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Diploma of Higher Education in Early Childhood

If you currently work with children from birth to seven years, or are looking to learn more about young children’s lives and experiences, this diploma could be of interest to you. You’ll investigate early childhood from national and international perspectives with a focus on the central importance of children’s voices and the participatory nature of young children’s experiences. In this diploma, you'll develop your understanding of policy and practice in early childhood. It will help prepare you further study and gives you a foundation for careers working with young children and their families across all sectors.

Key features of the course

  • Takes a holistic approach to understanding early childhood in diverse contexts
  • Covers young children’s play and creativity within the context of the family and early childhood settings
  • Encourages critical understanding and reflection on contemporary issues and debates in early childhood
  • Enhances employability and provides a solid foundation for further study

This diploma of higher education is also equivalent to the first two thirds of the BA (Honours) Early Childhood (Q89).

Course Summary

Diploma

Diploma

  • Widely-recognised qualification.
  • Equivalent to the first two thirds of an honours degree.
  • Enhance your professional and technical skills or extend your knowledge and understanding of a subject.
  • Study for interest or career development.
  • Top up to a full honours degree in just two years.

This type of course may be of particular interest if you’re living or working in Scotland.

Course code
W50
Credits

Credits

  • Credits measure the student workload required for the successful completion of a module or qualification.
  • One credit represents about 10 hours of study over the duration of the course.
  • You are awarded credits after you have successfully completed a module.
  • For example, if you study a 60-credit module and successfully pass it, you will be awarded 60 credits.
240
How long it takes
Part time – 4 years
Full time – 2 years
Time limit – 8 years
Study method
Distance learning

Course details

This qualification has two stages, each comprising 120 credits.

  • You’ll start Stage 1 with two modules that explore how children learn; and the importance of children’s play.
  • Then, in Stage 2, you’ll study a module that further develops and broadens your knowledge and understanding of young children’s lives and learning, followed by one from a list of options.

Optional Access module – visit Entry requirements to find out about starting this course with a preparatory Access module.

Stage 1 (120 credits)

You’ll develop an understanding of early childhood from a range of perspectives. Drawing on theory and research, you’ll examine how children grow, develop and learn. Your study in this stage completes with a specific focus on young children’s play and creativity within the context of the family and early childhood settings.

Stage 2 (120 credits)

You’ll start Stage 2 with a module that investigates critical issues in early childhood and extends themes introduced in Stage 1. For your final Stage 2 module, you’ll have a choice of education, childhood and youth options.

We regularly review our curriculum; therefore, the qualification described on this page – including its availability, its structure, and available modules – may change over time. If we make changes to this qualification, we’ll update this page as soon as possible. Once you’ve registered or are studying this qualification, where practicable, we’ll inform you in good time of any upcoming changes. If you’d like to know more about the circumstances in which the University might make changes to the curriculum, see our Academic Regulations or contact us. This description was last updated on 20 March 2019.


Accessibility

We make all our qualifications as accessible as possible and have a comprehensive range of services to support all our students. The Diploma of Higher Education in Early Childhood uses a variety of study materials and has the following elements:

  • studying online – some modules have a mixture of printed and online material, and others are entirely online. Online learning resources may include websites, audio/video media clips, and interactive activities such as online quizzes
  • face-to-face tutorials/day schools/workshops and/or online tutorials
  • working in a group with other students
  • practical work
  • finding external/third party material online
  • using technology for research purposes involving access to catalogues and databases online
  • continuous and end-of-module assessment in the form of essays, short answer questions, and in some cases an examination
  • using feedback: continuous assessment involves receiving detailed feedback on your work from your tutor and using this feedback to improve your performance 
  • engagement with learning and assessment within a pre-determined schedule or timetable – time management will be needed during your studies and the University will help you to develop these skills throughout your course
  • some modules may require you to attend a residential school

For more detailed information, see the Accessibility Statements on individual module descriptions. If you feel you may need additional support, visit our Disability support website to find more about what we offer. Contact us as soon as possible to discuss your individual requirements, so we can put arrangements in place before you start.


Learning outcomes, teaching and assessment

This qualification develops your learning in four main areas:
  • Knowledge and understanding
  • Cognitive skills
  • Practical and professional skills
  • Key skills

The level and depth of your learning gradually increases as you work through the qualification. You’ll be supported throughout by the OU’s unique style of teaching and assessment – which includes a personal tutor to guide and comment on your work; top quality course texts; e-learning resources like podcasts, interactive media and online materials; tutorial groups and community forums.

Read the detailed learning outcomes here

Credit transfer

If you have already studied at university level, you may be able to count it towards your Open University qualification – which could save you time and money by reducing the number of modules you need to study. At the OU we call this credit transfer.

It’s not just university study that can be considered, you can also transfer study from a wide range of professional or vocational qualifications such as HNCs and HNDs.

You should apply for credit transfer before you register, at least 4 weeks before the registration closing date. We will need to know what you studied, where and when and you will need to provide evidence of your previous study.

For more details of when you will need to apply by and to download an application form, visit our Credit Transfer website.


On completion

On completion of this undergraduate course, we'll award you the Diploma of Higher Education in Early Childhood.

Recognition in your country

If you intend to use your Open University qualifications to seek work or undertake further study outside the UK, we recommend checking whether your intended qualification will meet local requirements for your chosen career. Read recognition in my country.

Regulations

As a student of The Open University, you should be aware of the content of the qualification-specific regulations below and the academic regulations that are available on our Student Policies and Regulations website. 

Compare this course

Entry requirements

There are no formal entry requirements to study this qualification.

You do not need to be working with young children in order to study this qualification; however to enhance your learning in core practice-focused modules, it is strongly recommended that students gain direct experience with young children (birth to 7 years, 11 months). Students not working with young children (employed or in a voluntary capacity) will need to negotiate opportunities to gain such practical experience. It is your responsibility and that of your employer – not the OU’s - to ensure the necessary Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check (or equivalent if not working in England) required for the setting and country in which you’re working is obtained and that you meet the ‘fit person’ criteria for work with young children. If you are in any doubt about your eligibility, or to find out more, contact the relevant agency in your country.

How much time do I need?

  • Most of our students study part time, completing 60 credits a year.
  • This will usually mean studying for 16–18 hours a week.

Your next step

Call us on +44 300 303 0266 or book a call back. Our friendly team of advisers will discuss your study options with you, and help you decide on the best starting point for you. 

In this section:
How much will it cost?
Ways to pay for your qualification and other support

How much will it cost in England?

We believe cost shouldn’t be a barrier to achieving your potential. That’s why we work hard to keep the cost of study as low as possible and have a wide range of flexible ways to pay to help spread, or even reduce, the cost.

  • Fees are paid on a module-by-module basis – you won't have to pay for the whole of your qualification up front.
  • A qualification comprises a series of modules, each with an individual fee. Added together, they give you the total cost.
  • If, like most OU students, you study part time at a rate of 60 credits a year, you'll take six years to complete an honours degree.
  • Our current fee for 60 credits is £3,012*.
  • Our current fee for 120 credits – which is equivalent to a year's full-time study – is £6,024*.
  • At current prices, the total cost of your qualification would be £12,048*.
  • .

*The fee information provided here is valid for modules starting before 31 July 2020. Fees normally increase annually in line with inflation and the University's strategic approach to fees.


Skills for career development

This diploma of higher education is designed to contribute to the development of a highly skilled and effective workforce and to integrated coherent services for young children and their families. In addition to specialist knowledge and understanding of early childhood, you’ll also develop a range of key communication, IT, numeracy, analytical, critical thinking and time management skills – all attributes that are highly valued by employers across all sectors.

Career relevance

This DipHE is relevant for existing early years practitioners (normally with a Level 3 early years qualification) or those interested in finding out more about young children’s learning and development. It provides a foundation for entry to a range of careers working with and for young children and their families. It is also suitable for those wanting to move into careers in teaching, health or social work.

Please note
England only: if a Level 3 early years qualification is not held on entry, this course is not deemed ‘full and relevant’ to enable you to count in the staff:child ratios at Level 3.
Scotland only: if a Scottish Social Services Council (SSSC) qualification for registration as a day care of children’s services staff (support worker or practitioner) is not held on entry, this qualification does not lead to registration.

GCSE passes at Grade C or above in English and Maths are normally required for post-graduate study and for teaching a GCSE Grade C pass in Science is also a requirement.

Further information about Early Childhood qualifications can be found:

  • For England, on the Department for Education (DfE) website;
  • For Wales, on the Care Council Wales (CCW) website;
  • For Scotland on the Scottish Social Services Council (SSSC) website;
  • For Northern Ireland, on the Department of Education (DENI) website;

This diploma qualification may also be helpful if you’re interested in further training of Early Years Initial Teacher Training (Early Years Techer Status – birth to 5) or postgraduate qualifications in primary teaching with Qualified Teacher Status (QTS). However, 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 visit the Department for Education website in England; the Teach in Scotland website in Scotland; the Department of Education in Northern Ireland; and the Teacher Training & Education in Wales website.

Other careers

Many graduate-level jobs are open to graduates of any discipline, particularly in business, finance, management consultancy and the public sector. Some careers may require further study, training and/or work experience beyond your degree.

In addition to improving your career prospects, studying with the OU is an enriching experience that broadens your horizons, develops your knowledge, builds your confidence and enhances your life skills.

Exploring your options

Once you register with us (and for up to three years after you finish your studies), you’ll have full access to our careers service for a wide range of information and advice – including online forums, website, interview simulation, vacancy service as well as the option to email or speak to a careers adviser.  Some areas of the careers service website are available for you to see now, including help with looking for and applying for jobs. You can also read more general information about how OU study enhances your career.

In the meantime if you want to do some research around this qualification and where it might take you, we’ve put together a list of relevant job titles as a starting point (note that some careers may require further study, training and/or work experience):

  • nursery worker/manager
  • teacher
  • family support worker
  • counsellor
  • child psychotherapist
  • careers adviser
  • advice worker
  • probation officer
  • social worker
  • education welfare officer
  • learning mentor
  • community development worker.

Register for this course

Start dates
Credit transfer: apply by 15/08/2019

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