Delivered through blended learning, you can work full-time and study this MA in Early Childhood Studies. As with any other profession holding a Masters Degree will give you the edge, keep you abreast of the latest research in early years care and education and build further on the strong foundation of knowledge you have acquired from your undergraduate studies.
Start Date9th October 2021
QualificationLevel 9 Masters Degree
Course Duration2 years
This contemporary MA in Early Childhood Studies is designed for professional early years practitioners working within the early childhood workforce, including those who may not be working directly with children. This Masters programme builds upon knowledge gained during undergraduate studies and experiential learning in the workplace. The blended learning delivery mode is a flexible study option for those seeking to fit learning around work and family.
The MA in Early Childhood Studies offers you an opportunity to advance your knowledge, understanding and professional practice through engagement with current research and thinking in early childhood. It also involves a reflection on, and analysis of, your own professional practice, supporting your personal development as well as putting you in a strong position for career progression in this sector.
Why should I study this course?
Portobello Institute’s MA in Early Childhood Studies gives you the opportunity to attain a level 9 Masters qualification through a flexible mode of delivery designed to fit learning around your busy working and home life.
Earning a Masters in Early Childhood Studies will help you foster a deeper understanding of child learning and child psychology. As part of the programme you will focus on learning theory and child development, leadership and curriculum design, making you an expert in early years. You can take that knowledge with you into whichever profession you determine suits you after graduation: You will be introduced to new ideas. The Masters Degree will strengthen and develop knowledge you have already gained, exposing you to new, ground breaking ideas on how children learn and develop and the diversities we might be working with daily. You will be encouraged to communicate your ideas and learning, disseminating those with others, parents, stakeholders, practitioner, students etc, but even further with other professionals and researchers at conferences and seminars where your ideas can help develop the sector.
Who will recognise my qualification?
Upon successful completion of this programme, you will be awarded a MA in Early Childhood Studies. This is awarded at level 9 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 MA Early Childhood Studies – Starts Oct ’21 course?
A commitment to equality, diversity, social justice and advocacy are themes central to this Masters programme. You will develop a detailed understanding of current research and contemporary thinking in the field of early childhood. You will appraise research and theory continuously and reflect on its impact on early childhood provision and practice with an emphasis on your own professional practice. Developing a sophisticated understanding of the historical, economic, social, cultural and political contexts which impact the lives of young children and their families is a key benefit of studying this MA in Early Childhood Studies. You will also develop a comprehensive understanding of, and commitment to, issues of equality and diversity, social justice and advocacy in relation to the field of early childhood.
Who will I learn from?
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 Siolta 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, 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 practice and research evidence. Our teaching team is very strong and they strive to help the students along this journey – we employ tutors who do not only have the 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 the 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 with 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 in 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 students’ 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
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. My recollections of this time bring back fond memories of a child from the Travelling community who had never been diagnosed but obviously was on the Autistic spectrum. His first visit to our school result in him arriving into the setting, clinging to his twin brother, terrified, crying and so distraught that he immediately detached himself to seek refuge under the teachers table, curled up in the foetal position. Being much more supple in those days, I crawled under the table and lay down beside this distraught child, speaking in soft tones and comforting until this tiny hand unravelled itself from where it had recoiled, and touched mine. Some hours later we both emerged from under the table and so our journey together began. It emerged some days later that this young child had never been out of the Traveller camp due to the stigma attached to disability among his family and community; and as a result he had no language at all and was fearful of everything as it was all knew. My most memorable moment was his first utterance of a word, and some four years later he was speaking and engaging with the other children in his class. So proud of this little lad, and all that he has achieved since this time. Some further special memories and experiences include – some years back while lecturing on a Degree for a University in NI. I had a student who suffered from anorexia, several times throughout the programme this student was hospitalised and nearly died, however engaging with this student upon each return, watching her struggle with her condition, while striving to succeed and the determination that she would walk across that stage with the others.. Amazing.. I cannot express how that made me feel the day she walked across and collected her certificate with the others. There are other 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 Masters 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 worth while. Knowing you have helped these young people become the person they strive to be.
Shortly after completing my degree, I was offered a role lecturing in Further and Higher education College in Northern Ireland, who partnered with Queens University and Stranmillis in delivering Degree and Masters level education. Throughout this time and as part of our professional development we continued to work 3 weeks every year in the early years sector, so that we kept abreast of the practical aspect of our profession. And as an International External Standards Verifier for numerous Awarding bodies across Northern Ireland and the UK, it was also possible to keep well informed on all changes in terms of educational requirements etc.
Some years later, my family uprooted and we moved to Galway in the West of Ireland, where I began working on a part time basis with NUIG, while also working for GRETB. After a short time, I took on a more permanent (temporary) role with the University of Limerick, and Mary Immaculate College, which gave me a lot of experience in terms of how the education system in Ireland worked in comparison to that of NI. Subsequently I was offered a role as an External Authenticator for FETAC and SOLAS, where I still practice today, under QQI and the different ETB’s in Ireland. I am a registered member of the 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.
I have also worked in Higher education with UL on the PHD in Professional Psychology, and DCU on the Psychology Degree, and in Early Childhood Ireland for a few years. During this period, I was offered a position in Hibernia College in Dublin on their Masters in Education, (where I worked until recently on a part time basis); and a few months later I started working for Portobello, hard to believe this is almost 8 years ago now and 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 Queens University, subsequently completing BA Hons Degree, Masters and subsequently PhD level education, for which I was awarded the Doctoral Award in Postgrad 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 Masters level, and a good friend since that time; Dr Colette Gray, who I met as a lecturer and remains a good friend to date. 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 my book, Childhood and Nation. John Siraj Blatchford, 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.
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 this course, 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.
As a lecturer it is vital 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 very 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”
How will I learn?
This MA in Early Childhood Studies has been specifically designed for delivery by online learning, with one to one tutorial support and modular webinars designed specifically to prepare you to complete the module. It is very suited to you if you are working full-time with limited spare time yet you want to achieve your Masters qualification.
During the induction seminar, 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 assessment guidelines. The content is structured in an easy to “find and follow” week by week format. You will need basic computer skills such as searching the internet and typing a word document.
Each module commences with an induction webinar and you will meet your lead lecturer during this session. You will be able to log-in and “attend” the lecture even if you are off-site or you can re-visit the lecture at a later date through our online portal. You can upload your assessments and your lecturer will give you feedback on whether you are on the right track before you submit the final version. Blended learning allows you to study at your time with support available throughout your learning journey.
This course is delivered over 2 academic years with optional supported webinars held during scheduled weekends. This programme consists of five core modules. You will complete two modules in each of the first two semesters and the final module, your dissertation project, will be completed in your final semester during year 2. Each student is assigned a Dissertation Supervisor who will act as their personal academic support tutor for the research-based module that is the dissertation project.
Each module has 1 – 2 one day webinars designed to support the student to complete the modules scheduled for that semester. Webinars are generally held on a Saturday from 10am to 4pm. There are also 3 – 4 webinars held on evenings scheduled throughout the semester. Attendance at webinars is not mandatory however is recommended for an optimal learning experience and achievement. Webinars are delivered with the purpose of introducing the module lecturer, setting out the learning outcomes, content, the assessment strategy and expectations for skills/knowledge development.
All of the course material is held on an online learning portal which is an easy to use online platform specifically designed for online learning programmes. During the induction, students will be introduced to the platform with practical demonstration of how to use the portal and access lessons quickly and easily. To complete this course, students must have a basic knowledge of using a computer and searching the internet for research purposes.
Peer to Peer Support
Learning from the experience of other students is often cited as an integral part of any learning journey through a programme. This programme is conducted primarily online and to achieve peer to peer learning, we create study groups. This is a group of students either with a similar research interest or located regionally for ease of “meeting up”. Many graduates tell us that the relationships they build in their study group, offers them a professional network to tap into through out their careers as well as some lifelong friendships.
You can email your tutor at any stage during the module to ask a simple query or submit a draft of your assessment. Our programme management team are always available to offer you telephone and email support and if you need to, you can arrange to meet them for further one to one guidance. For more information about our team, click here. 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. This level of one to one support is unique to blended learning and is a particular benefit to choosing this mode of study. Portobello Institute has invested in a team of programme managers and tutors who are experienced early years practitioners as well as qualified and knowledgeable educators. They are available to assist you at every stage of this programme.
Online Learning Portal
During the induction webinar, we will show you how to navigate and find what you need with all of the information you need to complete this programme uploaded on to the learning portal. The content of this programme is set out in an easy to follow format with a combination of notes, articles, podcasts and other materials that will help you to understand the subject and complete your assessment. You will need basic computer skills to search the internet and type a word document to complete your assignment.
How will I be assessed?
Assessments for this degree are through course work and a dissertation. The assessments vary from practice based assignments to researching a topic you are interested in. We encourage you to reflect on your knowledge gain with a number of assignments designed to explore your learning journey. All of these methods are seeking to support you to combine theory with scenario based learning and how to practically implement these methods into your every day practice.
As our society has become more diverse, there is a growing awareness of the importance of early years settings and the service provided not just to children and families but also to society as a whole. This has a resulted in a growth in the number and variety of job positions available in the sector, some of these are new roles not previously imagined. Employers in every sector are raising the educational requirements for emerging roles, the early years sector is not immune. A Masters in Early Childhood Studies can open up a range of job opportunities for you both in and out of the early years setting that you may not have previously considered or even been eligible for.
Consider areas of administration, working as part of the inspectorate, tutoring on level 7 degree programmes, policy development, research into the early years sector, working as a Standards Verifier of external results; The opportunities are much wider than you possibly are aware of and all of these opportunities put your expertise and experience of the early years sector to good use, enhancing your career opportunities whilst also enhancing the sector and helping gain the recognitions deserved for the early years profession. You will continue to have an impact on children at a critical part in their lives, but you can develop how and where you do this; taking on advisory and consultation roles, lecturing roles and inspectorate roles.
A Masters degree will immediately increase your earning potential due to the wider range of career opportunities that will now be open to you. This Masters in Early Childhood Studies qualification will elevate your employability and give you the opportunity to command a higher pay scale than your less qualified peers.
What will a Masters mean to me in practice?
All of the knowledge you will gain together with the experience you have, you will find beneficial when you are working with children or you have children or grandchildren of your own. Understanding why children behave a particular way, how to support them during difficult times, being aware of what they are doing and why they do these things. You will see the bigger picture. As you advance through your Masters –everything that you absorb – psychology, research techniques, theory, curriculum design, classroom management, diversity, complexities of childhoods in context – will all come together to give you a well-rounded understanding of childhood learning and development.
You will further develop your skills of reflective practice, leadership, innovation and quality provision. You will continue to develop and strengthen your powers of observation and assessment. Watching and assessing children is a big part of our practice, especially at early childhood level. Assessment of progress in these early stages relies solely on your sense of where their needs lie and will rely on your powers of observation. Your engagement with psychology and child development will enhance this area of your skills, making you a valuable asset to any part of the early years sector. This Masters will help you to become a careful, dispassionate observer of young children, effectively appraising their progress and highlight potential areas of concern.
Exit points on this Masters
After completing the two modules delivered in the first year of this course you will be awarded a Post Graduate Certificate in Early Childhood Studies should you wish to exit the programme and not continue to second year. If you wish to exit the programme after completing a further two modules (four in total), you will be awarded a Post Graduate Diploma in Early Childhood Studies. Students who complete four modules and the required dissertation project will be awarded a Masters in Early Childhood Studies.
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 and the employment prospects of each of our programmes – 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 Masters is by direct application to Portobello Institute.
Applicants who do not meet the criteria, may be eligible for advanced entry into the BA Ord or Hons in Early Childhood Studies. This programme is available through Portobello Institute.
Please note places on this course are restricted and places only confirmed once tuition fees have been received. Early Application is advised.
Fees & Payment Options
Year 1 Fees & Payment Options
Exam Body Reg. Fee€305.00
Easy Payment Plan
30% deposit payable upon acceptance of a place. Balance to be paid in 7 payments on 1st of the month commencing the month after the start date. Exam registration fees are included in the Easy Payment Plan.
Includes one off instalment fee of €295.00. Payments scheduled every 1 month(s).
- €459.50 due on 1st November 2021.
- €459.50 due on 1st December 2021.
- €459.50 due on 1st January 2022.
- €459.50 due on 1st February 2022.
- €459.50 due on 1st March 2022.
- €459.50 due on 1st April 2022.
- €459.50 due on 1st May 2022.
Year 2 Fees & Payment Options
Exam Body Reg. Fee€435.00
Easy Payment Plan
30% deposit payable upon acceptance of a place. Balance to be paid in 7 payments on 1st of the month commencing the month after the start date. Exam registration fees are included in the Easy Payment Plan.
Includes one off instalment fee of €295.00. Payments scheduled every 1 month(s).
- €472.50 due on 1st November 2021.
- €472.50 due on 1st December 2021.
- €472.50 due on 1st January 2022.
- €472.50 due on 1st February 2022.
- €472.50 due on 1st March 2022.
- €472.50 due on 1st April 2022.
- €472.50 due on 1st May 2022.