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The University of Southampton

EDUC2038 Early Years Education: Critical Observations

Module Overview

The module will incorporate critical observation and analysis of diverse aspects of Early Years education. You will develop your knowledge and understanding of the values and theories that underpin current practice in Early Years settings. You can expect to spend some of the time during this module observing practice in an Early Years setting. An enhanced Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check is required for this module and must be in place before the start of the second week. PLEASE NOTE: DBS can take up to ten weeks to obtain; failure to meet this requirement will result in you having to choose an alternative module. It is your responsibility to obtain the DBS clearance at your own cost. Please contact the Education Student Office at: for an application form.

Aims and Objectives

Module Aims

- Develop your knowledge and understanding of the values and theories of Early Years education; - Engage you in critical observation of theory and practice of Early Years education; - Enable you to experience and observe an Early Years setting.

Learning Outcomes

Learning Outcomes

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of the underlying values, principles and practices relevant to Early Years education.
  • Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of societal and organisational structures and purposes of Early Years education, and the possible implications for learning and the learning process.
  • Systematically analyse educational concepts, theories and issues of policy in an Early Years context.
  • Select and apply a range of relevant theoretical and research based evidence (primary and secondary sources) to extend your knowledge and understanding.
  • Organise and articulate opinions and arguments in speech and writing using relevant specialist vocabulary.


The module will incorporate critical observation and analysis of diverse aspects of Early Years education, locating issues in their social, cultural, historical and political contexts, with particular attention to problematizing familiar practice and exploring underlying values and associated tensions. Topics normally covered in this module will include: - The day-to-day life of an Early Years educational setting - Current state of play in terms of the Early Years curriculum - Historical overview of the development of Early Years curricula - Cross-cultural approaches to Early Years education - Significant recent legislation and its impact - Shifting values underlying Early Years education - Approaches to inclusion - Classroom patterns of interaction - Social contexts for learning - The positioning of children as pupils and learners - Being an Early Years practitioner: role and identity - The role of assessment in Early Years school learning - Critical reflection on own educational history - Accountability structures in Early Years education

Special Features

You are expected to go into an Early Years setting of your choice to gain experiences and gather data through critical observations, which will later to linked to your assessments.

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

This module is taught through a mix of lectures and seminars along with directed reading and suggested additional research. Typically, there will be an interactive lecture and seminar each week with the exception of the weeks during your visits to an Early Years setting. You will be expected to carry out critical observations in an Early Years setting (a minimum of 8 hours).

Independent Study118
Total study time150

Resources & Reading list

The Tickell review.

International journal of Early Years Education. 

The Rose Review on the teaching of early reading.

Teaching and Learning in the Early Years. 

Outdoor Learning in the Early Years. 

Moyles, J. (2010). The excellence of play. 

Pound, L. (2011). Influencing early childhood education. 

Tassoni, P. and Hucker, K. (2000). Planning play and the Early Years. 

Pound, L. (2011). Theories and approaches to learning in the Early Years. 

Early Child Development and Care. 

Moyles, J., Georgeson, J. and Payler, J.. Early Years foundations meeting the challenge. 

Early Years: An international Journal of Research and Development. 

Sylva, K. (2010). Early childhood matters. 

Foundation years website.

Whitebread, D. and Coltman, P. (2008). Teaching adn learning in the Early Years. 

Contemporary Issues in the Early Years. 

Early Years Foundation Stage curriculum.

Dowling, M. (2010). Young children's personal, social and emotional development. 

Riley, J. (2007). Learning in the Early Years 3 - 7. 

Education 3 - 13. 



Individual Presentation


MethodPercentage contribution
Essay  (2500 words) 80%
Presentation 20%


MethodPercentage contribution
Coursework assignment(s) 100%

Repeat Information

Repeat type: Internal & External


Costs associated with this module

Students are responsible for meeting the cost of essential textbooks, and of producing such essays, assignments, laboratory reports and dissertations as are required to fulfil the academic requirements for each programme of study.

In addition to this, students registered for this module typically also have to pay for:


You will be responsible for any travel costs. You need a Disclosure and Baring Service (DBS) check. You will be responsible for the associated costs of a DBS. For up to date information about DBS costs see: Please contact the Education Student Office ( as soon as possible for an application form and further details.

Please also ensure you read the section on additional costs in the University’s Fees, Charges and Expenses Regulations in the University Calendar available at

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