If you hold a Level 7 BA (Ord) degree in Early Childhood Studies you can top up your degree to a Level 8 BA (Hons) in Early Childhood Studies. Depending on when you start, it will take just 8 – 10 months through blended learning. This final year course consists of an individual research project with one to one tutor support.
Start Date24th June 2023
Course Duration8 months
If you hold a Level 7 BA (Ord) degree in Early Childhood Studies you can top up your degree to a Level 8 BA (Hons) in Early Childhood Studies in just 10 months through blended learning.
In this final year of the Level 8 degree, you will complete an individual research project by carrying out a systematic investigation of a topic related to the early year’s sector. The project provides you with opportunities to improve your critical thinking and research skills. Students on this programme refine their academic writing and communication skills as well as getting the opportunity to investigate in detail a topic or area in their current practice that interests them. This award is also listed with the DCEDIY (formerly Dept. of Children and Youth Studies) for higher capitation purposes.
At the early stages of the programme, you will attend three tutorials that help you prepare for the project, understand how to work with academic literature, select suitable research methods, address ethical concerns and most importantly formulate the questions which they will try and answer in their research. While the project involves a lot of independent studies, each student is assigned an individual supervisor who provides guidance and mentorship throughout the research and write up process.
Completing a research project is a valuable learning experience that has lasting benefits for learners’ personal and professional development.
Why should I study this course?
In Ireland there is an obvious need for well-qualified, graduate-level, early childhood practitioners working with young children and their families across all sectors in Ireland: play, care, health and education. However up-skilling to honours degree level whilst working full-time can prove extremely difficult, the physical time required to attend class and the related costs can simply prove to be a difficult commitment to make. Portobello Institute recognises those challenges by delivering this programme through a blended learning model with recognition of prior learning for previously achieved qualifications. Students have the opportunity to still pursue this academic route and achieve an Honours Degree in Early Childhood Studies, opening up the opportunity to progress to a Masters in Early Childhood Studies also offered by London Met.
Studying this world-class degree in the intimate and supportive environment offered by Portobello Institute is a unique opportunity for students. The Institute are renowned for extensive student support. We offer small intimate environments, provision of draft assignments and formative feedback prior to submission, individual module tutors and the support of a Programme Manager to ensure the smooth running of the programme and enhance the learning experience to each of our students throughout their academic journey.
Who will recognise my qualification?
Upon successful completion of this programme, you will be awarded a BA (Hons) in Early Childhood Studies. This is awarded at level 8 on the National Framework of Qualifications.
Qualifications Frameworks in Ireland and the UK
The Irish and UK qualifications authorities have collaborated on initiatives that promote the transparency, recognition and mobility of qualifications between our respective jurisdictions. The qualifications authorities in the UK and Ireland have agreed the qualifications frameworks in operation, Brexit will not impact this agreement. Further guidance on this framework is available here.
What will I study during this BA (Hons) Early Childhood Studies – Starts June ’23 course?
Early Years dissertation project
Students undertake a piece of independent research and study an area of particular interest in early childhood studies.
This module offers an opportunity for independent study and aims to enable students to:
- Develop further professionally by pursuing a line of study which arises out of an aspect of her/his work with young children.
- Extend professional competence by developing a critical understanding of the relationship between theory and early childhood practice.
- Gain experience of the processes and methodological and ethical issues involved in conducting and completing a piece of research.
- Design, execute and evaluate a small-scale research project and experience supervised independent study of an extended nature.
- Develop further professionally by pursuing a line of study which arises out of an aspect of her/his work with young children.
- Extend professional competence by developing a critical understanding of the relationship between theory and early childhood practice.
- Develop some of the skills required for post graduate study.
Who will I learn from?
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!
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
- Early Childhood Ireland Research and Practice Seminar
Personal Academic Tutor
Each student is assigned a personal academic tutor to support you throughout your learning journey. They are available to offer you telephone and email support at any time. You can arrange to meet them for further one to one guidance at a time convenient to you.
Many of our past graduates have found it is the opportunity to ask a simple question, seek direction and submit a draft of their assessment that supported them most to successful completion. Emailing your tutor at any stage during your programme to ask a query or submit a draft of your assessment supports you to achieve your personal best throughout your studies with Portobello.
This level of one to one support is a particular benefit to choosing Portobello as your Institute of choice to complete your studies.
Position: Course Coordinator Masters in Early Childhood Studies & Lead Lecturer BA Hons degree Early Childhood Studies
“Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire,” – William Butler Yeats
My early career started in law, but after having my own children, I decided to leave this sector and move into early education and special needs. Having worked and managed my own pre-school for some years, I embarked on the road of educational psychology, and I work for several years in the primary education sector with children who needed that little bit more support.
I have over 20 years’ experience of working in education and higher education as a lecturer and researcher, and work as an International External Authenticator/Standards Verifier for numerous awarding bodies in Ireland and the UK. I am a registered member of the British Psychological Society (BPS) and have a small psychology service, which in recent years I have extended to offer counselling and psychotherapy to younger members of society on a voluntary basis.
There are lots of experiences and students who will always stand out, students who continue to contact you after they have completed their degree to ask advice and students who will email you a draft of a personal statement to have a read of, as they apply for their master’s qualification, students sending you photos of their baby which they delivered days after submitting an assignment on time; or students who send a video of their wedding day after they graduate. These are the moments which stand out and make it all worthwhile. Knowing you have helped these people become the person they strive to be.
I started working for Portobello over nine years ago and it is like a home from home, the support and comradery that is shared within the college. It was throughout this role that I felt I had found my niche, working with adults who had come back to education bringing with them a wealth of knowledge and experience, but needing the certification to go with that. I think this resonates with me most, having come a similar route myself, and after leaving law; embarking on my academic career with Queen’s University, subsequently completing Bachelor of Arts Honours, Master’s and PhD level education, for which I was awarded the Post Grad award for Doctoral Research.
Throughout my career I have had the pleasure of meeting and working with some fantastic and renowned authors and researchers in the field of early education.
Dr Barbara McConnell my supervisor at master’s level, and a good friend since that time; Dr Colette Gray, Mary Maloney a good friend, and past colleague, Professor Jim Deegan, the most intellectual gentleman I have had the pleasure to chat with on numerous occasions, and whose most memorable saying is “go for it!”, a sentiment which has driven my own research career for some years. David Whitebread, who I met while studying my PhD, and who has since then shared some insightful thinking’s about Vygotsky and play. Dr. Zsuzsa Millei, a friend and mentor and editor of our book, Childhood and Nation. John Siraj Blatchford and Prof Bob Stake, both helped me refine my research throughout the years; and Prof Judith Green, California who I met at a conference many years ago, the most enlightening person I have ever had the pleasure to encounter, and at the ripe age of 79 was still deeply engrossed in research and teaching. She has become a very good friend, and mentor. All of whom have greatly influenced me in my career and research.
Marguerita’s Teaching Philosophy
As a lecturer it is important to make conscious decisions around the module content and pedagogy with the students experience in mind, as I believe our students possess knowledge skills, values and experiences which help them deal with their different employment opportunities.
I believe part of my role is to help them understand through the engagement with these courses, who they are and what they can contribute to the heterogeneity that they will encounter in their vocation to work with and educate young children. They are the advocates for the sector, ambassadors for early education in Ireland. And as such I think it is vital that we more than anything else help them develop skills like critical thinking, intellectual curiosity, analytical reasoning, reflexivity and communication skills, becoming leaders in their field, involved in research to further and benefit the sector in it’s entirety. I don’t believe it is my role to teach my students the practical aspects of early education, as it is they who bring that knowledge and experience with them; but rather it is my role to encourage them to apply the theoretical underpinnings to those practical skills.
As a philosophical stance on adult education, it is important to realise that understanding is not something that is transferrable from one person to another; rather understanding is constructed by each student, based on their prior knowledge and experiences; it is my philosophical stance that the role of the lecturer is to nurture, challenge and extend that knowledge.
As a lecturer it is vital to listen to the student’s voice, engage with them and support them, scaffolding the pathways to further learning. In order to achieve this it is important to encourage the students to engage and interact during tutorial sessions, as we all learn from each other, and in adult education the student is as vital to that learning experience as the lecturer. Discussion and debate are key, therefore I expect my students to respond, contribute and critique so that the understanding becomes deeply rooted.
It is also important to keep abreast of changes in the sector and up to date with up and coming research. I try to achieve this by engaging in research topics every 12/18 months if possible, and have had some of these contributions published to date. Attendance at conferences is a beneficial means of networking, raising awareness of current debates and issues in the sector, which are vital to ensuring the learning experience for the student is relevant and reflective of their own experiences.
As a reviewer for several journals, SAGE, Contemporary Issues, Global Childhood Studies and Early Childhood studies, I help to ensure that publications are peer reviewed and of the highest standard, and subscribing to these journals ensure that I always have access to suitable reading materials to supplement the course materials for my students.
Research Interests and contributions:
- Special Educational Needs
- ICT in Early Education
- Wellbeing in Early Education
- Curriculum Design and Leadership
- Conceptual Development
- Innovation and Diversities in Early Edcuation
- Outdoor environments
- Forest Schools
- Risky Play in Early Education
Research / Industry Participation
- SELB (2008) Autism Awareness Report
- SELB (2010) Autism Intervention Support
- Queens University Belfast (2010) Workshop Presentation: Research in the early years (Sole presenter)
- Mary Immaculate College (2013) Workshop Presentation: Observation in Research: complementary methods (Co-presenter)
- University of Limerick (2013) Workshop Presentation: Developmental Psychology; theory to practice (Sole Presenter)
- Magennis, M. (2013) Digital Natives and Cultural Tools, Paper presented at Diversities in Literacy, Maynooth: Ireland (Conference Paper)
- IRMSS – International Research Methods Conference (2014) MIC – Presented paper – June 2014.
- Magennis, M. (2014) “Developing Leadership for a sustainable future: Enhancing ICT in the Curriculum” (conference paper)
- OMEP International Conference (2014) UCC “Cross-border perspectives on digital technologies as a catalyst for creative learning and innovative teaching in early education”
- Magennis, M. (2015) “National Symbols and Practices in the Everyday of Irish Education”, in Millei, Z. & Imre, R. (2015)
- Magennis, M. (2015) Enhancing Literacy Concepts: Digital Natives and Cultural Tools.
- BORDERS V111 Conference on Cultural Studies, Oulu Finland, 3-4 December 2015, Book Launch – Virtual Presentation and Workshop.
- Magennis, M. (forthcoming) “outdoor environments and Risky Play – Early educational strategies”
- Dr. M’s Thoughts blog: https://childhoodmentalhealth.com/
Position: Early Years Lecturer
“When I returned to education in 2000 to study Montessori Teaching, I knew I had found my life’s passion. I am passionate about my job and I want to instil in others what has been given to me.”
I began working in early education in 1994, and to be honest, did not know what I was taking on, but the times of work fitted with my family! Little did I know that I would find my life’s passion.
I was fascinated by these young people and the fact that the sector was unregulated and basically providers could do what they liked. I began to read on the subject and improve my practice and returned to education in 2000 to study the Montessori Method.
Since then, I have not stopped learning, through study, working with children and families, and through my role as a manager/lead practitioner in rural, urban, affluent, and disadvantaged areas.
My experiences provide me with vast industry insight as I have experienced vast changes within our sector, frameworks, legislation and other.
In a setting, each year brings a different group dynamic, therefore it is essential to have the ability to reflect upon and amend provisions and practices to meet the needs of children, families, and staff. I hope that bringing my practical experiences in the setting into my tutorials allows students to link theory and practice.
In 2004, I became a tutor at Portobello Institute on a part-time basis. Currently, I work full-time for the Institute supporting full-time QQI Level 6 students in Child Development, Early Childhood Curriculum, Social, Legal and Health Studies and Personal and Professional Development.
I am part of a vital, vibrant team who supports Level 7 Early Childhood Studies Degree students studying through a blended approach. I lead modules such as Children’s Rights in Today’s World, Enquiry-Based Learning and Communicating in Multilingual Contexts.
Jacinta’s Teaching Philosophy
My approach is that all students have something to give and to learn, true learning is a two-way process, I love to see students discussing their life experiences to make sense of theory.
Many of the students are experienced practitioners and their practical knowledge should be valued. Just as no two children learn the same, similar could be said of adults, people learn in different ways and therefore I try to use a variety of approaches to suit the needs of the group in question.
I also understand the pressure of completing studies with work, families, and other commitments, as I have been there, and can offer some practical tips.
My greatest achievements as a tutor are to see students who are returning to education with little confidence in themselves and their abilities, blossom and grow both as students and practitioners.
Key valuable graduate attributes are, of course, the knowledge required to be an early year’s practitioner and the ability to apply that knowledge in their setting.
However, there are other equally vital tools, such as compassion, to be able to look at situations from various perspectives to gain understanding and allow for appropriate planning.
The ability to reach, support and work with all children, families, and staff in the setting is fundamental to quality provision.
Building respectful, reciprocal relationships is essential to providing quality experiences which benefit children’s learning and development.
I hope to instil the ability to reflect critically, without criticising, to examine attributes, biases, and areas for improvement and to plan accordingly.
- MA Early Childhood Studies
- BA (Hons) Early Childhood Studies
- Teacher providing July Provision, a home-based programme for children with complex needs.
- Assisted the set up of a Homework Club, Mother and Toddler Group and Woman’s Group in a disadvantaged area through government funding. This group won a Millennium Award for their efforts, it was a proud day to receive this award in Dublin Castle with 2 others.
- HETAC Montessori Course Liaison
- Child Protection Course facilitator
"The guidance, direction, wisdom and support that I received was excellent, it inspired me to go on and do my masters"
How will I learn?
What is Blended Learning?
It is very suited to you if you are working full-time with limited spare time yet you want to achieve your degree qualification. During the induction workshop, you will be given your log-in details to the online portal, “ePortobello”. Here you will find course notes, reading lists, podcasts, articles of interest and guidelines for completing your thesis. The content is structured in an easy to “find and follow” format. You will need basic computer skills such as searching the internet and typing a word document.
You will be assigned a tutor who will supervise your research and support you on a one to one basis through to completion of your dissertation. You can email queries, submit drafts and call your tutor for general guidance at any stage of this programme. Blended learning allows you to study at your time with support available throughout your learning journey.
Other delivery modes available
There are 3 tutorials scheduled during the programme. These are generally run on a Saturday from 10am to 4pm and are designed to offer support to the learner.
The BA (Hons) Early Childhood Studies is structured to maximise opportunities for flexible study, as students choose to complete the course by distance learning with webinars throughout the programme, supported workshops held each term and on-going tutor support available through the early childhood studies academic team situated full-time in Portobello institute.
A module tutor together with a programme manager is assigned to each module. At internals throughout the course there are face to face tutorials throughout the programme and students can access further tutor support by email and/or telephone. Webinars also support the learning experience, and provide further guidance throughout the programme, helping to establish and maintain relationships with tutors and peers. The development of academic writing, study and referencing skills is supported through workshops, tutor feedback and programme manager support. Materials are accessed through Portobello and London Met’s virtual learning platform. As this is one of the most researched and developed programmes available, an extensive range of visual materials and videos are available. Reflection is promoted by reflective exercises incorporated into the web-based materials.
All students are invited to discuss their progress with programme managers and module tutors. This can take place face to face, on the telephone or through e-mail.
This course is delivered from 24th June ’23 until 30th April ’24.
There are webinars delivered at different stages during the programme. These are scheduled on a Saturday from 10am – 4pm with breaks at intervals throughout the day.
The final date of this course is dependent on the final submission date and may vary by a number of weeks from that detailed here.
Attendance at Webinars
Attendance at webinars is not mandatory however is recommended for an optimal learning experience and achievement.
One to one tutor support is available to you throughout this programme.
How will I be assessed?
Assessment for this course is done on your dissertation project.
- Own or Manage a Setting – With a degree in early childcare studies, you can open, own, operate, manage, and work within any early years setting in Ireland where you will be eligible for the higher capitation grant under the ECCE scheme. You can undertake the role of; Room Leader, Facility Manager or Owner/Manager.
- Become a Special Needs Teacher – Having completed the degree in early childhood studies you could work in funded special needs early years facilities and become registered with the Teaching Council of Ireland.
- Become a Primary School Teacher – If you have your degree and honours Irish you can apply for professional masters in primary school education which will allow you to work as a primary school teacher.
- Become a Childcare Tutor in Further Education – For those interested in tutoring, they need to combine their degree with a level 6 teaching qualification to become a tutor on Level 5 and 6 early years and special needs programmes.
- Work for a Government Agency – You can work for government agencies or early years support bodies such as County Childcare Committees etc. Roles with these organisations can vary from management and administration of services to monitoring of childcare and education settings. For instance, when Tusla advertise for an Early Years Inspector role, you must have a Level 8 degree and 5 years of work experience in a childcare setting. This is an exciting role where you will use your knowledge and experience to improve the service offered in various childcare settings. It involves inspecting facilities, investigating issues, advising providers and writing reports. Constant liaison with other agencies and assisting in the development of childcare policy are also part of the role. Obviously, for this role, the experience gained in a childcare setting is essential, however, the knowledge of best practices in childcare provision and management derived from the degree is crucial to effectively undertake this role.
- Engage in Postgraduate Study and Research – Many students who have completed the degree programme long to learn more and undertake postgraduate education to masters and doctorate level to pursue their research interests.
Why should I continue to Level 8?
College Director and Head of our Early Years Department, Denise Flood, explains the value of the BA (Hons) Early Childhood Studies Level 8 degree.
“You have completed the hard work at level 7 – this is one more module to achieve your level 8 honours degree. It is a research project carrying 60 credits and you will have a supervisor of your choice from our team who will support you through the research process.
“The research project is directly related to your setting – for example, if you want to change the garden of your setting, you can use this as the topic of your research project. We will help you break this down into achievable snippets such as consulting key stakeholders, what questions do you need to ask to find out what they think the theme of the space should look like – the stakeholders would include staff, children, parents, other service users. Document the process, record the outcomes, reach a conclusion and this is your research project completed!
“An honours degree opens up so many opportunities for employment and further study to Masters level – why would you not complete the project and achieve your level 8 honours degree?
“Much of the evidence signposts research as a vital aspect of ensuring quality service provision in an early years setting – you will learn how to conduct research, draw conclusions and record these during this programme,” she said.
Speak to an expert
Choosing a course that will lead you to your career of choice is a significant decision. Understanding the delivery modes, supports available, career opportunities and further study options are all key considerations when making your choice. Our course adviser team are experts in the courses Portobello offers, the employment prospects and the opportunities for progession to masters programmes for each of our courses – they will guide you through the detail and support you with any queries you may have.
It is important you make the right choice for you and choose the Institute and course that will best suit your needs.
How long are you working in Portobello?
I have been working for Portobello Institute for over 5 years now.
What do you enjoy about working in Portobello?
I love the interaction with students. Every day I get to meet different individuals and learners who are looking to change their lives and I get to be the person who advises them on the best programme to take. It is a fantastic feeling to be part of their journey. For many learners this is a huge decision and I get to be the person who supports them in making that decision. There is an incredible sense of pride when I see our learners graduate and achieve their education goals.
What inspires you about working in education?
I believe that education is impowering and it can often change people’s lives. It increases the learner’s confidence and it allows the learner to reach their full potential. Coming back to education hugely lifts the learner’s self esteem.
Have you a story that you recall that touched you/made you laugh/made you cry?
One particular lady struggled with dyslexia all her life. Her disability really affected her years in school, her career choices and when this learner approached Portobello Institute I worked with her to establish the best way forward, the right course for her was without a doubt in childcare. This lady registered on the course and she needed a lot of hand holding throughout her studies from both myself and the academic team. I recall that the day of her graduation, she received the “Student of Year” award. We were all thrilled and delighted for her! This learner has since gone on to open a very successful Montessori setting.
How do you feel when you have helped a student reach a decision on their course choice?
I am there to be the deciding factor for our learners. We support people in making the right choice of programme for them. We reassure them the whole way and we support them throughout. It is a very rewarding feeling to be part of this process.
How do I apply?
Entry to this course is by direct application to the college.
Without a Leaving Certificate
Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL)
Portobello Institute has mapped the learning outcomes of the awards listed below thereby gaining recognition of prior learning (RPL) with London Met for students holding the following qualifications:
• QQI Level 7 in Early Years Care & Education or equivalent
• Level 7 in Early Childhood Studies
Complete the online booking form.
Applicant’s will be contacted for confirmation of the entry criteria.
Fees & Payment Options
Per academic year.
Exam Body Reg. Fee
Per academic year.
Total amount payable.
Easy Payment Plan
Deposit of 33%. Balance payable in 8 equal instalments commencing the 1st of the month after the course commences. There is an additional fee of €365 applied to instalment plan. All additional fees such as exam body registration fees and instalment plan admin fees are included in the easy payment plan detailed.
Deposit + 8 Instalments
Deposit payment (€1,318.35), followed by 8 scheduled payments every 1 month(s). Includes one off instalment fee of €365.00.
- €334.58 due on 1st July 2023.
- €334.58 due on 1st August 2023.
- €334.58 due on 1st September 2023.
- €334.58 due on 1st October 2023.
- €334.58 due on 1st November 2023.
- €334.58 due on 1st December 2023.
- €334.58 due on 1st January 2024.
- €334.58 due on 1st February 2024.