Course Overview

The degree is delivered so that students can integrate work commitments and study. The course combines face to face delivery at the University with independent study by the student from home. Lectures/ workshops are delivered as twilight / evening sessions or on the weekend. The course also uses blended learning where students use online resources provided by the tutors to complement and extend classroom learning.

Themes explored during the degree ensure that the content is multidisciplinary and cross-curricular and include:

  • emergent literacy ;
  • the role of the environment and adults to enhance literacy;
  • technology and early literacy;
  • literacy and inclusion.

The modules studied provide opportunities to develop high level research skills as well as to reflect on, analyse and evaluate current practice and theory within the field of early literacy.

The course also reflects the principles of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child with a strong emphasis on children's wellbeing, equity, inclusion, respect, the right to make decisions and the right to have access to play. These principles also have close links to the aims of the Foundations Phase Framework.

The programme provides a detailed overview of early literacy and students will be encouraged to take a critical approach to research and theories within this field. The role of adults and the environment in early literacy will be debated and explored, and students are encouraged to share and reflect on their own experience and practice.

The course is designed to allow students to gain the confidence to explore alternative theories and methodologies to support their own work with children. Students on the course are also encouraged to focus on young children as powerful and competent learners and to recognise that lifelong literacy is significantly influenced by literacy experiences during very early childhood.

Key Features

This is an ideal qualification for teachers, LSAs, nursery personnel, child-minders, lecturers and course providers, Flying Start personnel and anyone interested in supporting children's early literacy.

The course has been designed by the School of Early Childhood to support professionals develop and raise literacy standards and to deliver the Literacy Framework effectively. However the multidisciplinary and cross-curricular nature of the course as well as the strong emphasis on reflection, evaluation, analysis and research provide students with important transferable skills.

The degree's focus on undertaking research, academic writing skills and oral presentation skills also allow students to develop skills which are sought by employers and are transferable to several different career situations

The course is delivered by tutors who have extensive experience of working with young children in a range of early childhood settings and who also have delivered postgraduate training and qualifications successfully for several years.


During the Postgraduate Diploma students will study modules linked to:

  • Research in a Changing World
  • Alternative Literacies
  • Early Literacy History, Research and Policy
  • Literate Environments

Students completing the MA will also be required to complete a research based dissertation within the field of early childhood literacy.

Course Tutor(s)

  • Ann-Marie Gealy
  • Gwyneth Davies
  • Eileen Merriman
  • Alison Rees Edwards
  • Angela Rees
  • Dr Glenda Tinney


The assignments are varied and designed to assess a range of different skills including critical reflection, evaluation and analysis. Assessments are designed to develop students' practical and independent research skills where students feel confident to link issues relevant to young children's learning within a theoretical academic context.

Assessment includes both written tasks as well as opportunities to develop oral skills during seminar presentations.

Those who wish to pursue the MA in Early Literacy will complete as research dissertation during the second part of their studies which provides an opportunity to undertake a significant piece of research in an area related to early literacy. Students will be supported during the process with individual supervision from an experienced member of academic staff.

Career Opportunities

The early literacy focus of this course allows students to demonstrate to employers and expertise in an area currently the focus of government education initiatives. It can also help people who wish to specialise further within the early year's sector. Developing an expertise within literacy can support students to take advantage of promotion opportunities or new responsibilities within their current employment.

The degree also focuses on developing students' research skills, written and oral communication skills as well providing students with excellent time management and organisation skills. These are all skills which are highly sought after by a variety of diverse employers, and thus skills gained during the degree are transferable to different career pathways.

The School of Early Childhood works closely with employers and has developed an employer forum with local employers. The forum meets regularly and helps the lecturing team ensure that the content of the degree supports the types of skills and experiences required of graduates when applying for work.

Further Information

The School of Early Years has a successful reputation for delivering high quality postgraduate education. The lecturers have a diverse range of expertise from previous careers including those who have worked as nursery and primary school personnel, nursery owners and managers, police child protection officers, early childhood development officers and researchers.

Lecturers also maintain close links with the early childhood sector in order to ensure students have the opportunity to link what they learn in University with real issues in the workplace. The School also has close ties with the local community and a strong focus on widening access so that non-traditional students are able to return to education.

Students who study the Early Literacy degree are provided with an innovative and exciting course, which is tailored to facilitate students' involvement and participation in their own learning so that they become confident gradates in the future.

Related Courses

  • MA Early Years Education and Care
MA Award
Study Mode
2 years Duration

Entry Requirements For This Course

Entry Criteria

The course is designed for professionals already working or volunteering within the education or childcare sector.

Entry can be via

  • an initial degree by an approved degree awarding body;
  • a non-graduate qualification which is deemed to be of a satisfactory standard for the purpose of post-graduate study.

Non-graduates may also be admitted to the degree provided that they have gained a minimum of three years professional experience relevant to the course and they can demonstrate a satisfactory level of writing / analytical skills.

Applicants will be interviewed to discuss particular entry requirements.

All applicants will be required to provide a satisfactory enhanced disclosure document from the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS).

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