Programme overview

In this field-based, practical programme you will develop the skills to become a competent, informed and reflective early childhood teacher who is committed to young children and their learning and development. We believe people learn through participation and we value the experience and insight you'll gain from working in early childhood centres. There will be plenty of opportunities to relate these experiences to theory during campus sessions. When you graduate, you will be eligible to become a registered teacher in licensed early childhood education centres.


  • Teacher registration: once you've completed this degree, you can apply for teacher registration with the New Zealand Teachers Council.
  • We aim for informed and reflective teaching based on observation and understanding of how people learn.
  • A thorough grounding in educational theory and relevant practice of teaching and learning, child development, relevant te reo and tikanga Maori and working with children and their families in Aotearoa New Zealand.
  • Emphasis on teaching practice: you'll be working (paid or voluntary) in a licensed early childhood centre for at least 12 hours per week during the programme.
  • Experience teaching in a range of centres: each year you will also take part in a practicum, working full-time in an early childhood education centre for 37.5 hours per week.
  • A strong emphasis on the New Zealand early childhood curriculum document, Te Whariki, and a bicultural and sociocultural approach to learning.
  • Acknowledgment of Te Tiriti o Waitangi, which prepares you to implement te reo Maori me ona tikanga in your teaching practice.
  • A focus on research: you'll develop an understanding of research methodologies with a particular emphasis on action research (self-study) in an early childhood setting.

Admission requirements

To be eligible for admission, applicants must meet the general, or the discretionary, or the special admission requirements and they must also meet any programme-specific admission requirements. Applicants must also meet the English language requirements and may be interviewed.

Generic Admission Requirements

General Admission

Applicants must have:

  1. A minimum of 42 credits at NCEA Level 3 or higher on the National Qualifications Framework, with 14 credits at Level 3 or higher in each of two subjects from an approved subject list, with a further 14 credits at Level 3 or higher taken from no more than two additional domains on the National Qualifications Framework or approved subjects plus a minimum of 14 credits at Level 1 or higher in Mathematics or Pangarau on the National Qualifications Framework, plus a minimum of 8 credits at Level 2 or higher in English or Te Reo Maori; a minimum of 4 credits must be in Reading and a minimum of 4 credits must be in Writing; OR
  2. At least 3 ‘C’ passes in the New Zealand University Bursaries Examinations; OR
  3. Successful completion of the Unitec Certificate in Foundation Studies: Whitinga Level 3 with a relevant pathway, where appropriate;OR
  4. Certificate of University Preparation (Level 4); OR
  5. Certificate in Foundation Studies (Level 4); OR
  6. Equivalent

Special Admission

Applicants must have: 

  1. attained the age of 20 years on or before the first day of the semester in which study for the degree is to commence; AND 
  2. provided sufficient evidence of aptitude or appropriate work or other life experience that would indicate a potential successful outcome in the qualification. 

Discretionary Admission

In exceptional cases an applicant who does not meet the general admission requirements and who has not reached the age of 20 on or before the first day of the semester in which study for the degree is to commence may apply for discretionary admission.

In assessing whether to grant discretionary admission in exceptional cases, the primary focus will be on the applicant’s level of preparedness for study at the required level.

English Language Admission Requirements

General English Language Requirements

Applicants must have achieved a minimum standard of English as demonstrated by a minimum of 8 credits at NCEA Level 2 in English (4 in Reading, 4 in Writing).

English language requirements for international students

Applicants must have at least ONE of the following:

a) Gained NCEA level 3 and met New Zealand university entrance requirements;

b) Clear evidence that they satisfy one of the following criteria for existing English proficiency:

  1. Previous primary and secondary study in English as evidenced by completion of one of the following at schools using English as the language of instruction:
    • Completion of all primary education and at least three years of secondary education (that is, the equivalent of New Zealand Forms 3 to 7 or years 9 to 13), or
    • Completion of at least five years of secondary education (that is, the equivalent of New Zealand Forms 3 to 7 or years 9 to 13)
  2. Previous tertiary study in English: clear evidence of completion of a tertiary qualification of at least three years’ duration with English as the language of instruction in New Zealand, Australia, Canada, the Republic of Ireland, South Africa, the United Kingdom or the United States.
  3. Achievement of the Certificate in English Language Teaching to Adults (CELTA)

c) Achieved, within the preceding two years, at least one of the English proficiency outcomes listed below:

  1. NZ Certificate in English Language (NZCEL) (Academic) (Level 4)
  2. An overall IELTS band score (Academic Format) of 6 with no band score lower than 5.5. The IELTS scores used must be taken from a single IELTS Test Report Form.
  3. An overall TOEFL Paper-based test (pBT) score of 550 (essay 5 TWE) OR an overall TOEFL Internet-based test (iBT) Score of 60 (writing 20)
  4. First Certificate in English (FCE) with a pass at Grade B OR Certificate in Advanced English (CAE) with a score of 52 or higher under the Cambridge International standard tests of English as a foreign language
  5. Pearson Test of English PToE (Academic) with a score of 50
  6. City & Guilds Internal English for Speakers of Other Languages (IESOL) B2 Communicator with a score of 66.

Programme Specific Admission Requirements

To be admitted to this programme, applicants must also meet the requirements set out in this schedule.

To be admitted to this programme, all applicants must meet the following requirements in addition to the requirement set out in the Bachelor Generic Regulations:

  1. Complete a self-declaration of criminal conviction(s) and any medical condition(s) that may prevent full participation in the programme and/or prevent registration with a regulatory authority (as applicable); and
  2. Sign a consent form allowing a Ministry of Justice convictions database search by a third party (in this instance Unitec Institute of Technology). Any applicants with undeclared convictions identified will be referred to the Admissions Committee; and
  3. Be at least 17 years of age when the programme begins; and
  4. Be prepared to work in a licensed early childhood centre for a minimum of 12 hours per week for the duration of study in the programme, and pass the interview process, which will assess relationships, literacy and numeracy skills.
  5. Applicants under 20 years of age must have completed University Entrance or an international equivalent. If over 20 years of age, they must comply with Unitec’s entry requirements.
  6. Applicants for whom English is an additional language (EAL) must provide evidence of achieving an overall IELTS (Academic) band score of no less than 7.0 in each band of the test.
    1. Not exempted are applicants whose medium of instruction was fully in English in a university in a country (other than New Zealand or Australia) where English is an official language, and who are graduates at degree level 7;
    2. Exempted from IELTS examination are:
      • EAL applicants who have studied in NZ for a minimum of two years at secondary school, and who had eight, level 2 NCEA literacy credits (4 credits in reading, 4 in writing);
      • Applicants whose medium of instruction was fully in English in a NZ or Australian tertiary education organisation and who are graduates at degree level 7 or higher.

Courses and timetables

The following courses are valid for 2015. The courses may be offered as part of the programme. Click on the course links below to see the course details and timetables.

Te Kete Manaaki Tangata (EDUC5905) 15 credits (0.125 EFTS)To assist students to develop understandings of Maori values and tikanga through deepening understandings of Te Reo Maori me ona tikanga.
Contexts of Early Childhood Education in Aotearoa/ New Zealand (EDUC5911) 15 credits (0.125 EFTS)To examine the social, cultural and ecological contexts of early childhood education in Aotearoa/ New Zealand, including the diversity of early childhood education services.
Partnership and Professionalism (EDUC5912) 15 credits (0.125 EFTS)To encourage the development of knowledge, skills and attitudes required for early childhood educators to work in professional partnership with whanau and community.
Human Development (EDUC5913) 15 credits (0.125 EFTS)To examine theories of development, in order to gain an understanding of human development across the lifespan and its applications to learning in early childhood contexts.
Academic Literacy for Early Childhood Studies (EDUC5914) 15 credits (0.125 EFTS)To explore a range of academic study, research, referencing and writing skills and tools in order to provide a foundation for early childhood research and study.
Introduction to Curriculum and Te Whariki (EDUC5915) 15 credits (0.125 EFTS)To enable students to examine curriculum, observation, planning and assessment in Early Childhood Education including the relationship between play and learning for your children.
Enquiry and Communication (HSDV5142) 15 credits (0.125 EFTS)This course introduces the principles of communication, knowledge construction, and academic literacy and develops scholarly skills in preparation for academic and professional practice
Te Kete Manaaki Whenua (EDUC6905) 15 credits (0.125 EFTS)To further develop Te Reo Maori language skills, advance knowledge of Tikanga Maori, and develop students understandings of Manaaki Whenua and its application in teaching practice.
Historical and Current Contexts of Early Childhood Education in Aotearoa/ New Zealand (EDUC6921) 15 credits (0.125 EFTS)To critically examine the history and current social and political status of early childhood education in Aotearoa/New Zealand and its impact upon centres especially in the Pasifika community.
The Ethical Teacher (EDUC6922) 15 credits (0.125 EFTS)To assist students to extend their knowledge and skills in professional communication and respond to ethical dilemmas in the workplace.
Infants and Toddlers: Relating and Playing (EDUC6923) 15 credits (0.125 EFTS)To assist students to analyse and critically evaluate theoretical perspectives on learning and development of the young child.
Curriculum Content Knowledge (EDUC6924) 15 credits (0.125 EFTS)To enable students to critically examine theories and practices relating to curriculum content knowledge.
Research and Research Design in Early Childhood Education (EDUC6927) 15 credits (0.125 EFTS)To critically assesses the quality of research underpinned by a variety of research methodologies, with a particular focus upon action research.
Te Kete Manaki Taonga (EDUC7905) 15 credits (0.125 EFTS)To enable students to synthesise Te Reo Maori me ona tikanga in their teaching praxis, and articulate their understandings of manaaki taonga and its application in teaching practice.
Policy and Discourse in Context: The Early Childhood Education (EDUC7931) 15 credits (0.125 EFTS)To critically examine social and educational policy, and contemporary discourses and issues relevant to early childhood education.
Personal Pedagogy and Leadership (EDUC7932) 15 credits (0.125 EFTS)The course facilitates the development and justification of a personal pedagogical philosophy for early childhood education in relation to children, whanau and communities. Students will critically analyse ethical, professional and leadership issues guiding their practice.
Advanced Curriculum and Pedagogical Documentation (EDUC7935) 15 credits (0.125 EFTS)To enable students to critically analyse and consolidate understanding of a range of curriculum issues and discourses.