According to a recent Survey of Early Years Practitioners carried out by the Consultation for the Review of Education and Training Programmes; the passion and dedication for the improvement of the early year’s sector is evident... The majority of early year’s practitioners are striving to improve their practice for the benefit of children in their settings (Department of Education and Skills, 2016)

This is a key finding of this survey, questioning 531 early years’ practitioners, employers and other interested parties and carried out by the Department of Education and Skills in May 2016. Another key finding, within this report, highlights the importance of relevant educational programmes to deliver the skills required for a contemporary and progressive early year’s sector. The environment for practice in early years is changing. Education and training programmes need to ensure they continue to prepare those entering the profession to meet the demands of modern practice.

The BA (Hons) Early Childhood Studies awarded by London Metropolitan University (LMU) was one of the first such degrees in the UK. It was researched and developed to meet the demand for well-qualified early childhood specialists working with young children and their families. LMU continues to be recognised as a pioneer of early year’s education. The early childhood academic team is at the forefront of the international field of the research into the changing knowledge and skills needed for children and their families today and in the future. 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.

As illustrated in the findings of the research carried out in the early year’s sector in 2016, there is an obvious need for well-qualified, graduate level, early childhood practitioners working with young children and their families across all sectors in Ireland: play, care, health and education. However up-skilling to honours degree level whilst working full-time can prove extremely difficult, the physical time required to attend class and the related costs can simply prove to be a difficult commitment to make. Portobello Institute recognises those challenges and by delivering this programme through a blended learning mode, or with recognition of prior learning, 2 years full-time, students have the opportunity to still pursue this academic route and achieve an Honours Degree in Early Childhood Studies.

Studying this world class degree in the intimate and supportive environment offered by Portobello Institute is a unique opportunity for students. The Institute are renowned for extensive student support.  We offer small intimate environments, provision of draft assignments and formative feedback prior to submission, individual module tutors and the support of a Programme Manager to ensure the smooth running of the programme and enhance the learning experience to each of our students throughout their academic journey. 

To further support those who already hold the most commonly held early years awards on the Irish National Framework of Qualifications, Portobello Institute has mapped the learning outcomes of the QQI level 6 qualification in Early Years Care and Education to the learning outcomes of this honours degree. The outcome is that there is now access to exemptions and recognition of prior learning, to gain advanced entry into year two of this honours BA in Early Childhood Studies. Holders of this award will also 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.

Course Overview

This programme strongly emphasises the connection between theory and practice, highly valuing the development of sound hands-on skills that are founded from the principles and theory explored during the student’s academic journey.

The focus is on the study of play centred learning, curricula development plus learning in children from birth to eight years in a socio-cultural context and importantly the implications of this for practice in early childhood settings. A range of local, national and international perspectives are taken including: children's rights, children's health and well-being, pedagogical and curriculum approaches, diversity and inclusive education, multicultural perspectives, partnerships with parents, and the value and importance of appropriate leadership in the Early Years sector. The content draws on a range of disciplines such as psychology, sociology and social policy, education and health. This programme equips the graduate with the skills 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.

Qualifications Gained

• BA (Hons) in Early Childhood Studies

Entry Requirements

Entry on to this programme is by direct application to Portobello Institute.

Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL)

Portobello Institute has mapped the learning outcomes of the awards listed below thereby gaining recognition of prior learning (RPL) with LMU for students holding the following qualifications:

• QQI Level 6 Early Years Care & Education

• QQI Level 6 Advanced Supervision in Childcare

The BA (Hons) Early Childhood Studies is a 360 credit programme with holders of the above listed awards are exempt from year one. To achieve this degree, and with RPL of the above awards, students are only required to complete a further 2 years if studying full-time or 3 years if studying by blended learning.

Course Structure

This is currently a blended learning  course run over 4 years. Learners who satisfy recognition of prior learning will be exempt from Year 1. (For more information please see the section above titled:  "Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL)".  Please note this degree is also available through full-time study over 2 years.

Learning Support

The BA (Hons) Early Childhood Studies is structured to maximise opportunities for flexible study, as students choose to complete the course by distance learning with webinars throughout the programme, supported workshops held each term and on-going tutor support available through the early childhood studies academic team situated full-time in Portobello institute. 

A module tutor together with a programme manager is assigned to each module. At internals throughout the course there are face to face tutorials throughout the programme and students can access further tutor support by email and/or telephone.  Webinars also support the learning experience, and provide further guidance throughout the programme, helping to establish and maintain relationships with tutors and peers. The development of academic writing, study and referencing skills is supported through workshops, tutor feedback and programme manager support. Materials are accessed through Portobello and LMU’s virtual learning platform. As this is one of the most researched and developed programmes available, an extensive range of visual materials and videos are available. Reflection is promoted by reflective exercises incorporated into the web-based materials.

All students are invited to discuss their progress with programme managers and module tutors. This can take place face to face, on the telephone or through e-mail.

Work Experience

A key feature of this programme is the emphasis on professional practical knowledge as well as the development of academic skills and knowledge. Students who are experienced practitioners are required to be working with young children during their studies in either a paid or voluntary capacity. Where this is not the case, students are required to complete 200 hours practical work experience per year in an early childhood setting. 

Should you wish to vary the settings you have experience in, Portobello Institute has an extensive network of work placements in a variety of settings nationally. We offer our students support in accessing these placements during their studies.

Programme Aims 

The aims of this programme are to equip practitioners, 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. This is achieved as a result of the following objectives;  

• Enable students to develop insights and understandings relating to how children and childhood are understood from a range of academic and professional perspectives.

• Develop the professional competence of those who work with young children and their families, meeting local and national workforce development regulations.

• 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.

Programme Content

Year 1 (120 credit transfer from QQI level 6 Early Years Care & Education programmes)

Year 2

• Challenging inequalities in Early Childhood (30 credits)

• Creative Thinking and Representation (15 Credits)

• Personal, social and emotional development (30 credits)

• Communicating in multi-lingual contexts  (15 credits)

Year 3

• Approaches to Pedagogy and Curriculum (30 Credits)

• Debates on Children and Childhood (30 credits)

• The Child, The family and The Wider world (15 credits)

• Reading Research and Research methods (15 credits)

Year 4

• Reflective Leadership (30 credits)

• The project (30 credits)

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

Read what other students have to say...

Jacinta Murphy - Early Years Tutor.

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.

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 for their role in an early childhood centre. Portobello Institute also offers an added advantage – access to the higher capitation grant a year before completion of studies. Students of this programme, upon completion of 180 credits which occurs at the end of the second year, are recognised by the DCYA as having achieved the required minimum credits – 120 credits at level 6 and 180 credits from this approved degree and are therefore eligible to apply for the higher capitation grant a full year before graduation.

Some students go on to specialise in a particular area such as Post Graduate level in  Special Educational Needs, Play Therapists and Music Therapists; while others go on to take up advisory posts in local authorities or government departments. Students may continue their professional studies to Masters Level including Primary education, Psychology and Play Therapy.


Portobello Institute reserves the right to alter, change or withdraw any of the modules, timetables or tutors on this prospectus. 


Unfortunately the booking for this course is currently not available, please click on the contact us button below to find out more about this course:

Booking Enquiry