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 employment for a minimum of 21 hours per week 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:

  • Learning through play (S2)
  • My studies and the learning community (S1)
  • Professional values in practice (S2)
  • Safe working practices in ELC (S1)
  • Supporting practice through a reflexive approach (S2)
  • The developing child 0-18 years (S1)

Year 2 - DipHE

You will study the following core modules:

  • Communication, collaboration and teamwork (S2)
  • Implementing practice through a reflexive approach (S2)
  • Observation in practice (S1)
  • Outdoor play and learning (S2)
  • Supporting ASN in practice (S1)
  • Working with our youngest children (S1)

Year 3 - BA

You will study the following modules:

  • Childhood and society (S1)
  • Developing and supporting partnership with parents (S2)
  • Enquiring practitioner (SC)
  • Leading practice through a reflexive approach (S2)
  • Quality frameworks in practice (S1)

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, West and Hebrides
  • Orkney
  • Perth
  • Shetland

Start date

  • September


Full time

If you are studying a full time Further Education course (NCs, NQs etc.) the College claims your fees from the Scottish Funding Council for students who are under 18 on the first day of the course. Students over the age of 18 on the first day of the course have to apply to Orkney Islands Council (OIC) for a tuition fees bursary.

Information on the tuition fees bursary is available on the OIC website.

Part time

Normally you are responsible for your course fees but if you are in receipt of certain benefits you may be eligible for a Part Time Course Fee Waiver. Not all part-time courses at Orkney College UHI are covered by the Fee Waiver Scheme and only certain benefits are acceptable as a basis for a Fee Waiver. Please contact the college to enquire.

If you are eligible, you may be entitled to an ILA of up to £200 a year towards a course.


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 in order to obtain Lead Practitioner qualification.

Is there more information available online?

QR Code - scan to visit course page

You can use the above QR code to connect directly to the course details.

Apply for Early Learning and Childcare (Graduate Apprenticeship) BA

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.