Foundation Degree in Early Childhood Studies

The Early Childhood Studies Foundation Degree has been designed for those who are currently working or want to work with young children under the age of eight years. The programme gives students the opportunity to develop their knowledge and skills to work in a variety of fields. The programme is recognised by the Department for Education as a full and relevant qualification for Early Years Practice. 

As a student on this programme, you will learn to recognise and champion the uniqueness of every child by exploring the key factors that affect them and their families. Students will look at and explore their understanding of children's development, the importance of play, welfare, education and children's rights, and current government legislation and policy. 

The course ensures that students are fully equipped and have the necessary foundations, such as the Early Childhood Graduate Practitioner Competencies which are embedded throughout level 4 and 5 study, preparing students for progression to level 6 and employment within the sector. 

The role and importance of research within early education is paramount, and students will be able to investigate how published research influences policymakers and their practice. 

Students are taught by a team that comes from a wide range of professional backgrounds and who are experts in their field. They have strong partnerships with local providers, and many of them have worked in an early-year setting internationally, adding value and depth to the course.   

An integral part of the programme is the 440 hours of placement undertaken by each student. Whilst on placement, students will experience professional work through a variety of educational organisations, community settings, and children’s charities.  Students will record, reflect, and monitor their growth and individual professional expertise to tailor their own career and academic progression.   

Learning on this programme is holistic, and students will be encouraged to collaborate with their peers and colleagues. Taught seminars and lectures focus on interactive discussion and debate focused on the development of professional dialogue.

What will I study?

Level 4 

  • Study Skills 
  • Safeguarding Children
  • Personal and Professional Development 1
  • Personal and Professional Development 2
  • Personal and Professional Development 3
  • Young Children's Learning and Development 
  • Planning for Effective Learning
  • Enabling Environment

Level 5 

  • Personal Development, Transformation and Empowerment 1
  • Personal Development, Transformation and Empowerment 2
  • Personal Development, Transformation and Empowerment 3
  • International Perspectives
  • Collaborative Working 
  • Inclusive Practice
  • Practical Approaches to Research
  • Mental Health and Well-being 

How will I be assessed?

  • Essays
  • Reports
  • Individual Presentations
  • Reflections
  • Competency Files
  • Secondary Research
  • Primary Research
  • Campaigns
  • Vignettes

For more information about assessment, including guidance on marking, feedback and plagiarism, please refer to the HE Assessment Policy (section 5) and the programme spec for course-specific information.

How will the course be delivered?

The Early Childhood Graduate Practitioner Competencies are embedded throughout level 4 and 5 study, preparing the students for progression to level 6 and completion of the competencies.


Whilst students are attending their sessions in classes in the form of lectures, seminars, workshops, and group work, intellectual thinking skills are developed by encouraging them to engage in discussion, evaluation, and analysis. There are also opportunities for students to work independently at their own pace to complete some assignments that are related to their personal and professional development.


Study skills will also be in place across all levels, in specific modules or in tutorials that will aim to further develop these intellectual and academic skills. A wide variety of practical and professional skills will be introduced throughout the teaching and learning process at all levels. Students will be encouraged to use these skills throughout assessments and also throughout teaching sessions. The strategy to embed this into students’ practice will be to encourage their engagement in seminars to show and support students to develop these skills and also through the use of tutorials and mentoring where students require further input.


All programmes are led and taught by experienced teaching staff who are vocational specialists.  They are qualified, and often have extensive experience within the industry or the sector being studied. All teaching staff meet or exceed the requirements set by the awarding institute or body.  

Entry requirements

Standard offer

Applicants will require 80 UCAS points gained from an Early Years Educator qualification or equivalent level 3 or 60 Access-to-HE Credits (of which a minimum of 45 must be at Level 3). Applicants are required to hold English and Maths GCSE (or equivalent) at Grade C/4.

Non-standard offer

Non-standard entry is intended to support students who may not meet the standard academic entry requirements of a HE programme, normally level 3 qualifications which attract UCAS points (for instance A-levels or BTEC level 3 courses). An applicant must hold a level 2 qualification in Early Years and be able to evidence, with a supporting reference, two years’ work/experience in the field of early education which would give them skills and knowledge comparable to applicants with Level 3 qualifications. An applicant must hold a level 2 Maths and English qualification.

All such non-standard applicants will be interviewed, set an appropriate piece of work (1500-word essay) and a judgement made considering their academic potential and relevant work/experience.

What next?

Due to the nature of the course, progression would ultimately vary depending on the student, however possible progression routes would include BA Early Childhood Studies Top Up, BA Childhood and Youth Studies Top Up, and BSC Health and Social Care Top Up. There is also scope for students who met the required criteria to consider top-up degrees at other HEIs, and those students that want to progress into Teaching and would require Qualified Teacher Status (QTS).

As graduate of this programme, you will have the necessary knowledge and skills to gain employment as an early year’s practitioner in the public, private or third sector. The qualification will allow you to be counted in ratios, recognised by the Department for Education.   However, students need to be aware of the government policy which states that Early Years educators require GCSE English and Maths, level C or 4 or above, and Early Years teachers require GCSE English, Maths and Science, level C or 4 or above. There will be an opportunity for students to further their academic studies at the University Centre Grimsby via progression to the BA (Hons) Early Childhood Studies Top Up.  Graduates currently go on to a range of careers in the childhood studies area, as well as completing postgraduate qualifications, in order to work in education, health, legal, and social work fields.

Additional information

Students will spend a total of 440 hours in placement.


As this programme involves regular contact with children, a Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check must be completed prior to attending any placement. The cost of undertaking the DBS check is the responsibility of the student and the outcome of the DBS check will be considered on an individual basis.

Students will need a level of fitness to undertake this programme due to the physical nature of some of the requirements of the placement setting. All students will be risk assessed on an individual basis with regards to fitness to practice. 

Validated by TEC Partnership

Key statistics

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