module specification

SE5F02 - Approaches to Pedagogy and Curriculum in the Early Years (2024/25)

Module specification Module approved to run in 2024/25, but may be subject to modification
Module title Approaches to Pedagogy and Curriculum in the Early Years
Module level Intermediate (05)
Credit rating for module 30
School School of Social Sciences and Professions
Total study hours 300
105 hours Placement / study abroad
135 hours Guided independent study
60 hours Scheduled learning & teaching activities
Assessment components
Type Weighting Qualifying mark Description
Coursework 40%   An individual poster presentation
Coursework 60%   A Patchwork text:
Running in 2024/25

(Please note that module timeslots are subject to change)
No instances running in the year

Module summary

This module will examine approaches to the early childhood curriculum in England and a selection of other countries and how these curricula relate to range of theories of learning and pedagogical approaches. The development of and relationship between pedagogy and curriculum will be located within social and political contexts and the practical implementation of curriculum approaches will be explored.

Prior learning requirements

It is expected that students will be in a work placement providing for children in the birth to six age range for a minimum of 2 hours each week throughout the module, normally in a group setting

Module aims

This core module aims to enable students to:

  • Develop their knowledge and understanding of a range of theories of how babies and young children learn.
  • Study a range of pedagogical approaches and curriculum models for the 0-6 age range, from the UK and from selected other countries.
  • Locate theories of learning and curriculum approaches within historical, socio-cultural and political contexts and consider curriculum as a social construction
  • Develop skills in implementing a broad and balanced, child-centred curriculum


In this module, students will study significant learning theories underpinning early childhood curricula including behaviourist theories, Piagetian and post-Piagetian theory and recent work in the field of neuroscience. These theories will be related to a historically and culturally diverse range of curriculum models, such as Steiner, Montessori, Te Whariki and High Scope as well as the Early Years Foundation Stage. The philosophical underpinning of different pedagogical approaches will be considered and students will examine the interface between theories of learning, pedagogy and curriculum in early childhood and the implications of these for their practice. Students will examine and discuss holistic and child-centred approaches to implementing a broad and balanced curriculum, indoors, outdoors and beyond the early childhood setting.

Learning and teaching

students theoretical input will be through lectures and seminars and will benefit from a blended learning approach through the use of VLE for supplementary materials, links to E-books, on-line discussions and self-assessment exercises. Students will carry out an analysis of workplace observations and curriculum documentation. Video and slide material will also be used to familiarise students with a range of curriculum models.

Reflection and discussion are key to teaching for all students; this will be in the context of tutor-led sessions.  Student’s experiential learning promotes their growing ability to act as a reflective practitioner.

Teaching and learning strategies and methods also focus on workplace skills and professionalism. Students will undertake and reflect on observations in the workplace and weekly tasks and reflective exercises support increased knowledge and understanding. Observations, action research, work-related tasks and the use of development planning tools support the growth of practitioners’ professional competence. 

The development of transferable skills in presenting evidence, arguments and points of view to a range of audiences, through a range of media, including the use of ICT also supports individual learning.

Learning outcomes

On successful completion of this module students will be able to:

  1. Critically analyse aspects of early childhood curricula in relation to theories of learning and pedagogy and relate this to practice in their settings
  2. Describe, analyse and constructively critique a range of perspectives on early childhood education in this and some other countries
  3. Identify the relationship between the history of early childhood provision in the UK and its present form
  4. Articulate the practitioner’s role in planning and implementing a broad and balanced, child-centred curriculum indoors, outdoors and beyond the early childhood setting


Indicative / core reading recommended for this module:
1. Hall, K., Murphy, P., and Soler, J. (2008). Pedagogy and practice: Culture and identities. London: SAGE.
Leach, J., Moon, B. (2008) The Power of Pedagogy. London: Sage
2. Dahlberg, G., Moss, P. and Pence (2007) Beyond Quality in Early Childhood Education and Care. London: Routledge Falmer E book
3. Pound L. (2011) Influencing Early Childhood Education: Key themes, philosophers and theories. Maidenhead: Open University Press
4.Miller, L. and Pound, L. (2011) Theories and Approaches to Learning in the Early Years. London: Sage
5. Siraj-Blatchford, I. and Sylva, K. ‘Researching pedagogy in English Pre Schools’. British Educational Research Journal. Vol. 30, No.5, October 2004

Other Reading
Anning, A. and Cullen Fleer, M. (Eds) (2004) Early Childhood Education. London: Sage Publication  E book
MacNaughton, G. (2003) Shaping Early Childhood: learners, curriculum and contexts. Maidenhead: Open University Press E book
Moss,P. and Penn,H. (1996) Transforming Nursery Education. London: Paul Chapman Publishing
Piaget, J. and Inhelder, B. (1969) The Psychology of the Child. London: Routledge Kegan Paul
Rogoff,B. (1990) Apprenticeship in Thinking: cognitive development in social contexts. Oxford University Press
Tobin,J.J, Wu, D.Y.H. and Davidson, D.H (1989) Pre-school in Three Cultures – Japan, China and the United States. New York: Yale University
Cullen, J (1993) Preschool children’s use and perceptions of outdoor play areas. Early Child Development and Care 89 (93): 45-56
Websites: (Te Whariki curriculum framework)  “Starting Strong Curricula and Pedagogies in Early Childhood Education and Care. Five Curriculum outlines. OECD use search facility to find “Lets talk about pedagogy towards a shared understanding for early years education in Scotland.”