BA Early Years
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Do you work with young children? Do you want to boost your career and develop your practice? This degree course provides a solid, practical grounding for practitioners working in a wide range of early years settings – including home-based carers and classroom/teaching assistants specialising in early years. You’ll develop your critical understanding of early years practice and frameworks from ethical, social, legal, and political perspectives; and gain the knowledge and skills needed to work collaboratively and equitably within an integrated, interdisciplinary workforce. The BA (Hons) Early Years is considered ‘full and relevant’ for the purposes of registration and regulation – which means you’ll count in the qualified ratio of staff at Level 3. It also prepares you for further research, study, enquiry and practice.
Fees and facts
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Flexible, part-time study through
Undergraduate or bachelors degrees are nationally recognised qualifications consisting of academic study designed to help you gain a thorough understanding of a subject.
For a degree in a named subject, such as business studies or humanities, you'll study mainly in your chosen subject, although you may be able to include some modules from other subjects.
With The Open University you could also study an Open degree where you can combine a range of modules from similar or different subjects to suit either your particular career or personal interests.
You can use a degree to:
change careers or progress your current career gain an in-depth knowledge and understanding of a subject you are interested in gain professional recognition go onto postgraduate study, such as a diploma or masters degree.
You must be:
a current practitioner (paid or voluntary) with at least six months full-time or 12 months part-time experience of working with young children in a registered early years setting (or an experienced practitioner with at least three years full-time or five years part-time experience in a registered early years setting if you are following the
With credit for prior experience pathway) over the age of 18 years at the date on which you begin studying for this qualification (or over 21 years old if you are following the
With credit for prior experience pathway) working in a setting following a UK or Republic of Ireland curriculum and which uses English as the language of tuition.
While studying the core modules, you must be:
working in a registered early years setting with young children aged from birth to seven years (Foundation Stage or Key Stage 1 or equivalent) in either a paid or voluntary capacity
directly involved in activities to support young children’s care and learning for a minimum of five hours a week
able to work with groups of three or more children on a regular basis.
You must have the agreement and support of your employer/supervisor before registering for this qualification.
Your employer must confirm their support for your study, verify your experience and whether you meet the pre-requisites to study the core modules by completing a Permission Agreement Form.
You and your employer are responsible for ensuring that:
you meet the ‘fit person’ criteria required for the setting and country you are working in (if you are in doubt about your eligibility, contact the relevant agency in your country for more information)
you obtain the necessary criminal record clearance.
If you are a Nanny/Foster Carer working with a child (birth to six years), you must be able to undertake 3–5 hours paid or voluntary work each week in a registered early years setting where you have access to groups of children and support from experienced professional colleagues. The home of a parent/foster carer or nanny is not – on its own – an acceptable setting.
If you meet these entry requirements and wish to apply for this qualification please email our
Student Registration & Enquiry Service or call +44(0) 845 300 60 90.
Career relevance and employability
Early years professionals work in many roles in group settings (such as nurseries and children's centres) and as home-based carers – playing a central role in children’s development from birth to seven years. They also lead practice and support other practitioners. This BA (Hons) Early Years is designed to contribute to the development of a highly skilled and effective workforce across the UK – and to integrated, coherent services for children. It may help you prepare for becoming a specialist Early Year Teacher (to work with babies and children). Further information about pathways and providers can be found on the
Department for Education website.
This degree course is relevant to anyone working in British Forces schools or an early years setting in Europe following a UK or Republic of Ireland curriculum and which uses English as the language of tuition.
This BA (Hons) Early Years degree may be helpful if you’re interested in primary teaching (3-8 years) for Qualified Teacher Status (QTS). However, since the OU doesn’t offer teacher training for this age range, we cannot guarantee automatic progression to ITE training programmes. Check with your local ITE training provider about their entry policy. For up-to-date information see the
Department for Education website in England; the Teach in Scotland website in Scotland; and the Teacher Training & Education in Wales website. More information can also be found about routes to entering teaching by downloading our booklet. Becoming a Teacher
There’s more information about how OU study can improve your employability in the
OU’s Employability Statement from our Careers Advisory Service. You can also read or download our publication and look at our OU study and your career subject pages to find out about career opportunities.
Choose a pathway and register
Pathways allow you to specialise or choose particular topics that interest you. You will need to choose a pathway before registering.
You can choose from a number of different pathways to your degree depending on the amount of time you wish to commit to studying and whether you study the full programme or use either your previous professional experience or the credit from a recently awarded SQA HNC Early Education and Childcare.
Credit for previous study elsewhere
If you have already completed some successful study at higher education level at another institution you may be able to transfer credit for this study and count it towards this qualification. If you wish to apply to transfer credit you must do so as soon as possible, and before you register for this qualification.
If you are awarded credit for study completed elsewhere, you may find that you need to study fewer OU modules to complete this qualification. This may also mean that the next start date and the maximum time limit for this qualification are different to those shown above.
Credit Transfer site for more information and details of how to apply for credit transfer.
The learning outcomes of this qualification are described in four areas:
Knowledge and understanding
Practical and professional skills
Read more detailed information about the learning outcomes, and how they are acquired through teaching, learning and assessment methods.
Classification of your degree
On successful completion of the required modules you will be awarded a Bachelor of Arts in Early Years degree or Bachelor of Arts with Honours in Early Years degree depending on the modules studied at Level 3.
Your honours degree will be classified as first-class honours, upper second-class honours, lower second-class honours or third-class honours.
You will have the opportunity to attend one degree ceremony. Please note that you can not attend a ceremony for both the unclassified and the honours versions of this qualification.
As a student of The Open University, you should be aware of the content of the following regulations:
These regulations are also available on our
Essential Documents website.
If you have a disability
Choosing the qualification that’s right for you is very important. Depending on your disability, long-term health condition, mental health disability or specific learning difficulty, you may need to consider any challenges posed by:
the learning objectives: for example, to gain an honours degree in a language you must be physically able to speak the language
how the modules are taught: for example, some of our science qualifications require that you complete laboratory work
any work-based competency requirements.
Choosing the right qualification can be a complex mix of the subject requirements and the support you may need. To help you assess whether the qualification you are interested in will work for you, further advice is available from:
You will need a computer with internet access to study for this qualification. For most OU qualifications a Microsoft Windows (new since 2007),
Apple Mac (OS X 10.6 or later) or Linux computer should be adequate. However, some qualifications require more specific IT equipment, in which case you
will need additional software to use an Apple Mac or Linux computer. A detailed technical specification for your modules will be made available when you
register. Please note, technical specifications do change over time to match computer developments and the way we teach.
The Open University is the world’s leading provider of flexible, high quality distance learning. Unlike other universities
we are not campus based. You will study in a flexible way that works for you whether you’re at home, at work or on the move.
As an OU student you’ll be supported throughout your studies – your tutor or study adviser will guide and advise you, offer detailed
feedback on your assignments, and help with any study issues. Tuition might be in face-to-face groups, via online
tutorials, or by phone.
For more information read
Distance learning explained.