module specification

SE7000 - Contemporary Issues in Early Childhood (2023/24)

Module specification Module approved to run in 2023/24
Module title Contemporary Issues in Early Childhood
Module level Masters (07)
Credit rating for module 30
School School of Social Sciences and Professions
Total study hours 300
225 hours Guided independent study
75 hours Scheduled learning & teaching activities
Assessment components
Type Weighting Qualifying mark Description
Coursework 20%   Discussion board engagement
Coursework 80%   Essay
Running in 2023/24

(Please note that module timeslots are subject to change)
Period Campus Day Time Module Leader
Spring semester LMET Distance Learning Not applicable -

Module summary

This module aims to examine contemporary issues in early childhood using a range of theoretical lenses and will consider the implications these issues have for early years policy and practice. It will consider how global, economic, cultural and political contexts contribute to issues becoming ‘concerns’.  A range of perspectives on early childhood such as feminism, post-modernism, human capital, as well as from neuroscience, psychology and psychoanalytical thinking will be explored to encourage students to critically engage in  contemporary issues which directly impact on their work within the early childhood workforce.

Module aims

This module aims to enable students to:

  • Develop an in-depth knowledge of a range of theoretical lenses through which current issues/concerns can be understood
  • Critically examine contemporary issues in relation to early childhood
  • Consider the global, cultural, economic and political context of early childhood issues
  • Explore contemporary issues (local and national) which directly impact on their work


This module will explore a range of theoretical perspectives on early childhood such as feminism, post-modernism, human capital, neuroscience, psychology and psychoanalysis.  These theoretical lenses will be used to examine a range of contemporary issues in early childhood.  Issues which may be explored include*:

• The importance of the first three years
• Professionalisation of the early years workforce
• School readiness
• Digital childhoods
• ‘Quality’ and how is it measured

*To ensure this module remains current the actual contemporary issues explored are likely to change year-on-year but the theoretical underpinnings will remain constant.

Learning and teaching

Students will receive theoretical input through bespoke on-line module materials with access to an allocated tutor who is available to support them either face-to-face, by e-mail or by telephone. All students will benefit from a blended learning approach through the use of WebLearn for supplementary materials, links to E-books, on-line discussions and self-assessment exercises such as reflective tasks.

Reflection and discussion are key to teaching – reflection will be promoted by the discussion-board exercises incorporated into the web-based materials. 

Teaching and learning strategies and methods will link module content to workplace skills and professionalism in the early years.

Learning outcomes

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

  1. outline and explain in depth the features of contemporary childhoods in a local, national and global context and issues of current interest and/or concern
  2. analyse how the global, economic, cultural and political contexts impact on perceptions of ‘concerns’ in early childhood
  3. critically examine contemporary issues in early childhood through a range of theoretical lenses
  4. critically consider how the child is constructed in relation to contemporary issues

Assessment strategy

Students will demonstrate that they have met the learning outcomes through the submission of:
1. Discussion board engagement (facilitated by tutor) in which students critically comment on particular contemporary issues/concerns (equivalent to 2000 words)
2. An essay drawing on at least two theoretical lenses through which to examine a contemporary issue (of their choice) in early childhood (4000 – 5000 words)


Albon, D. (2010). ‘Post-Modern and Post-Structuralist Perspectives on Early Childhood Education’. In L. Miller and L. Pound (Eds), Theories and Approaches to Learning in the Early Years (pp. 38-52). London: Sage.

Cannella, G.S. and Viruru, R. (2004). Childhood and Postcolonialism. London: Routledge/Falmer.

Dahlberg, G. and Moss, P. (2005). Ethics and politics in early childhood education. London: RoutledgeFalmer.

Lauder, H., P. Brown, J. Dillabough, and A.H. Halsey (Eds), Education, Globalisation and Social Change Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Lingard, B. (2009). ‘Testing Times: The Need for New Intelligent Accountabilities for Schooling’. QTU Professional Magazine, November, pp. 13-19 (

Osgood, J. (2012). Narratives From The Nursery: Negotiating Professional Identities in Early Childhood. London: Routledge.

Penn, H. (2010). ‘Shaping the Future: How Human Capital Arguments about Investment in Early Childhood Services are Being (Mis)used in Poor Countries’. In N. Yelland (Ed), Contemporary Perspectives on Early Childhood Education (pp. 49-65). Maidenhead: OUP.

Robinson, K. and Davies, C. (2010). 'Hatching Babies and Stork Deliveries: risk and regulation in the construction of children's sexual knowledge'. Contemporary Issues in Early Childhood, 11 (3), 249.

Shallwani, S. (2010). ‘Racism and Imperialism in Child Development Discourse: Deconstructing ‘Developmentally Appropriate Practice’. In G.S. Cannella, L. Diaz Soto (Eds), Childhoods: A Handbook (pp. 231-244). New York: Peter Lang.

Tobin, J. and Kurban, F. (2009). ''They Don't Like Us': reflections of Turkish children in a German preschool'. Contemporary Issues in Early Childhood, 10 (1), 24-34.