Education Studies - Early Childhood Education

The Master in Education Studies (Early Childhood Education) offers a distinctive learning experience based on developing in the participants a deep theoretical understanding and critical awareness of key issues in early childhood education, particularly with regard to the importance of an active, play-based learning environment.

Who is the course for?
The course is open to primary teachers, early childhood practitioners and those working with young children in the area of advocacy.

What will I study?
Participants on this Masters course will be encouraged to think critically and to reflect on their practice. They will examine the research surrounding play, language and other areas of the child's learning and will share their ideas and develop shared understandings with other students through online forums. They will explore various early childhood thinkers and critically evaluate them. They will initiate a research project on the area of play. There will be an opportunity to work on group assignments and make oral and written presentations. Learning will be facilitated in face-to-face and online settings. With this approach, it is hoped that the course will produce the highly qualified, highly skilled, reflective and critical practitioners who are needed to implement effective practice.

Early Exit Award
Upon successful completion of year 1, students have the opportunity to exit this course with a Postgraduate Diploma (Early Childhood Education).

Entry requirements

Minimum Entry Requirements
An honours degree (level 8) with second class honours or higher and at least three years teaching experience or equivalent professional experience. In exceptional cases students who meet the honours degree requirement but do not have the necessary experience may be considered for the course. Candidates may be shortlisted and invited to attend an interview and complete a written assignment as appropriate. English Language Requirement: IELTS Level 6.5 (or equivalent).

Assessment Info

How is the course assessed?
Assessment is linked to the modular nature of the course. It consists of assignments, essays, case studies and a literature review in year 1, followed by a research proposal and dissertation in Year 2.

Subjects taught

Module Listing

Year 1

Module 1

Early Childhood Education: Policy and Practice
• International best practice and early childhood education
• Early childhood education policy and practice in Ireland
• Theory and practice of play in early childhood education
• Critiquing Aistear as a play-based curriculum framework
• Role of the practitioner in developing the selfregulated learner

Module 2

Psychology of Early Childhood
• Key concepts and debates in psychology of early childhood
• Learning theories: How do young children learn?
• Emotional and behavioural development in early childhood
• Early childhood in context
• Assessment & evaluation

Module 3

Language and Literacy in Early Childhood Education
• Literacy as social practice
• Emergent literacy
• Oral language development
• Formal and informal literacy skills
• The role of story in early years education

Module 4

Inquiry-Based Learning
• Key philosophical underpinnings and history of inquiry-based learning

• Key pedagogical principles underpinning inquirybased learning models

• Creating and resourcing an inquiry-based environment

• Assessment in inquiry-based learning

• Inquiry-based learning exemplified in mathematics and science

Year 2

Dissertation Module
• Research methodologies and research ethics
• The research design process
• Research proposal
• Dissertation


ECTS Credits: 90


2 years part-time.

Post Course Info

What are my career options?
Graduates of the course will be well prepared for many leadership, evaluative and management roles in early childhood education. This includes school principalship or management of an early childhood education setting. Graduates will be well placed to offer professional development for practitioners in primary schools and in early childhood education settings. Graduates could engage in policy work or apply for positions in the Inspectorate of the Department of Education and Skills. Opportunities also arise from time to time for employment in early years professional organisations such as Early Childhood Ireland.

More details
  • Qualifications

    Degree - Masters (Level 9 NFQ)

  • Attendance type

    Part time

  • Apply to

    Course provider