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Education (Early Years Pathway) MA

Course Description

The University of Northampton has a long standing reputation for high quality teaching and research, and is passionate about transforming the lives of children and young people in the UK and internationally.

With its thriving community of practice, Early Years at the University of Northampton has established a well-earned national and international reputation. Our tutors have all worked in health, education or social care practice and are experts in their respective disciplines within the early years’ field: the combination of our expertise is the strength of our teaching team which offers our students far more than the sum of our parts.

Our MA Education Early Years Pathway offers opportunities for graduates who work in early years to extend their knowledge, understanding and skills in ways that are ‘…inspiring and eye opening: it will change the way you think’ (MA Education Early Years Pathway student). ‘Challenge, inspiration, professional and personal growth are guaranteed through critical engagement with contemporary inter-disciplinary issues in early childhood education and care’ – Dr. Eunice Lumsden, Head of Early Years.

Course content

The MA Education Early Years Pathway offers Level 7 study to professionals working in the early years field to:
-Critically evaluate the impact of recent legislation and policy on Early Years provision.
-Enhance their knowledge and understanding of children’s development in its widest sense.
-Investigate and critique theoretical perspectives in early childhood and their applications to practice.
-Engage with multi-disciplinary research and literature influencing developments in Early Years policy and practice.
-Critically explore cutting-edge developments in the Early Years field, in the UK and internationally.

Throughout the Early Years MA Pathway, opportunities to engage in deep-level critical reflection with other like-minded professionals and specialist tutors enable our students to gain secure understanding of complex issues in the dynamic and exciting field of Early Years to inform their professional practice.

The MA Education (Early Years) offers a flexible approach through standard or blended approaches. You can either chose to study a full MA degree, or may exit the programme earlier to attain other qualifications:
-Stage one: two M level modules, exit with a Certificate in Postgraduate Studies in Education (Early Years).
-Stage two: two M level modules, exit with a Postgraduate Diploma in Education (Early Years).
-Stage three: Dissertation or Research Thesis, leading to the full MA degree.

Course modules (16/17)

-Research Thesis
-Supporting Parents and Developing Communities
-Promoting Inclusive Practice
-Autism in the Early Years
-Young Children’s Rights and Participation
-Contemporary and international Issues in the Early Years
-Young Children’s Literature, Media and Culture
-Documenting Young Children’s Learning
-Organisational Based Project
-Advanced Practice in Early Childhood Education
-Perspectives on Leadership and Management
-Research Methods

Methods of Learning

The entire MA involves 140 hours of taught sessions, all of which are taught as interactive sessions involving activities and discussions. This means students will typically attend classes for 6 hours per week if studying full time, although this may vary depending on the modules taken. In addition full-time students will be expected to undertake a further 24 hours per week of private study and research. Part-time students taking the course over 3 years will be expected to do a third of this. You should however be aware that this is not consistently spread across the year and that at some points you may be working considerably more hours in a week. There will also be the chance to attend additional optional sessions and presentations connected to the research undertaken at Faculty of Education and Humanities.


The course assessment involves essays, portfolios, presentations, practical projects and small scale studies. Students will complete their final Dissertation or Research Thesis on a topic negotiated with a tutor.


Typical career opportunities for MA graduates in the Early Years field include:
-Leadership roles in early years and schools.
-Lecturing in further and higher education.
-Research in the field of early years.
-Policy development in the field of early years.

Visit the Education (Early Years Pathway) MA page on the University of Northampton website for more details!

Entry Requirements

Applicants will normally have an honours degree from a UK institution or equivalent. Some modules require applicants to have Qualified Teacher Status (QTS), Early Years Teacher Status (EYTS) or equivalent. Applicants with recent professional experience of five years or more will be positively considered. Applicants must demonstrate suitability for the course by providing evidence of significant professional engagement in children’s services at graduate level or equivalent.

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