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Honours Degree

BA (Hons) Early Childhood Care & Education – 1 yr Top-Up

BA (Hons) Early Childhood Care & Education – 1 yr Top-Up

Course Overview

If you hold a level 7 BA (Ord) in Early Childhood Care & Education or a similar qualification, you can upgrade to a level 8 BA (Hons) in Early Childhood Care and Education in 8-10 months through blended learning. This qualification includes a research project you can do in your current work setting. 

BA (Hons) Early Childhood Care & Education – 1 yr Top-Up

Level Undergraduate Qualification Honours Degree
Blended Learning
Duration 1 year
Start date
1st Year Fees €3,000.00

This work-based programme enhances critical thinking, research skills, and professional practice, including a research project on a relevant topic.

Portobello Institute offers extensive student support, including small classes, draft assignments, and individual module tutors.

This programme is a one year top of from the BA (Ord) Early Childhood Care & Education degree.

Graduates receive a BA (Hons) from the University of Essex, recognised at level 8 on the National Framework of Qualifications, meeting the Professional Award Criteria for Early Childhood Care and Education.

Evaluating Policy & Practice: Themes & Debates 30 Credits
Professional Development in the Community of Practice 60 Credits
Research Methods for Evidence Based Practice & Dissertation 45 Credits
Professional Development | Sharing the Learning (Placement Based) 15 Credits

Iryna Fox

About Iryna Fox I started my career in education at the age of 16 and was teaching English to preschool and school-aged children in Kyiv, Ukraine. To develop my interest in languages and teaching, I completed a BA and then MA in Teaching English and German, followed by a PhD…...

About Iryna Fox

I started my career in education at the age of 16 and was teaching English to preschool and school-aged children in Kyiv, Ukraine.

To develop my interest in languages and teaching, I completed a BA and then MA in Teaching English and German, followed by a PhD in Linguistics at Taras Shevchenko University of Kyiv.

Between 2000 and 2005, I worked at the English Language Department of the university and was responsible for teaching English to future English teachers and interpreters and supervising student research projects.

Having married an Irishman, I moved to Ireland in 2005 and as I started having my own children, I developed an interest in early childhood education.

I completed training in Montessori education and started my career as a Montessori Teacher. Around that time Síolta and Aistear frameworks were introduced and I realised that I wanted to enlarge my knowledge about the variety of methods and approaches used to educate children.

This led me to a BA Hons in Early Childhood Studies with Portobello Institute/London Metropolitan University and after completion of this programme with First Class Honours I taught on Portobello Level 5 and 6 Early Childhood Care and Education programmes while still continuing to work directly with children and families in Early Years settings.

In 2018, I joined the Portobello team in a full-time capacity as the Programme Manager for the degree programmes and my role is focused on providing positive learning experiences for the students through leading the team of tutors and working with other Portobello departments as well as communicating with the teaching team at LMU.

I am eager to learn more about third-level education and working with adult learners. I am currently completing a MA in Education, Learning and Development programme.

Why Did You Choose to Work in Education?

I believe that the learner-centred approach is as important in third level as it is in early childhood education.

The student’s well-being is very important and it is only when the student feels they are welcome and accepted as unique individuals, learning can take place.

I work to create this welcoming atmosphere and make sure that students have no barriers in approaching the team, that they receive the necessary information timely, know where to get help and can get help.

Education is not just about content knowledge, it is about making relationships, meeting inspiring people, and learning from others – and this is what we offer the students in our department and in our Institute.

Your Experience as a Programme Manager

I am really proud of the programmes we offer. A lot of the assignments are practice-based and both, those students who are new to the industry, and experienced practitioners, have a lot of opportunities to reflect on their work with children and families and learn to align it with best practices and research evidence.

Our teaching team is very strong and they strive to help the students along this journey – we employ tutors who not only have academic knowledge but also have industry experience so they can relate in the theory to practice in a real way. My role is to develop and support the teaching team and ensure that we are meeting our students’ needs.

The students in our department come from a variety of backgrounds. Many of them have been out of formal education for a long time, many are experiencing third-level education for the first time.

Some have a fear of using technology and online systems, some have learning difficulties. We understand that each student’s needs and situations are unique. We do our best to support them and we are thrilled to celebrate their success on graduation day – their success is our success!

Why Portobello?

Ever since I started tutoring with Portobello, I’ve been inspired by the learner profile of those who study at the college.

The majority of Early Childhood Studies students are practitioners who have to juggle the pressures of work, study and family life. These are people who want to better themselves despite any difficulties that might come their way.

This is what motivates me to do my work on a daily basis. And as a mum of three children, who also combines work and study, I feel I am in the right place to be able to understand our students.

In addition, I think we have an excellent team working for the college.  I am surrounded by like-minded and hard-working people, some of whom have become really good friends.

I am blown away by how creative and innovative our senior management is in advancing the college work and how supportive they are of the team.

Because our team is compact and closely knit, I believe we can communicate a lot better and meet the student’s needs more effectively and efficiently than many other institutions.

We are currently putting emphasis on improving our student feedback system and this will be instrumental in further promoting quality in our department.


  • MA Teaching English and German
  • PhD Linguistics
  • BA Hons Early Childhood Studies
  • PGr Cert Training and Education

Research/Industry Participation

  • Early Childhood Ireland Research and Practice Seminar
Course content is delivered online with supported workshops held on 5 Saturdays over the course of the programme, allowing you to study while working full-time.
Course material is structured on a weekly basis and available to download from our eLearning platform as you progress through the course.
One-to-one tutor support combined with online course content delivery makes this course accessible to you around your busy work life and family commitments.

Work Placement

Learners are required to complete work experience in an Irish early years setting. If you are working in an Irish early years setting, you can complete the practical element of the work experience module in your current role. Our team will help you to secure a suitable work placement during your studies and this placement can be in your locality.

The placement-based module is delivered through a combination of large group and small group online classes held on Saturdays and evenings and access to online content on ePortobello. The students must also complete two observational visits to another setting as part of the peer supervision process

A level 7 qualification in Early Childhood Care & Education or equivalent is required for entry to this top-up course.
  1. 1
    Complete the online application form.
  2. 2
    Your application will be reviewed by our enrolment team.
  3. 3
    Applicants will be contacted by Portobello Institute's enrolment team to confirm a place on the course or for more information.
Blended Learning

Course: €2,665 + Exam Body Reg. Fee: €335.00

€3,000.00 Year 1 total fee

Blended Learning

Option 1

33% deposit payment (€1,110.45), followed by 8 scheduled payments on the first of each month, commencing the 1st of the month after the start date of the course. Includes one off instalment fee of €365.

  • €281.82 due in month 1
  • €281.82 due in month 2
  • €281.82 due in month 3
  • €281.82 due in month 4
  • €281.82 due in month 5
  • €281.82 due in month 6
  • €281.82 due in month 7
  • €281.82 due in month 8

Who else has studied this course?

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Early Years
Lorraine Flaherty – Researching Outdoor Sleeping in Early Years with BA (Hons) Early Childhood Care and Education
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Early Years
Corine Peters – Outstanding Achievement Award While Balancing Work, Family and Studying
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Early Years
Sharon McGee – Sense of Accomplishment and ‘Ticking the Bucket List’ with Her Degree in Early Childhood Studies

Speak to an expert

Sarah Coyne

Education is a journey and the destination is a career that you love. I support the department that helps you to plan your journey so you can find the path that’s right for you. As I am often the first point of contact for many prospective students, I am excited to introduce students to the Portobello Institute experience. I enjoy learning about students’ ideas, goals, and passions, and this job allows me to do so.  

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