Education Studies - Early Childhood Education

This programme 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.

Who is the course for?
For primary teachers, early childhood educators and those working with young children in the area of advocacy.

What will I study?
Participants 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 and critically evaluate the philosophical and pedagogical stance of various early childhood thinkers. 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.

Subjects taught

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 self-regulated 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 inquiry-based 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

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, or who meet the professional experience but have only a level 7 degree 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: Please check with


2 years part-time.

Post Course Info

What are my career options?
Graduates of this programme find the qualification beneficial in achieving promotion and career change. This includes school principalship or management of an early childhood education setting. Graduates are 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 or in early years professional organisation such as Early Childhood Ireland. Graduates sometimes choose to continue their studies to doctoral level and then work in the academic field.

More details
  • Qualifications

    Degree - Masters (Level 9 NFQ)

  • Attendance type

    Part time

  • Apply to

    Course provider