BA (Hons.) in Early Childhood Education

Course Description

Early Childhood Education generally refers to the care and education of children in Early Years settings and generally means education before the start of primary school attendance which is 0-6 years in Ireland. These services include pre-schools, Naíonraí, specific intervention centres such as community support preschools, Barnardo childcare services, Focus Ireland support services, Crèches, Child minding and After-School groups.

The early years are now well recognised by legislators, policy makers, educationalists and researchers as a critical period in children’s learning and development. Responding to the needs and rights of children and families receiving services in this sector, the Early Childhood Education professional needs to understand many facets of the young child’s learning and development and the role of early education and care in promoting the best outcomes for children.

What kind of programme is the BA (Hons.) in Early Childhood Education?

The programme is a three year, full-time programme leading to a BA (Hons.) in Early Childhood Education. It is a programme of lectures, supervised practice placements, tutorials and a wide range of assignments.

In each of the three years three main components are offered

- a theory component 
- a professional skills component 
- a supervised practice component

The 'Student Handbook' details all module content, assessments, learning outcomes and indicative reading lists [available here]


DIT Grangegorman, Dublin 7.

Supervised placements are located within the greater Dublin area.

What are the origins of the programme?

DIT is the longest established provider of Early Childhood Education in Ireland. Our first programme commenced in 1977, when we offered a one year certificate programme to pre-school workers in the Eastern Health Board. The certificate programme was extended to two years in 1985 followed by the introduction of a two year part-time Diploma programme in 1993. The BA in ECCE was introduced in September 1999. In September 2005, First Year intake on a new 3-year BA (Hons.) took place.

What are the aims of the BA in ECE?

The programme will provide students with a professional qualification in Early Childhood Education which will enable them to work in a variety of early years settings including pre-schools, crèches, day nurseries, special needs services, community services and family centres in the state, private, voluntary and community sectors.

The aim of the programme is to facilitate students' personal, social and professional development with a view to producing a highly competent professional practitioner committed to providing high quality services to children and families.

Timetable and hours

The programme is delivered over two semesters each year. In each year of the programme students take part in 15-18 hours of classroom tuition and 6-12 hours of supervised practice (placement) each week.

Is placement arranged?

All placements are arranged by Programme Tutors to ensure students get opportunities of supervised practice in a wide variety of high quality early years settings.

What facilities are there?

A personal tutorial system offering professional and academic support to each student.

A well stocked library offering an excellent range of books, journals and videos in the area of early education.

A computer laboratory.

Canteen facilities.

Gym and sports facilities.

What are the entry requirements?

The Entry Requirements are six Leaving Certificate subjects, including minimum grades of 2 H5s, O6/H7 in Maths and O6/H7 in English or Irish.  The CAO entry points in September 2017 were 380 points.

FETAC entry: Four places in Year 1 shall be reserved for FETAC Level 5 graduates who have obtained a minimum of five distinctions in Childcare, Community Care or related area. More detail for Fetac level 5 applicants can be found [Here]. Please note that Applicants must have obtained a full FETAC award. A Component Certificate is not sufficient.

NVQ Level 3 graduates (for example, CACHE Diploma) are eligible to appply as non-standard entrants to Year 1.

Advanced entry (to Years 2 and 3)

A small number of vacancies may arise each year for advanced entry to Year 2 or Year 3 [more details]

Garda vetting & First Aid

Supervised placement is an integral part of the programme and Garda clearance will be required from all applicants. Applicants must fully and honestly complete the Garda vetting form. Failure to disclose a criminal conviction automatically renders what may appear to be a very minor offence, unrelated to children or minors, to be a serious breach of DIT regulations. That is, it will be interpreted as an attempt to deceive the Institute.  The Department of Social Sciences policy on Garda vetting can be found on our Student Resources page.

From September 2013, First Year students shall be required to undertake certified First Aid training, which shall be arranged by the Institute.  An extra cost of €90 to cover a compulsory two day paediatric first aid course will be included in the course fee.

For students in receipt of a SUSI grant, please note that this covers only the Student Contribution Charge (formerly known as the Student Capitation or Registration Charge).  It does not cover the cost of First Aid Training.

How many places are available?

Forty places (two groups of twenty) are available at entry to Year 1.

Applications are welcome from mature (23 years +) and non-standard applicants.

How to apply?

All applicants to year 1 must apply via the CAO.

First Year Modules

Psychology and Child Development
Early Education 
Professional Practice in the Early Years
Child Health and Nutrition
Art In Early Education
Drama in Education
Supervised Practice Placement
Sociology and Social Policy
Research Methods in the Early Years
Skills Development

Second Year Modules

Child Development in Context
Mental Health During the Early Years
Inclusion in Early Years Practice
Language, Literact and Numeracy
Aistear and Early Years Curricula
Options: Art in Early Education or Drama In Education
Supervised Practice Placement
Outdoor Learning
Research Methods and Documenting Young Children’s Meanings

Year Three Modules

Perspectives on Early Childhood Education: Issues in Policy, Practice and Research
Working with Families and Communities
Digital Childhoods
Pedogogy and Curriculum
Introduction to Business and Management Skills in Early Years Services
Child Protection and Safeguarding in the Early Years
Sociology of Education and Inequality
Supervised Practice Placement
Research Methods
Research methods and Dissertation

  • At a glance
  • Level 8
  • Duration 3 years

  • Contact
  • Dr Kevin Lalor
  • kevin.lalor@dit.ie
  • 01-402 4163
  • Rathdown House, DIT Grangegorman, Dublin 7.
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There is a high demand for graduates of Early Childhood Education.

Former graduates have found employment in a wide variety of early years settings such as crèches, day nurseries, pre-schools, after-school services, special early years services, early start classrooms and family centres, project development and management positions in the Health Service Executive, County Childcare Committees, National Voluntary Organisations and Primary Education.

Graduates also have possibilities for progressing to postgraduate studies such as the Masters in Child,  Family and Community Studies in the Department of Social Sciences here in DIT. Other graduates choose to do an 18 month postgraduate diploma in order to qualify them to work as primary school teachers.

The BA (Hons.) in Early Childhood Education at DIT has long standing arrangements with a number of settings that we collaborate with for Practice Placements and many of our graduates have ended up working in these services. All placements are arranged by Programme Tutors to ensure students get opportunities of supervised practice in a variety of high quality early years settings.