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Early learning

Nursery worker with child in playgroundFor staff and volunteers working with young children, or those interested in embarking on related careers, we offer a range of opportunities. 

Our courses and qualifications are developed to challenge and disrupt everyday narratives and assumptions around children’s capabilities and their experiences.

This encourages practitioners and service providers to create a space for critical reflection about values, beliefs and practical realities in early childhood including social justice, advocacy and children’s rights.

Undergraduate qualifications

We offer two undergraduate qualification routes which are directly relevant to those working or aspiring to work with young children: a BA (Honours) Early Childhood and a BA (Honours) Childhood and Youth Studies. Each of the degree webpages provides information about options to study:

  • a particular module by itself, for interest or as a ‘taster’ of OU study
  • for a Certificate in Higher Education (2 modules)
  • for a Diploma in Higher Education (4 modules)
  • for a Degree (6 modules)

The BA (Honours) Early Childhood will help you investigate early childhood from national and international perspectives, with a focus on the central importance of children’s voices and the participatory nature of young children’s experiences. You’ll also gain an understanding of early childhood in diverse social, cultural and multi-disciplinary contexts.

The BA (Honours) Childhood and Youth Studies spans from birth to youth, asking big questions about what makes young people tick, what shapes and influences children’s development, and how can the adults who work with children support them more effectively.

Postgraduate courses 

If you have completed an undergraduate degree already, you may be interested in our Masters Degree in Childhood and Youth or Masters Degree in Education. Both of these qualifications offer you the chance to study: 

  • a particular module by itself, for interest or as a ‘taster’ of OU Postgraduate study
  • for a Postgraduate Certificate in Higher Education  
  • for a Postgraduate Diploma in Higher Education  
  • for a Masters Degree  

Alternatively, our Open Masters qualification allows you to create a personalised course of study across a range of academic disciplines, aligning with your employment needs and professional aspirations. 

The module Advance your independent learning may be of particular interest. It provides a structure and support to conduct your own professional enquiry into an area you are interested in.  


In partnership with Public Health England, NHS England and Activematters, we have developed the course Supporting Physical Development in Early Childhood which is available on FutureLearn. 

We also offer Inclusive practice in education: supporting special educational needs as a microcredential to equip practitioners with the skills to enhance confidence and creativity in inclusive education. 

Free learning resources 

Our OpenLearn hub for educators offers a wide range of free courses and resources. Use the filters to refine the content by topic area, type of resource or publication date. Many of our free materials have relevance across educational phases.