Early Childhood Education BA

London, Bloomsbury
Early Childhood Education BA (2023)

Early childhood education, from a global perspective, emphasises children’s rights, social justice, and early childhood policy and practice. Led by world-leading experts at the IOE, UCL’s Faculty of Education and Society, this interdisciplinary programme supports students in developing knowledge and skills to address societal inequalities and tackle global challenges at the local, national, and international levels.

UK students International students
Study mode
3 academic years
UK tuition fees (2024/25)
Overseas tuition fees (2024/25)
Programme starts
September 2024
Application deadline
31 Jan 2024
UCAS course code

Entry requirements

No specific subjects. At least two A level subjects should be taken from UCL's list of preferred A level subjects.
English Language and Mathematics at grade C or 5.

Contextual offer information

BBB more about contextual offers
No specific subjects. At least two A level subjects should be taken from UCL's list of preferred A level subjects.
English Language and Mathematics at grade C or 5.
A total of 16 points in three higher level subjects, with no higher level score below 5.

Contextual offer

32 more about contextual offers
A total of 15 points in three higher level subjects, with no higher level score below 5.

UK applicants qualifications

For entry requirements with other UK qualifications accepted by UCL, choose your qualification from the list below:

Equivalent qualification

BTEC Level 3 Extended Diploma (QCF) or BTEC Level 3 National Extended Diploma (RQF - teaching from 2016) with Distinction, Distinction, Distinction.

Pass in Access to HE Diploma with a minimum of 30 credits at Distinction, 12 credits at Merit and 3 credits at Pass, all from Level 3 units.

Successful completion of the WBQ Advanced Skills Challenge Certificate plus 2 GCE A levels at grades ABB.

ABB at Advanced Highers (or AB at Advanced Higher and BBB at Higher).

D3,M1,M1 in three Cambridge Pre-U Principal Subjects

Not acceptable for entrance to this programme.

Not acceptable for entrance to this programme.

Not acceptable for entrance to this programme.

International applications

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

Access and widening participation

UCL is committed to widening access to higher education. If you are eligible for Access UCL you do not need to do anything in addition to the standard UCAS application. Your application will be automatically flagged when we receive it.

Undergraduate Preparatory Certificates

The Undergraduate Preparatory Certificates (UPC) prepare international students for a UCL undergraduate degree who don’t have the qualifications to enter directly. These intensive one-year foundation courses are taught on our central London campus.

Typical UPC students will be high achievers in a 12-year school system which does not meet the standard required for direct entry to UCL.

For more information see: ucl.ac.uk/upc.

English language requirements

The English language level for this programme is: Level 2

Information about the evidence required, acceptable qualifications and test providers can be found on our English language requirements page.

A variety of English language programmes are offered at the UCL Centre for Languages & International Education.

Course overview

The Early Childhood Education BA is the undergraduate flagship programme of the Department of Learning and Leadership, where you will learn from world-leading experts in Early Years, Primary Education, Leadership and Education Policy. Our students have the exciting opportunity to work with like-minded colleagues at the heart of London’s most thriving and stimulating global education community.

Throughout the programme, you will be introduced to early childhood education as a field of formal and informal education for children from birth up to the age of eight. You will learn about early childhood as an educational, social, cultural, economic, anthropological, biological, psychological, political, and historical phenomenon concerned with social justice and children's rights.

With a varied curricular offer, this programme includes practice-based modules designed to provide you with ‘real-life’ experiences to develop creative, interpersonal, and problem-solving skills.

The departmental areas of expertise in leadership, literacies, global policies, and early years teaching will support you in developing technical and subject-specific abilities essential for future work and leadership across the early years sector and beyond.

What this course will give you

Your knowledge and experience are at the forefront of the programme’s priorities, providing a supportive, welcoming, and collaborative environment for your learning. This will enable you to thrive in your studies and to develop your confidence as a future professional and critical thinker prepared to work and lead in diverse areas, including education, NGOs, and the private, public, and governmental policy sectors.

This programme provides the foundational knowledge essential for future learning if you wish to continue your studies within the postgraduate programmes offered in the department and beyond, which include our international MA programmes in Early Years Education, Primary Education and Educational Leadership.

Although this degree does not lead to Qualified Teacher Status (QTS), upon completion of studies, we offer interested students an interview to apply for the Early Years Initial Teacher Training (EYITT) and the Postgraduate Certificate in Education (PGCE) Primary (Early Years Foundation Stage/Key Stage 1 - EYFS KS1) programmes.

Teaching and learning

In each year of your degree you will take a number of individual modules, normally valued at 15 or 30 credits, adding up to a total of 120 credits for the year. Modules are assessed in the academic year in which they are taken. The balance of compulsory and optional modules varies from programme to programme and year to year. A 30-credit module is considered equivalent to 15 credits in the European Credit Transfer System (ECTS).

Upon successful completion of 360 credits, you will be awarded a BA (Hons) in Early Childhood Education.


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.

In this programme, you will have opportunities to explore educational practice, analyse research, and review policy intentions and actions in the early years field at both individual and societal levels.

The first year of your studies explores the understandings that underpin the programme. This year emphasises the significance of theory and pedagogy while observing international definitions and perspectives of early childhood education. The second year deepens your knowledge by focusing on policy developments addressing constructions and deconstructions of early childhood education from global perspectives. The third and final year supports your understanding of leadership and professionalisation and includes a research project within early childhood education to explore techniques of analysis and enquiry.

Every year, you will critically examine tensions and knowledge of global and local interpretations of childhood(s) while undertaking practice-based modules to engage with professional values and develop leadership skills, including problem-solving, teamwork and decision-making.

Year 1 compulsory modules:

Global childhoods: her/histories, cultures, and societies

This module introduces constructions and deconstructions of early childhood education as a social, cultural, economic, anthropological, biological, psychological, political, and historical phenomenon. Students will consider possibilities of interpreting early childhood education as a right of the child, a concept, a process, a business, and a field of study while analysing international definitions, perspectives and understandings at individual, national and global levels. The module will provide opportunities for interrogating and deciphering meanings and ambiguities of early childhood education considering intersectionalities of gender, ‘race’, socioeconomic status/class, and socio-cultural backgrounds alongside ensuing taken-for-granted assumptions. The module aims to open critical spaces for deepening understandings of early childhood education that underpin the programme.

Practice-Based Community Learning I

There is wide use of informal, formal and mixed pedagogies within various disciplines and learning environments. The module will introduce students to early childhood education theories, policies, and practices of pedagogy within diverse sectors. This collaboration with the Community Engaged Learning Service provides students with practice-based opportunities to learn from, visit, and observe, pedagogical action in formal, informal or mixed pedagogical spaces (e.g., school classrooms, nursery setting, libraries, museums, art galleries, hospitals, NGOs). Students will engage with a major thematic element from one of the core modules, Global Childhoods or Theoretical Perspectives on Children’s Learning and Development, observe this in the setting, and write a critical report synthesising the observations along with a survey of relevant academic literature. Students will informally present these findings to the setting in order to give them an outsider’s perspective of their institution.

Theoretical perspectives of children's learning and development

This module is an introduction to theoretical perspectives of how children learn and develop from birth through to eight years. By introducing students to diverse historical and contemporary perspectives about children’s learning and development, this module aims to provide students with an in-depth and systematic knowledge of competing views and their unique implications for early childhood education. Topics will include but are not limited to - historical perspectives of learning and development, sociological perspectives, psychological perspectives, social justice perspectives, children’s rights perspectives, the construction of knowledge, behaviourism, global perspectives, and relationships between theory and practice.

Year 2 compulsory modules:

Children with special rights: Transdisciplinary approaches to inclusion in early childhood education

This module will discuss diverse images of the child within contextual understandings of children's potentialities for learning and development. It will focus on all children as subjects of rights, beyond diagnosis, while considering the purpose of inclusive educational environments in welcoming and supporting children with diverse abilities and their families. Students will explore knowledge about children with special rights as provisional, subjective, complex, transdisciplinary, and transformative through time and experiences. The pluralities of views offered by various professionals, policies, and research, will be considered to understand the diversities of learning, developing, feeling, expressing and experiencing the world.

Global perspectives: early childhood education for sustainability

This module will discuss education for sustainable development in early childhood from a global perspective. It will examine the knowledge and skills necessary to consider children and early childhood professionals as agents of change and transformation, committed problem-solvers and critical thinkers to create healthily, just and sustainable ways of living and experiencing the world. Students will explore the rights, responsibilities and actions from individual, political and professional positions by considering the historical contexts, complexities, and challenges of early childhood education for sustainability (including the sustainable development agenda and impact on countries in the global North and South). The module will focus on international movements for sustainable approaches which contribute to future sustainable and enabling societies and their impact in early childhood education policy, research, and practice.

Practice-Based Community Learning II

This module builds upon the foundations of Level 4 and allows the students to crystalise theoretical knowledge through practice.  In collaboration with the Community Engaged Learning Service, this practice-based module connects with the content of the compulsory module, Voice and choice: social justice, children’s rights and democratic early childhood pedagogies.  Students will critically reflect on each unit in the core module, connect with relevant academic literature, and present the results in a reflective diary for assessment.  Students will informally present their reflective diary to the setting, in order to give an outsider’s perspective on the setting.

Research Methods in early childhood education

This module provides a broad introduction to research methods in early childhood education.  Students will critically examine diverse methodologies, both historic and contemporary, in global early childhood contexts.  There will be a particular focus on ethics and the rights of the child. Units in the module will interrogate links between theoretical perspectives about childhood, learning and education and methodologies used to investigate early childhood education.

Voice and choice: social justice, children's rights and democratic early childhood pedagogies

This module is concerned with social justice within the lives of children, parents and early childhood professionals. It challenges the grand narratives which prevail in the early childhood education field, by drawing on critical, post-colonial, feminist, and post-modern theories to understand the complexities of diversity within this education sector. Students will deconstruct theories, policies, everyday practices and pedagogies to provide a chance to capture complexities of life, question, and critically rethink traditional frames, experiences, and cemented beliefs in ECE. The module debates multiple discourses and critical reconceptualisations, including children's rights and democratic early childhood pedagogies.

Year 3 compulsory modules:

Practice-Based Community Learning III

This module, in collaboration with the Community Engaged Learning Service, allows students to gain significant responsibility in a practical setting.  Students, along with the chosen setting, will choose one relevant area of early childhood education to investigate independently.   Students will negotiate a topic of investigation with the setting and their tutor and produce a fieldwork report. This fieldwork report amalgamates the content learned in the module and throughout the undergraduate programme, relevant literature, and the small-scale research undertaken during the practice-based work.  The assessment also reflects the interests of the setting, which may request certain topics of investigation from the student, in order to improve the setting’s own practice.  In addition, students will submit, as appendices, an updated CV and careers statement, in order to reflect their time in the setting.

Research Project

The Research Project module is a culmination of learning on the BA Early Childhood Education programme.  Students will select a topic or area of specialism and conduct a small-scale research project on this topic with guidance from a supervisor. The project can include the collection of empirical data, or can be a desk study (literature review).

Compulsory modules

Global childhoods: her/histories, cultures, and societies

Practice-Based Community Learning I

Theoretical perspectives of children's learning and development

Optional modules

Creating Learning Environments

From birth to eight: International integrated early childhood education and care systems, services and practices

Introducing International Perspectives in Early Childhood Education

Understanding play and pedagogy around the world

Compulsory modules

Children with special rights: Transdisciplinary approaches to inclusion in early childhood education

Global perspectives: early childhood education for sustainability

Practice-Based Community Learning II

Research Methods in early childhood education

Voice and choice: social justice, children's rights and democratic early childhood pedagogies

Optional modules

Digital Technologies in early childhood education

Emerging Literacies: multimodality in early childhood education

International perspectives on assessment in early childhood education

STEAM in global Early Childhood Education contexts

Compulsory modules

Practice-Based Community Learning III

Research Project

Optional modules

Children's Literature: culture, equity and diversity

Comparative International Policies in Early Childhood Education

Educational leadership

Your learning

You will learn from various interactive lectures, small group seminars, synchronous and asynchronous online activities, practice-based experiences in educational settings, collaborative tasks, critical reading of academic literature, and research projects. Contact hours vary and depend on your optional module choices. You will also engage in independent study (e.g., by studying key topics and required readings in preparation for the debates in the programme).

Typical contact hours vary between 8-12 hours a week, depending on the year of study and module choice and include lectures, seminars, practice-based activities and e-learning activities. Students will also display a level of independent study (25-30 hours per week), for example, by engaging with key topics and required readings in preparation for the discussions promoted in the programme.


Assessments include essays, group and individual presentations, podcasts, reflective diaries, posters, creative products, portfolios, reports, and research projects. These methods enable opportunities to learn and produce public-facing documents about early childhood education while developing communication skills valuable to diverse career settings (such as writing and expressing ideas to different audiences).


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

The foundation of your career

The distinctive international and social justice focus of this BA provides diverse possibilities for employability in early childhood education and beyond. The rich curricular offer includes research-informed and practice-based modules that will prepare you for working in various sectors, including education, International Non-Governmental Organisations (INGOs) and the public and governmental policy sector.


The Early Childhood Education programme fosters critical and creative thinkers. It promotes the development of generic and transferable aptitudes valuable for whatever career destination you wish to pursue. These skills include designing, analysing and interpreting policy documents, planning and examining research, presenting projects, writing reports and understanding early years practice.

Fees and funding

Fees for this course

UK students International students
Fee description Full-time
Tuition fees (2024/25) £9,250
Tuition fees (2024/25) £31,100

The fees indicated are for undergraduate entry in the 2024/25 academic year. The UK fees shown are for the first year of the programme at UCL only. Fees for future years may be subject to an inflationary increase. The Overseas fees shown are the fees that will be charged to 2024/25 entrants for each year of study on the programme, unless otherwise indicated below.

Full details of UCL's tuition fees, tuition fee policy and potential increases to fees can be found on the UCL Students website.

Additional costs

Some modules may incur additional expenses not covered by the tuition fees, for example, materials, books, printing, photocopying, or costs related to carrying out fieldwork (we suggest that you budget around £75 a year for these general costs).

A Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check may be required for practice-based modules. If so, there will be an extra cost (approximately £45).

A guide including rough estimates for these and other living expenses is included on the UCL Fees and funding pages. If you are concerned by potential additional costs for books, equipment, etc., please get in touch with the relevant departmental contact (details given on this page).

Funding your studies

Various funding options are available, including student loans, scholarships and bursaries. UK students whose household income falls below a certain level may also be eligible for a non-repayable bursary or for certain scholarships. Please see the Fees and funding pages for more details.


The Scholarships and Funding website lists scholarships and funding schemes available to UCL students. These may be open to all students, or restricted to specific nationalities, regions or academic department.

Next steps

Your application

We use predicted grades, references and personal statements to assess your suitability for the programme. Alongside academic abilities, you should demonstrate an interest in the early years education field, including areas such as children’s learning and development, social justice and children’s rights, international perspectives in education policy, curriculum development, and pedagogy. In some circumstances, we may ask for additional information (for example, samples of written work). We reserve the right to interview applicants. Mature applicants with non-standard academic backgrounds but with the equivalent of two years of full-time pedagogical experience working in early childhood education environments will be considered on a case-by-case basis.

How to apply

Application for admission should be made through UCAS (the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service). Applicants currently at school or college will be provided with advice on the process; however, applicants who have left school or who are based outside the United Kingdom may obtain information directly from UCAS.


For further information on UCL's selection process see: How we assess your application.

UCL is regulated by the Office for Students.