Early Learning and Childcare (Graduate Apprenticeship) BA

Course code X311

What is special about this course?

Are you passionate about improving children's lives? Do you want to shape the early years of learning in Scotland and develop better practices in all areas of the childcare sector? 

The Scottish Government have outlined an ambition to make Scotland the best place for a child to grow up. They understand that providing the highest quality of childcare and learning from the very beginning is key to laying strong foundations for future generations, and that childcare practitioners are pivotal to the success of that vision. 

This course is the first Graduate Apprenticeship in Early Learning and Childcare in Scotland and is unique in its structure and delivery. The programme offers you and your employer a work-based learning route that is mutually beneficial: your employer benefits from your growing competency and skillset, and you 'earn while you learn', gaining experience in your industry and increasing your potential to progress in your career, while achieving your degree.

This course is ideal for those new to the sector wishing to gain practitioner registration requirements or those currently in the sector wishing to enhance their practitioner skills and knowledge.

Special features

  • Earn while you learn 
  • Available throughout Scotland 
  • Access to a work-based mentor
  • Access to an assessor to observe your practice 
  • Access to all your learning resources via the VLE at a time that suits you
  • All UHI assessors are qualified practitioners with BA Childhood Practice

Entry requirements

  • 3 Scottish Highers at grade C or above, preferably including English OR
  • 2 A levels at grade C or above, preferably including English
  • Alternatively, Foundation Apprenticeship Social Services: Children and Young People
  • Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) for SQA vocational awards (HNC, SVQ, etc) may also be considered. 
  • You must be in full time employment in the Early Learning and Childcare sector and have the approval of your employer prior to application
  • This is a Category 1 PVG course: PVG Scheme membership is required to successfully achieve target qualification, where there is guaranteed contact with vulnerable groups in key elements of the course. For further information visit our PVG scheme webpage

Access routes

SWAP Access courses
If you are eligible to undertake Scottish Wider Access Programmes (SWAP), please visit our SWAP access list for further information on grade profiles and available subjects.

Year 1 - CertHE

You will study the following core modules:

  • Childhood and society
  • Early learning play and pedagogy
  • Promoting children's health, wellbeing and safety
  • Supporting practice through a reflexive approach
  • The developing child

Year 2 - DipHE

You will study the following core modules:

  • Developing the professional self
  • Enhancing quality in early learning and childcare 
  • Implementing practice through a reflexive approach
  • Professional relationships and reflective practice
  • The enquiring practitioner

Year 3 - BA

You will study the following core modules:

  • A children's rights perspective
  • Contemporary perspectives in early learning and childcare
  • Leading practice through a reflexive approach
  • Literature review in early learning and childcare

You will also study one of the following optional modules: 

  • Play and childhood
  • Promoting and enhancing parenting
  • Working in partnership

How will I study my course?

  • Full-time
  • This is a work-based qualification: learning happens in the workplace and is supported by activities and content via the university's Virtual Learning Environment (VLE), giving you time outside of your work environment to undertake certain elements of the course.
  • You will be taught by a combination of online tutorials and workshops, which will be contextualised to your practice; you will be supported by a mentor, with evidence from the workplace used in assessment.

How long will my course last?

  • Full-time: 3 years @ 35 hours per week

Number of hours per week indicates the total number of hours you should dedicate to the course, which includes time spent in lectures, at work and your own time spent on individual study and research.

Where can I study my course?

  • Argyll
  • Inverness
  • Moray
  • North Highland
  • Orkney
  • Outer Hebrides
  • Perth
  • Shetland
  • West Highland

Start date

  • September


For the latest information on fees please see our fees policy.


The course fees will be funded by SAAS, for more information please refer to this graduate apprenticeship guide.

What can I do on completion of my course?

On completion of this course you can continue to build on your career and will be able to register with Scottish Social Services Council as a Practitioner.

Can I progress into further study?

If you wish to pursue a career as a Manager, you may choose to complete 60 credits of level 9 (SCQF) management modules from BA (Hons) Childhood Practice or BA (Hons) Early Learning and Childcare in order to obtain Lead Practitioner qualification.

Is there more information available online?

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Apply for Early Learning and Childcare (Graduate Apprenticeship) BA

Please note that UHI North Highland, UHI Outer Hebrides and UHI West Highland will be changing their names to become UHI North, West and Hebrides in August 2023, subject to Scottish Government approval. This will not impact on your choice of course or how and where you will study.

For further information on applying for this course, please enquire here

We are delighted that you are thinking about studying at the University of the Highlands and Islands. We operate a fair and open admissions system committed to equality of opportunity and non-discrimination. We consider all applications on merit and on the basis of ability to achieve, without discrimination on grounds of gender, age, disability, ethnicity and socio-economic background. We welcome applications from all prospective students and aim to provide appropriate and efficient services to students with disabilities.