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Early Childhood Studies & Practice

Who is this course for:
This course is aimed at people who may already possess a recognised degree qualification and who wish to upgrade to a postgraduate qualification in a part-time, flexible manner. This will increase their opportunities to progress into broader professional roles (e.g. management, training, policy development, advocacy or research) and new, emerging roles (e.g. mentoring, leadership).

Course Profile
This course is delivered through the Centre for Adult Learning & Professional Development at NUI Galway with a strong affiliation to the UNESCO Child & Family Research Centre and the School of Political Science and Sociology at the University.

The course has been developed to reflect contemporary approaches and understandings of family life, childhood, play and pedagogical philosophies as they inform the early years sector.

Students will engage with advanced and critical theories, exploring evolving policy, social research, child protection, integrated working as well as professional leadership and practice. Cutting across all modules and underpinning the ethos of the course will be a children's rights perspective, facilitated through a strong reflective element, supporting students to analyse, critique and challenge dominant discourses, perceived values, as well as the on-going developments within the practice and policy environment.

On completion of this course, graduates will possess:
• An in-depth knowledge and understanding of contemporary theories in relation to early childhood.
• The ability to take a children's rights perspective across all content, in particular, on the issues of child protection, risk and vulnerability, safeguarding children; promoting wellbeing through practice, policy and research.
• The capacity to hold leadership positions within emerging and varied professions in the practice, policy, teaching and research areas of the early years care and education sector.
• The ability to critically reflect and evaluate professional practice, early years policy, and dominant discourses in academic literature and research.

Entry requirements

Special Entry Requirements
Academic: Minimum 2.2, NFQ Level 8, primary degree award in Early Childhood Studies and Practice or in a related discipline.
Experiential: Minimum 3 years relevant working experience, or equivalent required.

The following are the entry requirements for our part-time and full-time courses:
Part-time: If you are aged 21 years or over by January 1st of the year of admission to a part-time course, you may matriculate on the grounds of mature years alone. Therefore, many of the courses detailed in this prospectus state that there are no formal entry requirements involved.

If you are aged under 21 on January 1st of the year of admission to a part-time course and are applying for a part-time course at NUI Galway, you may, in certain circumstances, be asked to fulfil the matriculation requirements for the University.

These include the following a pass in at least six subjects (including Irish, English and another language), in the Leaving Certificate Examination or equivalent including:
For applicants sitting the Leaving Certificate in 2017 and subsequent years:
• Grade H5 in two subjects
• Grade H7/O6 in the remaining four subjects
For applicants who sat the Leaving Certificate prior to 2017:
• Grade C3 in two subjects on the higher course
• Grade D3 (ordinary or higher course) in the remaining four subjects

If you do not meet this matriculation requirement, you may be allowed to submit applications for some courses and you will be assessed on suitability for entry on a case-by-case basis.

English Language Requirement
An International English Language Testing System (IELTS/TOEFL) certificate is required if English is not your first language to indicate your competency in written and spoken English for the course you are interested in taking. IELTS/TOEFL is not required for the language diplomas listed in the prospectus.


Duration 2 years, part-time
Mode of study Blended learning

Number of credits


Careers or further progression

What career or further study opportunities are there?
Graduates of this course will be well-placed to take on leadership and developmental roles, impacting progressively on the ever-evolving Irish ECEC sector. Potential roles include teaching and research, policy development, mentoring or inspecting, advocacy and support as well as management of ECEC settings. Upon completing this MA, students with a 2.1 or higher grade average may be interested in pursuing further education through doctoral studies at NUI Galway or another suitable institution.

Further enquiries

Suzanne Golden
Centre for Adult Learning and Professional Development
Nuns' Island
NUI Galway
Tel: 091 492659

Subjects taught

Year 1 (45 Credits)

Required EYS1113: Historical Perspectives of Childhood and Family Life

Required EYS1115: Contemporary Perspectives on Play, Learning and Pedagogy

Required EYS1114: Integrated Community Based Work Practices

Required EYS1112: Children's Rights and Well Being: Current Issues

Required EYS1116: Research in the Social Sciences

Required EYS1111: Engaging Children as Social Researchers

Year 2 (45 Credits)

Required EYS1119: Research Dissertation

Required EYS1118: Leadership, Mentorship & Emerging Professions

Required EYS1117: Supporting Families through Early Years Provision

Course and module offerings and details may be subject to change

Assessment method

assessments methods are used throughout the course which will enable learners to demonstrate capabilities and competencies as well as academic knowledge. Methods may include written assignments, reflective journals, e-learning and multi-media exercises, group projects, practical assignments, presentations and reports, though this list is not exhaustive.

Application date

Early application is advised as offers will be made on a rolling basis


The closing dates for each course varies, but are typically from mid-July to late August each academic year.

Application Procedure
You complete an application form online by logging onto apply.

On the online application form, you provide your contact details, and outline your educational background, any previous courses undertaken and any additional information that may be required to assess your suitability for the course for which you are applying. You will also be required to upload a copy of your birth certificate or passport and the course application fee (non-refundable), which is around €30.

Consult the course information page in the prospectus for details on closing dates and make sure that you adhere to these dates. The process of assessing applications and offering places may take between four and six weeks. Additional registration details and communication from the relevant department will be issued to you approximately two weeks before the course commences, informing you of the registration date and lecture times for the course.

Course fee

EU: Year 1 €4,200, Year 2 €3,700
Non-EU: Year 1 €4,700, Year 2 €4,200

Enrolment and start dates

Next start date September

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