Our four-year BA Childhood Studies (including foundation year), will be suitable for you if your academic qualifications do not yet meet our entrance requirements for the three-year version of this course and you want a programme that increases your subject knowledge as well as improves your academic skills in order to support your academic performance.
This four-year course includes a foundation year (Year Zero), followed by a further three years of study. During your Year Zero, you study three academic subjects relevant to your chosen course as well as a compulsory academic skills module.
From year one you will continue developing your academic skills alongside discovering what drives children’s development, what informs their behaviour and what shapes their identity.
Children today face a wide range of new and challenging experiences, including unprecedented access to media, wider cultural diversity, online bullying and larger school numbers. Their early experiences of childhood affect them for the rest of their lives. You can make a positive contribution to these formative years.
Childhood studies is a vibrant and exciting field which has expanded in recent years to include knowledge from psychology, sociology and psychoanalysis. This course lays the foundations for a career working with infants and children, whether in education, health care or children’s services. You gain a solid understanding of child development, the ecology of childhood (the place of children in different societies) and many other exciting topics including:
Child development and attachment theory
Understanding ADHD, developmental trauma and Autism
Play and infant observation
Children in literature
Therapeutic work in groups
Wellbeing and resilience
Psychodynamics of teaching, learning and group work
You’ll be taught by lecturers who bring both academic and practical knowledge from years of working with children.
Our degree will lay the foundations for a career working with infants and children, whether in education, health care or children’s services.
88% of our Department of Psychosocial and Psychoanalytic Studies graduates are in employment or further study (Graduate Outcomes 2022)
Our expert staff
We have some of the best teachers across the University in our Essex Pathways Department, all of whom have strong subject backgrounds and are highly skilled in their areas.
Our staff blend clinical and professional experience and expertise in their field with the academic rigour that our Department of Psychosocial and Psychoanalytic Studies is known for. You’re taught by lecturers who have years of experience working directly with troubled individuals and groups in specialist settings. This means they are seasoned researchers in the field of childhood and psychoanalytic studies, but also draw upon years of clinical experience as teachers, psychotherapists, and therapeutic community practitioners.
This course is led by Dr Chris Nicholson, who has more than 15 years’ experience working in residential childcare and therapeutic communities for children. He's also managed an adolescent assessment unit and runs a variety of children’s activities and groups for Colchester Mind’s, The Junction. Further, he sits on the Advisory Board for Children and Young People at the Royal College of Psychiatrists’ Therapeutic Communities section, and regularly speaks at both national and international conferences.
Our staff specialise in areas ranging from creative therapies for children and adolescents, to organisational dynamics, to the practice of psychotherapy, to psychodynamic counselling with children and adolescents.
You will experience a lively, informal environment with a number of specialist facilities:
At our Colchester Campus, you have access to The Albert Sloman Library which houses a collection of books, journals, electronic resources and major archives
Our Department has its own dedicated library of specialist texts which inform and influence our research
Attend free evening Open Seminars on topics relevant to childhood studies, education, mental health and psychosocial studies which are open to students, staff and members of the public.
Whether you want to work with infants in the nursery, children with emotional and behavioural difficulties in children’s homes, support those with learning difficulties, or go on into teaching, our course prepares you to make a difference to children’s lives.
Put theory into practice by carrying out reflective practice through infant observation, and a work placement. These give you invaluable experience within your chosen sector.
We help you to explore and understand the kind of role you’re preparing for so you graduate with a valuable balance of theoretical understanding and useful practical experience – rare qualities giving you the edge needed to successfully gain employment upon graduation.
There are a range of jobs directly related to this degree including early years teachers, family support workers, learning support workers, primary and secondary teacher, special needs teachers and social workers.
After taking this degree you can also enter further study or training to become a:
Community development worker
Speech and language therapist
We also work with the University’s Student Development Team to help you find out about further work experience, internships, placements, and voluntary opportunities.
* Non-specialist higher education institutions with a survey population of at least 500.
UK entry requirements
UK and EU applicants:
All applications for degree courses with a foundation year (Year Zero) will be considered individually, whether you
think you might not have the grades to enter the first year of a degree course;
have non-traditional qualifications or experience (e.g. you haven’t studied A-levels or a BTEC);
are returning to university after some time away from education; or
are looking for more support during the transition into university study.
Our standard offer is 72 UCAS tariff points from at least two full A-levels, or equivalent.
Examples of the above tariff may include:
BTEC Level 3 Extended Diploma: MMP
T-levels: Pass with E in core
If you are unsure whether you meet the entry criteria, please get in touch for advice.
Mature applicants and non-traditional academic backgrounds:
We welcome applications from mature students (over 21) and students with non-traditional academic backgrounds (might not have gone on from school to take level 3 qualifications). We will consider your educational and employment history, along with your personal statement and reference, to gain a rounded view of your suitability for the course.
A satisfactory enhanced DBS check (including child and adult barred list check) will be required prior to starting any placement(s) for this course, which will commence in Year 1. This will be organised by the University.
A satisfactory Overseas Criminal Record/Local Police Certificate is also required, in addition to a DBS Check, where you lived outside of the UK in the last 5 years for 6 months or more.
Essex Pathways Department is unable to accept applications from international students. Foundation pathways for international students are available at the University of Essex International College and are delivered and awarded by Kaplan, in partnership with the University of Essex. Successful completion will enable you to progress to the relevant degree course at the University of Essex.
International & EU entry requirements
We accept a wide range of qualifications from applicants studying in the EU and other countries. Get in touch with any questions you may have about the qualifications we accept. Remember to tell us about the qualifications you have already completed or are currently taking.
Sorry, the entry requirements for the country that you have selected are not available here. Please select
your country page
where you'll find this information.
Other English language qualifications may be acceptable so please contact us for further details. If we accept the English component of an international qualification then it will be included in the information given about the academic levels required. Please note that date restrictions may apply to some English language qualifications
If you are an international student requiring a Tier 4 visa to study in the UK please see our immigration webpages for the latest Home Office guidance on English language qualifications.
If you do not meet our IELTS requirements then you may be able to complete a pre-sessional English pathway that enables you to start your course without retaking IELTS.
Our Year 0 courses are only open to UK and EU applicants. If you’re an international student, but do not meet the English language or academic requirements for direct admission to your chosen degree, you could prepare and gain entry through a pathway course. Find out more about opportunities available to you at the University of Essex International College.
Our research-led teaching is continually evolving to address the latest challenges and breakthroughs in the field. The following modules are based on the current course structure and may change in response to new curriculum developments and innovation.
We understand that deciding where and what to study is a very important decision for you. We’ll make all reasonable efforts to provide you with the courses, services and facilities as described on our website. However, if we need to make material changes, for example due to significant disruption, or in response to COVID-19, we’ll let our applicants and students know as soon as possible.
Components and modules explained
Components are the blocks of study that make up your course. A component may have a set module which you must study, or a number of modules from which you can choose.
Each component has a status and carries a certain number of credits towards your qualification.
What this means
You must take the set module for this component and you must pass. No failure can be permitted.
Core with Options
You can choose which module to study from the available options for this component but you must pass. No failure can be permitted.
You must take the set module for this component. There may be limited opportunities to continue on the course/be eligible for the qualification if you fail.
Compulsory with Options
You can choose which module to study from the available options for this component. There may be limited opportunities to continue on the course/be eligible for the qualification if you fail.
You can choose which module to study from the available options for this component. There may be limited opportunities to continue on the course/be eligible for the qualification if you fail.
The modules that are available for you to choose for each component will depend on several factors, including which modules you have chosen for other components, which modules you have completed in previous years of your course, and which term the module is taught in.
Modules are the individual units of study for your course. Each module has its own set of learning outcomes and assessment criteria and also carries a certain number of credits.
In most cases you will study one module per component, but in some cases you may need to study more than one module. For example, a 30-credit component may comprise of either one 30-credit module, or two 15-credit modules, depending on the options available.
Modules may be taught at different times of the year and by a different department or school to the one your course is primarily based in. You can find this information from the module code. For example, the module code HR100-4-FY means:
The department or school the module will be taught by.
In this example, the module would be taught by the Department of History.
This module is designed to support students in their academic subject disciplines and to strengthen their confidence in key skills areas such as: academic writing, research, academic integrity, collaborative and reflective practices.
The students are supported through the use of subject-specific materials tailored to their chosen degrees with alignment of assessments between academic subject modules and the skills module.
In this module you will explore childhood from a local and a global perspective. You will discover a broad range of topics related to children and childhood, including psychology, sociology, history, media, law and education.
Expand on your knowledge of perspectives and theoretical approaches relating to child development. This module focuses on developmental psychology and includes psychoanalytic and psycho-dynamic theories.
Placement Based Observation Skills and Reflective Practice
For this module you will learn observation skills and reflective practice skills to enhance your working experience and your professional practice. You will also undertake a placement where you have the opportunity to gain hands on experience. This placement will be within the children’s sector, for example a nursery, a school or a children’s centre. You will have support from your lecturer in gaining the placement and whilst you are on the placement.
Assignment and Research Writing for Psychoanalytic Studies
Want guidance in understanding your course? Know how your academic skills will transfer to the world of work? Develop your abilities to undertake independent research. Learn to read critically and to write clearly. Build the employability skills that will help you during your studies and after graduation.
Understanding Individuals Groups and Organisations : An Introduction to Psychodynamic Concepts
How do unconscious dynamics work in individuals, groups and organisations? How can psychodynamic insight be applied to this? Explore how individuals affect one another, how institutions affect those who work there and vice versa. Understand key concepts in psychodynamic thinking and how to apply this to individuals, groups and workplaces.
In this module you will develop your understanding of childhood studies and childcare practice and explore employability and career options within this field. You will have the opportunity to think about your future career aspirations and learn about the graduate employment market.
This module explored a wide range of children’s fiction, both written for children and about children. You read and analyse popular children’s literature from ‘Where the Wild Things are’ to ‘Matilda’. You will build your knowledge of how the perceptions of childhood have changed over the last century and the types of ideals being projected onto the world of children through literature.
Discover the broad range of policies, ethics and professional conduct in the workplace with regards to children. You will develop an understanding of both the practice related and theoretical aspects and learn how to apply this to the workplace, your discipline and the children you are working with.
In this module you will learn about child development, focusing on infancy. You will have the opportunity to gain first-hand experience in observing the early developments of an infant, within a family setting or in the nursery setting. You will learn the unfolding of the infant’s awareness of self and others and the developing of personality and identity within the context in which it is happening.
You will also be learning about the role of the observer. Understanding and developing how this role supports the development of skills and sensitivity around role management and boundaries in preparation for professional life – where working therapeutically or with ordinary children or other settings.
In this module we examine some of the developments in psychoanalytic theory with a special focus on the figure of the child. We consider some of the debates surrounding the development of psychoanalysis of children through the work of Melanie Klein, D. W. Winnicott, Anna Freud, amongst others. We pay attention to the importance of play and practices of observation to understand how and why the figure of the child has been central to the development of psychoanalytic thought.
Consider the ways in which childhood has changed throughout history. In this module you will explore how the concept of childhood has developed particularly from eighteenth century onwards. This module covers a variety of aspects including religion, education, rights and policies, culture, gender and sexuality.
Study a range of difficulties encountered by some children, such as developmental trauma, autism and ADHD. Learn how these can impact on children’s development and increase your knowledge of the strategies that have been developed to try and improve their situation.
Childhood Wellbeing: Play, Socialisation and Resilience
Explore children’s well-being through play, socialisation and resilience. Discover how well-being can vary across cultures, both nationally and globally. In this module you will also learn about current issues facing children today such as technology, internet and the effects that this may have on well-being.
Teaching and Learning with Children: A Psychosocial Approach
Understand what facilitates education and the factors that can also hinder learning. You will explore all areas that can affect a child’s ability to learn, from anxiety to new experiences. You will learn the aspects of learning through a sociological and psycho-social perspective.
Childhood Inc.: Disney and the Globalization of Childhood
How does diversity impact children? How is childhood constructed differently based on differences in race, gender, class, sexuality, nationality, religion, or disability? How do children themselves navigate the larger inequalities of society and eventually internalize an understanding of their own diverse identities?
This module emphasizes the importance of diversity and identity for understanding childhood and offers a critical introduction to some of the main identity categories that impact children's everyday lives. Taking a topical, week-by-week approach, this module considers, for instance, how children navigate racial identities in a landscape of social inequality and how gender differently affects children's development of relational qualities like confidence and caring.
Applications for our full-time undergraduate courses should be made through the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS). Applications are online at: www.ucas.com. Full details on this process can be obtained from the UCAS website in the how to apply section.
Our UK students, and some of our EU and international students, who are still at school or college, can apply through their school. Your school will be able to check and then submit your completed application to UCAS. Our other international applicants (EU or worldwide) or independent applicants in the UK can also apply online through UCAS Apply.
The UCAS code for our University of Essex is ESSEX E70. The individual campus codes for our Loughton and Southend Campuses are 'L' and 'S' respectively.
You can find further information on how to apply, including information on transferring from another university, applying if you are not currently at a school or college, and applying for readmission on our How to apply and entry requirements page.
If you are an undergraduate student residing in the UK who has received an offer to study with us in October 2023, you will receive an email invitation to book onto one of our Applicant Days. Our Colchester Campus Applicant Days run from February to May 2023 on various Wednesdays and Saturdays, and our Southend Campus Applicant Days run from March to June 2023 on various weekdays and Saturdays. Applicant Days provide the opportunity to meet your department, tour our campus and accommodation, and chat to current students. We appreciate that travelling to university events can be expensive. This is why we have increased our Applicant Day Travel Bursary cap, allowing you to claim up to £150 as reimbursement for travel expenses. For further information about Applicant Days, including Terms and Conditions and eligibility criteria for our Travel Bursary, please visit our Applicant Days webpage.
Visit Colchester Campus
Home to 15,000 students from more than 130 countries, our Colchester Campus is the largest of our three sites, making us one of the most internationally diverse campuses on the planet - we like to think of ourselves as the world in one place.
If you live too far away to come to Essex (or have a busy lifestyle), no problem. Our 360 degree virtual tours allows you to explore our University from the comfort of your home. Check out our Colchester virtual tour and Southend virtual tour to see accommodation options, facilities and social spaces.
Our staff travel the world to speak to people about the courses on offer at Essex. Take a look at our list of exhibition dates to see if we’ll be near you in the future.
At Essex we pride ourselves on being a welcoming and inclusive student community. We offer a wide range of support to individuals and groups of student members who may have specific requirements, interests or responsibilities.
The University makes every effort to ensure that this information on its programme specification is accurate and up-to-date. Exceptionally it can be necessary to make changes, for example to courses, facilities or fees. Examples of such reasons might include, but are not limited to: strikes, other industrial action, staff illness, severe weather, fire, civil commotion, riot, invasion, terrorist attack or threat of terrorist attack (whether declared or not), natural disaster, restrictions imposed by government or public authorities, epidemic or pandemic disease, failure of public utilities or transport systems or the withdrawal/reduction of funding. Changes to courses may for example consist of variations to the content and method of delivery of programmes, courses and other services, to discontinue programmes, courses and other services and to merge or combine programmes or courses. The University will endeavour to keep such changes to a minimum, and will also keep students informed appropriately by updating our programme specifications. The University would inform and engage with you if your course was to be discontinued, and would provide you with options, where appropriate, in line with our Compensation and Refund Policy.
The full Procedures, Rules and Regulations of the University governing how it operates are set out in the Charter, Statutes and
Ordinances and in the University Regulations, Policy and Procedures.