UCC Undergraduate courses

Early Years and Childhood Studies

Course Fact File
Duration4 Years
Teaching ModeFull-time
QualificationsBA (Hons)
NFQ LevelLevel 8
FeesStudent Contribution + Capitation: €3,138 See Fees and Costs for full details.
CAO Points2023: 347
CAO Points Range2023: 347-613

Course Outline

This was one of the first degree courses of its kind in Ireland and pioneered the development of Early Years and Childhood Studies as a distinct speciality with distinctive careers.

This four-year degree will expose you to interdisciplinary perspectives from the Schools of Applied Psychology, Applied Social Studies and Education, with input from Music, Drama and Theatre Studies; Occupational Therapy; and Physical Education and Sport Studies.

The curriculum emphasises academic theory, research skills, and professional and reflective practice. It includes a broad range of perspectives on childhood, the child in society, child development, early years care and education, and child health.

Supervised work-based placements in diverse childhood-related settings form an integral part of this course. You will undertake a 13-week placement in both Years 2 and 3 of the course and a one-week on-site placement in Year 4. The professional practice placements provide opportunities for you to apply the theories you have learned, and to experience working with children under the guidance of expert practitioners.

This course is approved by the Qualifications Advisory Board (Expert reviewers of Level 7 and Level 8 degree programmes for the Early Years and Care Sector) as meeting the requirements of the Professional Award Criteria and Guidelines standards.

On successful completion of this course, you will be able to:

  • Identify, explore, and apply skills required in working with children within early years settings.
  • Demonstrate the confidence and competence to work with children and young people.
  • Develop and integrate the skills to plan and implement a research project.
  • Critically appraise theory and research in psychology, social studies, and education as they
    relate to childhood and practice in applied settings.
  • Display knowledge of the professional and ethical issues that may arise in the application of psychology, social studies and education in child-centred research and practice in a variety of contexts.
  • Apply theories from applied social studies, applied psychology, and education, to critically examine early years and childhood policies and practices nationally and internationally.

Modules Year 1 (All modules 5 credits unless otherwise stated)

  • AP1022 Socal Psychology 
  • AP1023 Lifespan Development 
  • AP1123 Introduction to Biological and Cognitive Perspectives on Psychology
  • AP1504 Research Methods for Evidence-Informed Professionals 
  • ED1010 Historical Developments in the Irish Education Sector
  • ED1012 Early Years and Childhood Studies: Pedagogical Principles and Practices 
  • ED1015 Early Years and Childhood Play and Pedagogy
  • ED1016 Infant, Toddler and Childhood Health, Development and Safety
  • MU1012 Creative Practice in Music in Early Years Childhood Settings
  • SS1019 Children's Social and Cultural Worlds
  • SS1020 Social Policy and Society (10 Credits)

Year 1 provides a foundation through class-based lectures and tutorials in 11 modules and includes professional workshops.

Year 2* builds on Year 1 through exploration of key perspectives and skills preparation Semester 1 across 7 modules; You will have your first professional placement in Semester 2. Modules include the following areas:

Early Years and Childhood Health and Wellbeing Project; Drama Practice in Early Years and Childhood Settings; The Curriculum in Special Needs Education; Physical Activity and Childhood Development; Practice Preparation and Placement Year 2; Child Care Policy: Contemporary Issues; Play Provision for Inclusion in Early Childhood.

Year 3* includes your final professional placement in Semester 1; and the  interrogation of critical issues in Semester 2 across seven modules including the following areas:

Psychology of Childhood and Adolescence; Child and Family Health Psychology; Educational Leadership in the Early Years Setting; Early Years and Childhood Education: Policy, Planning and Practice; Placement Year 3; Qualitative Research Methods with Children; Diversity and Gender in Childhood.

Year 4 includes advanced inquiry and critical reflection on Early Years and Childhood Studies in seven modules and the development and demonstration of key research skills together with a Research report and modules in the following areas:

Applied Quantitative Research Methods; Applied Developmental Psychology; Special Educational Needs: Aetiology, Assessment, and Intervention; Contemporary Developments in Early Years and Childhood Experience; Science, Technology and Sustainability in Early Education; Working with Children and Families; Group Dynamics and Teamwork; Early Years Research Report.

*You will undertake a 13-week placement in both Years 2 and 3 of this course and a one-week on-site placement in Year 4.

Academic Programme Catalogue

See the Academic Programme Catalogue for the complete and up-to-date content for this course. Note that the modules for all courses are subject to change from year-to-year. For complete descriptions of individual modules, see the Book of Modules.

Course Practicalities

Expected Practical Hours

You will undertake a 13-week placement in both Years 2 and 3 of the course and a one-week on-site placement in Year 4.

Garda vetting is carried out by the Admissions Office in UCC once a student has accepted their place on this programme.


Written exams will take place before Christmas and in May. Not all modules will have formal examinations. Many modules use other types of assessment including portfolio work, research projects and essays, as well as group and individual presentations.

Why Choose This Course

The work placements I experienced in both second and third year helped to prepare me very well for my future ...

Anne Sheehan, BA Early Years & Childhood Studies

There is growing recognition that Early Years and Childhood Studies is a distinctive specialty with its own career pathways. This was one of the first degree courses of its kind in Ireland and has pioneered the development of this speciality.

It will offer you the opportunity to explore some of the most fundamental questions concerning children, young people, and their families in contemporary society in Ireland and beyond.

It attracts both school-leavers, mature students, and international students and is designed for people working towards careers in services for children, young people, and their families. It caters to the demand for highly qualified early years and childhood professionals, while also developing future researchers in the field.

Placement or Study Abroad Information

You will undertake a 13-week placement in both Years 2 and 3 of the course and a one-week on-site placement in Year 4.

Erasmus Exchange partnership with UIC Barcelona and with the University of Adger

Students have an opportunity to complete their placement with UIC Barcelona, or with the University of Adger in Norway, as part of the Practice Preparation and Placement module in Year 2 of the programme. As places are limited, students undergo an interview and selection process and successful candidates are selected

Skills and Careers Information

Several pathways from the degree provide opportunities in the following fields:

  • early years care and education professional
  • national school teaching
  • social work
  • youth and community work
  • speech and language therapy
  • play specialist
  • guidance counselling

Graduates have secured employment as managers of early childhood care and education centres, supervisors and staff, play therapists, primary school teachers, social workers, youth and community workers and disability nurses, among other roles.


Leaving Certificate Entry Requirements

At least six subjects must be presented. Minimum grade H5 in two subjects and minimum grade O6/H7 in four other subjects. English and Irish are requirements for all programmes unless the applicant is exempt from Irish.

Applicants will need to meet the following minimum entry requirements:

EnglishIrishOther Language
O6/H7 O6/H7 O6/H7
EU/EFTA/UK Qualifications

EU/EFTA/UK applicants presenting an equivalent school-leaving qualification should review the EU/EFTA/UK Applicants page for information on equivalent grades and how to prove their level of English.

Mature Students

To compete through the mature entry route, applicants must be 23 years of age on or before 1 January of the application year and apply online via the CAO by 1 February. The application should include a statement of interest, and prospective students must also apply for and sit the Mature Student Evaluation (MSE) test. Applicants may also be called for an interview.

Further information on applying as a mature student is available on the Mature Applicants and Mature Student Entry support pages. 


Applicants who meet the required level of distinctions in required subjects can apply for entry to this course using specific QQI FET qualifications. Please review the Programme Requirements on our Information for QQI FET Applicants page for information on related QQI courses, and visit Access UCC’s QQI/FET Entry section for further support. 

Student Vetting

All students in this course will come into contact with the public and assume positions of trust through educational and training opportunities. To ensure the protection of the public, and to justify public trust and confidence, UCC is committed to ensuring that only suitable candidates are allowed to undertake this programme. 

Vetting is carried out by the Admissions Office in UCC under the National Vetting Bureau (Children and Vulnerable Persons) Acts 2012 to 2016 (the Acts) once a student has accepted their place on the programme. This involves a police check to establish whether the individual being vetted has had criminal convictions in the past or whether any criminal proceedings are pending. The Garda Siochána provide this information for students who have resided in Ireland for a period of six months or more (including permanent residence). 

All students who have resided outside Ireland for six months or more must furnish a Police Clearance Certificate from their country or countries of residence. This certificate should state that the student has had no convictions recorded against them while residing there. 

Further information can be found on our Student Vetting page. 

Non-EU Applicants

Non-EU applicants are expected to have educational qualifications of a standard equivalent to the Irish Leaving Certificate. In addition, where such applicants are non-native speakers of the English language they must satisfy the university of their competency in the English language.

To verify if you meet the minimum academic and language requirements visit our qualification comparison page and refer to our International Office page for more information.

Fees and Costs

  • Whether you are an EU or Non-EU student will affect the course fees applicable to you. See more information on EU Fees, Non-EU Fees, or Free Fees Status.
  • The State will pay the tuition fees for EU students who are eligible under the Free Fees Scheme. The annual student contribution and capitation fees are payable by the student.
  • See the Fee Schedule to find out the course fee.
  • Check out scholarships that may be available to you.
  • Explore our Nurturing Bright Futures free online course (Module 5) to learn about managing your money as a student and budgeting for university life.

How To Apply

Irish and European (EU/EFTA/UK) Applicants

Apply via the CAO. See the CAO Handbook for useful information on applying through the CAO. 

Mature Applicants 

Apply via the CAO by 1 February. To apply for a place as a mature student, you must be 23 years of age on or before 1 January of the year of entry.

QQI/FET Applicants 

Apply via the CAOSee our QQI/FET Applicants page for information on the Quality and Qualifications Ireland (QQI) Further Education and Training (FET) application process. 

Non-EU Applicants 

If you are from outside the EU/EFTA/UK, apply online via the UCC Apply portal. See our International Office page for more information. 

For queries regarding course content or timetables please contact