Early Years Education (Online) MA

Distance learning programme

The Early Years Education (Online) MA is a world-class programme that offers exceptional career development opportunities for early childhood practitioners and other early years professionals in the UK and worldwide. Delivered via distance learning, it allows busy working professionals to build on your practical experience by engaging with theory, evidence and research in early years education. Most students take the programme in part time mode over two years or in flexible mode (over up to five years). It is also available in full time mode.

UK students International students
Study mode
UK tuition fees (2023/24)
Programme also available on a modular (flexible) basis.
Overseas tuition fees (2023/24)
Programme also available on a modular (flexible) basis.
1 calendar year
2 calendar years
5 calendar years
Programme starts
September 2023
Applications accepted
All applicants: 17 Oct 2022 – 30 Jun 2023

Applications open

Entry requirements

A minimum of an upper second-class Bachelor’s degree or equivalent in a relevant subject. Appropriate experience of working with young children is desirable. Applications will be considered on a case-by-case basis.

If your education has not been conducted in the English language, you will be expected to demonstrate evidence of an adequate level of English proficiency.

The English language level for this programme is: Level 2

UCL Pre-Master's and Pre-sessional English courses are for international students who are aiming to study for a postgraduate degree at UCL. The courses will develop your academic English and academic skills required to succeed at postgraduate level. International Preparation Courses

Further information can be found on our English language requirements page.

Equivalent qualifications

Country-specific information, including details of when UCL representatives are visiting your part of the world, can be obtained from the International Students website.

International applicants can find out the equivalent qualification for their country by selecting from the list below. Please note that the equivalency will correspond to the broad UK degree classification stated on this page (e.g. upper second-class). Where a specific overall percentage is required in the UK qualification, the international equivalency will be higher than that stated below. Please contact Graduate Admissions should you require further advice.

About this degree

The MA Early Years Education (Online) is a world-class programme for those interested in developing their understanding of early years education. It will be of interest particularly to those who want the flexibility to be able to fit study around other commitments. It is delivered 100% via distance learning using a range of teaching approaches including high quality online resources, online seminars and discussion-based tasks. Students are supported to develop their skills in distance online learning, particularly in the early stages of the programme. The programme draws on international experts and the unique research profile of IOE, UCL’s Faculty of Education and Society in early years education, and will give students the understanding, knowledge and skills to have a clear advantage as practitioners and professionals working in the field. 
This Masters degree offers students the opportunity to enhance their professional development and understanding of UK and international issues in early learning, early childhood development, early years policy and curricula. The programme is focused on exploring policy, practice and research in the UK as well as internationally. You will have an opportunity to share and reflect on your own professional experiences and to refine and develop your skills based on engagement with current research and debates in the field. Students critically evaluate a range of literature about young children's learning and best practice in early education, as well as developing their understanding of research methodology with and about young children. Students also conduct their own small-scale research project in a setting of their own choice as part of the dissertation.
This MA qualification is a research-based degree and so is not listed by the English Department for Education as a teaching Early Years Qualification (DfE 2014).

Who this course is for

This programme is specially designed for busy working professionals in the fields of early childhood education, including those working in schools and early years settings and more widely such as in local authority or policy development roles, both in the UK and internationally. Students come from a range of backgrounds including early years teachers and professionals, further education and higher education lecturers, nursery nurses, voluntary and independent providers, and local and national government advisers and leaders working in areas relevant to early childhood.

What this course will give you

IOE, UCL’s Faculty of Education and Society is ranked first for education in the QS World University Rankings by Subject 2022.

This programme provides students across the UK and worldwide with an opportunity to access the exceptional expertise of the early years team at UCL IOE.

The Early Years Education staff team at UCL IOE have been at the forefront of international research for the past two decades, including the renowned Effective Pre-School, Primary and Secondary Education (EPPSE) project. The programme also has close links to the Helen Hamlyn Centre for Pedagogy (0-11).

The foundation of your career

This programme will enable students to understand and reflect on current knowledge of international early years policy and practice; to develop their awareness of research into early childhood practice and of research methods and approaches relevant to the field; and to enable critical understanding of policy development in early childhood services, at a local, national and international level; and to make links between their professional experience and theory, research and evidence.


Graduates of the MA Early Years Education (Online) are currently working as advisers to local and national governments; as nursery, children’s centre and  senior leaders; and as further and higher education tutors. Students also go on to become doctoral researchers.


The MA Early Years (Online) course is an accredited UCL course which leads to a recognised UCL Masters degree qualification. 

Teaching and learning

The programme is delivered through online sessions based on Moodle, our virtual learning environment. Assessment is by coursework assignments and a 20,000-word dissertation.

Students can expect to study an average of 300 hours per 30-credit module and 600 hours for the Dissertation. The number of weekly study hours can vary during the programme. As a general guide, students following the suggested 2-year programme structure can expect to study 7-14 hours per week and 1-2 hours per day.


You can complete this programme on a part-time (over 2 years), modular/flexible (up to over 5 years) or full time (one year) basis.
There are four core modules as well as the dissertation:

  • Early Childhood Education
  • Contemporary Issues in Early Years 
  • Leadership in Early Years Education 
  • Researching Early Years Education

Part-time students will take Early Childhood Education, Contemporary issues in the Early Years and Leadership in Early Years Education in Year 1 and then progress in Year 2 to undertake Researching Early Years Education and the dissertation.

Flexible students have up to 5 years to complete the programme, however they will usually be expected to take the modules in the same sequence as part time students.

Please note that the list of modules given here is indicative. This information is published a long time in advance of enrolment and module content and availability is subject to change. Modules that are in use for the current academic year are linked for further information. Where no link is present, further information is not yet available.

Students undertake modules to the value of 180 credits. Upon successful completion of 180 credits, you will be awarded an MA in Early Years Education (Online).


Details of the accessibility of UCL buildings can be obtained from AccessAble accessable.co.uk. Further information can also be obtained from the UCL Student Support & Wellbeing team.

Fees and funding

Fees for this course

UK students International students
Fee description Full-time Part-time
Tuition fees (2023/24) £11,800 £5,900
Tuition fees (2023/24) £24,200 £12,100

Programme also available on a modular (flexible) basis.

The tuition fees shown are for the year indicated above. Fees for subsequent years may increase or otherwise vary. Where the programme is offered on a flexible/modular basis, fees are charged pro-rata to the appropriate full-time Master's fee taken in an academic session. Further information on fee status, fee increases and the fee schedule can be viewed on the UCL Students website: ucl.ac.uk/students/fees.

Additional costs

Students should take into account any travel, accommodation and expenses involved in their dissertation.

For more information on additional costs for prospective students please go to our estimated cost of essential expenditure at Accommodation and living costs.

Funding your studies

For a comprehensive list of the funding opportunities available at UCL, including funding relevant to your nationality, please visit the Scholarships and Funding website.

Next steps

Students are advised to apply as early as possible due to competition for places. Those applying for scholarship funding (particularly overseas applicants) should take note of application deadlines.

There is an application processing fee for this programme of £90 for online applications and £115 for paper applications. Further information can be found at Application fees.

When we assess your application we would like to learn:

  • why you want to study Early Years Education at postgraduate level
  • why you want to study Early Years Education at UCL
  • what particularly attracts you to the chosen programme
  • how your academic background meets the demands of this programme
  • how your professional background and experience where relevant makes you suitable for the programme
  • where you would like to go professionally with your degree

Together with academic requirements, the personal statement is your opportunity to illustrate whether your reasons for applying to this programme match what the programme will deliver, and to further demonstrate your academic capacity to meet the demands of the programme.

Please note that you may submit applications for a maximum of two graduate programmes (or one application for the Law LLM) in any application cycle.

Choose your programme

Please read the Application Guidance before proceeding with your application.

Year of entry: 2023-2024

UCL is regulated by the Office for Students.