International Approaches to Early Childhood and Montessori Education

International Approaches to Early Childhood Education

Course fees (2018/19 entry)

Option / fee Value
Home/EU full-time annual tuition fee: £6,250
Home/EU part-time tuition fee: £35 per credit
International full time annual tuition fee: £13,250

More about course fees »

Course type



School of Education

Study mode

Full Time & Part Time

About your course

This contemporary Masters from Liverpool John Moores University is for graduates and professionals working across education, multi-agency and multi-disciplinary practices, who are keen to examine international approaches to early childhood education as a means of evaluating their own practice and understanding quality education in a globally changing world. 

Students will:

  • Compare different international ideas with personal experience
  • Learn with research-active staff and early childhood professionals
  • Critically engage with the theoretical and practical issues of ECE
  • Enhance their learning with an optional European work related experience

Our academic team are all successful teachers, with strong links to schools, local authorities, professional bodies, regional, national and international CPD networks.

This exciting Masters programme starts by exploring your own personal views about the purpose of education, and progresses to focusing on different international philosophies such as Maria Montessori and Reggio Emilia. From this standpoint you will gain critical, theoretical and practical knowledge and understanding of a range of different early childhood education approaches and key issues, so you are able to evaluate the relevance and impact on practice today as part of a globally changing world.

Naomi McLeod, Course Leader

Introduction to the School

Our School of Education has a well established reputation for delivering high quality initial teacher education in partnership with Primary, Secondary and other education providers in the North West.

The School of Education also includes Early Childhood Studies, Education Studies and Early Years and Education Studies and Special Inclusive Needs as specialist subject areas, which have a reputation for being high quality research informed programmes that enable students to look more broadly and holistically at education and the inter-disciplinary and inter-agency nature of well-being and education.
​In the 2014 REF, LJMU's education-related research was ranked 4th in the UK’s Post-92 Universities, with over 60% of work considered world leading or internationally excellent.

This research helps ensure our postgraduate courses are at the forefront of developments in the field and that you have an opportunity to study alongside leading experts.

All of our professional Masters programmes for educators are designed to make study relevant to your professional requirements. We provide space and support for professional study that will impact on learning and leadership outcomes.
While developing an up-to-date perspective on specialist areas and key skills in critical analysis and practitioner research, our programmes offer a wide scope for you to relate your learning to your own professional practice or areas of specific interest.​

Why study this course at LJMU?

The purpose of this MA is to empower students by challenging them in their thinking and understanding around the purpose of knowledge and education to promote socially just, participatory and democratic practice often associated with international pedagogies in early childhood education (ECE).

More than ever before with current pressures of accountability both in England and elsewhere, there is a need to understand why alongside how for empowering practitioners and children as agents of change.

With an emphasis on international practice, this innovative MA considers early years learning beyond the school curriculum.  The course explores the philosophy and practice of early childhood education and its potential impact on diverse international societies. By developing a deep and broad knowledge base, it is hoped students will be able to challenge values and assumptions, developing socially just policies and inclusive, ethical practice.

The programme enables students with a wide range of professional and cultural experiences to study alongside each other and share their knowledge. It advocates a critical approach, offering particular insight into international ideas and pedagogies questioning early learning outcomes generated by Western educational practices.  Suitable for new graduates and returning learners, it can be studied as a pre-cursor to a practice qualification in early childhood education or by existing practitioners who want to expand their knowledge and understanding of global theory and its relationship with practice.

Programme outline and structure

The emphasis of the MA International Approaches in Early Childhood Education is on comparing different international philosophies and approaches to early childhood education (ECE).

Through the exploration of underpinning values, personal experiences and views about the purpose of education, students can begin to develop a personal philosophy to ECE that will empower ownership of knowledge.  A democratic and participatory lens is used to facilitate students’ critical, theoretical and practical knowledge; and improve their understanding and evaluation of a range of different early childhood education approaches and key issues in a globally changing world.
The course is taught by research-active staff with practical experience and close links to education providers in Sweden (Gothenburg), Finland and Italy (Reggio Emilia). You can enhance your academic learning with voluntary work related experience in Europe and / or the UK, which will provide a valuable insight into the impact of different European cultures on their approaches to education.  In particular, work related experiences in Sweden and Finland are available as a means of developing professional perspectives on different international approaches to ECE and to enable students to identify their research interests and develop a reflexive approach as part of their own career aspirations and progression.

The course can be studied full (over a year) or part time (over 2 years). Sessions are typically timetabled one day a week, and some Saturday study days, with the emphasis on independent, self-guided study.

On joining the course you will have access to:

  • 24 hour access to the library including electronic sources
  • 24 hour learning support via Blackboard
  • An introductory weekend
  • Various programme, student and module guides
  • Student Financial Services
  • LJMU counselling services

What you will study on this degree

  Please see guidance below on core modules for further information on what you will study. 

Level 7

  • Philosophies of Early Childhood Education
  • Research Methods
  • The Critically Reflective Practitioner
  • Early Childhood Curriculum ECE Curricula in an International Context
  • Democracy and Participation in ECE
  • Global Issues, Childhoods and Education
  • Dissertation

Further guidance on modules

The information listed in the section entitled ‘What you will study’ is an overview of the academic content of the programme that will take the form of core modules.

  • Philosophies of Early Childhood Education explores the purpose of education and progresses to critically reflect on different philosophies of education in relation to early childhood education, such as Maria Montessori and Reggio Emilia.
  • The Critically Reflective Practitioner involves critically reflecting on personal values, beliefs and assumptions in relation to early childhood practice.

  • Research Methods enables students to evaluate different research methodologies and methods pertinent to research with young children in preparation for the dissertation module.
  • Democracy and Participation in ECE looks at current issues and debates related to enhancing the democratic participation of diverse groups of young children in a range of education and care contexts. 
  • Curricula in an International Context explores different international curriculums.

  • Global Issues, Childhoods and Education critically examines contemporary global issues affecting children and their families.
  • The Dissertation module enables students to integrate the skills, facts, theory and practice that have been developed as part of engaging with the previous module by engaging in a piece of action research.

How will I be assessed?

The programme offers a wide range of teaching methods to support a variety of learners.

There will be lectures by LJMU staff and visiting experts, tutorials, seminars, placements, podcasts, Skype sessions, case studies, group discussions, workshops and, of course, use of the University’s virtual learning environment, Canvas.

Modules are assessed via coursework, presentations, academic writing, reviews, projects, individual and group presentations, case studies, vivas and the dissertation.

Staff research interests

Course tutors have published extensively on early childhood education.

Particular areas of interest include:

  • the UK curriculum
  • early childhood education pioneers
  • assessment and documentation
  • children’s rights
  • young children’s participation
  • the transition to school
  • sustainable development and early childhood education



Entry requirements (Home)

Candidates are required to demonstrate the following criteria:

  • Either a 2:2 with substantial practical experience in an early years setting, or a 2:1 or above with less practical experience. Applications will be considered on an individual basis.
  • For students with no early years experience, a work related experience as part of the MA would be a requirement.
  • A DBS check (Disclosure and Barring Service - formerly CRB) is also required.

International students should also hold IELTS English Language at a minimum of 6.5 or equivalent. This course will only run subject to minimum numbers.

Entry requirements (International)

LJMU welcomes applications from international students. In addition to normal entry requirements, you will be expected to demonstrate a very good level of English language competence, for example an IELTS score of 6.0-6.5 or equivalent. Please note: specific courses may require higher levels of English language competence.

If you have applied to study a full-time taught Masters, MRes, MPhil or PhD at LJMU, you should check if you require an Academic Technology Approval Scheme or ATAS certificate. It can take four to six weeks to receive an ATAS certificate, so please make sure you apply as early as possible. You can find out more on the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) website. Alternatively, contact LJMU’s International Admissions Team for guidance. Please note: international students entering on a Tier 4 visa cannot study part time. Students entering the UK on alternate types of visa may be in a position to study part time. Please contact LJMU’s International Admissions Team for further details before making your application.  In order to obtain a visa you will also need to show evidence that the money required to cover your tuition fees and living expenses has been in your bank account for at least 28 days prior to submitting your visa application. So please make sure that your finances are in place before applying. For more details, go to our international website

For advice on any aspect of the application process, please contact LJMU’s International Admissions Team.


​International students should also hold IELTS English Language at a minimum of 6.5 or equivalent.

Will I be interviewed?



6.5 (Minimum of 5.5 in each component)


58-64 (Min. 51 in each component for UKVI Purposes)

Is RPL accepted on this programme?


Please Note: All international qualifications are subject to a qualification equivalency check via NARIC.

Financial support

Tuition fees

All full and part-time students enrolled on postgraduate taught programmes at LJMU are liable to pay an annual tuition fee. You can opt to pay your tuition fees in full at the start of each academic year or pay by instalments. If you need advice about how you will pay your tuition fees, please email to LJMU’s Student Funding Team as soon as possible.

Sources of funding

Postgraduate loans for students from England, Wales and the EU

Postgraduate Masters loans are available for those studying in the 2017/18 academic year. The new government loans, of up to £10,280, are available for students attending eligible full and part-time Masters courses. To be eligible part time courses need to be studied at 50% intensity. Personal Eligibility is based on your age, your residency and if you have studied at Masters level previously.

Loan repayments will begin the April after course completion, with the first cohort of borrowers commencing repayments in April 2019. Repayments will be made at a rate of 6% of income above an earning threshold of £21,000. This threshold will be frozen until 2021. For details of loan terms, conditions and eligibility, go to:-

Postgraduate Loans for students from Northern Ireland

The Northern Irish government is also introducing a loan for students commencing postgraduate study from September 2017 onwards. Unlike the loan for students from England and Wales this scheme offers a loan for tuition fees only with no funding available from the NI government for living costs. The loan for tuition fees will be paid direct to LJMU.

The maximum loan for those starting in 2017 is £5,500 per course. Please note this means in some instances the loan will not cover your tuition fees in full and you will need to make alternative arrangements to pay the balance as well as source funding for your living costs.

LJMU Alumni Award

Alumni of the University are eligible to apply for a 20% reduction in their postgraduate tuition fees if they choose to progress onto a higher degree programme at LJMU. Both Home and international LJMU students and alumni can apply for this award (subject to eligibility criteria*).

Postgraduate International Scholarships

LJMU offers scholarships for international applicants accepted onto taught masters programmes (excluding distance learning programmes) and research degrees. Current LJMU international students and alumni interested in pursuing postgraduate study and research at the University are eligible to apply for these scholarships along with new applicants. 

English for Postgraduate Studies Bursary

A Bursary is also available for international students who need to improve their IELTS score prior to enrolling on their postgraduate course or research programme at the University. This course is run by LJMU’s International Study Centre.

Earn While You Learn

Working while you study means you may be able to pay for your course without taking out any further loans or at least reducing the amount you need to borrow. Working while you study also gives you the skills valued by employers, such as managing your workload and prioritising your time.

LJMU’s Vacancy website can help you find graduate vacancies, sandwich/industrial placements, internships / summer work, part-time jobs, volunteering opportunities and work-based learning placements. Over 1,000 local and regional employers regularly list opportunities on the website.

Professional and Career Development Loans (PCDL)

Many students fund their postgraduate studies via Professional and Career Development Loans. This is a bank loan which you will have to pay back once you’ve completed the course. However, while you are studying any interest on the loan will be paid for you by the Skills Funding Agency. PCDLs worth between £300 and £10,000 are available for eligible postgraduates to fund up to two years of study (three if the course includes work experience). The loan is split into course fees and living costs. 

Employer sponsorship

Some organisations and companies fund the cost of postgraduate studies for their employees as they recognise the value of having well qualified staff. Check out our courses and see if there are any on offer that could enhance your current career. Remember, employer support doesn’t always have to be financial; it can take other forms too, such as flexible working arrangements, day release and time in lieu of study.

Support for disabled students

Disabled Students’ Allowances or DSAs are designed to help meet the extra course costs students can face as a direct result of a disability, on-going health condition, mental health condition or specific learning difficulty. DSAs don’t have to be paid back and the type of support you receive will be determined by your specific needs not your household income. Please contact LJMU’s Disability team for further advice: 0151 231 3164/3165.

Council tax exemption

All full-time postgraduate students studying courses lasting one year or more are eligible for a council tax exemption certificate.

Graduate employment

The course offers valuable networking opportunities both within your peer group, during work based learning and as part of visits from guest speakers and local professionals.

As a result of its interesting and challenging content design this programme will empower you in your understanding of why different approaches are more effective in a globally changing world. You will also develop a host of transferable skills such as confidence in articulating your views and understandings which will benefit a wide variety of career roles.

The research experience as part of this qualification will provide a foundation for, or an enhancement of teaching related qualifications.

As a graduate you may go on to teach or work as part of a multi-agency team or in children’s rights charities. You may also work in non-governmental or creative organisations, or even undertake further educational research.  As a result of completing a masters students may wish to apply for a LJMU scholarship for a PhD.

International Study

International applicants are required to demonstrate equivalent qualifications to the standard requirements for entry when applying for courses at LJMU.

Students must also demonstrate a proficiency in communicating through English, for example via an IELTS tests or equivalent.

Please note: UK visa restrictions mean that international students are only permitted to study on a full-time basis.

Please contact LJMU’s International Team by visiting for more information and advice.


LJMU has launched a range of generous international scholarships for students enrolling at the University.

These prestigious scholarships take the form of tuition fee waivers and are available for outstanding international students applying for taught postgraduate programmes and research degrees.

You will need to complete an additional application form in order to be considered for these scholarships. Full eligibility criteria and the online application form are available here:

Applications for these scholarships are welcomed from:

  • new international applicants
  • current LJMU international students hoping to progress onto postgraduate study at the University
  • LJMU international alumni

The University may make changes to a programme of study or module where such changes are deemed to be beneficial to students, are minor in nature and unlikely to impact negatively upon students or become necessary due to circumstances beyond the control of the University.
Further guidance on programme changes

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