childhood Settings in Level 4 and Inclusive Education in the Early Years semester 1 of Level 5

Families And Communities

Using a sociological perspective, this unit explores the family, community and culture in contemporary British society. It seeks to provide a broad theoretical and conceptual framework to understand debates about the form and function of the family and the social, economic and cultural factors that shape family structure, organisation, experience and change.

Current social policy debates are framed around new anxieties about families, parenting and community cohesion. The unit explores shifting theoretical and conceptual understandings of the family in the context of broad, social and economic change. It examines issues in relation to our experience of family life and locates these understandings within current social welfare and policy debates about the role of the family, the limits of state welfare and community constraints and resources    

Inclusive Education In The Early Years

What are the issues around in inclusion and inclusive practice in early childhood education?


This unit aims to explore both historic and contemporary perspectives, policy and practice relating to inclusive education in the Early Years.  It will look at a range of aspects which might create barriers to learning for young children

This unit enhances understanding gained in Early Child Development and Developing Practice in Early Childhood Settings at level 4

Professionalism, Leadership And Management In The Early Years

What do leaders and managers in the early years workplace need to know in order to be successful in their setting?   How do early years practitioners make sense of ideas about status and professionalism espoused by those with insider and outsider perspectives    on early years education?

This unit focuses on the issues of organisational, legal and interpersonal   inter-personal aspects of leading a team and the challenges of working in multiagency context with diverse groups of people and roles.


This unit connects with Early Years Curriculum Studies in Level 4 and  builds upon aspects of the syllabus in core units at level 5

Developing Children’S Thinking And Understanding

How can adults ensure their support for young children enables them to develop high quality reflective thinking and make sense of their world?
In this unit you will study in depth the nature of learning and development with a focus on the role that adults play in supporting the learning and development of children under five.

This unit builds upon Early Child Development and Early Years Curriculum Studies in level 4, Early Representations in Level 5 and links with Quality in the Early Years at level 6

Children And Young People’S Wellbeing

With an increasing amount of young people experiencing mental health issues and an increasing awareness of this in society and in particular in education, this unit will support students’ understanding of contemporary social and emotional issues in education. Students will gain an understanding of how to support children and young people in a variety of contexts. 


To plan, carry out and write up an independent research project with guidance from a dissertation supervisor. This will involve you in identifying a topic that is of interest to you, relevant to your course and is important in the context of wider research and policy and practice debates. Undertaking individual research offers the opportunity to develop a variety of skills in planning and managing a project, including ethical issues and working with participants, gathering, analysing and reporting data.

Quality In The Early Years

How do we create the most effective contexts for children’s learning?
This unit focuses on enhancing your understanding of how the physical, emotional and relational roles in early childhood education environments best enable children to learn and develop effectively.

This unit connects with Early Child Development and Early Years Curriculum S studies in Level 4, builds upon some aspects of the syllabus in core units at level 5 and interconnects with Developing Children’s Thinking and Understanding at Level 6.

Representations Of Disability

In this unit we will help you to find the answers to the following questions:

  • How is disability understood and represented in a variety of media?
  • What can these representations tell us about how disability is regarded and experienced?

This unit will equip you with the skills you need to investigate disability and the media. It will help you understand key concepts in the visualisation of disability and how representations influence perceptions of disability. The workshop format will allow you to discuss concepts and examples of representation and to develop your own understanding of a particular representation of disability and to communicate that understanding.

International Perspectives On Early Childhood Education

The unit examines key international and renowned approaches to supporting children’s learning in the Early Years and offers students the opportunity to develop their own model for an Early Childhood curriculum.
This unit connects with Early Child Development and Early Years Curriculum Studies in Level 4, builds upon some aspects of the syllabus in core units at level 5 and interconnects with Developing Children’s Thinking and Understanding at Level 6

How will you be assessed?

Learning is promoted through participation in a wide range of teaching methods across the degree. In lectures you will be invited to be actively involved through such activities as commenting on videos of practice; in seminars you will share your reflections on your learning in lectures and your reading debate viewpoints and engage in practical activities. You will attend practical workshops both on campus and in local Early Years settings and undertake work-related learning through placements in Early Years settings. Please note that you must be aware of and adhere to the University of Bedfordshire and School of Education and English Language placement policies.

As the degree progresses you will be encouraged and guided to develop your learning towards increasingly independent study. You are encouraged to see your learning as a collaborative enterprise in which your participation is crucial. Individual tutorials with staff are offered across the degree to allow you to reflect on your on-going development.

Level 4 introduces you to key ideas about Early Years Education and specific professional and academic skills that you will need to further develop for success in HE. In Levels 5 and 6 of the course the emphasis on lectures decreases with a higher proportion of seminar and workshop sessions. In Level 6 you will complete independent research in a topic related to Early Years Education. You will have the opportunity to choose from a range of optional units that further your own particular interests in education.

Extensive use will be made of the University Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) to provide you with information and further materials for your study and facilitate interaction and discussion between students and between staff and students. You will have the opportunity to develop your own IT skills through engagement with various forms of technology such as discussion boards.

Some core units require short periods of work based placement. You will be able to find your own settings for this but you are able to use suitable settings for this that already work with (for example places that have paid employment at or are volunteering in) although this is subject to ethical approval processes. Where you not have such contacts you will get support from the Education Services Team on the Bedford Campus. You will be encouraged to develop work based contacts from the very start of your degree to enhance your learning experiences and to be better able to relate theory to practice.

This course is taught by a core group of lecturers with recent professional practice in a range of Early Years educational settings and research-based work.


Graduates of this course will have access to a wide range of careers working with young children including: working in nurseries; establishing and running your own setting; and working in advisory roles.

Entry Requirements

Fees for this course

UK 2024/25

The full-time standard undergraduate tuition fee for the Academic Year 2024/25 is £9,250 per year. You can apply for a loan from the Government to help pay for your tuition fees. You can also apply for a maintenance loan from the Government to help cover your living costs. See

Merit Scholarship

We offer a Merit Scholarship to UK students, worth £2,400* over three academic years, which is awarded to those who can demonstrate a high level of academic achievement, through scoring 120 UCAS tariff points or more.

Bedfordshire Bursary

If you aren’t eligible for the Merit Scholarship, this Bursary is there to help UK students with aspects of student living such as course costs. The Bursary will give you £1,000* over three academic years, or £1,300* if you are taking your course over four academic years (including those with a Foundation Year).

Full terms and conditions can be found here.

Alternatively if you have any questions around fees and funding please email


The full-time standard undergraduate tuition fee for the academic year 2024/25 is £15,500 per year.

There are range of Scholarships available to help support you through your studies with us.

A full list of scholarships can be found here.

Alternatively if you have any questions around fees and funding, please email

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