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Early Childhood Studies with Graduate Practitioner Competencies - BA (Hons)

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BA (Hons) Early Childhood Studies with Graduate Practitioner Competencies is a course designed to support you to develop the skills, knowledge, and experience to work effectively in meeting the needs of babies and young children from 0 – 8 years old, and their families....

  • Level Undergraduate
  • Study mode Full Time
  • Location City Centre
  • School School of Education and Social Work
  • Faculty Faculty of Health, Education and Life Sciences

This course is:

Open to International Students


BA (Hons) Early Childhood Studies with Graduate Practitioner Competencies is a course designed to support you to develop the skills, knowledge, and experience to work effectively in meeting the needs of babies and young children from 0 – 8 years old, and their families. The course covers theoretical and practical aspects of early childhood, with a strong commitment to social justice and promoting equity.

This course is open to International students.

What's covered in this course?

As you progress throughout the course, you will develop the skills and confidence needed to be an agent for change, discovering and building on your passion in advocating for children to make a positive contribution both to their lives and to the early childhood sector.

Through both course modules and on placement, you will work towards Graduate Practitioner Competencies, gathering knowledge and practical experience in understanding the fundamental aspects of working with babies and young children. This is part of our commitment to supporting you in preparing for the world of work. This course can open doors into a variety of professions related to Early Childhood, and we will support and guide you as you discover the role that suits you best. Placement opportunities across all three years of the degree will enable you to work and learn alongside a variety of professionals delivering services that support the wellbeing, development and learning needs of babies and young children.

Student placements can include early years settings (nurseries), primary schools, and health and social care sectors (so can include hospitals, home visits). Opportunities may include charities such as Barnardo's, children and family hubs, museums, family support centres, Action for Children, Children's Quarter (an organisation for inclusion), SEND settings, playgroups, and libraries among many other organisations.

We also draw on employers and professionals who provide some guest lectures, offering insight into their experiences alongside our own tutors. Our tutors on the programme come from a wide range of professional backgrounds and are research active, understanding the demands of study, work, and family life. They are committed to the same agenda of social justice, social mobility and social responsibility that forms the underpinning philosophy of the programme.

Gaining knowledge and understanding of babies’ and young children’s developmental, well-being and learning needs is a common theme throughout the course. You will build the skills and knowledge necessary to enable you to meet those needs and discover how you can respond in creative, reflective and analytical ways to issues relating to early childhood, being mindful of the need to adopt a resourceful approach.

As well as learning about policy, practice, and provision within the field of Early Childhood, we will encourage you to become a graduate who is outward-looking with an awareness of global issues that relate to the field of Early Childhood.

We will support you to develop your personal and professional skills, including your resilience, to become self-assured and assertive so that you can be influential in developing practice, policy, and provision in your future career. We provide you with a supportive and nurturing learning environment, which will enable you to take risks as you explore and find out new things about early childhood, as well as yourself.

Our aim is for you to be confident to meet the challenges of a changing society, and competent as a researcher in gathering and analysing data to evaluate and plan for change. You will have the opportunity to become a graduate who can demonstrate a real commitment to the youngest and sometimes most vulnerable citizens in our society, with the ability to manage change and lead others effectively to make a positive impact on babies, young children, and their families.

“I was surprised how interactive seminars are. Before I came to University, I thought every day would be lectures, but with Early Childhood Studies, most of our learning is through seminars. This is a great way to share ideas, challenge yourself and make friends with people on your course.”
Naomi Evans

Why Choose Us?

  • Our teaching is based around a strong commitment to social justice and advocating for the rights of babies and young children.
  • You will focus on birth to eight years, recognising the importance of early childhood in setting the foundations for life.
  • We have strong links with industry - we offer a range of placement opportunities in nurseries, children’s centres, schools and health settings, both locally and internationally, to help you develop the skills you need for your future career.
  • A team of expert staff - our experienced teaching team are active researchers, meaning you will always have access to the most up-to-date information and methods of working.
  • The course leads to wide ranging career possibilities – we provide support and guidance to assist and empower you to go into graduate level jobs after your degree.

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Open Days

Join us for an on-campus Open Day where you'll be able to learn about this course in detail, chat to students, explore our campus and tour accommodation. Booking isn't open yet for this event, register your interest and we’ll email you as soon as booking goes live.

Next Open Day: 28 September 2024

Register interest

Entry Requirements

These entry requirements apply for entry in 2025/26.

All required qualifications/grades must have been achieved and evidenced at the earliest opportunity after accepting an offer to help confirm admission and allow for on-time enrolment. This can also include other requirements, like a fee status form and relevant documents. Applicants can track their application and outstanding information requests through their BCU mySRS account.

Essential requirements

104 UCAS Tariff points. Learn more about UCAS Tariff points.

Please note: If you qualify for our BCU Accelerate scheme, you could receive an offer that is two grades below our normal entry requirements. Find out more about BCU Accelerate.

Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS)

Successful candidates will be required to obtain a satisfactory occupational health check and an enhanced DBS check via the Faculty prior to enrolling on this course. You will receive details of what is required if you are offered a place on the course. If you have any queries please refer to DBS Frequently Asked Questions or contact

If you have a qualification that is not listed, please contact us.

Fees & How to Apply

Please select your student status to view fees and apply
  • UK Student
  • International Student

UK students

Annual and modular tuition fees shown are applicable to the first year of study. The University reserves the right to increase fees for subsequent years of study in line with increases in inflation (capped at 5%) or to reflect changes in Government funding policies or changes agreed by Parliament. View fees for continuing students.

Award: BA (Hons)

Starting: Sep 2025

  • Mode
  • Duration
  • Fees

International students

Annual and modular tuition fees shown are applicable to the first year of study. The University reserves the right to increase fees for subsequent years of study in line with increases in inflation (capped at 5%) or to reflect changes in Government funding policies or changes agreed by Parliament. View fees for continuing students.

Award: BA (Hons)

Starting: Sep 2025

  • Mode
  • Duration
  • Fees

Access to computer equipment

You will require use of a laptop, and most students do prefer to have their own. However, you can borrow a laptop from the university or use one of our shared computer rooms.


You will receive £5 print credit in each year of your course, available after enrolment.

Field trips

All essential field trips and associated travel costs will be included in your course fees.

Access to Microsoft Office 365

Every student at the University can download a free copy of Microsoft Office 365 to use whilst at university and for 18 months after graduation.

Key Software

You will be able to download SPSS and Nvivo to your home computer to support with your studies and research.

Key subscriptions

Subscriptions to key journals and websites are available through our library.

DBS check

You will require a Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check for this course. Your first DBS check is included in your fees.

Placement expenses (mandatory)

Placements are a compulsory element of many health and teacher training courses. You'll need to budget for accommodation and any travel costs you may incur whilst living or working away from home.

Excess printing (optional)

Once you have spent your £5 credit, additional printing on campus costs from 5p per sheet.

Books (optional)

All module key texts will be in the University library, but in limited numbers. You may choose to purchase a copy.

Field trips (optional)

This course includes the option of additional trips that may enhance your experience, at extra cost.

Subscriptions (optional)

You may wish to purchase subscriptions to additional journals and websites.

Accommodation and living costs

The cost of accommodation and other living costs are not included within your course fees. More information on the cost of accommodation can be found in our accommodation pages.

Guidance for UK/EU students


UK and EU students applying for most undergraduate degree courses in the UK will need to apply through UCAS.

The Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS) is a UK organisation responsible for managing applications to university and college.

Applying through UCAS
 Register with UCAS
 Login to UCAS
 Complete your details
 Select your course
 Write a personal statement
 Get a reference
 Pay your application fee
 Send UCAS your application

Guidance for International students

There are three ways to apply:

1) Direct to the University

You will need to complete our International Application Form and Equal Opportunities Form, and submit them together with scan copies of your original academic transcripts and certificates.

2) Through a country representative

Our in-country representatives can help you make your application and apply for a visa. They can also offer advice on travel, living in the UK and studying abroad.

3) Through UCAS

If you are applying for an undergraduate degree or a Higher National Diploma (HND), you can apply through the UK’s Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS).

You can request a printed form from your school or nearest British Council office. You will be charged for applying through UCAS. Birmingham City University’s UCAS code is B25 BCITY.

Personal statement

Your personal statement is a highly important part of your application. It gives you a crucial opportunity to say why you’re applying and why the institution should accept you.

Here are the key areas you’ll need to address:

Course choice

Why does this course appeal? What areas are of particular interest?

Career plans

If you have a specific career in mind, say how your chosen course will help you pursue this goal.

Work experience

Mention any work that is relevant to your subject, highlighting the skills and experience gained.

School or college experience

Highlight skills gained at school/college, eg summer schools or mentoring activities.

Non-accredited skills or achievement

eg Duke of Edinburgh Award, Young Enterprise scheme.

You should also mention your future plans – if you’re planning to take a year out, don't forget to give your reasons. Talk about any subjects you’re studying that don’t have a formal assessment and any sponsorships or placements you’ve applied for. And don't be scared to add in details about your social, sports or leisure interests.

Get more information on writing personal statements.

Course in Depth

Year One

In order to complete this course, you must successfully complete all the following CORE modules (totalling 100 credits).

In order to complete this course a student must also successfully complete at least 20 credits from the following indicative list of OPTIONAL modules:

Year Two

In order to complete this course, you must successfully complete all the following CORE modules (totalling 100 credits).

In order to complete this course a student must also successfully complete at least 20 credits from the following indicative list of OPTIONAL modules.

Year Three

In order to successfully complete the course with Honours and Graduate Practitioner Competencies, a student must successfully complete all of the following CORE modules (totalling 100 credits):

In order to complete this course a student must successfully complete at least 20 credits from the following indicative list of OPTIONAL modules.

Download course specification

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If students intend to successfully complete the course with Honours but without the Graduate Practitioner Competencies, they should successfully complete all modules as outlined above but do not need to complete Placement modules at Levels 4, 5 and 6.

Course structure

On the BA (Hons) Early Childhood Studies with Graduate Practitioner Competencies course, learning and teaching is designed to develop your confidence, knowledge and skills as you progress through the programme.

We are passionate about the importance of Early Years education, and the role of graduate practitioners within the workforce. Our Early Childhood Studies (ECS) students are a community of learners and practitioners who value young children and their families, have a love of play and are interested in promoting children’s rights.

We will support you in your transition to university through social and group work activities, confidence building activities and scaffolding, so you can understand the thinking behind how your university modules and assessments are planned. Throughout your first year, core modules will continue to support your developing academic and professional skills.

Completing your Graduate Practitioner Competencies is an integral part of the course. We will support you to complete placements in practice during each year of study, enabling you to develop your expertise working with children and families, alongside your academic progression.

You will have opportunities to develop your observation, assessment and planning skills in line with the Early Years Foundation Stage requirements. Your  practice placement are also a good time to work on the transferable skills that will enhance your employability.

We link the course to the University's Graduate+ scheme throughout, which means you will be able to get credit from positive placement outcomes that will contribute to the Graduate+ award scheme.

Some modules relate specifically to placement and in order to complete the assignments set you will need to take a proactive approach to placements and actively engage with the work-based learning aspect of the programme.  This will be the case for ‘Observing, Assessing and Planning for Babies and Young Children’, completed in your first year, and placement modules across all three years of the degree.

As well as learning through practice, a variety of approaches to teaching are used.  We are committed to offering engaging, practical, and academically rigorous learning experiences. These include:

  • Workshops
  • Lectures
  • Seminars
  • Group projects
  • Guest speakers
  • Visits to settings and services
  • Field work – for example, visits to art galleries and museums 

Trips and Visits 

We aim to plan for visits to settings and services to support your learning and development. These vary from year to year but may include museum and art galleries, nurseries and early years settings.


Enhancing employability skills

A BCU Graduate is professional and work-ready, a creative problem solver, enterprising and has a global outlook. Transferrable skills are considered very highly throughout the programme should you decide not to work directly with children and young people in the future.

We have embraced the Graduate+ scheme and there are opportunities throughout the programme for you to receive credit for developing your employability skills. We have a commitment to learning for life and actively encourage you to develop your own research skills and to pursue your learning journey by building on your first degree to Master's level and beyond.

From induction through to your final module your tutor team will support you in exploring career pathways linked to young children and their families.

Graduate stories

Adam Nickels

Adam Nickels talks about the variety of roles he could go into with the modules on offer on the BA (Hons) Early Childhood Studies course. 

Read Adam's full profile

Claire Fitzgerald - ECS

Claire Fitzgerald secured a job at Busy Bees Training Academy which delivers bespoke training to early years staff. 

Read Claire's full profile


Placement is an integral part of the course and you will complete placements during each year of study. This is so you can develop professional skills, find out about the wide range of careers open to you within the field and develop transferable skills that will enhance your employability.

The balance of academic achievement and practical experience is a fundamental element of our approach. We embed the Graduate Practitioner Competencies into the placement experience to add value, structure and an additional evidence-informed qualification.

More about our placement opportunities


Birmingham City University is a vibrant and multicultural university in the heart of a modern and diverse city. We welcome many international students every year – there are currently students from more than 80 countries among our student community.

The University is conveniently placed, with Birmingham International Airport nearby and first-rate transport connections to London and the rest of the UK.

Our international pages contain a wealth of information for international students who are considering applying to study here, including:

Facilities & Staff

University House

Our Facilities

We are constantly investing in our estate and have spent £400 million on new learning facilities.

From January 2025, this course will be based at our City Centre Campus in a newly refurbished building.

Our staff

Shannon Ludgate

Senior Lecturer & Course Leader, BA (Hons) Early Childhood Studies

Shannon completed her BA (Hons) in Early Childhood Education Studies at Birmingham City University in 2014. Her studies focused on understanding and meeting the needs of the youngest children, with a focus on play, pedagogy and theory. While studying for her degree, Shannon gained Early Years Professional Status, her training funded by Best...

More about Shannon

Dr Eleni Kanira

Senior Lecturer in Early Childhood Education Studies

Eleni Kanira is a PhD graduate of the University of Warwick and a Senior Lecturer in Early Childhood Education at Birmingham City University. She trained and worked as an Early Years teacher, co-ordinator and consultant in various Primary schools and Early Years centres and as a drama teacher in schools and Theatre spaces. Her research interests...

More about Eleni

Dr Paola Pedrelli

Senior Lecturer

Dr Paola Pedrelli teaches on the MA Education, AIC, Singapore programme, focussing on Leadership and Management; Coaching and Mentoring and dissertation modules as well as supervising MA dissertation students.

More about Paola

Vina Patel

Senior Lecturer

Vina has worked with children and their families in the private and public sector. She has developed, led and managed early years teams for a large chain in the private sector. Vina also area managed the Midlands region where she worked with host companies running childcare, including those in the car industry.

More about Vina