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MA Early Childhood Leadership and Practice

Course overview

Start date

September 2018

Subject area

Teaching and Education





On campus

Course summary

Early childhood has become a massive, rapidly changing field over the past 20 years, with many new avenues opening up for those with enhanced qualifications in the subject.

At UEL, we recognise that the study of early childhood needs a holistic perspective. All sorts of influences impact on children’s lives: education, health, sociology, psychology, politics and policy. They are rarely distinct from each other, which is why the modules on this course are a fusion of contemporary issues.

We have an academic team with experience of everything from teaching in east London to working with non-governmental organisations (NGOs) in South America, while Professor Eva Lloyd has co-constructed UK government policy in early childhood. 

Whichever direction you choose we can guide you, drawing on our direct national and international experience and expertise. Like you, we are passionate about early childhood. Our goal is to stimulate, motivate and inspire you.

The international perspectives on the course mean that your student group will be very diverse. We currently have students on the MA from China, Spain and Poland. 

Contact us

If you have any questions, talk to a member of our Applicant Enquiries team on +44 (0) 20 8223 3333 or email

Get in touch

Rewarding passion

The University of East London does not apply a rigid grade structure for acceptance onto this course. We want to see passion for early childhood and we want to give you a pathway to do something you really want to do.

Experienced staff

For every aspect of the course, we have someone with experience in the field among the Early Childhood staff team at UEL. We have all backgrounds – health, education and sociological – covered.

Flexible study

We recognise that most people who do this MA course are already working, so we offer you evening study spread over one or two years. The choice is yours.

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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.

Dr Jennifer Robson, Course Leader of the MA in Early Childhood, teaches on the policy, curriculum and contemporary issues modules. Her PhD research experience and publications centre on emotional processes and learning in early childhood, children’s participation and intercultural education.

Dr Jane Cox draws on her PhD research into the condition of contemporary childhood. Her work explored the notion of childhood in crisis, which included adult perceptions of what might constitute crisis, and what crisis might be from a child’s perspective. This research supports her teaching on the contemporary issues and research methods modules.

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

Fees for this course will be confirmed soon

Tuition fees are subject to annual change. Fees for future years will be published in due course.

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

Fees for this course will be confirmed soon

Tuition fees are subject to annual change. Fees for future years will be published in due course.

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


Tuition fees

Fees for this course will be confirmed soon

Tuition fees are subject to annual change. Fees for future years will be published in due course.

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.

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).

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 relevant life/work experience that equips them to succeed on the course. We will assess this from the information provided in your application (particularly your personal statement) and may ask you to attend an interview or submit a piece of work to help us decide on your eligibility for the course. 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. Please click here for details.

What you'll study

  • Contemporary Issues in Early Childhood (core) 
  • Dissertation in the Field of Early Childhood (core)
Students will choose to study one of the options below.
  • Research Methods in the Field of Early Childhood (option)
  • Policy Issues in Early Childhood: National and International Perspectives (option)
  • Curriculum Models in Early Childhood (option)

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 written assignment of 5,000 words will be required for each module (14,000 for the Dissertation module), together with evidence that you have achieved enhanced research and self-study.

Course specification

How you'll learn

The three-hour taught sessions are interactive between tutors and students. They are a mix of lectures, discussions and student-led seminars, which include the use of audio-visual clips.

You will often work in pairs to research and present a reading, which will stimulate group discussion.

You will develop your analytical and evaluative skills in order to think more critically about early childhood and to be able to apply those skills in your work situation.

You will also learn to synthesise ideas from different people in order to assess a work situation from a number of vantage points.

The individual attention you will receive on the course extends to tutorial sessions. In these, you can submit a draft of your coursework and talk it through with your tutor.

Your 14,000-word dissertation topic will be one that excites and stimulates you. 

For example, one student took a creative approach to exploring children’s perceptions and understandings of race. She was a primary school teacher locally who used participatory methods to collect data from her pupils.

Another MA student explored how our risk-averse society is permeating practice in an early years setting and how opportunities for children to play outdoors can be constrained or restricted as a result.

“We have a small learning environment on the MA course – much smaller than on the BA course, so it is a radically different experience for the students,” says Course Tutor Dr Jane Cox. 

“It is much more individualised. We really get to know them and work with them and we can offer a very supportive environment for them. We can also find out where their particular passion lies.”

What you'll learn

The course takes a holistic approach to the study of children’s early years. It draws on, and is informed by, education, sociology, psychology, history and politics and it encourages you to think critically about current issues in the field.

You will look at early childhood, care and curriculum models from an international perspective to see how things are done differently around the world – for example, in Scotland and South-east Asia as well as the Reggio Emilia approach in Italy and the Te Whariki framework in New Zealand.

The Policy Issues in Early Childhood module places a strong emphasis on how policy in relation to early years education and childcare is impacting on children, parents and practitioners.

The Contemporary Issues in Early Childhood module could cover children’s rights, inclusion issues such as special needs and race, or why there are so few male professionals in early childhood teaching.

You will examine early childhood from a historical perspective – how early 20th Century models are still influencing current policy.

You will also learn how to conduct a piece of independent research related to early childhood.

Your future career

This qualification can lead you in whichever direction you choose, even if your motivation is simply to develop your own interest in early childhood. 

With the current demand for schools to become more research active, your Master’s in Early Childhood will make you a more attractive applicant when it comes to securing research, leadership and management posts in schools.

A key strength of this course is its focus on international perspectives. This could open up careers nationally or internationally, in direct teaching or in an organisational role.

The policy knowledge and expertise you gain on the course, as well as the skill-set you develop, could lead to jobs in the Third Sector, with charities or other non-governmental organisations, or careers in the NHS. You could also consider research assistant roles with the National Children’s Bureau (NCB) or the National Foundation for Educational Research (NFER).

You may decide that you want to follow the staff lead at UEL and become an educator in a further education college, as a lecturer or tutor.

The course will also enhance your transferable skills such as critical thinking ability, time and project management as well as the ability to give presentations – all of which will be important in whatever role you seek.

Whatever your chosen career progression, UEL's dedicated Careers and Student Employability (CaSE) team is on hand to support you throughout your studies and beyond.

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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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