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. 

*You may exit with a Certificate in Early Childhood Studies and Practice (45 ECTS) at the end of Year 1, a Diploma (90 ECTS) at the end of Year 2 and a Degree (180 ECTS) at the end of Year 4. 

Applications and Selections

Who Teaches this Course

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).

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.

Additional Requirements


Certificate: 1 year; Diploma: 2 years; Degree: 4 years.

Next start date

September 2016

A Level Grades ()

Average intake


Closing Date

Next start date

September 2016

NFQ level

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

Mode of study

Blended learning

ECTS weighting

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



PAC 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. 

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)

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, to name a few.

Why Choose This Course?

Career Opportunities

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.

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. 2016/17

Fees: Tuition

Fees: Student levy

Fees: Non EU

€3,400 p.a. 2016/17
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 or signing for social insurance contribution credits. Please download the 2016_2017 Scholarship Form for more information.

Find out More

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

Tel: 091 492080

What Our Students Say


Michelle O’Doherty |   Current Student (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 |   Current Student (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 |   Current Student (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.

Susan Quirke-Crowley |   Past Student

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.