module specification

SE4003 - Understanding Play (2022/23)

Module specification Module approved to run in 2022/23
Module title Understanding Play
Module level Certificate (04)
Credit rating for module 30
School School of Social Sciences and Professions
Total study hours 300
72 hours Scheduled learning & teaching activities
18 hours Assessment Preparation / Delivery
150 hours Guided independent study
60 hours Placement / study abroad
Assessment components
Type Weighting Qualifying mark Description
Coursework 40%   Illustrated talk
Coursework 60%   Essay
Running in 2022/23

(Please note that module timeslots are subject to change)
Period Campus Day Time Module Leader
Year LMET Distance Learning Not applicable -
Year (Spring and Summer) North Monday Morning
Year North Tuesday Morning
Year North Monday Afternoon

Module summary

This module introduces students to a range of historic and popular views on play and its relationship to learning.

This core module aims to enable students to:
 Reflect on theories of play and their cultural contexts for children from birth to six
 Analyse the work of key theorists in relation to historic and theoretical views on play
 Consider the different roles that adults (including parents and carers) undertake in supporting, fostering and enhancing children’s play and learning
 Explore ways of providing an environment, both indoors and outdoors, that supports and enhances children’s individual learning through play, giving due consideration to issues of gender, class, race and disability and family form

Prior learning requirements

Enhanced DBS
Students are expected to undertake 60 hours work placement providing for children in the birth to six age range as part of this module, normally in a group setting

Module aims



In this module students will study a range of historic and popular views on play and consider the work of key writers such as Piaget, Bruce, Vygotsky, and Goldschmied.  Different perspectives will be introduced including heuristic, free flow, and structured play, as well as consideration being given to learning dispositions.  Students will be encouraged to engage in the process of observation by not only observing, but by situating themselves in the observation as well as reflecting on these observations.  The module will support students in considering the relationship between play and learning as well as the importance of the role played by adults and the use of available environments and resources.  Throughout the module,lecturers will encourage students to consider play as a social practice (for example at home, in the community and in the Early Years’ setting), paying particular attention to issues of social justice. LO1,LO2,LO3,LO4

Balance of independent study and scheduled teaching activity

For taught course students theoretical input will be through lectures and seminars. Online students will receive the same theoretical input through bespoke on-line module materials with access to an allocated tutor who is available to support them online as well as by e-mail or by telephone.

All students will benefit from a blended learning approach through the use of Web Learn for supplementary materials, links to E-books, on-line discussions and self-assessment exercises such as quizzes and reflective tasks.

Reflection and discussion are key to teaching for all students – for taught students this will be in the context of tutor-led sessions while for distance learning students reflection will be promoted by the exercises incorporated into the web-based materials.  For all students 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. All students 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.

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. Discuss the use of appropriate resources to support open ended play in a social context taking account of the diversity of the children with whom they work.
2. Discuss different ideas relating to the play of babies and young children and be able to draw on some theoretical sources to justify a considered view
3. Articulate the role of adults in supporting and extending the play of babies and young children, giving due consideration to issues of gender, class, race, family form and inclusive practice
4. Debate the importance of play as part of early childhood practice

Assessment strategy

1. An illustrated talk on a play resource developed by students (10 minutes).  For online students the talk can be pre-recorded with accompanying visual support (photos or video)
2. An essay drawing on theory and observations of practice, discussing the importance of play in early childhood practice and the role of the practitioner in supporting play (3,000 words)


Andrews, M. (2012) Exploring Play for Early Childhood Studies, London: Sage

Bruce, T. (2011) Learning though Play (2nd edition), London: Hodder

Goldschmied, E. and Jackson, S. (2004) (2nd edition) People Under Three: Young Children in Day Care,  London: Routledge

Manning-Morton, J. and Thorp, M. (2003) Key Times for Play, The first three years. Maidenhead. OUP

Moyles, J. (2015) The Excellence of Play, Maidenhead: Open University Press

Moyles, J. (2012) The A-Z of Play, Maidenhead: Open University Press

Wood, A. (2013) Play, Learning and the Early Childhood Curriculum, incomplete


Albon, D. (2014) ‘Play, Playfulness and Young Children’s Well-Being’, in J. Manning-Morton (Ed) Exploring Well-Being in the Early Years, Maidenhead: OUP

Bilton, H. (2014) Playing Outside (2nd Ed), Abingdon: Routledge

Jools,  P. and Nutbrown, C. (2013) Working with Babies and Children: From Birth To Three, London: Sage

Grieshaber, S., and  McArdle, F. (2010) The Trouble with Play, Maidenhead: OUP

White, J. (2014) Playing and Learning Outdoors: Making provision for high quality experiences in the outdoor environment with children 3–7, Abingdon: Routledge

American Journal of Play, available at:

Early Years, An International Research Journal, available at:

Contemporary Issues in Early Childhood, available at:

Play England, available at:

London Play, available at: