What is the course about?
This innovative new course provides a major professional development opportunity for a wide range of professionals working with young children, including: nursery and playgroup leaders; teachers; early years specialists; social workers; and nurses and health visitors. The course is ideally suited to experienced professionals who are already in or wishing to take up senior practice and/or leadership positions.
The course provides up-to-date coverage of the latest theories and debates regarding early years policy and practice and considers the implications of these for the role that early childhood services can play in promoting social inclusion and overcoming social divisions.
With an emphasis on applying theory to practice, participants will acquire the knowledge and skills necessary to develop more socially inclusive policies and practices in relation to their own work with young children.
How is the course organized?
The MSc course can be taken either on a full-time basis (over one year) or part-time. For those taking the course part-time, it is usually completed over a three-year period with participants completing four taught modules during the first two years and then a 12,000-word research-based dissertation during their third year.
It is possible however for participants who have successfully completed the first year of the course to exit with a Postgraduate Certificate and those who have successfully completed the first two years with a Postgraduate Diploma in Social Inclusion and the Early Years.
· Understanding Inclusion
· Critical Perspectives in the Early Years
· Methods and Methodologies in Educational Research
· Research-Based Dissertation
What is covered in the course?
The course has been carefully designed so that participants begin with a thorough grounding in the more general theories and debates regarding the concept of social inclusion before then progressively acquiring the knowledge and skills necessary to apply these to the early years more specifically and then their own practice.
This first module provides participants with a thorough overview of key theories, debates and issues associated with the notion of social inclusion. It purposely takes a broad perspective with the aim of developing participants’ understanding of the issue of inclusion and how it can be applied to a variety of educational contexts and settings. Within this broader coverage, participants will be introduced to some of the key issues associated with the application of the concept of inclusion to early childhood services. Through their assessed work, participants will further be required to begin applying the broader theories and debates concerning inclusion to their own settings.
Critical Perspectives in the Early Years
This second module provides participants with the opportunity to consider, in some depth, the applicability of the more general theories and debates surrounding the notion of social inclusion to the field of early childhood services. The module begins by considering classical and contemporary theories of child development and their implications for developing inclusive approaches to early years care and education. With this as a basis, participants are then encouraged to critically reflect upon some of the most influential early years paradigms and programmes (such as the Reggio Emilia approach, the Montessori method, Steiner-Waldorf pedagogy and the High/Scope preschool curriculum) and also some of the main governmental programmes (including Head Start and No Child Left Behind in the US and Sure Start and Every Child Matters in the UK) in relation to the promotion of social inclusion.
Methods and Methodologies in Educational Research
This module provides participants with a solid grounding in research methods and methodologies. Alongside covering some of the key philosophical debates underpinning educational research, the module places a particular emphasis on developing participants’ key skills in relation to the design of research projects and the use of a range of qualitative and quantitative research methods. Full training is also provided in relation to how to use software packages for analyzing quantitative data (SPSS) and qualitative data (MAXqda2). Within this, attention is given to the particular issues associated with early years research both in terms of a consideration of the wider issues associated with the increasing emphasis on evidence-based practice, child outcomes and also children’s rights as well as the practical skills required in relation to conducting research with young children.
This final taught module provides participants with the opportunity to study a specialist area in more detail. There are currently two modules available that are delivered via the format used for the other modules in this course (and as explained in the next section):
· Developing Strategies to Challenge Exclusive Practice
· Dealing with Diversity
However, participants are permitted to take any second semester module from the suite of masters level modules currently available through the various postgraduate taught programmes offered in the School of Education. A full list of the current modules available can be viewed by downloading the 2007/08 Prospectus. However, it should be noted that most of these modules are delivered via the traditional format of 10 weeks of evening classes.
The dissertation provides participants with the opportunity to apply some of the key theories and debates covered during the taught modules either to a particular element of their own practice or to a specific issue associated with early years theory and practice. In most cases, the dissertation will be research-based and will involve participants designing and undertaking their own piece of research.
How is the course delivered?
The delivery of the course has been designed specifically to fit in with the work and family demands of busy professionals. Participants are only required to attend the University for two intensive taught periods per year – one in each semester – that run over a Thursday, Friday and Saturday morning. Alongside these, participants are provided with a comprehensive system of online support both from their tutors directly and from fellow participants via structured discussion forums.
Each taught module is typically organized as follows:
Weeks 1 to 6: participants are required to follow selected reading materials and to contribute regularly (at least weekly) to an online structured discussion forum.
Week 7: participants are required to attend an intensive taught element for the module, held at Queen’s. This comprises a mixture of formal lectures and interactive seminars.
Weeks 8 to 12: participants are required to follow selected readings and to continue to contribute regularly to the online discussion forum.
Week 15: main assignment due for submission.
During the third year, participants will be provided with one-to-one supervision by an academic within the School of Education. While face-to-face supervision meetings are preferable, for those who find it difficult to attend Queen’s it is possible to provide much of the supervision via telephone and emails. Alongside direct supervision, participants will also be expected to contribute to a structured online discussion forum designed to provide general support to those working on dissertations.
How is the course assessed?
Each taught module will normally be assessed via:
Three short (500 word) pieces of written work to be submitted online as part of a structured discussion forum (the first two during Weeks 1 to 6 and the third during Weeks 8 to 12).
an essay of 3,500 words (due for submission during Week 15).
In most cases the assessed work will require participants to apply the theories and concepts covered in the module to their own practice.
The final year is assessed on the basis of a 12,000 word, research-based dissertation.
Are there any scholarships available?
There is currently one scholarship available for applicants from developing Commonwealth countries to study the course full-time. The DFID Shared Scholarship Scheme (DFIDSSS) aims to assist students of excellent academic caliber from developing Commonwealth countries who would benefit from higher education in the United Kingdom, to the developmental advantage of their home countries, but who, for financial reasons, are unable to study in Britain and are outside the scope of other British Government Support Schemes.
DFIDSSS awards include air fares to and from Belfast, tuition fees and a maintenance allowance. Queen's University will assist award-holders in finding accommodation, but students are responsible for covering this out of their maintenance allowance.