Marisa Burke

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Placements, personalised modules and passionate lecturers - see why Marisa loved her life-changing course.

3 mins

Words cannot express how happy I am that I decided to pursue my BA (Hons) Early Childhood Studies degree at the University of Portsmouth. 

What initially drew me to this course was the opportunity for practical experience with children. I was eager to build my work experience throughout my studies so that I could increase my confidence and refine my skills for success in the world of work.

I can honestly say that completing the optional placement year between my second and third year was one of the best decisions I have made; cementing my drive to pursue a career in teaching.

Marisa Burke, BA (Hons) Early Childhood Studies

Even without undertaking the placement year, the BA (Hons) Early Childhood Studies course offers various opportunities for the application of knowledge to practice, such as in the core module Professional Practice in Early Childhood Education and Care and the optional Graduate Practitioner Competencies route. The opportunity to observe, work alongside and develop professional relations with practitioners was incredibly rewarding and fulfilling and even enhanced my understanding of the course content.  

Customised learning

My experience throughout this course was nothing short of incredible. After a thoroughly enjoyable first year, I was excited to customise my learning by selecting which modules I wanted to study in my second and third year. This allowed me to increase my knowledge and skills in areas of practice that I was less confident in, for example, learning about challenging behaviour in children in Behaviour Matters and mental health issues in Issues Relating to Children and Young People’s Mental Health. 

I had a fantastic learning experience throughout my studies and the lecturers and tutors definitely made my experience as memorable as it was.

From my first year through to my final year, I could tell that all lecturers were genuinely passionate about their field of work, which made the classes even more enjoyable and engaging.

Marisa Burke, BA (Hons) Early Childhood Studies

Due to their enthusiasm and clear preparation, the lectures and seminars were so well-delivered and I always looked forward to attending. The quality of the course content was excellent, providing insight into historical and salient child development theories and perspectives, as well as emerging and current issues in early childhood education. I especially loved that there were consistent links to practice and employability so that I could easily see how my studies would be valuable in a real-world context. 

Innovation in teaching and learning

One of the things that really shone through was the emphasis on the student's voice. To me, delivery of the course content never felt like a top-down approach, but more of a partnership between the lecturers and students. The seminars often included interactive activities and challenging questions to stimulate debate and discussion. We were always encouraged to contribute ideas, ask questions, challenge the lecturers’ and other students’ perspectives and share our diverse childhood experiences and experiences in practice. This made the seminars one of my favourite parts of the course. Classes were not only fun, but intellectually stimulating; creating valuable opportunities to build critical thinking skills and develop ideas for coursework and professional practice. Additionally, as we were constantly assured that no question was a “stupid question”, I felt confident about speaking up in class, which was an entirely new experience for me!

In relation to academic support, feedback on assignments was always timely, thorough and insightful. I was always clearly informed of what I did well, how I could improve my assignments and where I could receive further support should I require it. This was incredibly useful for ensuring that I challenged myself to reach the next grade boundary and reassured me that I would never be alone or utterly lost throughout my academic journey. Furthermore, I appreciated the time that the lecturers took to compile relevant articles, books and other academic resources on an extensive reading list on Moodle. This assisted me in researching my essay topics and furthering my knowledge and understanding of topics that intrigued me. 

Advice for others

I would DEFINITELY recommend the BA (Hons) Early Childhood Studies course at the University of Portsmouth to anyone considering a career working with children. It truly was a rewarding and life-changing experience, offering various opportunities for personal and professional development. 

Thank you to every member of the Early Childhood Studies team who has shaped me into the confident public speaker, critical thinker and lover of research and academic writing that I am today. Working with you has been an absolute pleasure and I am so grateful for your valuable guidance and support over the past four years.

Marisa Burke, BA (Hons) Early Childhood Studies

Having recently graduated, I am sad that my time at the university has come to an end. However, I am so excited to put my knowledge and professional skills to the test in the real world and to eventually pursue further study. I am leaving with new-found confidence in my abilities to cater to the unique needs of young children and to face challenges that may come my way!