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Reflective Pedagogy & Early Childhood Studies


The Department of Reflective Pedagogy and Early Childhood Studies at Mary Immaculate College comprises of a dynamic team with a range of diverse experiences and expertise in the field of Education. Departmental staff contribute to all the main undergraduate programmes delivered in the Faculty of Education including the BA Early Childhood Care and Education, the BA Early Childhood Practice and the Bachelor in Education (B Ed)/ B Ed in Education and Psychology.

We, in the department, are committed to promoting the principle of reflection to enable early years’ educators and primary teachers to reflect on their practice and thereby enrich their knowledge and beliefs about curriculum, pedagogy and children as learners. The concept of life-long learning is cultivated within the department through our contribution across several postgraduate programmes in the Faculty of Education.

In accordance with the mission statement of Mary Immaculate College, the Department seeks to foster an ethos that is grounded in respect for cultural diversity and individual values, the promotion of equity in society and a spirit of justice and compassion in the service of others. In this context, the holistic development of each student is valued and students are encouraged to be active and critical participants in their own learning.

Head of Department
Dr Lisha O'Sullivan
+353 61 204385

Subject Overview


BA in Early Childhood Care and Education (BA ECCE)

The BA in Early Childhood Care and Education is an innovative four-year Level 8 degree programme, which focuses on providing students with the knowledge, understanding and skills to enable them to become professional leaders in the provision of care and education for children from birth to six years in a variety of education and care settings. The strong practical element of the programme provides opportunities for students to develop their skills through engaging in placements in a range of early years settings. The inclusive focus of the programme develops students' awareness of the needs of children from a diversity of backgrounds and children with special educational needs. More information on the programme here.

The following are modules on the BA ECCE programme, in descending order from First Year onwards:

ECE100: Professional Development 1
ECE101: Foundation Studies
ECE102: Child, Family and Community 1
ECE103: Language Development in the Early Years
ECE104: The Role of Play in Development
ECE150: Professional Development 2
ECE151: The Pedagogy of Early Childhood Education
ECE152: Creative Music Making in the Early Years
ECE153 Child Development 1
ECE154 Child Health and Wellbeing 1
ECE200: Professional Development 3
ECE201: Creative Arts in the Early Years
ECE202: Child, Family, and Community 2
ECE203: The Early Years: Historical and Philosophical Perspectives and Analysis
ECE204: Child Health and Wellbeing 2
ECE250: Professional Development 4
ECE251: Models of Curriculum
ECE252: Educational Psychology
ECE253: Language and Literacy in the Early Years
ECE254: Sociological and Global Perspectives
ECE300: Professional Development 5 (Off-Campus Placement)
ECE350: STEM in the Early Years
ECE351: Management 1: Policy for Early Childhood Education and Care Management
ECE352: Research Methods
ECE353: Cultural and Linguistic Diversity: Implications for Professional Practice
ECE354: Including Children with Additional Needs in the Early Years
EN4447: Historical Perspectives in the Early Years
EN4457: Sociological and Global Perspectives in the Early Years
EN4477: Curriculum Guidelines for the Early Years (3-6 years)
EN4487: Professional Development 7
EN4497: Dissertation 1
EN4418: Early Childhood Care and Educational Management
EN4428: Teaching and Learning for Cultural and Linguistic Diversity
EN4438: Early Years Inclusion
EN4448: Professional Development 8
EN4458: Dissertation 2

*Please note:

Semester 7 and 8 modules in the BA ECCE will be changing code and title in A/Y 2020/21.

BA Early Childhood Practice (BA ECP)

The BA in Early Childhood Practice is a Level 7 programme jointly delivered over four semesters by both the Faculty of Education at Mary Immaculate College (MIC) and the Department of Social Sciences at the Institute of Technology, Tralee (ITT). Graduates are conferred with a University of Limerick Level 7 Bachelor of Arts Degree in Early Childhood Practice. The programme has been designed specifically to provide staff currently working in the Early Childhood Care and Education sector with a FETAC level 6, or equivalent, qualification to up-skill. Deirdre Breatnach is Course Leader for the BA ECP and Department staff contribute to the MIC delivered modules. More information on the programme here

The following are modules on the BA ECCE programme, in descending order from First Year onwards:

ECP152: Educational Psychology
ECP153: Child Health and Wellbeing
ECP154: The Irish Early Years Curriculum Framework
ECP150: Professional Development A - Work Placement A
ECP250: Professional Development B - Work Placement B
ECP251: Research Methods in the Early Years
ECP252: Child Family and Community
ECP253: The Role of Play in Development


B Ed/B Ed in Education and Psychology

Department staff contribute across the B Ed/B Ed in Education and Psychology programmes in areas including School Placement, Microteaching, Educational Methodology, Early Childhood Education, Research Methods and Dissertation. More information on the B Ed programme here and the B Ed in Education and Psychology here.

                                   School Placement Modules
EDU109: Professional Placement 1
EDU161: Professional Placement 2
EDU267: Professional Placement 3
EDU353: Early Primary Education
EDU400: School Placement 6
EDU401 School Placement 7
EDU404: Professional Placement 4:  Alternative Educational Experience 
Educational Methodology Modules
EDU110: Introduction to Technology and Educational Methodology
EDU353: Early Primary Education and Advanced Educational Methods
Early Childhood Education Core Module
EDU352: Early Childhood Education: Curriculum, Research and Pedagogy
Early Childhood Studies Elective/Specialism Modules
EDE354: Play and Learning in Early Childhood Education
EDE369: Early Childhood Education and the Psychology of Motivation
EDE403: Inclusion in the Early Years
EDE404: ECS Dissertation 1
EDE404: ECS Dissertation 2
EDE453: Becoming a Professional: Linking Initial Teacher Education and Induction through Reflective Practice
Research Methods and Dissertation
EDU302: Research Methods - Ethical Foundations for Teaching and Research
EDU356: Research Methods 2
EDE460: Multi-Disciplinary Dissertation 1
EDE461: Multi-Disciplinary Dissertation 2


Professional Master in Education (Primary Teaching)

Department staff contribute to the Professional Master in Education (PME) programme in the areas of School Placement, Microteaching, Educational Methodology, Early Childhood Education, Research Methods and Dissertation. More information on the PME here.

The following is a list of modules for the PME:

School Placement Modules
PME608: Professional Placement 1
PME636: Professional Placement 2
PME637: Professional Placement 3
PME638: Professional Placement 4
Education Modules
PME624: Early Primary Education: Educational Methodology and ECE
Research and Dissertation
PME633: Professional Master of Education Dissertation


Master of Education (M Ed)

Des Carswell is the Coordinator of the Master's in Education Programme. Department staff contribute to several modules on the various M Ed programmes in the faculty and provide research supervision for Year Two M Ed Students. More information on the M Ed here.

The following is a list of modules on the M Ed programme:

EDU600: Theory to Practice in Education
EDU601: Applied Research Project
EDU602: Principles and Practice of Research in Education
EDU603: Ensuring Criticality and Reflexivity in Educational Research Design
EDU604: Curriculum Design, Development and Evaluation
EDU605: National and International Trends and Current Issues in Education
EDU606: Dissertation 1 
EDU607: Dissertation 2

Department staff contribute to a number of modules across a range of M Ed programmes in the Faculty including the following:

M Ed in Educational Leadership and Management
EDU616: Dissertation 
M Ed in Special Educational Needs
EN6791: Principles and Practice of Research in Education
EN6120: Dissertation
EN6102: Dissertation
M Ed in Professional Studies in Education
PSE600: Principles and Practice of Research in Education
PSE601: Dissertation
PSE602: Dissertation

MA in Education and Well-being of the Older Person (MA EWOP)

Liz Early is the programme coordinator for the MA in Education and Wellbeing of the Older Person (MA EWOP). More information on the MA EWOP here.

The following is a list of modules for the MA EWOP:

EDU617: Ageing Society & Sociology of Ageing
EDU618: Physiology & Psychology of Ageing
EDU619: Applied Research Project 1
EDU620: Education & the Older Person
EDU621: Policy, Participation & the Law
EDU622: Active Ageing, Leadership & Advocacy
EDU602: Principles & Practice of Research in Education
EDU623: Applied Research Project 2
EDU624: Dissertation

Graduate Diploma/M Ed in Adult and Further Education

There are two programmes available which offer a qualification for teaching in Further Education: The Graduate Diploma in Adult and Further Education and the Professional Diploma in Education (FE). More information here.

Structured PhD in Education

Dr Emmanuel O’Grady is the Course Leader for Structured PhD in Education. Staff across the Department are involved in the supervision of Structured PhD students’ research. More information here.


Dr Lisha O'Sullivan

BA Early Childhood Studies (UCC), Dip Womens Studies (UCC), MA Non-Directive Play Therapy (University of York) & PhD (University of Cambridge)
Head of Department & Lecturer
  • Phone: +353 61 204385
  • Email:
  • Location: JHN111

Dr Cathal de Paor

BA (NUI), Graduate Diploma (UL), M Ed (UL), MA (NUI) & PhD (Nantes)
Senior Lecturer & Director of Continuing Professional Development
  • Phone: +353 61 204950
  • Email:
  • Location: JHN209

Dr Neil O Conaill

B Ed, M Ed & EdD
Director of School Placement
  • Phone: +353 61 204519
  • Email:
  • Location: 303

Deirdre Breatnach

M Ed (UL), B Ed (NUI), Dip in Remedial Education (MIC) & Dip in Religious Studies (Maynooth)
  • Phone: +353 61 204565
  • Email:
  • Location: JHN108

Des Carswell

BSSc (International) & MA
  • Phone: +353 61 204961
  • Email:
  • Location: M110

Liz Early

Dip HV, RM, RN, PG Dip Prof Supervision & MBA
Programme Coordinator, MA in Education and Wellbeing of the Older Person
  • Phone: +353 61 204339
  • Email:
  • Location: JHN122


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Members of the Department in partnership with colleagues across the College and in other third-level institutions are engaged in the wide range of additional research-related activities.

The Centre for Early-childhood Research at Mary Immaculate College (CERAMIC) has an exceptional track record in conducting research. Members of the department have recently been involved in two large national research projects. The first of these projects was a collaboration with Dublin Institute of Technology (DIT) and involved an investigation of parents’ and educators’ perspectives on school readiness while the second collaboration with colleagues in the Department of Educational Psychology, Inclusive and Special Education (MIC) involved an evaluation of educational provision for children with Autism. 

An Examination of Concepts of School-Readiness among Parents and Educators in Ireland. Dublin: Department of Children and Youth Affairs

Ring, E., Mhic Mhathúna, M., Moloney, M., Hayes, N., Breatnach, D., Stafford, P., Carswell, D., Keegan, S., Kelleher, C., McCafferty, D., O’Keeffe, A., Leavy, A., Madden, R. & Ozonyia, M. (2016)   

An Evaluation of Education Provision for Students with Autism Spectrum Disorder in Ireland, Trim: National Council for Special Education

Daly, P., Ring, E., Egan, M., Fitzgerald, J., Griffin, C., Long, S., McCarthy, E., Moloney, M., O’Brien, T., O’Byrne, A., O’Sullivan, S., Ryan, M., Wall, E., Madden, R. and Gibbons, S. (2016)

Autism from the Inside Out

Autism from the Inside Out: A Handbook for Parents, Early Childhood, Primary, Post-Primary and Special School Settings, a collaboration with colleagues across the Faculty of Education and PhD students, was launched at the International Play Conference Revolutionising Play: Possibilities, Perspectives and Promise at MIC in September 2018 by Adam Harris, CEO AsIAm. The book is  co-edited by Dr Emer Ring, Dr Patricia Daly and Professor Eugene Wall, with chapters being provided by a range of experts in education and psychology at Mary Immaculate College. The book emerged from the findings of the national evaluation of education provision for children with autism spectrum difference in Ireland referred to above.

Department staff have expertise in supervising research in a range of academic areas at under-graduate and post-graduate level. Department staff are currently providing research supervision to students undertaking PhD by research and the Structured PhD in Education.

Current PhD/Structured PhD in Education Students being Supervised in the DRPECS

  • Marie Claire Murphy: Teacher and Children’s Perceptions of Forest School sessions in an Irish Primary School context: A Case Study. Supervisors: Dr Emer Ring, Dr Kathleen Horgan & Dr Lisha O’Sullivan.
  • Shirley Heaney: An investigation of how the well-being of children with additional needs is supported within Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) settings in Ireland. Supervisors: Dr Emer Ring, Dr Lisha O’Sullivan & Dr Jennifer Pope. 


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