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MA Early Childhood Leadership and Practice

Course overview

Start date

September 2020

Subject area

Teaching and Education





On campus

Course summary

Early childhood continues to be a rapidly changing field in the local and global context.  Enhanced qualifications in this subject will support your career progression and employability whether you work in early childhood settings in the private, voluntary or public sectors in the United Kingdom or internationally.

At UEL we recognise that the study of early childhood needs a holistic perspective.  Early childhood practice is influenced by social, cultural, economic and political contexts.  Modules on this course will develop your knowledge of early childhood practice in a range of contexts and your research skills.  Assignments provide opportunities for you to apply advanced knowledge and research skills in practice in the context of employed or voluntary work.

We have an academic team with experience of early childhood practice, family support, early intervention, child rights services, informal education, policy development, service development and teaching in the early years.  Our team has worked in the private, voluntary and public sector in different contexts.  

Whichever direction you choose we can guide you, drawing on our national and international experience.  Like you we are passionate about early childhood.   The structure of the course enables you to follow and develop your own interests in early childhood supported by knowledge of theory and advanced research skills.   Our goal is to motivate and inspire you as an early childhood leader and practitioner. 

The local, national and global perspectives of our course mean that your student group will be diverse.  In the past years we have had students on the MA from the United States of America and China. 

Please note that you will not be eligible for postgraduate loan funding if you receive APL/ACL credits.  Student Finance guidance states that eligible master’s courses must be full, standalone courses worth 180 credits. University of East London has a responsibility to notify Student Finance of any changes of circumstance, relating to student records throughout the academic year.  
For further advice and guidance relating to postgraduate loan eligibility;  please contact our SMART team on 020 8223 4444.


Contact Us

If you have any questions, please contact our Applicant Enquiries team on +44 (0) 20 8223 3333 or email

Get in touch

Rewarding excellence

The University of East London welcomes applications from practitioners and leaders (or aspiring leaders) in the field of early childhood.  We want to hear about your undergraduate degree and your experience in early childhood.  We will work with you to support your career ambitions.  We welcome applications from people working in or interested in working in early childhood education and care, education, health, voluntary organisations as well as child and family support services.

Experienced staff

For every aspect of the course we have Early Childhood academics with knowledge and experience in the field.    Teaching is informed by the research of the team, their past experience within the sector and their knowledge of a broad range of theory (e.g. sociology of education, education, critical realism, post-colonialism, post structuralism and post-modernism).  Our focus is the application of theory in early childhood practice.

Intensive study

We recognise that most people who do this MA course are already working, so we offer you compressed teaching on one day a week for full-time students and half a day a week for part-time students. The teaching will take place each Monday.

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What we're researching

Our International Centre for the Study of the Mixed Economy of Childcare enjoys a worldwide reputation for the high quality of its work.

Set up by Professor Helen Penn and Professor Eva Lloyd, the centre brings together specialists in early childhood and those in the fields of economics, business studies and the private sector. Professor Penn’s work, much of it for the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation, includes an analysis of the financing and regulation of childcare across the European Union and in the global South.

Professor Lloyd, contributes to the policy module on the MA in Early Childhood, which focuses on UK and international policy developments. She’s active in influencing and helping to develop central government policy in early childhood education and care.

She co-authored an influential evaluation by the National Centre for Social Research of the piloting of free education for disadvantaged two-year-olds. This helped pave the way for a government commitment to provide free education to 40 per cent of two-year-olds by 2014/15. In 2013, Professor Lloyd was awarded an Honorary OBE for services to education.

As an early childhood academic team we have a broad range of research interests.  Dr. Jennifer Robson, Programme Leader for the MA Early Childhood is currently researching values education in early childhood education settings.  Her research interests include child rights, social justice and equality in early childhood education.

Making a difference

UEL is one of the UK’s leading modern research universities. In the most recent Research Excellence Framework (REF), 17 per cent of our overall research submission was classified as ‘world-leading’ for its quality and impact – almost double our previous REF score. A further 45 per cent of our work was considered ‘internationally excellent’.

Olushola Oluremi Elugbaiye

MA Early Childhood

I have acquired an enormous amount of knowledge relating to current issues in the field of Early Childhood from national and international perspectives. I have developed the ability to demonstrate a good level of critical discussion and critique complex issues. The lecturers are friendly, approachable and supportive. The feedback is great and constructive allowing for progressive learning and development.

Fees and funding

The Student Money Advice and Rights Team (SMART) are here to help you navigate
your finances while you're a student at the University of East London.

We can give you advice, information and guidance on government and
university funds so that you receive your full funding entitlement.


Phone: 020 8223 4444

Tuition fees
Course fees will be confirmed soon.

£10,280 to fund your Masters Programme under the Postgraduate Loans (PGL) scheme

Postgraduate Loans (PGL)

The Postgraduate Loan (PGL) provide non means-tested loans of up to £10,280 to taught and research masters students.  It will be paid to students as a contribution towards tuition fees, living costs and other course costs.

Applications are made directly through Student Finance England


Whether you qualify depends on:
•    if you’ve studied on a postgraduate course before
•    your course
•    your age
•    your nationality or residency status

Full eligibility can be found here 

Please take a look at the Postgraduate Loans for an overview of the new funding.

Apply for a 50 per cent discount on your tuition fees! You can get a 50 per cent discount on course fees through a UEL Postgraduate Scholarship.

The scholarship is open to full-time and part-time UK and EU students of taught postgraduate courses.

To see our full eligibility criteria and how to apply click here

Terms and conditions apply.

How we can help you

Did you know that with a postgraduate qualification you can expect to earn £200,000 more than someone who only holds an undergraduate degree*?

If you want to build new skills, change career paths, or further your career prospects, a postgraduate degree can help you. Our range of scholarships and bursaries will make financing your education that much easier.

*Sutton Trust Report 2013

Alumni Discount - 15 per cent

Early Payment Discount - 5 per cent

Part-time Postgraduate Fee-waiver - up to £500

Sport Scholarships – Up to £6,000

Terms and conditions apply.

There are a number of ways you can pay your fees to UEL
•    Online payment facilities
•    By telephone
•    In person at our Docklands or Stratford campus
•    Bank transfer Full information on making payments can be found here
If you wish to discuss payments to the University, please contact our Income Team on 020 8223 2030 or you can email

The Student Money Advice and Rights Team (SMART) are here to help you navigate
your finances while you're a student at the University of East London.

We can give you advice, information and guidance on government and
university funds so that you receive your full funding entitlement.


Phone: 020 8223 4444

Tuition fees
Course fees will be confirmed soon.

At UEL, we understand that studying in another country is a big financial commitment. If you apply early for an postgraduate course, you may be entitled to a scholarship of up to £4,000. You can find out more about the international scholarships here. In addition to this, we offer a five per cent early payment discount and 15 per cent alumni discount.

The Student Money Advice and Rights Team (SMART) also run an Emergency International Fund to assist international students in hardship.

You can contact our SMART team on 02082234444 or

As part of the Tier 4 student visa requirements, UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) estimate that you will need £1265* per month to cover your living costs. It includes expenses for accommodation, food and drink, travel within London, text books, entertainment, clothing, toiletries and laundry. Most Tier 4 students are required to show they have sufficient funds to cover the first nine months of the course before they start- a total of £11385- in addition to the tuition fees. You can find more information about the specific requirements of the Tier 4 student visa here. The amount that you will spend can vary depending on your lifestyle. The UKCISA International Student Calculator can help you plan and manage your money.

* Please note the Immigration Rules are subject to change and this figure is likely to be increased by UKVI year on year. Please therefore check our ISA pages ( for more information at the time of preparing your visa application.

Deposits and paying by instalments

International students are required to pay a deposit prior to being issued a Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS).

Your remaining balance will be paid in five monthly instalments over your first term. The first of these instalments must be paid when completing your enrolment on arrival at UEL. Please follow the payment instructions here.

After the required payment has been made, you will be asked to complete the online International Student Reply Form to confirm your acceptance of our offer and of our terms of admittance and fees policy.

Our International team at UEL are available for advice and guidance on studying in London, fees, scholarships and visa requirements.


Tuition fees
Course fees will be confirmed soon.

Entry requirements

Minimum 2.2 Honours in Early Childhood Studies, Social Policy, Health Studies or related subject


(Including European Union)

We accept a range of qualifications from across the world. Please see our country pages for information on specific entry requirements for your country.

If you don’t quite meet the academic requirements for this course, you can apply with an additional foundation year. Read more about the International Foundation Programme.

Applicants are required to complete an enhanced Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check for Regulated Activity
Overall IELTS 7.0 with a minimum of 6.5 in Writing, Speaking, Reading and Listening (or recognised equivalent).

If you do not meet the academic English language requirements for your course, you may be eligible to enrol onto a pre-sessional English programme. The length of the course will depend on your current level of English and the requirements for your degree programme. We offer a 5-week and an 11-week pre-sessional course. Find out more here.

As an inclusive university, we recognise that applicants who have been out of education for some time may not have the formal qualifications usually required for entry to a course. We welcome applications from those who can demonstrate their enthusiasm and commitment to study and have the relevant life/work experience that equips them to succeed on the course. We will assess this from the information provided in your application – in particular your personal statement - to help us decide on your eligibility for the course.

Please note that some courses require applicants to meet the entry requirements outlined on the course page. Our pre-entry Information Advice and Guidance Team are able to provide further advice on entry requirements and suitability for study.
You can speak to a member of our Applicant Enquiries team on +44 (0)20 8223 3333, Monday to Friday from 9am to 5pm. Alternatively, you can visit our Information, Advice and Guidance centre.

What you'll study

We consistently review and develop our courses and modules to ensure they are up-to-date with sector and industry graduate skills demands. Course structure, modules and options are subject to change.


  • Mental Wealth: Critical Reflection on Leadership of Practice in Early Childhood (core)
  • Action Research: Leading Change in Early Childhood Leadership and Practice (core)
  • Early Childhood Policy Development and Implementation (core)
  • Research Methods in Early Childhood Leadership and Practice (core)
  • Negotiated Project: Criticality in learning for Leadership of Practice in Early Childhood (optional)
  • Workbased Learning: formation and development of professional knowledge in practice (optional)

How you'll be assessed

Assessment will be formative (to enable you to assess your own learning) and summative (which will be graded). You will be assessed on presentations, assignments and a final dissertation.

A portfolio of assignment tasks (e.g. written tasks or presentations) will be required for each module. For the dissertation module a 14,000 dissertation will be required.

Course specification

How you'll learn

For each module there will be weekly three hour taught sessions; tutors and students have opportunities for dialogue on areas of knowledge and understanding related to early childhood leadership and practice. Teaching and learning is guided through lectures, seminars, group work, project work and research supervision.

You will develop analytical and evaluative skills in order to develop critical perspectives about early childhood leadership and practice. 

Academic tutors will work with you throughout the module and guide you in the preparation for assignments. Students complete the course with a 14,000 word dissertation focused on a topic of interest in early childhood leadership and practice. For example, one recent student examined early childhood educators' understanding of professionalism in the context of Nigeria. Another MA student explored beliefs and practices in the use of ICT (specifically Tablets) within the pedagogy of early childhood settings in the United Kingdom. Dr Jenny Robson, the Programme Leader said, ‘Students have the opportunity to follow their own interests in their research project; many undertake research linked to the context of their employment or volunteering.’ Students are enabled to develop and implement ethical research practice.

The learning experience of every student on the MA Early Childhood Leadership and Practice is important to us. Academic tutors work with students to achieve excellence.

What you'll learn

This MA will enable you to apply advanced knowledge and research issues relevant to early childhood in a range of early childhood settings where you work.

All modules are core:

  • Critical Reflection on Leadership of Practice in Early Childhood
  • Early Childhood Policy Development and Implementation
  • Action Research: Leading Change in Early Childhood Leadership and Practice
  • Research Methods in Early Childhood Leadership and Practice
  • Dissertation in Early Childhood Leadership and Practice

Your future career

This course will support your career progression in the leadership of practice in Early Childhood contexts whether that be a nursery, voluntary organisation or a school. Alternatively you could consider a career in a charity or work as a lecturer in Further Education.

Our assignments are linked to early childhood leadership and practice. They will enable you to build an evidence base and portfolio of the application of knowledge in practice. Your Master's in Early Childhood Leadership and Practice will significantly enhance your CV for applications for leadership and management positions in early childhood contexts.

Whatever your chosen career progression UEL's Centre for Student Success will provide you with support throughout your studies and beyond.

Explore the different career options you can pursue with this degree and see the median salaries of the sector on our Career Coach portal

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Meet us in your country

Our international team travel overseas regularly to meet prospective students and attend recruitment fairs. Our academics also give regular lectures overseas and are happy to speak to prospective students. In addition, we have a large worldwide network of advisors who can provide guidance and support with applying to study at the University of East London.

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