Course Overview

The part-time Bachelor of Arts (Early Childhood Studies and Practice)- Level 8 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 course, 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. The BA in Early Childhood Studies and Practice is approved by the Department of Children and Youth Affairs for higher capitation funding and is internationally recognised.

*You may exit with a Certificate in Arts -Early Childhood Studies and Practice (Level 7) at the end of Year 1, a Diploma in Arts -Early Childhood Studies and Practice (Level 7) at the end of Year 2 and a Degree in Arts -Early Childhood Studies and Practice (Level 8) at the end of Year 4. 

Applications and Selections

Apply Online

Online Applications will reopen in April 2020

Early application is advised as offers will be made on a rolling basis.

A limited number of applications may be accepted after the official application closing date, subject to the availability of places.


Who Teaches this Course

Requirements and Assessment

Students will be expected to attend a number of full day workshops throughout each academic year. Workshops are held on Saturdays, with higher weighted modules requiring an additional two or three Friday workshops each year.  Workshops take place in a number of outreach centres  throughout the country. 

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).

Key Facts

Entry Requirements

Applicants will ideally be adult learners, aged 21 or over 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.

Entry requirements for part-time students can be found in our FAQs section (i.e. age, english language requirements etc.).

Advanced Entry Options

A new pilot initiative offers advanced entry to Year 2 of the BA programme for eligible practitioners with a distinction in their Major Level 6 award in Early Childhood Care and Education.

Applicants who hold a Level 7 degree in Early Childhood Studies/Early Years Education may also apply for advanced entry and may be considered for direct entry into Year 3 of the Level 8 BA ProgrammeContact the Course Administrator for more information.

Additional Requirements


Certificate:1 year part-time; Diploma:2 years part-time; Degree:4 years part-time.

Next start date


A Level Grades ()

Average intake


Closing Date

NFQ level

Certificate: Level 7; Diploma: Level 7; Degree: Level 8

Mode of study

Part-time blended learning

ECTS weighting

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



Course code

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. 

Read our Early Childhood Studies at NUI Galway Blog for lots of interesting information for Early Years practitioners including articles on what it's like to be a student in NUI Galway, study tips, research conducted by our graduates and updates on developments in the Early Years Sector.

Curriculum Information

Curriculum information relates to the current academic year (in most cases).
Course and module offerings and details may be subject to change.

Glossary of Terms

You must earn a defined number of credits (aka ECTS) to complete each year of your course. You do this by taking all of its required modules as well as the correct number of optional modules to obtain that year's total number of credits.
An examinable portion of a subject or course, for which you attend lectures and/or tutorials and carry out assignments. E.g. Algebra and Calculus could be modules within the subject Mathematics. Each module has a unique module code eg. MA140.
Some courses allow you to choose subjects, where related modules are grouped together. Subjects have their own required number of credits, so you must take all that subject's required modules and may also need to obtain the remainder of the subject's total credits by choosing from its available optional modules.
A module you may choose to study.
A module that you must study if you choose this course (or subject).
Required Core Subject
A subject you must study because it's integral to that course.
Most courses have 2 semesters (aka terms) per year, so a three-year course will have six semesters in total. For clarity, this page will refer to the first semester of year 2 as 'Semester 3'.

Further Education

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.

The Centre for Adult Learning and Professional Development, NUI Galway offers a part-time Master of Arts (Early Childhood Studies) and a Postgraduate Certificate/Diploma in Practice-Based Play Therapy.

Why Choose This Course?

Career Opportunities

The Early Years sector in Ireland has become the constant focus of State attention, impacting on funding, on regulatory and inspection processes, with increasing expectations for practitioners to offer pedagogical leadership within services of high quality. Evidence points to the increasing need for practitioners to hold a degree level qualification in order to raise the quality of provision and to enhance the experiences of the children attending their settings. Practitioners must be able to respond to these needs and will require an expert knowledge and skills base to be able to do so effectively. The part-time BA in Early Childhood Studies and Practice will provide you with the opportunity to gain an in depth understanding of the core early years knowledge areas and the confidence to apply this knowledge in support of young children’s needs.

Your career opportunities will grow as you will be able to hold a wider variety of occupational roles.  Upon completion of this degree course, students will be qualified to be employed in a variety of early years settings, including preschool settings, full daycares/crèches, playgroups, after school settings, drop in centres as well as a range of specialised locations such as family intervention settings. Due to the extensive range of course topics covered, the graduate will be skilled in a wide range of issues and areas that might also see them employed in early years support organisations, such as county/city childcare committees, in community outreach and development settings, family and community resource centres, or at a national level contributing to policy or programme development arena.

Since completing the degree level of the BA, graduates of NUI Galway have become employed in County Childcare Committees, as Better Start and Aim Mentors, with POBAL, as LINC tutors, as lecturers at Institutes of Technology and at the University level. Other graduates are now working abroad in the ECEC sector in New Zealand, Australia and the UK.


Who’s Suited to This Course

This course 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. It is 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

Learning Outcomes

The BA in Early Childhood Studies and Practice will provide you with the opportunity to gain an in-depth understanding of the core early years knowledge areas and the confidence to apply this knowledge in support of young children’s needs. You will learn about: 

  • Child development including key theorists and the influence of environmental, biological, social and cultural factors on growth and development.
  • Approaches to curriculum for early childhood and processes involved in curriculum development.
  • The role and importance of play.
  • Socialisation and the significance it has for the development of social competencies in children.
  • The importance of parental involvement in early years care and education. Leadership and management skills and their significance for quality provision in the early years sector. 

Using experiential learning to underpin and reinforce understanding is a key component of this programme. You will learn the skills of reflective practice and how to use them in your daily work practices so that you can apply the core knowledge and skills acquired throughout this programme. You will see your competencies expand and grow, improving your ability as a professional practitioner with an in-depth understanding of the holistic needs of children and families, the importance of evidenced-informed practice and the role of early years services in the broader community and policy context.


Work Placement

Study Abroad

Related Student Organisations

Course Fees

Fees: EU

€2,900 p.a.

Fees: Tuition

Fees: Student levy

Fees: Non EU

€3,400 p.a.

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
  • Community Employment Scheme
  • Carer’s Allowance
  • Signing for social insurance contribution credits

Please download the 2019_20 Fees Scholarship Form for more information.

Find out More

Valerie Kelly
Course Administrator

Centre for Adult Learning and Professional Development
Nuns' Island
NUI Galway

Tel: 091 492080

What Our Students Say


Avril Stanley |   Graduate 2015

Undertaking the BA in Early Childhood Studies & Practice enabled me to keep abreast of the rapidly changing Early Years sector while continuing to work full-time. The modules provided in-depth knowledge and understanding, linking the theory and practice of core topic areas such as, Child Psychology, Leadership and Aistear/ Siolta. This knowledge has had a positive impact on the children, their families and the staff within our service. Having acquired an ‘inner’ confidence since graduating, I now seize opportunities, both professional and personal, when they come my way. The networking opportunities made available to me and the friendships I have developed have incentivised me to continue my studies with the Centre for Adult Learning and Professional Development and I hope to undertake the MA in Early Childhood Studies and Practice in September 2016.

Bridie Thornton |   Graduate 2014

This course went beyond my expectations. It is an excellent course for those who wish to pursue or further a professional career in the Early Years sector. As a mature student I was apprehensive about returning to formal education. However, the easily understandable module content, the flexibility of online learning, workshops encouraging peer support/shared learning experiences and continuous tutor support reassured me. Tutors are experts in their fields and also have practical experience in the sector. As the proprietor/manager of a preschool, the flexibility of the course suited my work commitments. Completing the course has enhanced my knowledge, ensuring our preschool service is providing the highest quality and most innovative practice underpinned by contemporary theory and the most relevant and up-to-date policy and legislative guidelines. Personally, achieving the degree has also opened many doors and provided a range of professional opportunities for me. I am now hoping to embark on the new M.A. in Early Childhood Studies and Practice in 2016.


  • Early Childhood Studies & Practice Brochure

    Early Childhood Studies & Practice Brochure PDF (209 KB)

  • Adult Learning Prospectus

    Adult Learning Prospectus PDF (3.4 MB)

  • Play Therapy Brochure

    Play Therapy Brochure PDF (400KB)

  • Arts & Social Sciences 2019

    Arts & Social Sciences 2019 PDF (1.1 MB)

  • Short Courses Series 2019

    Short Courses Series 2019 PDF (1.4 MB)

  • Postgraduate Prospectus 2020

    Postgraduate Prospectus 2020 PDF (20.6 MB)