MA Education: Early Childhood

Duration: 1 year full-time

The MA Education: Early Childhood is a one-year full-time course at the University of Sheffield, one of the leading Universities in the UK. The course runs from September to August.

The course covers a broad range of issues, encourages students to reflect on their experiences of Early Childhood, current policy, and addresses theory and research relevant to their interests. The content of the course follows that of the internationally renowned, part time mixed mode, distance-learning course, which has been running successfully since 1998.

Students from all over the UK and many other countries including Cyprus, Czech Republic, Germany, India, Japan, Malta, Singapore, Nigeria, Kenya, United Arab Emirates, and Vietnam have successfully completed the distance-learning course. The MA Education: Early Childhood Education welcomes applications from all over the world.

Course Structure

Course Structure

Photograph of childThe course begins with a one week induction to the University, to the School of Education, and to study at Masters level. This is followed by six months of taught modules and six months supervised research study for the award of the MA.

There are four taught modules, two of which are studied October to December, and two from January to March. From April onwards students work on their independent research study, which is submitted in August. Students can exit with a Postgraduate Certificate or Diploma if they do not wish to complete the Masters course.

EDU6043 - The Dissertation - GRAD YR 60 Credits

The dissertation is a major part of the MA Early Childhood Education. The dissertation topic can develop a theme raised during the taught part of the course, or an issue which relates to the specialised research areas covered by the students´own interests.

The Course Team provides guidance on the choice of a suitable topic for investigation and advice and support throughout the study period (April to August). A wide variety of study is possible, including empirical studies, theoretical reviews, historical or philosophical investigations. The dissertation is 15,000-20,000 words in length.

Each student is allocated a supervisor who will support the them in their area of study. Students and supervisors work together over the six months of the dissertation period before submission of the dissertation.

A Student Perspective

If you would like to hear what our students have to say about the programme, please take a look at the Student insight webpages.

Module Information

Module Information

There are four core modules in the course that aim to give a comprehensive knowledge of the subject area.

In addition to the taught module sessions, the course provides a comprehensive Support Programme with weekly taught support sessions. These sessions are informed by an inquiry-based learning approach and cover issues relating to research study at Master´s level, e.g. academic reading and writing, students as developing researchers, study skills and critical thinking.

EDU6356 - Critical Issues in Education and Educational Research - AUT SEM 30 Credits

This module introduces students to key issues in education and educational research that will underpin their studies, regardless of which pathway they take through the full-time masters programme. It outlines historical approaches to educational research and introduces the key paradigms of educational research. The module moves on to consider critical issues in education and educational research, drawing on the research strengths of the module team and focusing in particular on educational psychology and globalisation, enabling the module to provide a foundation for other modules on the programme. The module thus offers students an opportunity to develop a critical stance towards some of the most pressing issues in educational research in contemporary societies.

EDU6089 - Early Childhood 1: Development, Learning and Curriculum - AUT SEM 30 Credits

This module introduces learners to recent ideas related to development, learning and curriculum in Early Childhood Education. Sessions to be taught include the following: key figures in the history of ECE; birth to five child development and learning; tracing UK policies on curriculum and learning; alternative perspectives on curriculum and learning: Reggio, Forest Schools, international schools; play and learning; learning to communicate: literacy and multimodal practices; early intervention studies: REAL, inclusion, equality and diversity. This will be followed by student-led presentations on topics related to the above. It is intended that this will prepare them for their assessment.

EDU6099 -  Early Childhood 2: Contemporary Issues in Early Childhood Education - SPR SEM 30 Credits

This module introduces learners to recent ideas related to contemporary issues in Early Childhood Education. Sessions to be taught include the following: children's rights; quality in Early Childhood Education and care; creativity in arts and contemporary communication practices; popular culture; digital literacies; gender; traditional and digital play; including children in research. This will be followed by student led presentations on topics related to the above. It is intended that this will prepare students for their assignment.

EDU6358 - The Practice of Research - SPR SEM 30 Credits

This module introduces students to the processes involved in designing a research project, conducting the study and completing the research report. The module focuses on research design, on identifying issues, formulating research questions and choosing appropriate methods to use in particular instances and settings. It explores various approaches to data analysis and outlines issues to be considered in the writing up process. It aims to provide students with the skills and knowledge required to complete a dissertation in an education-related field.



Photograph of StudentsThe teaching team is committed to formative assessment, whereby students are continuously supported and advised about the ongoing development of their ideas and the writing of assessment tasks. Students learn through lectures, seminars, workshops, discussion, active inquiry and investigations.

Opportunities are provided for students to speak with module coordinators/lecturers to clarify the requirements of the assessment activities. In addition, tutorials are held to support students' intellectual growth.

There are no formal written examinations and assessment is by coursework and a dissertation study.

Assessment of the taught element consists of written assignments of 6,000 words each, one for each module. The Dissertation study consists of a research dissertation of 15,000- 20,000 words.

For the dissertation study, students are supported by an experienced research tutor who has expertise in the appropriate field.

Course Directors

Course Directors

The course is taught by a range of research active academics from across the School of Education, all of whom have national and international reputations. Below are the Directors of the course:

Dr Andrey Rosowsky (Programme Director)

Dr Andrey Rosowsky is the Director of the full-time MA Programme. Andrey’s research interests include language and education, sociolinguistics, multilingualism and faith-based complementary schooling. He has published in the fields of multilingualism, the sociology of language, the sociology of language and religion, language and education and language and identity. He is interested by the range of literacy and language practices bi- and multi-lingual children experience, and the way these relate to and interact with, and upon, one another. Much of his recent research has taken place within theoretical frameworks which view language as a social practice and language as performance.

Dr Liz Chesworth (Course Director)

Dr Liz Chesworth directs the full-time MA Education: Early Childhood course. Her teaching is informed by her research and by her previous experiences of teaching young children. Liz encourages students to engage critically with issues associated with early childhood education. In her teaching, she creates opportunities to consider how beliefs, practices and policies are influenced by differing ideologies of childhood, education and wider society. Liz is an experienced lecturer and is a Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy, and has supervised many successful MA dissertations on a range of themes relating to childhood and education. Liz’s research focusses upon play in early childhood. She is interested in the meanings and motivations that children ascribe to their play and how these may present alternative readings of play to those located within curriculum and policy frameworks. Liz has drawn upon children’s perspectives to explore issues of power, agency and choice within classroom peer cultures. She seeks to understand the ways in which children’s play interests are situated within their diverse social and cultural experiences at home and at school.

Potential applicants should note that this course is not primarily focused on teaching methods nor is it a teaching qualification per se. It is aimed at students wishing to study education more broadly, at a theoretical, philosophical, psychological and sociological level. It will not generally include teaching methods or classroom practice. Neither is it a suitable course for those seeking to develop further their TEFL or TESOL teaching expertise. On the other hand, many serving teachers do come onto the course in order to reflect on their own practice and enhance their existing teaching qualifications. Equally, some of our students subsequently go on to pursue a teaching qualification once they have completed the MA.

The content of our courses is reviewed annually to make sure it's up-to-date and relevant. Individual modules are occasionally updated or withdrawn. This is in response to discoveries through our world-leading research; funding changes; professional accreditation requirements; student or employer feedback; outcomes of reviews; and variations in staff or student numbers. In the event of any change we'll consult and inform students in good time and take reasonable steps to minimise disruption.