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Early Childhood Studies - Masters

Within Northern Ireland, services directed at the education and care of young children in the age phase 0 – 8 have seen unprecedented growth and development in recent years. Initiatives such as Sure Start, the implementation of the Learning to Learn Strategy and the Foundation stage of the revised Northern Ireland Curriculum have brought early years issues to the fore. This trend is undoubtedly continuing with further recent investment in early years services by government.

The course will:

Develop and enhance the knowledge and skills of early years practitioners as they improve the out-comes and opportunities for children, families and communities.

Provide new opportunities to study in this special-ised field of Early Childhood Studies.

Deepen students' capacity to manage their own learning.

Who is the course for?
The MA in Early Childhood Studies will appeal to all those professionals who work to further the education and care of young children and who are already qualified to undergraduate level in an educational or social sci-ence area. It will be attractive to teachers, early years practitioners, social workers and development officers in both statutory and non-statutory agencies.

Entry requirements

Admission Requirements
Applicants will normally hold a relevant 2:1 Honours degree or above in a related discipline. However, applicants who do not meet the requirements above will be considered on an individual basis, where there is evidence of relevant ex-perience. Applicants may be required to attend an inter-view to determine their suitability for entry.

Further enquiries

Course enquiries can be made to:
Dr Barbara McConnell
MA Programme Leader
Tel: ++44 (0) 28 9038 4373

Subjects taught

Module Choice
Full-time students must choose a compulsory Research Methods and 3 other modules. You can either choose to com-plete 3 taught modules in the first semester and then 1 in the second semester (along with your dissertation) or you can choose 2 in first semester and then 2 in the second semester (along with your dissertation).

Part-time students generally complete one module per semester (although you can choose to speed up your studies). We would generally recommend that you choose op-tional modules in first year and that you would take your com-pulsory Research Methods module in the first semester of the following year.

International Perspectives
This module will be comparative in nature, challenging stu-dents to consider how policy/practice in other contexts has an influence on the thinking of policy makers and practitioners here at home. Students will engage with the concept of globali-sation in the field of educare and will make effective compari-sons, taking into account the cultural diversity of the countries under consideration. Students will be encouraged to engage in action-based research which seeks to identify challenges with-in the indigenous system and then design and implement strat-egies to address the identified differences. These strategies will then be evaluated to examine the effect and impact of this change

Advanced theoretical perspectives on children's crisis and trauma
Set in the context of our ever increasing awareness of the importance of the earliest phases of child develop-ment, this module involves an advanced analysis of those issues that can impact on and support children through cri-sis and trauma. Biological, psychological and sociological perspectives which contribute to development will be ana-lysed and individual differences examined. Practical strate-gies for supporting children will be explored. The module will concentrate on bringing these perspectives together to form a cohesive picture of holistic development.

Early years science and outdoor classrooms
The module will involve a range of workshops critically ex-ploring theory and practice, whilst also evaluating re-sources that support early childhood development. Playful approaches to Science and Technology, enquiry based learning, digital technology in early years science and out-door learning will be explored in terms of theory, but also in terms of the relevance to the early years setting. Critical debate will be encouraged through exploration of local, na-tional and international practices which will enhance effec-tive pedagogy in science and outdoor learning. This mod-ule will also encourage professionals to reflect critically on practice in light of research evidence, relevant policy and current issues.

*This is a proposed new module for 15/16 and is subject to change

This module is suitable for all those involved in the field of Early Years provision, in both policy and practice contexts. The module seeks to respond to recent policy developments in the UK in the area of leadership of children's services.

A range of values and priorities in service management and leadership will be presented and students will be challenged to consider these within the context of an integrated service. There will be a particular focus on policy developments relevant to the area of service professionalism at both national and local levels. The module will address an array of management and leadership issues such as: collaborating with a range of professionals; leading a multi-professional team; the concept of professionalism; conflict management; developing a leadership style; communicating vision; self and systems management skills.

NB These modules are subject to change in 15/16

Entitlement to the Award of Master of Arts
The award of Master of Arts (MA) will be made to candi-dates who have successfully completed 180 points at M-level, through completion of four taught modules and a re-search dissertation. The degree of MA may be awarded with distinction on the recommendation of the Board of Ex-aminers.

Students who have accumulated 60 points on the MA or who have successfully completed TWO taught modules may graduate with an Advanced Certificate. Students who have accumulated 120 points on the MA or who have suc-cessfully completed FOUR taught modules may graduate with a Diploma.


The degree recognises and supports existing professional development activities whether these are part of induction, early professional development, threshold assessments or programmes of staff development and performance man-agement. All students who have successfully completed a PGCE at Master's level will be eligible to apply for 30 M Level credit points towards a Master's qualification. Candi-dates may also seek accreditation for completed school-based professional development activities. Application for credit transfer and exemption from module requirements will normally be made upon enrolment. Further information is available from Academic Registry.

Application date

For further information on how to apply please contact:
Academic Registry
Stranmillis University College
Belfast BT9 5DY
Tel: ++44 (0) 28 9038 4263

Course fee

The course fee for 2015-2016 will be £843 per taught module and £1686 for dissertation (subject to confirmation).

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