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Graduate Diploma in Education (Early Childhood)

About this course

The Graduate Diploma in Education (Early Childhood) is designed for those who want to be an accredited four-year trained early childhood teacher, or who want to upgrade from a three-year teaching qualification. 

This one year full-time (or part-time equivalent) course provides graduates with an early childhood teaching qualification to work with children from birth to five years. Admission into the course is via an undergraduate degree in any discipline, including a three-year teaching qualification. 

The course covers key areas of early childhood education and care from theory, and principles to practices that best support children's learning and development. The course includes professional experience in pre-school and infant and toddler settings. Working in the early childhood educational field is rewarding and fulfilling. 

Career opportunities

Career opportunities arising from this course include:

  • Early childhood teacher in preschool and long day care (child care) settings
  • Family day care educator
  • Early childhood services.

Professional recognition

The University has accreditation for this course from the Australian Children's Education and Care Quality Authority (ACECQA).

Please note, this course qualifies early childhood teachers to teach in birth to five-year-old settings. These settings are known differently throughout Australia, some as preschools and others as kindergarten. The course does not qualify graduates to teach in primary school settings. 

Professional placement

Students undertake 60 days of professional placement during this course covering two settings: preschool setting and an infant and toddler setting.

Major areas of study

The major areas of study include theories of learning and development, principles and practices of early childhood education and care, key issues in the early childhood education and care field including social justice, diversity and equity, working with families, investigating different early childhood educational models around the world and applying knowledge, skills and capabilities in professional experience.

Assessment methods

A variety of assessment methods are included in this course. Scenario analysis, professional portfolio development, critical thinking and workplace development during professional experience placements.

Teaching methods

Students learn in an interactive online environment with plenty of flexibility to accommodate the competing commitments of busy professionals. There may be compulsory attendance requirements in some units. Units are delivered by distance education. Units include innovative and appropriate use of technology to support student learning, and to ensure regular engagement with academics and fellow students. Learning is facilitated by highly qualified and supportive academics. Students may receive a combination of podcast or video-linked lectures, electronic study materials, workshops, online discussion forums and virtual classes. The methods of teaching vary from unit to unit.

Please note: This course is delivered by distance education and students may be required to attend on-campus workshops during some of the units.

Advanced standing

Your previous learning experiences relevant to one or more units in this course may help you reduce the duration of your degree.

  • Recognition of formal and non-formal learning
    Credit may be awarded to a student for formal learning (gained through full or partial achievement of an accredited qualification or course) or non-formal learning (that takes place through a non-accredited course or program of learning) completed at Southern Cross University or in other learning settings in Australia and/or overseas.
  • Recognition of informal learning
    Credit may be awarded on the basis of current informal learning (that takes place through work, social, family or leisure activities).

To help you identify how much credit you may receive for your related prior learning visit SCU Pathways.

An application for advanced standing must be submitted so we can assess your prior learning. Please apply for advanced standing at the same time as you apply for admission into this course, because the amount of credit awarded will determine the sequence of units you will study.

 Go to course structure to see if specific advanced standing rules also apply to this course.

Learning support

Learning resources

MySCU is a student's point of entry to a range of online services and resources that support study and student life. The portal includes unit learning sites and information sites where students can access resources, communication tools and useful links that are integral to their studies.

The web-based study environment Blackboard Learn delivers an advanced online learning environment for students and lecturers to communicate and collaborate through virtual meeting spaces, classrooms, and discussion boards. They can share files, presentations and applications. If a tutorial or lecture is recorded, students can view it afterwards.

Learning materials include the provision of unit information guides, study guides and readings. Students may need to purchase or access prescribed text books.

The SCU Library provides a wide range of services that include face-to-face and online help, and access to print and electronic resources. To find out more, see the Library Toolbox.

The Academic Skills team supports student learning by offering online and on-campus academic skills workshops, email, phone, and one-on-one support.

Equipment and facilities

Southern Cross University provides students with modern well equipped learning spaces to meet the needs of specific study disciplines.

Course structure

See the University’s Rules Relating to Awards, in conjunction with the Specific Award Rules listed below.

Table of contents


Admission requirements

  1. Applications for admission to candidature in the Graduate Diploma in Education (Early Childhood) may be selected where they can demonstrate academic or professional standing considered by the School Board or Course Coordinator to be equivalent to the requirements of Rule 2, Section 3.
  2. To meet the minimum English language requirement an applicant must satisfy one of the following criteria:
    1. have completed senior secondary study equivalent of Australian Year 12 or have completed at least one year of full-time study (or equivalent part-time study) at AQF diploma equivalent or higher where:
      1. the country where those studies were undertaken is listed in Schedule A of the Rules Relating to Awards - Rule 2, and
      2. the language of instruction was English; or
    2. achieved a minimum test score within two (2) years of the date of application for admission, equal to or above the minimum listed below:
      1. International English Language Test System (IELTS). The applicant must have a minimum overall score of 7.5, including a minimum result of 8.0 in both the speaking and listening modules and 7.0 in reading and writing; or
      2. International Second Language Proficiency Rating (ISLPR). The applicant must have a score of at least 4+ in each of the four areas: speaking, listening, reading and writing.

Course requirements

  1. To be eligible for the award Graduate Diploma in Education (Early Childhood) a candidate shall successfully complete not less than eight (8) units (96 credit points) all listed in the Schedule of Units.
  2. Permission to undertake a professional experience placement will at all times be at the discretion of the Head of School.

Inherent Requirements

Inherent Requirements apply to this course as defined on the Student Access and Inclusion website. If you have a disability or health condition which may impact on your ability to meet these requirements please refer to the Student Access and Inclusion website for further information and contact details.

Advanced standing

  1. Candidates may only be granted advanced standing for one (1) Early Childhood Professional Experience unit.

Schedule of units

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How to apply

Domestic students

Applications for this course are made directly to SCU via our online application service.

The information on this page may be subject to change over time. Please check this page again before acting and see our disclaimer.