The BA (Hons) Early Childhood Studies awarded by London Metropolitan University (LMU) was one of the first such degrees in the UK. In Ireland, there is an obvious need for well-qualified early childhood specialists working with young children and their families across all sectors: play, care, health and education. Portobello Institute is LMU's only Irish accredited centre for Early Childhood studies.

Through this partnership, we offer students the opportunity to access some of the world’s leading research and thinking in the early years sector. Portobello Institute has mapped the learning outcomes of this honours degree to the learning outcomes of the latest award from Fetac - the Level 6 in Early Years Care and Education.  This award now forms the first year of this degree giving students the opportunity to gain 2 recognised qualifications in 3 years.  Holders of the BA (hons) in Early Childhood Studies award will be eligible to gain the higher capitation grant from the DCYA (Dept. of Children and Youth Studies) for their role in an early childhood centre.

This course is delivered full time over 3 years.  A key feature of this programme is its emphasis on practical knowledge and the development of professional, as well as academic, skills and knowledge.

Course Overview

The focus of the course is the study of play, development and learning in children from birth to six years old in a socio-cultural context and the implications of this for practice in early childhood settings. A range of local and international perspectives are taken including: children's rights, children's health and well-being, pedagogical and curriculum approaches, diversity and inclusion. The course therefore draws on a range of disciplines such as psychology, sociology and social policy, education and health. The course emphasises the links between theory and practice and highly values the development of professional as well as academic skills and knowledge.

The course equips you to implement effective practice with children and families in a range of situations and to act as an advocate for their rights and well-being. The course team includes writers and researchers at the forefront of the field who are passionately committed to enabling, empowering and enthusing students to make transformational changes to their own lives and to the lives of children, families and communities.

Qualifications Gained

  • BA (Hons) in Early Childhood Studies
  • QQI Level 6 Major Award in Early Childhood Studies Major (6M2007)

Entry Requirements

Entry to this course is by direct application to the college.  Acceptance to full time courses is interview based.

Course Structure

This is a full time course delivered over 3 years

Course Aims

  • Develop the professional competence of those who work with young children and their families, meeting local and national workforce development regulations.
  • Enable students to develop insights and understandings relating to how children and childhood are understood from a range of academic and professional perspectives.
  • Facilitate the development of early childhood specialists to reflect upon and critically assess their own practice; the legislative and historical framework in which they work and to take a well-informed part in current debates in the field, thereby acting as advocates in the field.
  • Enable students to recognise their strengths, capabilities and experience as professionals to meet required early childhood care and education professional standards.

Career Opportunities

Graduates of the Early Childhood Studies Degree undertake a variety of career paths in the education, health and social-care fields. There is a current need for well-trained graduates who can quickly move up to more senior roles in Child Care Centres and other early childhood care and education settings. Holders of this award will also be eligible to gain the higher capitation grant from the DCYA (currently at €72.50) for their role in an early childhood centre.

Some students go on to specialise in a particular area such as Special Educational Needs, while others go on to take up advisory posts in local authorities or government departments. Students may continue their professional studies to Masters level.

Student Stories

Aoife completed her QQI Level 6 in Early Childhood with Portobello Institute in 2013. She knew she had always wanted to care for and teach young children. “This seemed like the obvious path for me.” After completing the level 6 course Aoife quickly became aware of the importance for further education to better enhance her ability to guide the children in her care, and consequently began the BA degree programme at Portobello Institute in 2014. “One of my tutors pointed me towards the Early Childhood Studies Degree with Portobello Institute in conjunction with London Metropolitan University and I have never looked back.” Read full story

What London Metropolitan say

Vicky Mummery , Head of Early Childhood, Education and Society, London Metropolitan University - "We have been working closely with Portobello Institute for over 2 year and in this time they have been committed and extremely professional in their approach to developing a good quality learning experience. Their students are a credit to them and are very complimentary about the support they receive from the teaching team in order to achieve success".

What our students have to say about the course...

Gillian Mangan- "After completing my Higher Certificate in Arts in Montessori Education with Portobello I was unsure what my next direction would be. I spoke to my tutors and was advised of a new course Portobello were running; A Degree in Early Years Education at level 8 and because of my previous education in Montessori I could go into year 2 of this course. This sounded like a great option for me and 4 years later I do not regret my decision.
The tutors on the course are fantastic; they each come with various industry backgrounds that are relevant to the modules they teach. They are really approachable and I felt I could go to any of them seeking help in both a college related topic and/or personal one.
I slightly underestimated the workload for the course, but on reflection this was a degree course, the workload was always going to be large. Besides the course notes – which are very clear, you are encouraged to read the resources you are given as well as articles put on the LMU Learn website, I would advise anyone to keep on top of these readings as they are invaluable for your study and assignments.
The best part about this course in Portobello is the intimate classrooms. You really do get to know your class peers and make genuine friendships. You just wouldn’t get that level of care and attention and guidance in a large lecture style room.
I can’t believe I am coming to the end of 4 years with Portobello, whilst I am eagerly awaiting what is next for me I am sad to be saying good bye. My aim is to work at management level within the sector. Portobello were very kind to me in putting me forward to participate on the Common Purpose Front Runner Programme being held in Dublin. This programme was an amazing and invaluable opportunity for me and as a result of it I will always have the confidence in myself to aim high. You can read about my experiences on the programme here.
I have always known I wanted to teach children and with the help of Portobello I will realise that dream. The great thing is; I will also get paid the higher capitation fee to reflect my education- the government are slowly but finally recognising the early years as a valued and professional sector and I cannot wait to start my career in it".

Aoife Bradley- "The experiences I have gone through with the Early Years Department in Portobello Institute have been excellent. The department are extremely supportive as you make your journey through your course and they are always ready to help with any problems that may come up. The lecturers each have their own extensive insight and knowledge into the early years.  The material I have been exploring with them in the last two years has been very well thought out and put together and also very interesting and I know I will bring this vast knowledge with me into my future career. With the Early Years Department, the lecturers make themselves available for the students, should they need their assistance. I am so happy I picked Portobello Institute to carry out my studies with”.

Jacinta Murphy- "I have just completed my BA (Hons) Early Childhood Studies with Portobello Institute. The course is combined with London Metropolitan University. This was a very positive experience for me. I have worked in Early Ed. for over 20 years and I am a Montessori Teacher for the past 16, and this course gave me new and thought-provoking insights into my practice. The content was far superior, and more up to date than other courses that I know of, it could also be applied to your work in the classroom every day. I have completed many courses over the years, and this was a well organised, well-structured course, suited to blended learning. The student is provided with weekly notes, tasks, reflections and reading material, all of which are geared towards your assignments. The tutors were excellent, very supportive, and always ready to guide through phone and email contact.
 I decided on the blended route to study as I live an hour’s drive from a college delivering such a course, therefore to attend two 3 hour classes per week, I would have been gone from my home for 10 hours a week, 10 hours in which a lot of reading could be done, without the cost of diesel or a sitter. Not having to spend 10 hours a week on this benefited me greatly.
For me, the past three years have been a positive experience, both personally and professionally, and because of this I will complete a MA in the near future with Portobello and London Met. My daughter is now enrolling on the full-time course."

Progression Routes

Students are encouraged to enroll for continuous professional development programmes opening access to the next academic level such as masters or other post graduate study (e.g Primary Teaching alternative routes)



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