Six pre-school children sat on the floor of a classroom looking at their teacher.

FDA Professional Practice Early Years

  • Study Mode: Full Time
  • Location: High Wycombe
  • Duration: Two Years
  • Start Date: September 2024

Our foundation degree is a great way to take your skills to the next level. This course is designed for Early Years professionals who are already qualified at Level 3 but really want to take their knowledge further. We'll help you become an expert on the growth, development and learning of young children. You can learn and explore the historical, cultural and legal frameworks that influence early years care, and become a great source of information and expertise!

This course is delivered as a Full Time course, with teaching taking place on our High Wycombe campus one day a week. This course is designed to fit around your employment within a school or early years setting where you will gain invaluable experience.

A thumbs up icon with 3 stars below it.
Foundation Degree (Arts) Early Years Practice 97% student satisfaction*
*Measured by % of positivity average of Q1-24 (NSS 2023)
An award icon with a star in the middle.
No. 1 in England for Student Satisfaction*
*Measured by % of positivity across all questions within the larger providers only: taught or registered population (NSS 2023)
A trophy icon with a star in the middle of it.
No. 1 Students' Union in the UK*
*As ranked among taught students at non-specialist HEIs (NSS 2023)
Pound symbol inside of a house icon
Top for our response to the cost-of-living-crisis*
*Whatuni Student Choice Awards 2023
A star sitting on top of a laptop in an icon drawing.
5th for learning opportunities*
*NSS 2023
A handshake icon.
Top 10 for student support*
*Whatuni Student Choice Awards 2023

Why study this subject?

Meeting the learning and developmental needs of a child in the early years is crucial to their wellbeing, mental health and academic ability. As an early year’s professional, it’s important that you’re the best you can be and you’re keeping up with current research.

Whether you’re working in a school, as a therapist, support worker or interested in research, taking up further education is going to help you succeed and reach the next level of expertise. Gaining the opportunity to go on placements, work, and apply the theory behind early years to a practical setting is an invaluable experience.

You will already be working in the early year’s profession, so you might want to take this course to gain qualifications as a means of increasing employment opportunities, improving your job performance, or building upon your passions.

Why study at Buckinghamshire New University?

Increasing your academic knowledge is one of the best ways you can give children a head-start in life, and we've designed our course to support people working in the public, independent and voluntary sectors. At BNU we keep in contact with the practice environment and work with employers to make sure we build a highly skilled and competent workforce, ready for the future.

As well as giving you the skills and knowledge you need to succeed, we'll work together to help you develop important attributes you need to be confident working in Early Years. By the time you finish the course you'll be able to work with increased ability in multi-agency environments and as part of an effective team.

Not only will you learn from experienced professionals in early years, your course is focused on providing you the opportunity to apply theory to practice and use what you gain from study directly in your workplace. We believe the ability to see what you learn working for you in real life is an important part of studying at university.

What facilities can I use?

Our library is packed with all the information you need for your assessments and there’s plenty of room to knuckle down for some quiet study.

Whilst studying with us you will also use our Apps anywhere web service, which provides access to many of the software applications you use for learning and studying. Apps Anywhere can be used from your own device or from a University owned PC or laptop, from any location.

What will I study?

This course is a work-based course to be completed while in employment, working directly in the early years sector. On successful completion of the foundation degree progression to a full degree is available through the one-year top up programme Bachelor of Arts (Honours) Professional Practice (Early Years). 

You will be encouraged to develop autonomy and personal responsibility within your professional role and within your own personal development. We cover a range of topics that will benefit your future career and throughout your learning we'll focus on supporting your professional and personal goals.

Exploring the latest research and legislative frameworks is a key part of the course, so you can be the best practitioner you can be. You can gain an in-depth knowledge and understanding of child development, children’s learning and wellbeing within early year’s settings. 

We also foster inclusive pedagogical approaches to working with children and families, recognising the different needs of children in our diverse society and promoting equality and social justice. You’ll engage in diverse theoretical perspectives to reach an informed position and use this to influence practice and raise standards within the childcare sector.  

BNU encourages a learning journey and the development of professional identity to enhance employability opportunities within the childcare, education sector and wider community. We will also facilitate the development of personal and transferable skills, including problem solving, communication, digital technologies, team working, safeguarding, and recognition of the value of independent and lifelong learning. 

How will I be taught and assessed?

The programme aims to use a variety of teaching methods to reflect general principles and different preferred learning styles for each of our students. We offer a stimulating and effective course that responds to the needs of a diverse student cohort and these methods will focus on application to practice and a critical approach to working with children and young people.

  • audit of workplace environment with action plan 
  • practice observation with analysis 
  • powerpoint presentations with explanatory rationale or reflective commentary  
  • projects and exhibitions 
  • case studies 
  • community audit and information document 
  • micro-teaching sessions
  • creation of training materials
Useful Documents

FDA Early Years Practice Programme Specification

What are the course entry requirements?

Students applying must be able to demonstrate that they are in work (paid or unpaid) related to the course for at least 2.5 days a week as this work is an extension of their study.

Typically you already need to have one of the following qualifications:

  • NVQ Level 3 Qualification in Children's Care Learning and Development
  • Diploma for the Children and Young People's Workforce
  • CACHE Diploma in Childcare and Education
  • Pre-school Practice and Child Minding Practice
  • BTEC National Diploma Early Years
  • Current Early Years educator

If you are successful at application, we will invite you to an interview to discuss your suitability for this course and why you want to study it, as well as any experience you might have.


This provides a guide of the modules that make up your course. You can find more information about how your course is structured on our Academic Advice section.

What are the tuition fees

  • Home, Academic Year 2024 - 2025: £5,200 per year

Additional course costs and financial support

Most courses will involve some additional costs that are not covered by your fees.
You could benefit from financial support through a bursary or scholarship during your time as a student. For more details visit our financial support, bursaries and scholarships section.

Questions about fees?

If you have any questions about the fees above, contact our Enquiries team by calling 0330 123 2023 or emailing

What are my career prospects?

After you've finished this course you could progress on to study our BA (Hons) Professional Practice and become an undergraduate. You could choose to pursue greater employment opportunities in the early years sector, attempt to increase your responsibilities in a school or therapy setting and use your new skills to build greater success in your current role.

You could also choose to complete one of our Postgraduate Certificates in either Education or School Direct Teaching programme. Choosing to continue your education will develop your skills further and broaden your knowledge and increase your potential.

A headshot of Janet Roberts wearing a scarf around her neck whilst stood outside and facing directly into the camera
Janet Roberts
  • Lecturer
Read full profile
Head and shoulders shot of a smiling Carol Rogers wearing glasses stood against a grey wall
Dr Carol Rogers
  • Senior Lecturer
Read full profile