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FdA Early Years

You know how to unlock others' potential. Now it's time to unlock yours. Study for a two-year foundation degree while working in Early Years, learning concepts and skills to enable you progress your career.

Early Years practitioner shares a book with young children

Earn while you learn

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Entry requirements

Three A-levels at grades DDE-DDD or above

Or BTEC triple grades MPP-MMP or above

Or Access 9-15 D/M with min 3D

Or T level P (D or E on the core)

  • 10 hours per week of relevant paid or voluntary work, and have the support and involvement of your employer.
  • Commitment to equality and to developing anti-discriminatory approaches in practice.
  • Access to the internet for online learning.
  • All applicants must have an informal conversation (either in person or on the phone) with a course tutor.
  • Applicants with other qualifications and/or experience will be considered on an individual basis.

See full entry requirements

UCAS points 64-72

UCAS code X900

UCAS institution code P63

Duration Two years full-time or four years part-time

Course Summary

Study for a two-year foundation degree while working in Early Years. Flexible study means you attend university just 23 days in each year. After achieving your foundation degree you’ll have the opportunity to join the final year of an honours degree which opens doors to professional and postgraduate courses such as Early Years Initial Teacher Training (EYITT).

You’ll work with young children for at least 10 hours per week on a paid or voluntary basis and will have support from a mentor in your workplace. Combining higher level academic study with your experience of working in Early Years, this Early Years degree offers personal and professional development alongside the opportunity to join a learning community of like-minded people.

The first year begins with a two-day induction and you’ll then attend university once each fortnight (currently on Fridays) for a full day of teaching. This amounts to around 19 teaching days in the academic year from September through to May. You will also need to study at home, using the internet to access course materials.

In addition to the taught part of the course, you will be involved in work-based learning modules throughout the two years; these enable you to make ‘practice’ links with the ideas explored in taught modules.

You’ll also attend work-based learning workshops at university (typically 3 days per year) and produce written assignments showing how theory gives you insights into practice. Your workplace will need to support you in terms of allowing you to attend the course and by providing a mentor (usually someone with a degree or professional qualification) who will meet with you for an hour every two or three weeks - during which time you’ll explore how your learning relates to practice at work.

Why this course at Marjon?

Designed for those working in Early Years settings

Competitive fees

Full university library resources on site and online

Network with colleagues to improve practice

Our small and self-contained campus is a welcoming space

Developed to fit around your work commitments

Modules for this course

Course Snapshot

In the first year we learn about safeguarding, how the brain develops in young people and gain an understanding of how children learn. In the second year you will focus on how children grow up in a globalising world, look at diversity in learning and plan your own research project.
Chris Simpson - Course Leader

1st Year

Communication in context
This is your very first module and we will support you in developing academic writing skills as well as considering different communication styles, in university and workplace situations.
Child development
Learn how the brain develops rapidly in early childhood and adolescence; deepen your understanding of the nature/nurture debate and how society views and shapes us as we grow.
Safeguarding children and young people
Explore how safeguarding has developed through the years and how high-profile scandals can influence policy. What can you do to ensure that your safeguarding practice is as good as it can be?
Children, families and social justice
What are the reasons behind childhood poverty? Can education create equal chances for children? And how would you like to change things for the future?
Learning and teaching
Develop your understanding of how children learn and examine the effectiveness of different learning environments. Evaluate the impact of educational policies on the children you work with.
Reflection in practice
Focusing on your own skills in the workplace, you’ll identify areas of interest and explore these in a reflective journal with the support of your mentor.

2nd Year

Growing up global
Focusing on children growing up in a globalizing world, we explore the impacts of global problems like climate change and pandemics. We investigate global influences on parenting and play, and ask how best to prepare children for the world we don’t yet know.
Unlocking creativity
Focus on creativity and innovation in the learning experience and devise interventions for use in your own setting.
Values in practice
A chance to explore the value base that informs your work with children. Gain a deeper understanding of your own motivation and how to harness it to make your work more effective.
Diversity in learning
Does society disable some children? Prepare to be challenged and to see things from new perspectives. Learn how small changes can make a real difference to children's experience of their social and educational worlds.
Research in practice
Learn how research is carried out and design your own research project: this can form the basis of your dissertation should you progress to an Honours year.
Reviewing practice
This module offers you a chance to reflect on your skills and preferred ways of working. Review your professional development and take a look at the choices available to you as you approach the end of your Foundation Degree. Engage with our Futures team to look at the choices now open to you, whether for further study or perhaps a change of job role, and produce a brilliant CV.

This course is perfect if you’re curious about

How can we see the setting through the eyes of young children?

Could I become more assertive at work?

What human rights does a baby have?

Does racism impact Early Years settings?

Is childhood really a time of innocence?

Should we encourage risk-taking in preschool children?

See where our graduates are now

Lydia Squires

“My time at university has not only given me a much broader range of knowledge but it has enabled me to be confident in my own perspectives whilst being open to change. I’ve been encouraged to reflect and so I am now more critical of my own and others' practice enabling me to continually adapt my practice as a trainee play therapist and workshop facilitator in order to make a difference to children. I am also more confident in my practice because I have a good knowledge base.”

Lydia is a play therapist and children’s workshop facilitator for Child Assault Prevention UK (CAP UK).

Debbie Leeke

"I found this qualification placed a strong emphasis on reflective practice. This facilitated a personal and individual level of learning that impacted positively and directly on my job. This course was almost unique in offering small class sizes which supports an individual and personal approach to meeting each student’s needs."

Debbie is Deputy Manager at a preschool.

Lisa McMorrow

“Being a mature student I was already working as a teaching assistant and the FdA allowed me to continue working in this role whilst I studied. University gave me the confidence I needed to progress as a teacher as well as making lifelong friends. Being a single parent and working full time I did not expect to leave Marjon with a first class degree. Thanks to Marjon I’ll soon be an Early Years teacher as I am now completing my EYITT. It’s amazing what you can achieve if you believe in yourself.”

Lisa is a trainee primary school teacher.

What might you become?

Become an Early Years Manager or Special Educational Needs Coordinator. Make a difference for children and families by bringing leadership, skills and expertise to your workplace. Progress to studies at Honours or Master's level or do Early Years Initial Teacher Training to become an Early Years Teacher.

Early Years support worker encourages young children to water a plant

How you’ll be taught and assessed?

How will you be taught?

Teaching includes lectures, discussion groups, tutorials and workplace mentoring. We focus on how your understanding of theory can be applied to make your practice more effective. 

How will you be assessed?

There are no exams involved. Assessment includes reports and essays, building on-line portfolios, presentations and designing interventions for your own workplace.

Staff photo of Jayne Garcia

Jayne Garcia

Course leader

View full profile

Jayne is an experienced Early Years Teacher and Pre-School Manager with additional prior experience in primary education, including the role of a Teaching Assistant and school Governor. She has Higher Education teaching experience in respect of a range of undergraduate and postgraduate courses in the School of Education. Jayne has a specific interest in Attachment, Transitions and Children's Emotional Development, as well as Leadership in Education. Jayne really enjoys working with practitioners and believes that when students engage in higher education while working this has the potential to transform their practice. She’s inspired by seeing students bringing their professional curiosity to university, and by their commitment to making a difference for children and families.

Fees and funding

Fees UK students: £6,000 per annum

This fee covers your tuition and access to course-specific equipment and facilities, as well associated services including access to the library, study skills support, IT support, student support and wellbeing services and membership of the Student Union. There may be additional costs by course.

Funding available for this course

Our Student Funding Advisors offer confidential and impartial advice about your funding options.

Learn more

Your schedule

 Requires 20 days attendance per year

Course location(s):

Plymouth Marjon University


Jayne Garcia


View profile

Jayne is an experienced Early Years Teacher and Pre-School Manager with additional insight into primary education, including school governance. She teaches Child Development and Early Years Initial Teacher Training with a focus on Attachment, Transitions and Children's Emotional Development, as well as Leadership in Early Years.

Hannah Holdgate

Senior Lecturer

View profile


Hannah is a former SureStart Children's Centre Manager, Nursery Manager and Early Years Professional, assessor and mentor. She is particularly interested in Early Years, Play, Inclusion and Leadership.

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