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Education - Early Years

A one-year full time postgraduate course, the PGCE (Early Years) is aimed at those who wish to prepare for a teaching career specialising in the 3-8 age range.

The course is approximately 36 weeks in duration, beginning in early September and lasting until late June of the following year.

How will I study?

In addition to seminars, tutorials, workshops and individual/group work, at least eighteen weeks are spent obtaining practical teaching experience. At the outset of the course, students will spend a short period of time in SureStart centres with 2-3 year old children. The initial assessed placement is spent in a nursery setting towards the end of October, lasting for a period of five weeks. An additional five weeks in January/February is spent in a Foundation Stage classroom (i.e. Year 1 or 2 in a primary school) and a further 6 weeks spent in a Key Stage 1 classroom (i.e. Year 3 or 4 of a primary school) in April/May. Students will then get the opportunity to spend two weeks in an additional alternative educational setting of their choice in Northern Ireland. A small number of students will also get the chance to undertake their final two week placement in a European setting. Students will spend every Monday in schools for observation purposes.

Who will be teaching me?

In University and on your professional placements, you will be taught, assessed and supported by an exceptional team of internationally recognised, research-led and experienced practitioners. As a small, specialist institution, our tutors get to know you – your strengths, your weaknesses, your abilities and your talents – and will support you to become a learning leader.

Entry requirements

Upper second class honours degree


1 Year Full Time

Careers or further progression

Career Opportunities
This PGCE course will lead to 'Eligibility to Teach' status which is granted by the Department of Education. With this qualification students will be able to seek employment in nursery schools and/or primary schools in a Foundation (Years 1 and 2) or Key Stage 1 (Years 3 and 4) class. All students who successfully complete a PGCE at Stranmillis University College will be eligible to claim 30 M-Level credit points towards a Master's qualilfication.

Further enquiries

Application forms can be requested from Academic Registry, please telephone 028 90384263 or email

Subjects taught

Education Issues
A range of educational issues will be focused upon throughout this course such as:

•A Quality Early Years Curriculum
•Experiential Learning and the Powerful Medium of Play
•International Perspectives
•Special Educational Needs
•Children's Rights
•Pastoral Issues

Curriculum Content
Students will attend a series of workshops and seminars designed to develop their knowledge and understanding of the integrated and holistic nature of teaching and learning within Early Years Education and to help them prepare for their placement in the Pre-school, Foundation and Key Stage 1 settings.

Classroom Practice
This aspect of the course is designed to help students acquire some of the basic skills of teaching. Emphasis will be placed on observation, assessment, communication skills, questioning, classroom management, group work, activity/lesson planning, resource management, differentiation and self-evaluation.

School-Based Work
This will consist of serial day visits and blocks of practice. Students will undertake their placements in Pre-school, Foundation and Key Stage 1 settings.

Assessment method

How will I be assessed?
The course is assessed wholly by course work and continuous assessment, including the assessment of practical teaching.

Application date

Admission Procedures
Application should be made on the appropriate form which can be obtained from Academic Registry from early December.

Application forms can be requested from Academic Registry, please telephone 028 90384263 or email

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