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1 year full-time


Durham City

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Course details

The MA in Education provides outstanding opportunities to study a wide range of educational issues. It will provide you with a clear understanding of the nature and significance of policy and practice in education, relevant to researchers as well as professionals in schools, colleges and universities.

A key feature of the course is the facility for you to draw on your own professional and personal as well as academic and theoretical interests, through being able to choose from a range of optional modules to study (see below). You will also be able to explore your own interests in depth through the completion of a dissertation.

In all of our modules, we aim to introduce you to key ideas and ways of thinking that enable you to engage with related issues in contexts that are relevant to you. Our course is constructed in such a way that contexts as diverse as science education in schools, informal learning in the workplace and the management of schools outside the UK, can be explored through module assignments as well as the dissertation.

The degree has been designed to meet the needs of educational professionals, especially those in teaching, management or administration at all levels of education. Students likely to benefit from the course are those who are interested in education, often teachers or people planning to become teachers, who have a commitment to pedagogy, and educational managers in schools, colleges and higher education institutions, as well as those working in educational administration, in the UK and overseas.

Students who have successfully completed the PGCE at Durham in the previous academic year have the option to use 90 credits they have accredited on this course. These students will only need to do the core modules, Education Enquiry and the Dissertation to complete the course.

Course Structure

Students normally study two 20 credit core taught modules, two 10 credit taught modules, two 30 credit modules plus the 60 credit dissertation over one year.

Core modules:

  • Design and Methods in Education Research (20 credits) introduces key issues, terms, and ideas in education research. It teaches a range of key research skills including the evaluation of research techniques across different research contexts and the ability to conduct a high-quality study. You will learn to recognise the different purposes of education research; understand key terms and vocabulary in education research and develop a critical standpoint in relation to research in education.
  • Conceptual Perspectives in Education (20 credits) engages with some of the key debates in education today and considers the role of ‘theory’ in the research process. You will develop an understanding of the ways in which education theories and/or conceptual frameworks inform the types of questions researchers ask about education and learn how this contributes to educational research.
  • Postgraduate Dissertation (60 credits) is a substantial piece of research based on an educational issue within your chosen field of study. You will use an approved research strategy to design and carry out your research and report the outcomes.

Mini modules (10 credits):

You must select two 10 credit modules from a list of optional modules which previously have included:

  • Secondary Data in Education Research introduces secondary data use in multiple research designs, enabling you to critique these datasets and judge published research based on secondary data resources. This module aims to develop knowledge and understanding of using existing datasets in education research; to develop skills in research designs using secondary data resources, and to develop skills for analysing and interpreting findings from secondary data research
  • Ethnographies of Education introduces you to the foundational characteristics of ethnography of education as a field of study, providing you with opportunities to discuss and reflect on a range of methodological and methodical  perspectives relevant to ethnography of education. The module introduces select key theories and conceptual frameworks and how they inform ethnographic research in different areas of study.
  • Measurement in Education Research aims to develop your critical understanding of what measurement in social science research means and how it can be implemented in education research. This module explores types of measurement tools and scales in research with a focus on questionnaire development. It considers validity and reliability of measurement tools used in research, and ethical issues related to measurement in research.
  • Interviews provides an overview of interviewing as a social research method with a focus on education. This module offers guidance on planning interviews, pre-interview tasks and post-interview tasks. It explores the processes of organising information; interpretations through coding; gathering data from planning through transcription to analysis, and considers the issues of ethics, positionality, and logistics.
  • Narrative Enquiry – Methodology and Methods explores the philosophical, empirical, and analytical debates and practices central to the field of narrative inquiry. Narrative inquiry is the umbrella term for approaches aimed at understanding the human dimensions of lived experience over time and in personal context. This module covers a broad range of approaches to and methods for developing and understanding educational and allied research centred on narrative accounts of lived experience.
  • Experiments in Education (15 credits) aims to enable you to appreciate and contribute to the debate about the role of experimentation in educational research; recognise and make choices from a range of experimental designs; identify threats to the validity of experimental features and understand strategies for minimising threats to the validity of experimental inferences; analyse, synthesise and interpret data from experimental research
  • Systematic Reviews introduces you to established methodologies for creating evidence syntheses such as systematic reviews, iterative reviews, and scoping reviews with emphasis on finding and managing information. This module aims to develop knowledge and understanding in the design, conduct and reporting of systematic reviews for use in education and social science topic areas; to develop skills for conducting systematic reviews, and to develop skills for summarising review evidence.

In recent years, optional modules have included (30 credits):

You must select 60 credits from a list of modules which previously have included:

  • Psychological Perspectives on Learning considers methodological approaches to the operationalization of learning (e.g., the assessment of learning ability) and reflects on the challenges to claims that certain educational interventions are causal to changes in learning outcomes. This module also critically reflects on prominent misconceptions related to learning, including the notion of learning styles, the fixedness of intelligence, and others.

  • Education Policy and Evaluation is concerned with the analysis of the process of education policymaking, and critical reflection on education policy reform, evaluation, and research. This module looks closely at attempts to evaluate education policy and provides you with an opportunity to develop skills in critically appraising the ways in which policy innovation has been evaluated in the UK and elsewhere. The relationship between policy, practice and research is also critically examined.
  • International Development and Education in a Global World aims to develop knowledge and understanding of key issues related to globalisation and international development and the challenges and opportunities these offer for education. For students interested in learning more about education as an international issue, this module offers an introduction to international development and comparative education. It considers why it is important to look beyond the nation state in the current context of globalisation and global inequalities and explores suitable research approaches and concepts for developing this perspective.
  • Language, Education and Power considers the multiple languages in circulation in a community, and their speakers. It explores questions such as: How are languages recognised and valued in communities? How are language and identity linked? What structural features support languages in the community and their speakers? How can education support non-mainstream languages, and what are the implications for those being educated? It also considers how languages are acknowledged in research.
  • Leading Change in Educational Organisations aims to develop advanced knowledge and understanding of educational leadership and management and the ways to bring change, and to develop understanding of how context and values influence educational management practice. This module aims to promote the development of effective educational leaders through critical reflection on practice; improve professional capability in education organisations; and enable you to carry out evaluations of change management/leadership.
  • The Case for Higher Education will introduce students to the changing context of global higher education landscape, including its competing purposes, value contexts, governance frameworks and the identities of key actors. It will enable students to appreciate critically the key issues within higher education and reflect on what matters in taking higher education forward.
  • Digital Technologies and Education: Critical Perspectives offers a theoretical and research-based perspective on the effects and impact of digital technologies on education practice. It does so by focusing on different themes related to critical understanding of digital education.
  • Enhancing Teaching and Learning for Purposeful Productive Thought By the end of the module participants should have acquired a critical understanding of issues relating to teaching and learning for the fostering of productive purposeful thought in the classroom.


In all of our postgraduate taught courses, we place an emphasis on empowering students to be autonomous, independent learners. The taught modules provide an introduction to module content which is then developed and extended through our use of online resources, key reading and independent study and research. We consider the development of independent learning and research skills to be one of the key elements of our postgraduate taught curriculum and one which helps our students cultivate initiative, originality and critical thinking. In other words, students are advised not to restrict their study to the content provided in lectures and seminars.

On the MA Education programme, you will take compulsory core modules worth a total of 60 credits plus two optional modules worth 60 credits. Modules are delivered using a combination of lectures, seminars workshops, and tutorials. The core modules are designed to provide you with a critical understanding of theories, research and issues relevant to your chosen course of study. Outside timetabled contact hours, you are also expected to devote significant amounts of time to reading, discussing and preparing for classes, assignments and project work.

You will undertake a 60 credit dissertation. This crucial piece of work is a significant piece of independent research that constitutes a synthesis of theory, method, and practice in education and is supported by an individual supervisor, specialist dissertation workshops and the Dissertation Coordinator.

Throughout the course, all students meet regularly with an Academic Advisor, who provides academic support and guidance. In addition, Programme Leads have regular office hours where they meet students to discuss any issues. Module staff are also happy to meet with you to discuss module specific issues as needed.

In term time, the department also has an extensive programme of departmental and research group seminars which postgraduate students are encouraged to attend (please check our events page for up to date information: ). Before the academic year starts, we provide information on preparation for the course. On arrival, we have induction sessions and social events, headed by the Director of Postgraduate Studies and attended by both academic and administrative staff.


The majority of core and optional modules are assessed via written assignments, a small number of modules include review essays and portfolio work.

The 15,000-word dissertation, supported by a conference presentation, makes up one third of your credits. In comparison to undergraduate level study, you will find that a Master’s degree requires an increased level of independent learning.

Entry requirements

An honours degree at 2:1 (or equivalent). Significant relevant experience will also be considered.

English language requirements

Fees and funding

Full Time Fees

Tuition fees
Home students £10,400 per year
EU students £22,500 per year
Island students £10,400 per year
International students £22,500 per year

The tuition fees shown are for one complete academic year of full time study, are set according to the academic year of entry, and remain the same throughout the duration of the programme for that cohort (unless otherwise stated).

Please also check costs for colleges and accommodation.

Scholarships and Bursaries

We are committed to supporting the best students irrespective of financial circumstances and are delighted to offer a range of funding opportunities. 

Find out more about Scholarships and Bursaries

Career opportunities

School of Education

The consistently high ranking of the Department gives us a worldwide reputation for the quality of not only our teaching but the skills and knowledge of our postgraduate community. The delivery of the subject by the relevant experts on our academic team brings together world class research, innovative teaching and exceptional support.

Your time as a member of the Department’s student community places you in the strong position to pursue a successful career in a range of different sectors. Career opportunities in education are numerous and rewarding and include classroom teaching, educational leadership and management, administration and policy development.

Most of our PGCE graduates go directly into teaching. In keeping with career ambitions, MA graduates progress into a wide range of roles including educational research, publishing, education administration, policy making and management as well as jobs in the commercial or public sector.

For further information on career options please view our department pages

Department information

School of Education

The Department of Education offers a mix of teacher training and education research, set within a vibrant and engaged learning community of around fifty academic staff and 650 postgraduates. We are a leading educational research centre with strong international ties and numerous partner relationships with schools and colleges.

Our postgraduate courses are flexible and allow you to follow a particular interest. They include MAs in Education, Educational Leadership and Change, Intercultural Communication and Education and Research Methods. We also offer a range of PGCE qualifications at primary and secondary levels and in specific school subjects.

We provide the opportunity for learning from academic staff who are leading research and teaching experts in their fields. They underpin our Department’s commitment to conducting research that contributes to shaping educational practice and policy, develops educational research and methodologies, informs school improvements and supports the professional development of teachers around the world.

Our portfolio of research projects attracts interest and financial support from important bodies who have a key role in developing education in the UK. They include the Economic and Social Research Council, the Nuffield Foundation, the Sutton Trust, and the Education Endowment Foundation, as well as a range of other organisations and charities.

For more information see our department pages.


  • Top 100 in the QS World University Subject Rankings 2023
  • 5th in The Complete University Guide 2024
  • Top 10 in The Times and Sunday Times University Guide 2024


For a current list of staff, please see the School of Education pages

Research Excellence Framework

  • Ranked joint 1st nationally for Research Impact and 1st nationally for outputs (REF 2021)


The Department of Education is characterised by its diversity and vibrancy and the enthusiasm and commitment of its postgraduate community to improving the provision of education in the UK and across the globe.

The Department is located at Lower Mountjoy on the main University campus and is not far from the centre of Durham with its UNESCO World Heritage status and the beautiful cathedral.

Our facilities are modern and comprehensive and include a well-resourced library, study areas and the state-of-the-art Confluence Building which plays host to events such as seminars and lectures by guest speakers.


Find out more:

Apply for a postgraduate course (including PGCE International) via our online portal.  

Visit Us

The best way to find out what Durham is really like is to come and see for yourself!

Join a Postgraduate Open Day
  • Date: 01/09/2023 - 31/08/2024
  • Time: 09:00 - 17:00
Find out more
Self-Guided Tours
  • Date: 01/09/2023 - 31/08/2024
  • Time: 09:00 - 16:00
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