EdD in Early Childhood Education

The Early Childhood Education (ECE) strand of the EdD programme at Sheffield is a popular named route and offers a unique opportunity to work alongside fellow colleagues (students and staff) who are specializing in this field of study. You will find more information and our areas of expertise on the staff profiles webpages.


Photograph from EdD weekendOverview

The EdD is a Taught Programme with a programme duration of 4 – 8 years and mode of attendance part time.

The EdD ECE examines a variety of aspects of educational research and is for those who wish to research their practice in early childhood education in more depth, whether working in early years settings or offering other services for young children and their families. The course aims to provide students with both a thorough grounding in the philosophy, principles and practice of educational research, and provide a critical understanding of key contemporary issues in relation to early childhood education.

The course aims to enable students to:

  • Conduct high quality research into early childhood education in a supportive environment, with leading scholars in the field
  • Explore practice, policies, theories and new ideas relating to early childhood education
  • Acquire theoretical and applied knowledge of contemporary issues in early childhood education and develop a theoretical lens to look at specific issues
  • Gain a doctorate in a supported manner, while still working full-time

In Part II of the EdD programme you will have the opportunity to pursue a study of direct relevance to your own research and practice interests. You will work closely with a supervisor to develop your initial proposal and to continue to develop your study and final thesis.

Programme Information

Photograph from EdD weekend 2015Programme Information

The main aim of the programme is to develop high standards of research that will be relevant to a range of professional and managerial careers.

The programme is designed to enable each student to focus on issues relating to her/ his own professional needs. In Part I, students undertake six modules. Three of these are focused on research training, in preparation for Part II. The other three modules all examine a variety of aspects of educational research. Students are encouraged to shape assignments to meet their own professional contexts.

In Part II, students undertake an independent study in an area of their choice.

Who is the EdD in Early Childhood Education for?

The EdD Early Childhood Education is designed to meet the needs of students from a wide range of professional backgrounds, including those working in early years settings and those involved in training related areas, both in the UK and overseas. Some students are in middle and senior level managerial positions in schools, colleges and universities, while others are in the early stages of their career. The course is for people who have a Masters degree and are committed to pursuing their career in parallel to their studies at doctoral level.

Where is the Programme Taught?

The venue for the weekend schools for the EdD programme is currently the luxurious Kenwood Hall in Nether Edge, Sheffield.

Information on Kenwood Hall

Programme Structure

Programme structure

In Part I, students attend a weekend study school for each module i.e. three weekend study schools per year. Attendance at residential weekends is a compulsory part of the programme at Part I level. These weekends enable students to meet and develop their own networks and contacts.

Students are sent readings in electronic form prior to each weekend school. During the study school, students attend in lectures and seminars. Regular communication between students and supervisors is encouraged throughout Part II. In addition to attending supervision tutorials at weekend study schools students maintain contact at key points during their programme of study via e-mail, letter, telephone and personal visits.

Part I

This comprises six modules. They are normally studied in the following order:

Introduction to Education Research

An introduction to educational research, contemporary issues and debates in the field.

Contemporary Debates in Education

Draws on a range of research studies to explore topical educational issues, together with emerging patterns of educational provision for the future.

Processes of Educational Research

This module focuses on the research methodologies techniques and responsibilities of the researcher.

Approaches to Education Policy

Introduces students to the critical study of education policy, its formation and effects in relation to theory and practice. Education policy themes include: marketisation/privatisation, globalisation, professional identity and equality.

Named route module

Focuses on a variety of aspects of educational research related to the specific named route chosen by the student, in this case, Early Childhood Education.

Research Design and Management

Looks at practical issues involved in all stages of the research process, which includes those undertaken in Part II of the EdD programme.

Part II: Thesis

An extensive research project of between 50,000 and 60,000 words. more information can be found under 'Assessment'.



Students complete an assignment at the end of each module in Part 1. Students are encouraged to shape assignments to meet their own professional contexts. Every student is assigned a personal tutor for the duration of each module. Assignments are 6,000 words in length and students can expect to receive feedback on a plan and a complete draft of their assignment.

In Part 2 students conduct an extensive research project on an approved topic, resulting in a thesis of between 50,000 and 60,000 words. It is examined through a viva examination to ensure the highest research standards. The Part 2 research thesis is conducted under the supervision of a member of staff. Regular communication between students and supervisors is encouraged throughout Part 2. In addition to attending supervision tutorials at weekend study schools, students maintain contact at key points during their programme of study via e-mail, Skype and/or telephone.

View a list of staff research interests

Recent thesis titles include:

Chris Jarvis (2012) ‘Using Pupil Voice to Inform Cross-Curricular Language Lessons in a Specialised Foreign Language Secondary School’
Sheila MacDonald (2013) ‘ESOL in the UK – a critical feminist analysis’
Constantinos Tsouris (2013) ‘Collaborative learning integration in the ESP classroom and curriculum: teachers' and students' perceptions and practices’
Kerstin Zindler (2014) ‘Content and Language Intergrated Learning (CLIL) and PE in England: An exploratory study’
Marika Gatt Sacco (2012) ‘Reconceptualising Early Childhood Education: A Child-Appropriate Practice’
Alex Hallowes (2013) ‘Drawing on the Potential of 'Once Upon A Time' ... An examination of the effect of a live and interactive storytelling process on subsequent drawings by children in a Reception Class’
Jackie Musgrave (2014) ‘How do practitioners create inclusive environments in day care settings for children aged 0-3 years with chronic health conditions?: An exploratory case study’
Raudhah Yahya (2015) ‘Play and Learning: Experiences and perspectives of immigrant mothers and bicultural children in Canada’
Joy Chalke (2015) ‘Negotiating Professionalisation, Developing Professionalism: Early Years Practitioners’ Stories of Professional Identity’
Eleri Davies (2013) ‘Chewing gum or hard sweet ? Making meanings in school’
Nadia Vassallo (2014) ‘Voices to the unheard: acknowledging the past and taking critical action to shape the future’. Classroom ethnography of the past and present school experiences of a Level 1 class in a vocational college’
Ninette Pace Balzan (2014) ‘Reading as participating: a study of adults’ embodied experiences of reading and writing’
Kate D’Arcy (2013) ‘Elective Home Education and Traveller families in contemporary times: Educational Spaces and Equality’
Stephen Wordsworth (2013) ‘A career in the allied health professions: Borrowing from Bourdieu to navigate student choice, class and policy’
Rachel Birds (2012) ‘Changing communities and challenging identities: An ethnography of a university spinout company’
Irene McCormick (2015) ‘Navigating learning outcomes: Tensions and potentials in media HE in Ireland’
Rhonda Wynne (2009) ‘The Civic Role of Universities: General Concepts and Irish Practices’
Laura Lane Access (2015) ‘Participation and Mobility: A Critical Policy Analysis of Higher Education in England between 1987 and 2012’