BA (Hons) Early Years and Childhood Studies

How central is play to children’s learning? What factors are likely to influence children’s development? Positively shape their futures.

Attend an open day How to apply
Attend an open day How to apply


How might modern day pressures be impacting on children’s mental health? How do our individual experiences of childhood influence our views and perspectives? How can children and young people participate in society and how can this contribute to changes in policy?

From exploring feminism and queer theory to analysing the thinking of key philosophers, on this course you’ll study the complex factors that affect children’s lives and ways to positively shape and influence their futures.

In each year of the course, you’ll learn about the different elements that impact on a child’s development. Studying subjects such as psychology, sociology, philosophy, and criminology, you’ll consider ethics, welfare, and the importance of policy and legislation relating to children, such as the Human Rights Act (1998). You’ll also learn about how childhood has changed over time both in the UK and globally and consider alternative perspectives to child development, including post-structuralism, socio-cultural theory and creative play.

You’ll reflect on your own experience of childhood and explore how it was shaped by society. You’ll also consider the diverse experiences of children, young people, families and communities and how policy on local, national and international levels affects children’s lives.

This degree will give you the opportunity to study for an Early Years Education Level 3 qualification alongside your degree. When you graduate you will receive a degree, and a Level 3 Early Years Educator qualification which meets the National College for Teaching and Leadership requirements.

This course has a foundation year available. 

Features and Benefits

  • Community links - We’ve created this course with the help of local employers from the education and health and social care sectors, as well as community and voluntary organisations, to help you develop the skills and knowledge you’ll need when you’re in the workplace.

  • Specialise your studies - In year two, you can apply for a specialist placement, in places such as art galleries, museums, play therapy teams and Pupil Referral Units. 

  • Study abroad - You could study in Europe for five months with the optional Erasmus programme.

  • Real work projects - You’ll have the opportunity to take part in projects, working innovatively with communities and professionals to develop your employability skills. 

“Choosing to study abroad on the Erasmus exchange was, by far, the best thing I decided to do while studying at Manchester Met. It allowed me to immerse myself into a different culture and complete a placement in a Finnish Preschool." Francesca Marrs, BA (Hons) Early Years and Childhood Studies

“The course has really helped me to realise that I want a career in social care and children’s services. Any applicants who are not sure which child sector they want to work in should apply for this course and develop their interests.”

Simmran Singh, BA (Hons) Early Years and Childhood Studies

Career Prospects

As an Early Years and Childhood Studies graduate, you’ll have the opportunity to start a career in a wide range of areas working with children, young people and communities as a teacher, family support worker or youth and community leader. Or, you may go into creative play therapy at a local art gallery, work in a pupil referral unit helping those who struggle in formal education or even sports coaching.

You may even pursue a career in the voluntary sector, researching the latest trends in child learning behaviour for a children’s charity.

During the course, you’ll spend time on placements and study option units to help you decide the career path you’d like to follow. Your personal tutor will also support you with suggestions that match your strengths and career ambitions.

You may continue professional development after your first degree. We have a range of postgraduate courses in the Faculty of Education including masters in Education Studies, Educational Leadership and Management, Childhood and Youth Studies and Inclusive Education. Some of our graduates also go onto study Social Work at masters level. 


Learn more about graduate careers

Entry requirements

UCAS tariff points/grades required


104-112 UCAS Tariff points from 3/4 A-levels  (excluding General Studies) or acceptable alternatives, e.g. BTEC Subsidiary Diploma. Diploma, Extended Diploma at Level 3 Grades DMM, Grade B in CACHE Diploma but for the CACHE Level 3 Diploma in Early Years Education & Care (Early Years Educator) we would require Grade A*

Specific GCSE requirements

GCSE Grade C/4 in English Language. Equivalent qualifications e.g. Functional Skills, will be considered.

Non Tariffed Qualifications

Access to HE Diploma in a relevant subject with at least 45 credits at Level 3 in Distinction or Merit to include a minimum of 9 credits at Distinction.

International Baccalaureate points

25 IB Diploma Points

IELTS score required for international students

IELTS 6.0 with no element below 5.5

There’s further information for international students on our international website if you’re applying with non-UK qualifications.

Additional Requirements

All candidates must have evidence of study at level 3 or equivalent within the 3 years prior to application and must provide an academic reference. Personal statement should include evidence of work experience with children. 

A Disclosure and Barring Service Check is required for all students. This will be completed through the University prior to enrolment.

Further information

If you do not meet the entry requirements of this course, you may be eligible for our foundation year

Course details

In each year of the course, you’ll study the complex factors that affect children’s lives, challenge theories and question social norms. You’ll learn about the different elements that impact on a child’s development and the ways to positively shape and influence their future.

There are two different routes you can take on this course, a ‘standard’ route or a ‘practice’ route. If you’d like to study for the Early Years Educator level 3 qualification alongside your degree, you can choose to study on the practice route.

When you graduate from this route, you will receive a degree and a level 3 Early Years Educator qualification, which meets the National College for Teaching and Leadership requirements.

You’ll start the course with a range of core units that will help you to share subject knowledge with your fellow students. You’ll explore your experiences of childhood and how the early years are instrumental in shaping children’s lives.

The units in year one give you opportunities to practice research techniques, explore major theories, and consider the ethical implications of your work.

Your days will vary but you’ll spend time working in small groups and you’ll have interactive lessons, too.

Read more about this year of study

Core Units

What is Development?

What is Development? questions what we currently know about notions of development and introduces different views and ideas drawn from psychology, philosophy and sociocultural theory. You will have opportunities to consider how these different perspectives might influence experiences and practices, for example, how they shape the way we view children’s behaviour, or their use of language, and the impact this has on the child in their particular context.

What is Childhood?

What is Childhood? invites you to question and explore the meaning of childhood. Rooted in sociological approaches it examines how childhood is shaped by different parts of society (e.g. the media, law, family) as well as by individuals in everyday life. You will be encouraged to explore the extent to which it is possible to talk about ‘childhood’ as a fixed and universal phenomenon and you will be challenged to consider the roles that children take in shaping their own lives.

Academic and Professional Development 1

The Academic and Professional Development unit in the first year invites you to celebrate your personal experiences and prior knowledge and identify personal and professional priorities. Working with a personal tutor, you will co-construct a five-year personal development plan, which capitalises on your strengths and seeks to identify experiences and opportunities that will support your personal and professional development during your studies and beyond. Such opportunities might include, for example, support on how to work as an effective member of a team, or how to create a digital portfolio.

Places for Learning

Places for Learning looks closely at the different spaces and places which provide learning experiences. There will be opportunities to focus in on a specific learning space such as a museum, art gallery, park or virtual space and consider how this place provides learning that is appropriate to the needs of a community.

Policy in Context

Policy in context looks at real-life experiences and how they have been affected by different policies and legislations. You will consider the ways in which policies can be applied differently in different contexts. For example, how did the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child influence your experiences in school?

Manchester Met. Project

In the Manchester Met. Project unit, you will have the opportunity to undertake a project that allows you to develop skills and knowledge that you have identified in your professional development plan. Whether inside or outside the university, tutors will support you to select a project that is best for you. You might want to do a placement in a local school, or you might have a passion to explore the work of a local charity with a view to volunteering or working for them in the future. You might want to improve your academic study skills and engage with a range of university study skills programmes. All of your endeavours are supported and guided by your tutor, so that you can identify your personal achievements throughout the project and plan for future development.

In year two, you’ll build on the skills and knowledge you gained in your first year. You’ll continue to develop your specialist knowledge through core units such as Applied Social Research and Deconstructing Child Development.

You’ll also study the Academic and Professional Practice module and work as part of a tutored group to develop your skills as an education practitioner.

During this year, you’ll start to identify an area you’d like to specialise in and so we offer a number of option units in specialist topics.


Read more about this year of study

Core Units

Academic and Professional Development 2

The Academic and Professional Development unit in your second year of study provides a space for you to consider how you understand professionalism and the implications this has for your personal development as outlined in your five-year plan. In this unit, we will consider a range of topics such as ethics, respect, inclusion and communication and explore how you will work with these principles in your future career.

Manchester Met. Connected

The Manchester Met. Connected unit provides a supported space for you to further enhance your repertoire of experiences, skills and knowledge linked to education and/or childhood. Manchester is a city connected, locally, nationally and internationally, meaning that there are so many opportunities it can be difficult to choose! Working with your personal tutor, you will identify an experience or project that will enhance your future career prospects. You will examine and apply appropriate theories in the areas of education and/or early years and childhood studies to explore the inter-relationship between theory and practice. For example, you might choose to volunteer in a nursery and examine and apply theories of child development and sociology of childhood. You might undertake a project in a community educational setting and apply theories an concepts linked to informal education. Alternatively, you may decide to work alongside MMU tutors on special interest projects around topics such as sustainability or social justice or you might want to propose a project of your own!

What is Research?

Initially, the unit considers how research affects individuals and institutions and then moves on to consider the process of carrying out research. Through examining a particular topic, for instance, pupil attainment, you will explore and evaluate the methods that might be used, the ethical decisions that need to be taken into account and then reflect upon the different conclusions that may be formed as a result of the research.

Challenging Inequalities in Children’s Lives

The starting point for Challenging Inequalities in Children’s Lives is an exploration of the reasons why inequality exists and the impact this has on children’s life experiences. For example, we might think about poverty or gender or ethnicity in order to consider how children and adults might use different theoretical ideas and approaches to promote social justice and rights-based practice when working in the field.

In year three, you’ll reflect on the knowledge and experience gained during your first two years. Although you’ll continue to have ongoing teaching and pastoral support from our academic team, you’ll be encouraged to develop a more independent role in your final year of study.

You’ll study a number of set units where you will have the opportunity to analyse child psychological theories, you will also take into account alternative perspectives to child development such as feminism, queer theory and post modernism.

Read more about this year of study

Core Units

Academic and Professional Development 3: The Research Proposal

With tutor support, you will design and plan a piece of research that aligns with your interests and perhaps your career intentions. You will explore a range of literature in your chosen field in order to develop your research questions and decide on an appropriate methodological approach. You will undertake a detailed ethical assessment of the project, which might include preparation of participant information sheets and consent forms. This unit prepares you for the Dissertation unit where you will carry out your research project.


The unit allows you to carry out a small-scale independent research project, which you have designed and planned. The Dissertation is a place in which you can bring together your personal interests and the knowledge you have gained throughout the degree and further deepen your knowledge of a topic, which may inform your future career. For instance, if you wish to apply for a PGCE you may wish to focus your dissertation on a current issue or debate that is affecting schools.

Disrupting Childhoods

This unit challenges traditional constructs of childhood and development and considers the implication of these challenges for ethical practice. You will engage in a process of disruption that will involve challenging dominant ideas and assumptions that have come to categorise children and childhood as one thing or the Other. You will explore a range of theoretical perspectives and ideas that will help you to reflect upon the ethical and political concerns that arise when taken for granted assumptions about children and childhood are accepted as truths. For example, when we use the term ‘school readiness’, where has this come from, what and whose purpose does it serve and how does it impact on a child and their lived experiences?

Assessment weightings and contact hours

10 credits equates to 100 hours of study, which is a combination of lectures, seminars and practical sessions, and independent study. A 3 year degree qualification typically comprises of 360 credits (120 credits per year). The exact composition of your study time and assessments for the course will vary according to your option choices and style of learning, but it could be:

Optional foundation year

Additional information about this course

Due to professional body requirements, this course differs from standard University Assessment Regulations in that some units are exempt from compensation.

Placement options

Placement experience is an optional component of the student experience on this course. You will have the opportunity to gain valuable experience in a variety of child related settings, such as nurseries, schools, voluntary organisations, museums and children's centres. The practice experiences enhance your skills for future employment and provide a context in which to apply theory to practice.

Within the Faculty's School of Childhood, Youth and Education Studies, we have developed an Early Years and Childhood Studies forum, which involves local organisations across children's services, including art galleries, museums, schools, nurseries and social care agencies. This partnership has helped inform the curriculum, extend and improve our placement portfolio and facilitate opportunities to share good practice.

School of Childhood, Youth and Education Studies

Our School of Childhood, Youth and Education Studies specialises in teaching and research around education disciplines focused on children, young people, families and communities.

The department works collaboratively with communities, partners, local authorities and arts organisations on social enterprise projects, and has been at the forefront of developments in its field for over 20 years.

More about the department

Taught by experts

Your studies are supported by a team of committed and enthusiastic teachers and researchers, experts in their chosen field. We also work with external professionals, many of whom are Manchester Met alumni, to enhance your learning and appreciation of the wider subject.

Meet our expert staff


Foundation Year students

UK, EU and Channel Island students: Full-time Foundation Year fee: £9,250 per year for the foundation year. This tuition fee is agreed subject to UK government policy and parliamentary regulation and may increase each academic year in line with inflation or UK government policy for both new and continuing students.

Non-EU international students: Full-time Foundation Year fee: £15,000 per year. When progressing from the pre-degree foundation year to the linked degree. Tuition fees will remain the same for each year of your course providing you complete it in the normal timeframe (no repeat years or breaks in study)

UK, EU and Channel Island students

UK, EU and Channel Island students: Full-time fee: £9,250 per year. This tuition fee is agreed subject to UK government policy and parliamentary regulation and may increase each academic year in line with inflation or UK government policy for both new and continuing students.

Non-EU international students

Non-EU international students: Full-time fee: £15,000 per year. Tuition fees will remain the same for each year of your course providing you complete it in the normal timeframe (no repeat years or breaks in study).

Additional Information

A degree typically comprises 360 credits, a DipHE 240 credits, a CertHE 120 credits, and an integrated Masters 480 credits. The tuition fee for the placement year for those courses that offer this option is £1,850, subject to inflationary increases based on government policy and providing you progress through the course in the normal timeframe (no repeat years or breaks in study). The tuition fee for the study year abroad for those courses that offer this option is £1,385, subject to inflationary increases based on government policy and providing you progress through the course in the normal timeframe (no repeat years or breaks in study).

Additional costs

Specialist Costs


All of the books required for the course are available from the library. The University also has PC labs and a laptop loan service. However, many students choose to buy some of the core textbooks for the course and/or a laptop. You may also need to print your assignments and other documents. Campus printing costs start from 5p per page. Estimated costs are £300 for a laptop up to £100 each year for books and printing.

Placement Costs

2 to £12 a day whilst on placement (costs will vary considerably)

You can expect to travel to placement for up to an hour on public transport, normally with a maximum of 2 transport changes. Travel costs to placement will vary considerably depending on where you live, the location of your placement and how you choose to travel. Information on public transport costs within Greater Manchester can be found at

Professional Costs

Up to £135 depending on your status

If you decide to undertake a placement you must undergo a satisfactory Disclosure and Barring Service check (Enhanced Disclosure). At the time of going to press, you do not have to pay for your first DBS check. If you cannot attend a DBS session at the University before the start of the course, you can use the UK Post Office Document Certification Service, which costs approximately £10.

If you are not a UK citizen, or if you have lived in one country outside the UK for six or more months in the last five years, you must, where this is possible, obtain a police clearance certificate from the country in which you resided, in addition to the Disclosure and Barring Service check. You must supply a certified translation if the certificate does not automatically include this. Costs vary and can include fingerprint and translation fees where required.

If you are a returning student, who has already had a DBS certificate from Manchester Met and need a second DBS certificate, for example, due to a suspension of study, are required to pay the DBS fee. Please go to our DBS webpage for more details.


Find out more about financing your studies and whether you may qualify for one of our bursaries and scholarships.

Money Matters

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How to apply

You can apply for this course through UCAS.

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UCAS code(s)


Remember to use the correct institution code for Manchester Metropolitan University on your application: our institution code is M40

Full-time applications through UCAS

You can review our current Terms and Conditions before you make your application. If you are successful with your application, we will send you up to date information alongside your offer letter.


Programme Review
Our programmes undergo an annual review and major review (normally at 6 year intervals) to ensure an up-to-date curriculum supported by the latest online learning technology. For further information on when we may make changes to our programmes, please see the changes section of our Terms and Conditions.

Important Notice
This online prospectus provides an overview of our programmes of study and the University. We regularly update our online prospectus so that our published course information is accurate. Please check back to the online prospectus before making an application to us to access the most up to date information for your chosen course of study.

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