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MA Early Years

Develop the skills needed for Early Years leadership roles and enhance your knowledge of theory to develop your practice.

MA Early Years student working with young children at a nursery

Study alongside your work commitments

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Entry requirements

We accept applications from experienced practitioners with non-traditional qualifications

AP(E)L regulations will apply

International students require IELTS 6.0 or equivalent

DBS clearance may be required

UCAS code Apply to Marjon

UCAS institution code P63

Duration One year full-time or up to two years part-time

Course Summary

MA Early Years is the perfect course for anyone who has an interest in developing their knowledge and skills for working in early years policy, practice and/or leadership. It considers some of the 'living contradictions' that those working in early years face on a daily basis as they balance the needs of children, families and other stakeholders.

The course is designed for both students who work in the early years sector and those who are new to the sector; it provides a fantastic opportunity to do a substantive early years research project for your dissertation.

Comprising four taught modules and a dissertation, MA Early Years enables you to explore mentoring, leadership, notions of quality and research methods within Early Years. You'll shape your own pedagogy and develop the skills to coach and support others.

The course provides a high quality CPD opportunity for those who are currently working within Early Years or who have previous experience of working in the sector. In addition, it is an in-depth introduction for anyone wanting to begin a career in Early Years, with ambitions to move quickly into leadership roles.

MA Early Years is delivered two days a week for the first 6 weeks, followed by block of teaching on campus in the spring, plus one day a month and online evening tutorials. You then gain practical experience either in your workplace or on campus.

Why this course at Marjon?

Passionate lecturers who have recent experience working in Early Years and Education

Exceptional teaching and tutorial support enable our students to succeed

Blended learning including taught days at Marjon and online tutorials to provide flexibility of study, enabling you to balance studying with work

Flexible study that balances with your work commitments

Explore quality provision in the Early Years

Readies you for Early Years senior leadership roles

Modules for this course

1st Year

The early years setting
We start out by questioning what we know about play. Is play always the most powerful way to learn? You'll discuss the Early Years Foundation Stage and make links between theory and practice.
Notions of quality in early years
The concept of quality is open to interpretation depending on your role. We question how we assess quality in Early Years settings.
Early years research
Develop your understanding of techniques and ethical considerations for undertaking research with young children.
Developing early years practice
You'll consider the role of leadership in Early Years practice and how mentoring and coaching can develop Early Years workers.
Early years project
Your opportunity to undertake action research in an area of early years that really interests you.

This course is perfect if you’re curious about

How can mentoring enhance early years practice?

What does quality in early years provision look like?

What does 'school readiness' really mean?

Is play really the best way to support young children's development?

What is the impact of covid-19 on early years practice?

Should we be using standardised assessments with young children?

What might you become?

A Master's degree can enable early years career progression in a highly competitive sector where understanding the latest thinking in early years will set you apart from other candidates. Career opportunities will vary according your fields of work, but our graduates can become leaders in early years settings or choose to set up consultancy and training provision, plugging the gap that exists now local authorities provide less training for early years settings. Holders of a Master's degree can expect to demonstrate highly flexible and transferable skills such as high levels of initiative, leadership of learning, coaching and mentoring.

How you’ll be taught and assessed?

How will you be taught?

Lectures, seminars, workshops, online tutorials and one-to-one tutorials. 

How will you be assessed?

Includes online blogs, essays, critical analysis and a dissertation.

Staff image of Hannah Holdgate

Hannah Holdgate

Course leader

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Hannah is a former SureStart Children's Centre Manager, Nursery Manager and Early Years Professional, as well as an assessor and mentor. She is particularly interested in early years, play, inclusion and leadership.

Fees and funding

Fees UK students: £6,500

Fees for International students: £12,500

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.

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Marie Bradwell

Associate Lecturer

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Marie has worked in Early Years and education for the past thirty years, working in various roles from manager to teaching assistant and with individuals who have special education needs. She is interested in policy, Early Years, active listening and children’s rights. 

Jayne Garcia


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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.

Jan Gourd

Senior Lecturer

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Jan was previously a primary head teacher in the South West and she now leads a teaching team at Marjon who together draw on decades of classroom experience and wide-ranging research specialisms to deliver Education courses.

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