FdA Early Years Care and Education - University of Portsmouth

Early Years Care and Education

Part Time3yrs

Full Time 2yr

Relate and apply your learning directly to the workplace

Course Overview

Why take this course?

This foundation degree allows you to gain professional recognition for your work in early years support via a university level qualification. The course is designed in direct response to the government’s increasing focus on early years learning, carries endorsement from the Early Years sector, and can lead into an honours degree programme.

A career supporting early years is incredibly rewarding: you will work with a range of professionals, and will ensure you always put children and their needs at the centre of all decisions. The satisfaction that comes with helping someone to realise their potential is highly rewarding and is the reason why so many people choose this profession.

You will apply for the course via the University of Portsmouth’s application system, but you will need to decide which of our partnership colleges you wish to study with (from options including: Alton CollegeSt Vincent College, Stanmore College and Southampton City College).

What will I experience?

On this course, you can:

  • Develop your skills and knowledge of being a highly effective early years professional, through practical activity and the study of theories and contemporary issues within education.
  • Join fellow practitioners for lectures and seminars, creating an effective peer network where a variety of professional practice can be shared.
  • Access a range of University facilities - while you are based in one of our partner colleges, you are a University of Portsmouth student.

Please note: some students possess sufficient experiences and qualifications to begin the programme immediately on Year 2. If you are unsure you meet this criteria please do not hesitate to contact us for further information via our email secsenquiries@port.ac.uk.

What opportunities might it lead to?

You will already be working within early years, on a paid or voluntary basis, when you begin this course. Your work-based learning will be developed and formalised in your studies with us. As you review your own practice and knowledge, you will enhance your prospects in this field, you may also wish to consider progression to an honours degree.


Diane McEwan, education student

Online discussions with colleagues have been very valuable and I have confidently taken part in them. The online resources have been very useful and help is never very far away.

Diane McEwan, education student


Education, Childhood and Youth Studies

Find out what our students say about studying at Portsmouth, including:

  • Hands-on opportunities to work in a relevant educational setting
  • The support available to all students
  • The flexibility of unit options that enable you to tailor your study to your own interests

Browse all courses in Education, Childhood and Youth Studies

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Structure & Teaching

Over the three years of the course you will consider your practice and develop your knowledge in:

  • child development and learning
  • planning and organising the curriculum
  • working with others

There will also be opportunities to improve personal skills related to your work-based setting and academic requirements.

The first year of study concentrates on practice related to working with children; we look at aspects of play and learning, planning the curriculum, managing individuals and groups as well as inclusion. In the second year we look at the impact of working with others through professional collaboration and safeguarding children, as well as working with parents. We also study the impact of ICT on children's learning and develop some research skills.

The final year of study enables you to conduct a small practitioner enquiry related to an area of practice that is of interest and relevance within the workplace. We develop further understanding of the child through exploring cognitive and psycho-social development and you will review your own practice and learning that has occurred over the three-year programme.

We use the best and most current research and professional practice, alongside feedback from our students, to make sure course content is relevant to your future career or further studies.

Therefore, some course content may change over time to reflect changes in the discipline or industry and some optional units may not run every year. If a unit doesn’t run, we’ll let you know as soon as possible and help you choose an alternative unit.


This course is part time and students attend their study centre for the equivalent of a four-hour session per week during term time. These sessions are arranged so that students can benefit from working in groups as well as attending presentations and lectures.

Lectures provide a basic grounding in a particular topic, regular group seminars and discussions allow for opportunities to explore ideas and share good practice. One-to-one tutorials will help develop learning and key skills and will be instrumental in monitoring your progress.

Additionally, some topics will be taught through distance learning via the online learning environment.

Students are encouraged to find a workplace mentor who will also support you in your practice by acting as a critical friend in your reflection and thinking about personal and professional development.

The time you spend in teaching activities may depend on the units you select. As a guide, students on this course last year typically spent their time as follows:

  • Year one students: 12% in lectures, seminars and similar learning activities, 88% studying independently and 0% on work placement
  • Year two students: 10% in lectures, seminars and similar learning activities, 88% studying independently and 2% on work placement
  • Year three students: 10% in lectures, seminars and similar learning activities, 90% studying independently and 0% on work placement


Coursework assessment takes a variety of different forms including case studies, reflective reports, essays, presentations and group work.

You will be provided with clear assessment criteria for all your assignments and tutorial support to help you understand academic requirements.

The way you’re assessed may depend on the units you select. As a guide, students on this course last year were typically assessed as follows:

  • Year one students: 0% by written exams, 0% by practical exams and 100% by coursework
  • Year two students: 7% by written exams, 10% by practical exams and 83% by coursework
  • Year three students: 0% by written exams, 12% by practical exams and 88% by coursework

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Facilities & Features

Study with SECS

The School comprises a body of enthusiastic staff with a range of expertise in the professional and academic sectors. 

Academic Skills Unit (ASK)

ASK will help you become a successful university student. Our workshops are designed to improve a number of essential academic skills from essay writing and understanding plagiarism to revision and exam techniques. This is a great way to enhance your academic performance and make a smooth transition into university study.

University Library

Modern, comfortable and a great learning environment, our library offers a wealth of information including 400,000 books, DVDs, maps and thousands of online ejournals and newspapers. Many electronic resources are available anywhere, 24/7 and our friendly staff are always on hand to help.

Budgeting for your studies

There are extra costs associated with studying, which you will need to consider when planning your expenditure.

Recommended texts:
If you wish to purchase recommended texts, rather than borrow from the University Library, the average price is £50-£60. You may be studying up to 6 units a year, each with a standard recommended text.

General costs:
We recommend that you budget £75 a year for costs of photocopying, memory sticks, DVDs and CDs, printing charges, binding and specialist printing.

Final year project:
If your final year includes a major project, there could be cost for transport or accommodation related to your research activities. The amount will depend on the project you choose to develop.

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Careers & Opportunities

Career prospects

Career prospects
Where next?

As well as developing your skills in your current workplace, the FdA Early Years and Education is good preparation for the BA (Hons) Education Studies, a part-time top-up which offers the opportunity to gain an honours degree in education and training. The skills and knowledge gained in this course may also prepare the way for entry into teacher training through PGCE or SCITT programmes, or to Early Years Initial Teacher Training.

Work experience

Work experience
Employment boosting opportunities

Professional development runs throughout the three years of the degree, giving you the opportunity to link your study and work.

Career planning

Career planning

To make sure you take the right steps on your career path, we’re here to give you help, support and advice throughout your study. Even after you’ve graduated, we continue to give you support for up to five years.

Employers tell us that they want graduates to be able to demonstrate certain skills when they come out of university. Our courses take account of this. We make sure we prepare you for employment through work-related learning, projects, placements and working in simulated environments that are designed to prepare you for the working world.

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Apply now or visit us

Online application form

Apply direct using our online form

Your application will be received by the University Admissions Centre for consideration.

Open Days for courses starting in 2019

Come to an Open Day and explore our course facilities, tour the campus and have a look around our halls of residence.

Book your Open Day

International Students

Staff from our international Office regularly attend overseas exhibitions. To find out more about these and our visits to your region see our International Office exhibitions page.

Fees and Funding

Find out more about fees and funding available to you at Portsmouth.

Admissions terms and conditions

When you accept an offer to study at the University of Portsmouth, you also agree to our terms and conditions as well as the University’s policies, rules and regulations. You should read and consider these before you apply.

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