BA in Early Childhood Studies and Practice
Diploma in Early Childhood Studies and Practice
Certificate in Early Childhood Studies and Practice

Course overview

The Diploma/Bachelor of Arts (Early Childhood Studies and Practice) has been developed to meet the identified needs of practitioners in the childcare sector who wish to pursue further education and training in a flexible manner, complimenting and supporting continued employment. This 4 year part time programme of study, with options for interim exit awards, builds on practical experience, enhancing the learner’s skills through exposure to theory, policy, research and work-based learning opportunities. It also aims to provide practitioners currently working in the field of early childhood care and practice an opportunity to upgrade their qualifications, to further develop their skills and to enhance their existing knowledge through a part-time, flexible and accessible academic programme.


Who is the course intended for?

This programme was developed in response to the identified needs of childcare practitioners who may already posses a recognised qualification at NFQ levels 5 or 6 and who wish to upgrade their qualification in a manner that will support their continued employment and their workplace. Alternatively, potential students without a recognised qualification, but with extensive experience in the childcare care and education sector, are also encouraged to apply.

The programme will be particularly suitable for:

Early year practitioners  in crèches, pre-schools, school age childcare services, special education services and childminding settings

  • Managers of crèches, pre-schools, school age services, special education services
  • Early childhood practitioners in the Health Services Executive and Tusla: the new Child and Family Support Agency
  • City and County Childcare Committee members and staff of National Voluntary Childcare Organisations
  • Practitioners in the child and family support sector
  • Special Needs Assistants working with Infants classes
  • Early Years Specialists working in advisory or mentoring roles, or those aspiring to such positions


A Certificate in Early Childhood Studies and Practice (NFQ: Level 7) will be awarded on the successful attainment of 45 ECTS at the end of Year 1. A Diploma in Arts (Early Childhood Studies and Practice) (NFQ: Level 7) will be awarded on the successful attainment of 90 ECTS at the end of Year 2. The BA in Early Childhood Studies and Practice (NFQ: Level 8) will be awarded on the successful attainment of a further 90 ECTS (total of 180 ECTS) at the end of year 4.

Key facts

Entry requirements

Applicants will ideally be adult learners, aged 21 years or over, returning to education and employed in an early childhood setting with up to 2 years experience working in the sector. While formal academic qualifications are not necessary, those possessing a NFQ Level 5 or 6 qualification in the childcare or related disciplines will be encouraged to apply.

Duration: Certificate: 1-year; Diploma: 2-years; Degree: 2 further years following completion of the diploma. Modules are offered on a part-time basis

Next start date: Sept 2015

ECTS weighting: Certificate: 45 ECTS; Diploma: 90 ECTS; BA: 180 ECTS

Average intake: 30

Closing date: Summer 2015

NFQ level: Certificate: level 7; Diploma: level 7; Degree: level 8

Mode of study: Blended learning

Course outline

This programme of study builds year to year on the skills and knowledge students develop through their exposure to key areas of the course, including theory, social policy, the development of research skills, and the enhancement of practical experiential learning opportunities. By the completion of year four, the graduate emerges as a reflective practitioner with an in-depth understanding of the holistic needs of children and families and the role of early years services in the broader community and policy context.


Year One

- Introduction to Learning   5 ECTS

- Psychology: The Developing Child 1   10 ECTS

- Creative Development in Early Years   5 ECTS

- Child Protection and Safety in Childcare Services  10 ECTS

- Health, Hygiene and Nutrition in Early Childhood  5 ECTS

- Work-based Project: Year 1  10 ECTS


Year Two

- Psychology: The Developing Child 2   10 ECTS

- Implementing the Early Learning Curriculum  10 ECTS

- The Child and Family in Irish Law   5 ECTS

- Quality Awareness in Early Learning   10 ECTS

- Work-based Project: Year 2   10 ECTS


Year Three

- Children and Families in Society  10 ECTS

- Working in Varied Care and Education Settings  5 ECTS

- Management Skills for Childcare Environments   10 ECTS

- Effective Leadership for the Childcare Sector   5 ECTS

- Social Research Methodologies   5 ECTS

- Work-based Project: Year 3 10 ECTS


Year Four

- Promoting Inclusion in Early Years Care and Education  10 ECTS

- Irish Social, Family and Early Years Pollicy: Critical Analysis  10 ECTS

- Critical Reflection on Learning and Practice  5 ECTS

- Research Dissertation   20 ECTS




This part-time distance learning programme is delivered on a modular basis over 4 years using a blended learning approach.

Blended learning combines traditional learning approaches with distance learning and utilises a variety of teaching methods and assessment techniques, suited to the adult learner returning to education. These methods include the following:

• Self-study learning materials

• Required textbooks which students are expected to purchase

• Additional readings which may be available in the library or online

• Regional workshop sessions

• Online learning (discussion boards, online collaboration, e-mail etc.)

Further education

2 further years following completion of the diploma. Modules are offered on a part-time basis.

Graduates of the Bachelor of Arts programme may wish to pursue their education and would be qualified to do so in a range of areas including higher diplomas or master degrees in early childhood care and education, community development, education and training, family studies and family support, to name a few.

Applications and selections

Applications are no longer being accepted for 2014-2015.


Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL)

Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) is a process that allows students to gain admission to a programme of study or to gain exemptions/credit from some parts of a programme, based on demonstrated learning achieved prior to admission. Applicants to this programme of study may apply for exemptions from some modules, in accordance with the University’s Recognition of Prior Learning policy as determined by the Academic Directors. For further information contact the programme co-ordinator.


A fees scholarship of up to 30% may be available for students who wish to upskill for the purposes of re-employment. Students must be registered as unemployed and in receipt of one of the following:

- Job Seekers Benefit

- Job Seekers Allowance

- One-Parent Family Allowance

- Disability Allowance

- Social Insurance Contribution Credits

- Community Employment Scheme

 Fee Scholarship Application form 2014-2015

Requirements and assessment


Students will be expected to attend a number of full day workshops throughout each academic year (September to May). In the main, these workshops will be held on Saturdays, with higher weighted modules requiring an additional two or three Friday workshops each year. Dates for all workshops will be provided to students at the commencement of each academic year.  Workshops will be organised to be geographically accessible to the majority of learners. To date, a number of outreach centres have been established throughout the country.  Previous venues have included Galway, Limerick, Cork, Donegal, Dundalk and Cavan.  The number and location of venues held each year of the programme is contingent on student uptake, the geographical spread of applicants and the availability of resources to support the programme.



Assessment techniques may include a range of the following: written assignments, reflective learning journals, portfolios, presentations, group projects and written examinations (which take place in NUI Galway).

Find out more

Programme Administrator

Centre for Adult Learning and Professional Development

Nuns' Island

NUI Galway

T: 353 91 492080

Fees for this course

EU (Total): €2,900 p.a. 2014/15

A fees scholarship of up to 30% may be available for students who wish to upskill for the purposes of re-employment - see section titled "Applications and selections" below for further details.

Fees for all Adult Learning and Professional Development courses

Current students

Michelle O’Doherty (3BCP1)

I am currently in my third year of the B.A. in Early Childhood Studies and Practice and my experience as a part time student with N.U.I. Galway has been an extremely positive one. Working full time as a childcare manager I have found the learning within this programme to be extremely practice based and relevant to my role, enhancing my professional development. The programme has a good balance of theory and practice as well as lively interactive classroom discussions. Returning to education as an adult learner I have found the tutors and the administration team to be very supportive as well as my classmates with whom I have formed lasting friendships.


Angela Walsh (2BCP1)

The structure of this course suits me down to the ground. The opportunity to study in a degree program, while also working and parenting, is now attainable. Each module includes both a national and international perspective. I am currently in year two, but am already reaping the benefit of my studies. My professional practice is constantly evolving, to the benefit of all the children I work with. I am truly excited about the future.


Jacqueline Moyles (1BCP1)

I am very glad that I choose NUI Galway as I am really enjoying my course. I find the staff and tutors friendly, helpful and professional. Linking theory to practice is a very rewarding experience. I find that as a result of my course I am beginning to apply a much deeper level of reflective practice, knowledge and understanding to my work practice. I highly recommend the BA in Early Childhood Care and Practice.

Past student

Susan Quirke-Crowley

As a mature student, I am happy to recommend the Certificate in Early Childhood Studies & Practice as a worthwhile journey in ones professional practice and personal development. Whilst challenging at times, the programme is ideally suited to practitioners working in the Early Years, drawing on practical experience and developing one’s ability to relate theory to everyday practice. It is an added bonus that one has the option to complete the Diploma in Year 2 and the BA following years 3 & 4 meaning that I can gain a new qualification at each stage of the journey, thus increasing my profile as a professional practitioner.