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What makes Early Childhood in Society (Graduate Practitioner) at the University of Worcester special?

For many young children, life is magical. Their early years are carefree and full of wonder. For a significant minority of children, however, life is not like this. These children and their families need professionals who understand their challenges and can speak out on their behalf. The BA Early Childhood in Society (Graduate Practitioner) is a new and innovative course for people who want to work with children aged 0-8 and their families to make a positive difference in their lives.

The course is designed to be flexible, dependent on your career aspirations; you are given the choice to follow one of two pathways. One of these is the Early Childhood in Society (Graduate Practitioner) pathway for those wishing to work in education. Alternatively, you can follow the Early Childhood in Society pathway if you would prefer to work with children and families beyond the classroom.



Key features

Early Childhood in Society (Graduate Practitioner) 

  • Opportunity to gain an early years qualification that is 'Full and Relevant' which will enable you to be counted in ratios in early years settings.

Early Childhood in Society

  • Prepares you for working with children in more diverse contexts to tackle disadvantage / inequality and affect positive change. 

Both pathways

  • A strong emphasis on assessed work placements (210 hours a year) 
  • Opportunity for an extended placement abroad or in the UK
  • Research informed teaching that is delivered by a multi-professional team from the Department of Children and Families in the School of Education
  • Teaching and learning that takes a strengths-based approach; although the degree is rightly challenging, you are supported to be successful and gain meaningful employment
  • There are no exams. Assessment is through coursework assignments and professional placement activity

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Find out more
student in front of a children's ward sign

Molly (second year student) at the Children’s ward, Worcestershire Royal Hospital

I’ve been shadowing a play specialist; distracting children from hospital procedures such as blood tests, injections, physio, anaesthetics, making them less daunting for the children and their families.

I wanted to combine physical health with mental health.  I just love that you get to brighten someone’s day, even if it’s only bringing them a cup of tea or a puzzle.

After I complete the BA, I plan to do a two-year, part time post graduate course to become a play specialist myself. 

student in a black top in a classroom

Sarah (third year student) at Perryfields Pupil Referral Unit, Worcester

This has been such a good placement for me; here we do regular curriculum work in the morning and in the afternoon, we go swimming, to the woods, the farm, and we do art with an art therapist.

For my dissertation I am researching how art therapy can help children’s development.  I notice that when children do art they become calmer, they express themselves more and the teachers take more of a back seat.  There is no pressure to be right or wrong and the children are so happy.

After this course I’m planning on going to Australia and working in a school like this one.

student in front of a blue door

Phoebe (first year student) at RGS Springfield, Worcester

I’ve spent a week in the Reception class and a week in nursery. I dreaded the first day, but they were so welcoming. I’ve been supporting phonics lessons and learning about ‘in the moment’ planning. The children go to Forest School every Tuesday. Even though it was freezing this week none of the children said they wanted to go inside. I think that’s because the staff were enthusiastic. That’s the biggest thing I’ve learned from this placement - it’s the staff that make the difference.

This course has been great because I know I want to teach, but I’m not sure where. Luckily, there are lots of placements available in different age groups to enable me find out which one I like the best.

two students holding books in front of a colourful wall

Zainab and Lottie (third year students) at a Primary School, Worcester

Speaking Urdu and Punjabi has made such a difference. I can talk to the children who don’t speak English and calm them. I also talk to parents and translate for the teacher (Zainab).  We've been working with the children on all areas of the curriculum. We do marking, circle time and story time to give the teachers a bit of admin space. You need to use your initiative; sharpen the pencils, learn the routine so that you can set the classroom up.  It’s lovely to work with the teacher and TA as a team.

This placement and course have been a good preparation for doing a PGCE at Worcester. It teaches you how to deal with issues, as well as the curriculum.  If you want to work with young children, then definitely do this course.

Pathway choices 

Early Childhood in Society (Graduate Practitioner) 

This pathway is designed for those of you who would like to work in an educational establishment (e.g. schools or nurseries). It is the ideal foundation for leadership in an early years setting or for further study, for example a PGCE with QTS.

The Department for Education has confirmed that this pathway is 'Full and Relevant' which means you can be counted in ratios in early years settings (i.e. Ofsted registered early years education and care provision) by the end of the first semester of your second year. Your placement activities will be assessed in practice by your work-based mentor and university tutor. You will be assessed against Graduate Practitioner Standards (which meet the EYE requirements).   

Early Childhood in Society 

This pathway is designed for those of you who would like to gain employment in the wider early childhood sector. This pathway is underpinned by the philosophy of social pedagogy, encouraging you to reflect on your values and work with children and their families in a respectful and empathetic way. 

Although the discipline is relevant to everyone who works with children, it is particularly applicable for those who want to work with children accessing support services, for example, childcare and early years, parenting and family support services, secure units for offenders with young children, excluded children, residential care, Non Government Organisation/charity work oversees and in the UK, and play work.


Both pathways will prepare you for the joys and challenges of working with children and their families. You can select placements and modules to build your own CV of expertise and experience.

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Entry requirements

What qualifications will you need?

UCAS tariff points

Entry requirements

Our UCAS tariff points for entry to this course are 88, however, we are happy to have a conversation with you if you do not meet this requirement but have relevant experience.

Pathway selection will be determined by student preference and / or qualifications upon entry.  

Early Childhood in Society (Graduate Practitioner)

  • On entry to the course, students must have passed a suitable level 2 literacy and numeracy qualification (e.g. Grade C/4 at GCSE) in English language and maths to count towards the EYFS staff:child ratios and meet the  ‘Full and Relevant’ requirements.   

Early Childhood in Society 

  • On individual merit, students could be accepted on to the course without holding one of the above listed maths and English qualifications but are encouraged to pass during their course of study by accessing a suitable training programme. 


For further details, please contact the course leader, Nicola Stobbs, via or 01905 542506.

Other information

You will need to have an enhanced application made to the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS). We strongly recommend that you sign up to the update service.

You will also be subject to the usual prohibition list and criminal record checks.

If you have lived, studied or worked overseas for three months or more in the last five years a Certificate of Good Conduct from the country of residence will be required. Further information and guidance associated with additional costs are available from the Home Office.

International applicants will be required to demonstrate that they have the appropriate level of written and spoken English. This is an IELTS score of 6.0 with a minimum score of 5.5 in Written English.


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Course content

What will you study?

Our courses are informed by research, current developments in the discipline and feedback from students, external examiners and employers. Modules do therefore change periodically in the interests of keeping the course relevant and reflecting best practice. The most up-to-date information will be available to you once you have accepted a place and registered for the course. If there are insufficient numbers of students interested in an optional module, this might not be offered, but we will advise you as soon as possible and help you choose an alternative. 

Year 1


All modules in the first year are mandatory and are designed to equip you with essential underpinning knowledge of child development.

  • Tuning into Children’s Development
  • Transition to Studying in HE
  • Creating Enabling Environments
  • Advocating on Behalf of Children

Early Childhood In Society (Graduate Practitioner) 

  • Introduction to Theory for Early Years Educator Graduate Practice Pathway
  • Introduction to Early Years Educator Placement Graduate Practice Pathway

Early Childhood In Society

  • Introduction to Theory for Placement Learning Early Childhood in Society Pathway
  • Introduction to Early Childhood in Society Placement Learning Pathway

Year 2


  • The Influence of Family Community and Culture on Children’s Learning
  • Research for Academic and Professional Development

Early Childhood In Society (Graduate Practitioner) 

  • Theory for Early Years Educator Graduate Practitioner Pathway
  • Developing Early Years Educator Graduate Practitioner Pathway

Early Childhood In Society

  • Theory for Placement Learning Early Childhood in Society Pathway
  • Early Childhood in Society Developing Placement Learning Pathway


Available to students on both pathways

  • An Inclusive Approach to Supporting Children with Additional Needs
  • Supporting Children’s Creative Thinking
  • Contemporary Issues in Early Childhood
  • Children’s Communication and Language 

Year 3


  • Utopian Childhoods and Child Centred Advocacy
  • Dissertation

Early Childhood In Society (Graduate Practitioner) 

  • Leading Practice Graduate Practitioner Pathway

Early Childhood In Society

  • The Social Pedagogue Early Childhood in Society Pathway 


Available to students on both pathways

  • Exploring Perspectives of Play
  • Safeguarding Children’s Wellbeing for Advanced Practice
  • Business Management and Project Development
  • Therapeutic Approaches in Early Childhood
Teaching and assessment

How will you be taught?

The University places emphasis on enabling students to develop the independent learning capabilities that will equip you for lifelong learning and future employment, as well as academic achievement. A mixture of independent study, teaching and academic support through the personal academic tutoring system will support you to reflect on your progress. This will help you to build up a profile of skills, achievements and experiences that will enable you to flourish and be successful.


You will be taught through a combination of research informed lectures and seminars. Through discussion and group work, seminars will support your understanding of topics covered in lectures. 

The course is designed to be interactive, hands-on and includes visits to a range of educational establishments. Meetings with your personal academic tutor are scheduled on at least 4 occasions in the first year and three occasions in each of the other years.

It is a mandatory part of the course that you complete 210 hours over 6 weeks of practice-based learning each year of the course.

Contact time

In a typical week you will have around 12 contact hours of teaching. The precise contact hours will depend on the optional modules selected and in the final year you will normally have slightly less contact time in order to do more independent study.

Typically class contact time will be structured around:

  • 4 hours of large group lectures
  • 8 hours of seminars

Independent self-study

In addition to the contact time, you are expected to undertake around 25 hours of personal self-study per week. Typically, this will involve updating learning journals, completing online activities, reading journal articles and books, working on individual and group projects, undertaking research in the library and online, preparing coursework assignments and presentations.

Independent learning is supported by a range of excellent learning facilities, including the Hive and library resources, the virtual learning environment and extensive electronic learning resources.



Timetables are normally available one month before registration. Please note that whilst we try to be as student-friendly as possible, scheduled teaching can take place on any day of the week. Some classes can be scheduled in the evenings.

Teaching staff

You will be taught by a research active teaching team whose expertise and knowledge are closely matched to the content of the modules on the course. The team includes senior academics, visiting lecturers and professional practitioners, teachers, early years practitioners, social workers, a family law specialist and youth workers.

All lecturers are Fellows of the Higher Education Academy and their staff profiles are available under the heading of 'Children and Families'. 



Understanding and knowledge are informally assessed through the completion of practice or ‘formative’ assignments. Each module has one or more formal or ‘summative’ assessments which are graded and count towards the overall module grade.   

Assessment methods include a range of coursework assessments such as essays, reports, portfolios, presentations and a final year independent study project. There are currently no exams on this degree. 

The precise assessment requirements for an individual student in an academic year will vary according to the mandatory and optional modules taken, but a typical formal summative assessment pattern for each year of the course is:

Year 1

Reflective writing x 3     
Individual Presentation x 1   
Position Paper x 2   
Essay x 2   
Portfolio x 1

Year 2

Critical Evaluation x 2   
Essay  x 4  
Group Presentation x 2    
Reflective Writing x 1   
Portfolio x 1         

Year 3   

Reflective Writing x 2    
CPD Workshop and Handout x 1   
Portfolio x 2    
Dissertation x 1    
Group Presentation x  1     
Report x 2     
Essay x 1 


You will receive feedback on practice (formative) and formal (summative) assessments undertaken by coursework. Feedback is intended to support learning and you are encouraged to discuss it with your personal academic tutor and module tutors as appropriate. 

We aim to provide you with feedback on formal course work assessments within 20 working days of hand-in.  

Programme specification

For comprehensive details on the aims and intended learning outcomes of the course, and the means by which these are achieved through learning, teaching and assessment, please download the latest programme specification document.


Nicola Stobbs

Nicola began her professional life as a primary school teacher. She undertook various leadership positions during this time, including assuming responsibility for creative play.

Nicola developed an interest in early years and managed a pre-school setting for many years. During this time, she wrote articles for “Practical Pre-school” magazine, joined Local Authority working parties, ran courses and was invited to contribute to the “National Primary Strategies”.  Nicola undertook her MA in Early Childhood and researched ways of supporting children who are socially withdrawn.   Her research included gathering evidence on comparative approaches to early years education and care.  A visit to Reggio Emilia, Italy, inspired her to consider the importance of the environment on learning. 

In September 2012 Nicola took up a post within the School of Education with professional expertise in the field of parenting and families. She became a Fellow of The Higher Education Academy in 2014.

In 2017 Nicola became a Course Leader in the Department for Children and Families. She is committed to ensuring that students have a fulfilling experience as they prepare for work with children and families.          


Dr Carla Solvason

In Carla's current role as senior lecturer at the University of Worcester her key area of responsibility is around the area of research. This involves ensuring that student practitioners are given the support that they need to carry out worthwhile research projects, but also encouraging colleagues to reach their full research potential. Her key research interest is the topic of ethicality and how we can embed this within professional development and caring research. With her colleague, Rosie Walker, she has co-authored a book to support Early Years practitioners in their research projects, which is now the key text for students on the course.

man with a dark top and beard

Stuart Gallagher

Stuart’s interests lie in the development of change-makers in children's services through higher education. His work aims to support students and colleagues to integrate personal development with practice change. He takes this seriously, especially the fun bits.

Click on Stuart's name to see his full university profile.



Michelle Rogers

Michelle has worked in Higher Education for the past fourteen years, both in an FE college and as a Senior Lecturer at the University of Worcester. During her time at University Michelle has been involved with curriculum development and designing online learning environment. More recently she lead the development of a flexible and distributed pathway for a Foundation Degree.

Prior to working in Higher Education Michelle's interests were in autism in early years, behaviour conduct disorders, early development psychology and enhancing the learning environment. Her current research interests revolve around teaching and learning, online learning, the student experience, online curriculum development and online communities of practice.


Nicola Watson

Nicola graduated in 1987 majoring in Philosophy, before teaching briefly in the primary sector. She then went on to train and practice as a solicitor working predominantly in the area of family law. During this period Nicola became interested in Alternative Dispute Resolution and trained as a Lawyer Mediator working for many years with separating couples; enabling and facilitating them to reach agreements themselves rather than resorting to court proceedings.

Nicola is the Student Course Representative Co-ordinator, Level 4 Lead and Personal Academic Tutor Lead  for the Department for Children and Families within the School of Education.


Alison Prowle

Alison has extensive experience of early years provision and family intervention (including the role of parenting), as an academic,a front-line practitioner and as a senior manager in local government.

Following several years teaching in primary and secondary phases, she became Head of Department in a large urban comprehensive school. Subsequently, she worked for a number of years in various community development roles and as a Development Manager for SureStart. In 2007, she was appointed as Integrated Services Manager for Children, Young People and Families within the education department of a Welsh Local Authority. Within this role, Alison had responsibility for a range of programmes including early years services, parenting and family support, integrated children's centres , play provision, pupil referral units and the education welfare service. During this time, she worked closely with Welsh Government in the development and roll out of the Flying Start Programme and Families First Initiative.

Since joining the Department for Children & Families in 2012, Alison has enjoyed teaching across a number of programmes, retaining specific interests in parenting, integrated working, leadership and childhood adversity.


Michelle Malomo

Michelle Malomo is a Senior Lecturer in the Department for Children and Families within the School of Education. Michelle lectures on a number of courses within the Department for Children and Families. She is the Partnership Co-ordinator for the Foundation Degree in Early Years. 

Michelle is a qualified Early Years and Playwork Practitioner with experience in both the private and voluntary sector. Her experience includes management with the Early Years sector youth and children’s development work within the voluntary sector. Michelle has worked in a range of settings and has been responsible for the development of social action projects with children, young people and families.


Sue Baylis

Sue has worked with children and their families or carers in a range of statutory and private organisations in education and social care over the last 25 years. Her career in early years work began in an early years setting for 60 children in rural Worcestershire and developed over the years as she learned more about children with disabilities, child protection and family support. In later years, her role as a practitioner expanded to include work with children with moderate to severe disability and others who had a diagnosis of autism. Her interest in children with autism grew and she worked for 6 years specialising in supporting children with ASD at a nursery assessment unit in Worcester City Centre. Sue's values and beliefs are grounded in giving children positive experiences, a sense of self-worth and valuing their contribution.


Thomas Weaver

Tom works as a Senior Lecturer across two Departments in the University of Worcester,  the Department for Children and Families and the Department for Primary Initial Teacher Education. 

Tom’s research interests include transpersonal psychology and transpersonal education and how these relate to work with children and families in different contexts; student engagement and student voice and the balance between support and challenge in a Higher Education context; and the teaching of mathematics, particularly approaches that reduce potential anxiety.

In a wider context, Tom is the School of Education Student Survey co-ordinator with responsibility to supporting students and staff in engaging with the surveys and making use of the outcomes. He also Chairs the Department for Children and Families Steering Group which explores ways for the University to engage with the Children and Families sector.


Where could it take you?


Working with or for young children and their families is a rapidly expanding area of expertise, offering graduates a wide range of career opportunities. Both pathways of this degree are ideal springboards for those who want to specialise in this field.

The Early Childhood in Society (Graduate Practitioner) 

Employment opportunities include:

  • Educational establishment (e.g. schools) 
  • Room leader or deputy manager in a nursery
  • Higher level teaching assistant
  • Play leader in leisure industry (e.g. on a cruise ship/hotel resort)

Early Childhood in Society  

Employment opportunities include:

  • Independent business or consultancy owner
  • Education Welfare work
  • Health play specialist
  • Therapeutic care home worker (residential)
  • Family support worker
  • Non-Government Organisation (NGO) worker
  • Charity worker 
  • Adoption and fostering work
  • Refugee work
  • Alternative provision
  • Child advocacy and mediation
Dani Hughes

Danielle Hughes - Alumni

When I was studying Early Childhood at the University of Worcester many of my peers were either going on to study a PGCE or working in nurseries. Neither option suited me, however, there are such a variety of roles out there, that I had many other options.

My current role is as a Youth Support Worker at a Fostering Agency. I work with Young People in the care system who have had a hard start to life and therefore need a lot of support. My job is to provide this support to the Young People and their Foster Carers, through a nurturing and empathetic approach. The role is varied, and no two days are alike. I lead Targeted Interventions, Mentoring, Supervise Contact, offer Educational Support, and much more.

I can’t thank the tutors at the University of Worcester enough for providing the foundation of knowledge and support I have needed to start my career.

Lauren Clutterbuck

Lauren Clutterbuck - Alumni

I loved how the course offered opportunities to learn about communication and language, SEN and adverse life experiences. This gave me an in-depth knowledge of child development and the influence of environmental factors on children as learners. I would not be where I am now without the support of the Early Childhood Lecturers.

After completing my degree, I choose to progress to the Schools Direct PGCE route as this gave me extended placements and enabled me to be immersed in all aspects of school life. It also allowed me to build better working relationships with the children, and to try out different strategies and approaches, which has helped me to build my confidence and teaching style. Having finished my PGCE year, I have now been offered my first teaching position as a Newly Qualified Teacher.

External visit

The students enjoyed a visit from a professional working in the custodial and detention system, discussing her role working with children caught up in these processes. This is an example of students being introduced to wider employment opportunities within the early childhood workforce.

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How much will it cost?

Full-time tuition fees

UK and EU students

The standard tuition fee for full-time UK and EU students registering in the academic year 2020/21 is £9,250 per year.

For more details, please visit our course fees page.

International students

The standard tuition fee for full-time international (non-EU) students registering in the academic year 2020/21 is £12,700 per year.

For more details, please visit our course fees page.

Part-time tuition fees

UK and EU students

The standard tuition fees for part-time UK and EU students registering on this course in the academic year 2020/21 are £1,156 per 15-credit module, £1,542 per 20 credit module, £2,313 per 30-credit module, £3,083 per 40-credit module, £3,469 per 45-credit module and £4,625 per 60 credit module.

For more details, please visit our course fees page.

Additional costs

Every course has day-to-day costs for basic books, stationery, printing and photocopying. The amounts vary between courses.

If your course offers a placement opportunity, you may need to pay for a Disclosure & Barring Service (DBS) check.


Finding the right accommodation is paramount to your university experience, and our welcoming student communities are great places to live and study.

We have over 1,000 rooms across our halls of residence. With rooms to suit every budget and need, from our 'Traditional Hall' at £105 per week to 'En-suite Extra' at £169 per week (2020/21 prices).

For full details visit our accommodation page.

How to apply

How do you apply?

Applying through UCAS

UCAS is the central organisation through which applications are processed for entry onto full-time undergraduate courses in Higher Education in the UK.

Read our How to apply pages for more information on applying and to find out what happens to your application.

Early Childhood in Society (Graduate Practitioner) - X003

Apply via UCAS

Early Childhood in Society - X033

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Get in touch

If you have any questions, please get in touch. We're here to help you every step of the way.


Nicola Stobbs

Course leader