Postgraduate taught 

Educational Studies MSc

Key Themes in Early Childhood Education and Care EDUC51068

  • Academic Session: 2023-24
  • School: School of Education
  • Credits: 20
  • Level: Level 5 (SCQF level 11)
  • Typically Offered: Semester 2
  • Available to Visiting Students: Yes

Short Description

Research evidence from the OECD has positioned high quality Early Childhood Education and Care (ECEC) and pivotal in improving educational and wellbeing outcomes in later life. This course draws on international evidence to introduce themes, issues and traditions in the education and care of pre-school children. Students will explore perceptions of childhood and wider societal factors impacting on this sector, considering ways in which international themes are reflected in local practices. 


This is a taught course, normally based on one two-hour seminar each week. One class will be given over to visiting or researching a Scottish ECEC setting. Another class will be given over to independent research into an international comparison country. The course will be supported by a carefully selected range of online resources, readings, and reflection tasks.

Excluded Courses

Students on the BA, PGD or MEd Childhood Practice programmes should not take this course.




Oral presentation in pairs/small groups (10%) - perspectives on childhood (LO3)

Report in pairs/small groups (30%) - analysis of ECEC themes in two countries (LO2, LO5)

Essay (60%) - comparison of ECEC policies and practices between two countries (LO1, LO4, LO5)


Oral presentation in pairs - normally a debate style, each student will be assessed individually on their contribution.


Report in pairs/small groups - reports will involve working together in a supportive capacity but with an output organised in sections representing the work of individual students. Grading will take account of individual contribution and the successful combination into a whole product, so group marking but with a significant individual component.

Course Aims

To identify and analyse international priorities in the provision of early childhood education and care.

To evaluate local ECEC provision and practices, considering the influence of differing cultural understandings of children and childhood on interpretation of international research.

Intended Learning Outcomes of Course

By the end of this course students will be able to:


1. Explain the role and format of ECEC, including school-age childcare, within the wider education system.

2. Describe key themes in ECEC policy, with reference to associated documentation.

3. Critically discuss a range of perspectives on childhood.

4. Analyse the way in which multiple perspectives on childhood are evident in ECEC policy and practices.

5. Critically evaluate ECEC policy and practices in two countries, drawing on theory and research-based sources.

Minimum Requirement for Award of Credits

Students must submit at least 75% by weight of the components (including examinations) of the course's summative assessment.