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About University of Galway
About University of Galway
Since 1845, University of Galway has been sharing the highest quality teaching and research with Ireland and the world. Find out what makes our University so special – from our distinguished history to the latest news and campus developments.
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University of Galway has earned international recognition as a research-led university with a commitment to top quality teaching across a range of key areas of expertise.
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At University of Galway, we believe that the best learning takes place when you apply what you learn in a real world context. That's why many of our courses include work placements or community projects.
Early Childhood Education & Professional Practice
The Bachelor of Arts in Early Childhood Education & Professional Practice (BA ECEPP) is approved by the Qualifications Advisory Board as meeting the requirements of the Professional Award Criteria and Guidelines standards and is approved by the Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth’s (DCEDIY) for higher capitation funding and is internationally recognised.
The BA ECEPP meets the identified needs of practitioners in the Early years sector to upskill to a degree in a flexible manner, complimenting and supporting continued employment. This 4-year flexible course, with options for interim exit awards*, builds on practical experience, enhancing the learner’s skills through exposure to theory, policy, research and work-based learning opportunities. Significant practice placement occurs in the student’s own workplace, while observational visits to ECEC settings, other than their workplace, will enhance and expand their developing knowledges, skills and values. It also aims to provide practitioners currently working in the field of Early Learning and Care (ELC) and School-Age Childcare (SAC) an opportunity to upgrade their qualifications, to further develop their skills and to enhance their existing knowledge.
*You may exit with a Certificate in Arts - Early Childhood Education & Professional Practice (Level 7) at the end of Year 1, a Diploma in Arts - Early Childhood Education & Professional Practice (Level 7) at the end of Year 2 and a Degree in Arts - Early Childhood Education & Professional Practice (Level 8) at the end of Year 4.
Mode of Study: Blended Learning
Applications and Selections
The next intake for this course is September 2023.
Applicants for Year 1 and for Year 2 Advanced Entry will be accepted from April 2023.
Applications are made online via the NUI Galway Applications System. This course is listed under Adult Learning & CPD Courses Application.
Please visit our How to Apply page for Application tips and Supporting Documents information.
Who Teaches this Course
Requirements and Assessment
Teaching & Learning
The BA ECEPP uses a blended learning model of delivery. This includes face-to-face workshops, online classes and recorded lectures. Students attend one full day workshop per module, held on Saturdays, complimented by online evening sessions. The NUI Galway campus hosts the Saturday workshops, and some may take place in outreach centres throughout the country, based on student locations.
Assessment techniques may include a range of the following: written assignments, reflective learning journals, portfolios, presentations, group projects and written examinations (which take place in NUI Galway). Note: this list is not exhaustive.
Candidates with experience working in the early years sector (or related area) are welcomed to apply. Applicants should ideally have 2 years minimum experience; however, varied professional and voluntary experiences will be considered. Students enrolled in the course must be currently employed (or prepared to volunteer) in a Registered Early Years setting, as the course commences and have documented support from their employer for work-based elements of the course (see pro forma as part of submission). Applicants must qualify as an adult learner (over 21 years of age) and must have computer proficiency and access to the internet.
Entry requirements for part-time students can be found in our FAQs section (i.e. age, english language requirements etc.).
Advanced Entry Options
Applicants who have achieved the Major Level 6 award in Early Childhood Care and Education may apply for recognition of prior learning and may be considered for direct entry into Year 2 of this Level 8 degree. Applicants should have achieved a strong result; this can be complemented with other awards (i.e. LINC award). Please note, Year 2 will only run if there are sufficient applications. Contact the Course Administrator for more information.
1 year (Cert), 2 years (Diploma), 4 years (Degree), flexible delivery
Next start date
A Level Grades ()
QQI/FET FETAC Entry Routes
Level 7 (Cert & Diploma), Level 8 (Degree)
Mode of study
60 (Cert), 120 (Diploma), 180 (BA)
This course builds year to year on the skills and knowledges students develop through their exposure to key areas of the course, including theory, social policy, the development of research skills, and the enhancement of practical experiential learning opportunities. By the completion of year four, the graduate emerges as a reflective practitioner with an in-depth understanding of the holistic needs of children and families and the role of early years services in the broader community and policy context.
Read our Early Childhood Studies at NUI Galway Blog for lots of interesting information for Early Years practitioners including articles on what it's like to be a student in NUI Galway, study tips, research conducted by our graduates and updates on developments in the Early Years Sector.
Curriculum InformationCurriculum information relates to the current academic year (in most cases).
Course and module offerings and details may be subject to change.
Glossary of Terms
- You must earn a defined number of credits (aka ECTS) to complete each year of your course. You do this by taking all of its required modules as well as the correct number of optional modules to obtain that year's total number of credits.
- An examinable portion of a subject or course, for which you attend lectures and/or tutorials and carry out assignments. E.g. Algebra and Calculus could be modules within the subject Mathematics. Each module has a unique module code eg. MA140.
- Some courses allow you to choose subjects, where related modules are grouped together. Subjects have their own required number of credits, so you must take all that subject's required modules and may also need to obtain the remainder of the subject's total credits by choosing from its available optional modules.
- A module you may choose to study.
- A module that you must study if you choose this course (or subject).
- Required Core Subject
- A subject you must study because it's integral to that course.
- Most courses have 2 semesters (aka terms) per year, so a three-year course will have six semesters in total. For clarity, this page will refer to the first semester of year 2 as 'Semester 3'.
Year 1 (60 Credits)Required ECS1102: Professional Reflective Practice I - 20 Credits - Semester 1
Required ECS107: Safeguarding Young Children in Early Years Settings - 10 Credits - Semester 1
Required ECS1100: The Developing Child - 10 Credits - Semester 1
Required ECS1101: Ecology of Health in Early Childhood - 10 Credits - Semester 1
Required ECS105: Introduction to Learning - 5 Credits - Semester 1
Required ECS205: The Child & Family in Irish Law - 5 Credits - Semester 2
Year 2 (60 Credits)Required ECS2100: The Right to Play - 10 Credits - Semester 3
Required ECS2104: Professional Reflective Practice II - 20 Credits - Semester 3
Required ECS2101: Exploring Quality in Early Childhood Practice - 10 Credits - Semester 3
Required ECS2102: Curriculum Approaches in Early Childhood - 10 Credits - Semester 3
Required ECS2103: A Nurturing Pedagogy: Working with Young Children - 10 Credits - Semester 3
Year 3 (60 Credits)Required ECS3102: Professional Reflective Practice III - 20 Credits - Semester 5
Required ECS3103: Understanding Children's Early Learning - 10 Credits - Semester 5
Required ECS3100: Effective Leadership and Professionalism for the Early Years Sector - 10 Credits - Semester 5
Required ECS3101: Social and Cultural Worlds of Children and Families - 10 Credits - Semester 5
Required ECS309: Management Skills for Early Years Environments - 10 Credits - Semester 5
Year 4 (60 Credits)Required ECS4102: Professional Reflective Practice IV - 10 Credits - Semester 7
Required ECS404: Research Dissertation - 20 Credits - Semester 7
Required ECS4100: Social, Family & Child Policy: Critical Analysis - 10 Credits - Semester 7
Required ECS4101: Critical Reflection, Democratic Practice and Professional Identity - 10 Credits - Semester 7
Required ECS401: Promoting Inclusion in Early Years Care & Education - 10 Credits - Semester 7
Graduates of the Bachelor of Arts course may wish to pursue their education and would be qualified to do so in a range of areas including higher diplomas or master degrees in early childhood care and education, primary teaching, community development, education and training, social work, family studies and family support.
The Centre for Adult Learning and Professional Development, NUI Galway offers a part-time Master of Arts (Early Childhood Studies).
Why Choose This Course?
The Early Years sector in Ireland has become the constant focus of State attention, impacting on funding, on regulatory and inspection processes, with increasing expectations for practitioners to offer pedagogical leadership within services of high quality. The Nurturing Skills: The Workforce Plan for Early Learning and Care and School-Age Childcare 2022-2028 is a welcome development in the Early Years Sector as it sets out an ambitious yet achievable direction for the Early Childhood Education and Care & School-Age Childcare workforce in Ireland. The new funding model, Partnership for Public Good, will address longstanding challenges to the professionalisation of the sector, including pay scales and career pathways. Greater State attention to develop a ‘Graduate-Led Workforce’, as set out in First 5, in order to raise the quality of provision and to enhance the experiences of the children attending their settings, has created significant employment opportunities for degree-holders. Practitioners must be able to respond to these needs and will require an expert knowledge and skills base to be able to do so effectively. The part-time BA in Early Childhood Education & Professional Practice will provide you with the opportunity to gain an in depth understanding of the core early years knowledge areas and the confidence to apply this knowledge in support of young children’s needs.
Newly emerging leadership roles in Early Years settings, as set out in the Workforce Development Plan for the sector, seek graduate-educators. Your career opportunities will grow as you will be able to hold a wider variety of occupational roles. Upon completion of this degree course, students will be qualified to be employed in a variety of early years settings, including preschool settings, full day-cares/crèches, playgroups, after school settings, drop in centres as well as a range of specialised locations such as family intervention settings. Due to the extensive range of course topics covered, the graduate will be skilled in a wide range of issues and areas that might also see them employed in early years support organisations, such as county/city childcare committees, in community outreach and development settings, family and community resource centres, or at a national level contributing to policy or programme development arena.
Since completing the previous degree in Early Childhood Studies & Practice, graduates of NUI Galway have become employed in County Childcare Committees, as Better Start and Aim Mentors, with POBAL, as LINC tutors, as lecturers at Institutes of Technology and at the University level. Other graduates are now working abroad in the ECEC sector in New Zealand, Australia and the UK.
Who’s Suited to This Course
This course is designed for practitioners who may already possess a recognised qualification at NFQ levels 5 or 6 and who wish to upgrade their qualification in a manner that will support their continued employment and their workplace. Alternatively, potential students without a recognised qualification, but with extensive experience in the childcare care and education sector, are also encouraged to apply. It is particularly suitable for:
- Early year practitioners in crèches, pre-schools, school age childcare services, special education services and childminding settings
- Managers of crèches, pre-schools, school age services, special education services
- Early childhood practitioners in the Health Services Executive and Tusla: the new Child and Family Support Agency
- City and County Childcare Committee members and staff of National Voluntary Childcare Organisations
- Practitioners in the child and family support sector
- Special Needs Assistants working with Infants classes
- Early Years Specialists working in advisory or mentoring roles, or those aspiring to such positions
The BA in Early Childhood Education & Professional Practice will provide you with the opportunity to gain an in-depth understanding of the core early years knowledge areas and the confidence to apply this knowledge in support of young children’s needs. You will learn about:
- Child development including key theorists and the influence of environmental, biological, social and cultural factors on growth and development.
- Approaches to curriculum for early childhood and processes involved in curriculum development.
- The role and importance of play.
- Socialisation and the significance it has for the development of social competencies in children.
- The importance of parental involvement in early years care and education.
- Leadership and management skills and their significance for quality provision in the early years sector.
Using experiential learning to underpin and reinforce understanding is a key component of this course. You will learn the skills of reflective practice and how to use them in your daily work practices so that you can apply the core knowledge and skills acquired throughout this course. You will see your competencies expand and grow, improving your ability as a professional practitioner with an in-depth understanding of the holistic needs of children and families, the importance of evidenced-informed practice and the role of early years services in the broader community and policy context.
Transferable Skills Employers Value
Related Student Organisations
Fees: Student levy
Fees: Non EU
Information on the proposed Learner Fund (See Workforce Plan – Nurturing Skills) will be posted here as it becomes available.
Please click here for more information on fees funding and scholarships.
Find out More
Centre for Adult Learning and Professional Development
Tel: 091 492080