Higher and Professional Education MA
The MA Higher and Professional Education will give students critical insights into the changing field of higher education; reflecting on contemporary developments and debates. It will introduce conceptual and analytical frameworks for understanding the role of higher education in society. It will develop student’s knowledge, skills and confidence to operate effectively and creatively in a diverse higher education sector.
This programme provides students with the opportunity to study for an interdisciplinary, interprofessional qualification, examining higher and professional education policies and practices in relation to their own personal and professional experience.
Students undertake modules to the value of 180 credits.
The programme consists of two core modules (60 credits), two optional modules (60 credits), and either a) a dissertation (60 credits), or b) a report (30 credits) plus a further optional module (30 credits).
The two core modules must both be completed in order to gain the named award.
- Innovation and Change in Higher and Professional Education
- This module examines the changing nature of higher and professional education. It provides a critical introduction to key contemporary issues concerning current policy and practice. It is interdisciplinary, drawing on sociology, philosophy, history, economics, organisation and management studies. The module explores key contemporary national and global issues concerning current policy and practice within higher and professional education such as access and widening participation, globalisation and internationalisation, changes in funding regime and the emergence of private providers, professionalism and professional education, quality, the Entrepreneurial University, new technologies in Higher Education. It aims to engage students in critical reflections of the policy and practice of higher and professional education, to explore change in relation to their own experiences and/or interests and to introduce a range of literature in the field. The sessions include lectures and discussions, and there are opportunities to draw on experiences from professional practice. The module is compulsory for all course members of the MA in Higher and Professional Education, but is also available to other UCL Institute of Education MA students with interest and involvement in the content.
- Higher Education: Comparative and International Perspectives
Currently policies and practices affecting higher education (HE) around the world are strongly influenced by factors which derive from outside the relevant domestic context. Specifically, the forces of globalization, technological change and of the influences of cross-national agencies have radically changed the frames within which HE policy makers and providers now operate within. This module sets out to investigate, analyse and critique the nature of these influences through the adoption of a perspective derived from the fields of comparative and international studies of HE. The module is compulsory for all course members of the MA in Higher and Professional Education but is also available to other UCL Institute of Education MA students with interest and involvement in the content.
In 2017/18 both core modules were timtabled 5-8pm to enable students working in higher education to attend with ICHE running in the Autumn Term and HE: CiP running in the Spring Term.
Recommended optional modules appear below, but optional modules can be selected from the wide range offered by various taught Masters programmes at the Institute of Education.
- Comparative Education: Theories and Methods
This module introduces participants to the theory and practice of comparative education. It will review the historical development of the field and its relations with policy-making and other areas of comparative study; explore key concepts and theoretical frameworks used by comparativists; and develop understanding of the main methodological approaches to systematic comparative research. The use of comparative evidence by policy-makers and the process of policy-borrowing will be critically examined and the module will explore, through a range of case studies, how comparative analysis has contributed to the understanding of educational process and the relations between education and its social contexts.
- Understanding Education Policy
- This module is designed to cover key perspectives and concepts in the analysis of education policy. Topics covered include approaches to understanding education policy and its relevance and import to practitioners. We consider global developments in educational policy (such as marketization, choice of school, private sector involvement in public education) and consider the forms such developments take in England and Wales and elsewhere. The module also provides an in-depth look at some current policies and considers future directions. This module can be taken as a standalone module.
- Debates in the History of Education
This module offers participants the opportunity to re-think education and learning from a historical perspective and engages with enduring debates in education policy and practice. International perspectives on education, social change and inequality over the past two centuries are addressed. The module studies key themes and concepts in education in an international perspective. The range of topics include colonialism and national identity, education and the economy, youth and leisure, labour and social movements, literacy, the state and education, and childhood and social welfare.
In addressing these issues, the module draws upon themes such as justice and fairness in education as well as inequalities relating to class, gender, race and disability. A range of primary historical sources will be utilised, for example, documents and archives, literary, biographical, archival, visual and material evidence. History of education has a long research tradition which connects to both the study of history and education as well as drawing upon other humanities and social sciences.
Student work has previously been published in the History of Education Researcher.
- Education and Technology: Key Issues and Debates
The use of digital technology is now a central part of education provision and practice. This module introduces students to some of the key issues in the field and addresses some fundamental and often unvoiced questions about the burgeoning development and implementation of digital technologies in education. Some of the key questions we will consider are:
- What are the benefits and limitations of concepts such as 'technology-enhanced learning' or 'blended learning' for educational practices?
- How do theories of learning affect the way in which educational technology is studied and used?
- To what extent do 'improving learning' and 'making education fairer' represent competing goals in debates about educational technology?
- How can social theory, including theories of globalisation and new modes of knowledge production, be used to analyse the implications for technology use in the classroom?
- How can the significance of social media and telepresence for education be theorised?
- What are the principle barriers to the use of educational technology in the classroom and how could they be overcome?
- How has technology use outside education shaped understanding of its risks and benefits in education?
- Education and technology - what possible futures?
The module involves student engagement with the research literature, use of education technology resources and tools, staged writing activities, and online practical and collaborative activities, building up to work for the assignment.
- Learning and Teaching for Adults
The basis of this module is an exploration of pedagogical issues which lie at the heart of the teaching and learning of adults. It is suitable for teachers, tutors, trainers and other staff working in further, higher, adult and professional education. Individual sessions will draw upon a range of theoretical perspectives including approaches to learning, knowledge and assessment, the relationship between organisational context, teaching and learning, the different teaching traditions in post-compulsory and professional education and notions of excellence and reflective practice.
Responsibility for teaching and learning is shared between tutors and participants. During the final workshop, students will make short presentations based on applying perspectives gained from the module to their own teaching context. This module is available as a short course.
- Philosophy of Education: Values, Aims and Society
This module draws on work in ethics and political philosophy in order to provide an introduction to many of the major issues in philosophy of education.
Specifically, we will explore philosophical aspects of the concepts of: freedom and equality; the perceived tension between these concepts in political philosophy; and the educational ideas associated with different ways of thinking about individual freedom, social justice and equality. These will be considered in relation to differing conceptions of ethics, and the divergent ideas of human being (the self and its relation to society) that these generate. We will also address the relevance of ideas and debates within these areas for current issues in educational policy and practice.
Topics will include: social change and the advent of progressivism; arguments around progressivism and liberal education; liberalism and communitarianism; radical and libertarian traditions; the public/private distinction; privatization and marketisation; state control of education; faith schools and common schools; values education and education for citizenship.
- Sociology of Education
This module aims to identify and explore some of the major perspectives in the sociology of education, bringing together a team of experts to explore a range of contemporary issues in this exciting and diverse field. We explore the relationships between education, society, the state and the individual, and consider how forces like globalisation and marketization are impacting education. We pay particular attention to educational (in)equalities relating to social class, race, ethnicity, religion, gender, sexuality, migration and citizenship. Over the course of the module you will discover how key theorists and bodies of research in sociology of education can help us to better understand and respond to pressing educational issues. This module can be taken face-to-face or online, and is available as a standalone module.
- Understanding Education Research
This module will provide participants with an introduction to a range of research approaches and methods. They will also be able to engage in specialist issues and look in detail at sourcing, generating and analysing specific kinds of extant and new research content. These will include autobiographies, biographies, documents, interviews, life histories, media and multi-media texts, narratives, observations, oral histories, philosophical arguments, statistics and conceptual analysis, photographs and other visual representations, statistics and numeric data. Reading of original source texts of key studies will provide participants with the opportunity to interrogate the changing and contested nature of education research.
The module is designed to be both multi- and inter-disciplinary, exposing all students to approaches to research from across the foundation disciplines of history, philosophy and sociology. Participants will be invited to explore the sorts of questions that might be asked, and answered, by education research. Moving on, we will think about the implications of these questions for designing research as well as engaging, or even influencing education policy and practice. The role of the researcher, her/his relationship with the researched, and the ethical dimensions of this will be key considerations.
- Understanding Research
The aim of this module is to provide a general introduction to social research, advancing students' ability to recognise, describe and appraise different types, principles and practices of research in education and the social sciences. As well as critically reading research, participants gain first-hand experience in and reflect critically on doing research. The following topics will be considered:
- purposes of research
- theory and research
- research ethics
- research questions
- research designs
- data collection methods
- qualitative data analysis
- quantitative data analysis
- selection and representation in research
- academic literature
- judging the quality of research.
The module Learning and Teaching for Adults has the additional requirement of experience of teaching.
All students undertake an independent research project which culminates in a 20,000-word dissertation or 10,000-word report.
Teaching and Learning
Teaching is delivered through interactive lectures, seminars, group discussions, case study analysis and online learning. In many modules there are opportunities for all students to participate on a variety of ways, including giving short presentations or seminar papers or leading group discussions.
Assessment is through coursework assignments of up to 5,000 words and a 20,000-word dissertation or 10,000-word report.
Note on fees: The tuition fees shown are for the year indicated above. Fees for subsequent years may increase or otherwise vary. Further information on fee status, fee increases and the fee schedule can be viewed on the UCL Current Students website. Fees for flexible, modular study are charged pro-rata to the appropriate full-time Master's fee taken in an academic session.
A minimum of a relevant second-class Bachelor's degree from a UK university or an overseas qualification of an equivalent standard and relevant professional experience of higher and professional education.
English Language Requirements
If your education has not been conducted in the English language, you will be expected to demonstrate evidence of an adequate level of English proficiency.
The English language level for this programme is: Good
Further information can be found on our English language requirements page.
Country-specific information, including details of when UCL representatives are visiting your part of the world, can be obtained from the International Students website.
This programme is suitable for international students on a Tier 4 visa - study must be full-time, face-to-face, starting October or January.
International applicants can find out the equivalent qualification for their country by selecting from the list below.
Select your country:
Graduates of this programme are currently working across a broad range of areas, for example one is a university governance and quality assurance manager, while another is a government policy adviser for education. Others have jobs as academic standards and quality officer, careers and professional development consultant, learning, teaching and quality manager, and qualifications manager and students’ union officer. Some go on to doctoral studies in the field of higher education.
Recent career destinations for this degree
- Administrative Assistant, Vienna University for Economics and Business
- Medical Consultant, St George's Hospital (NHS)
- Programme Administrator, Institute of Education
- International Partnerships Manager, City University London
- PHD Education, Institute of Education, University of London (IOE)
The employability of students will be significantly enhanced by the development of complementary skills which will help them to efficiently connect theory, policy and practice in their day to day to jobs.
- to enable participants to understand and analyse policies and practices in higher and professional education
- to develop critical awareness of concepts, debates and issues in higher and professional education
- to be able to conduct a small-scale inquiry, and include this in a sustained exposition (dissertation or report)
- to develop frameworks and principles for action in professional settings
Careers data is taken from the ‘Destinations of Leavers from Higher Education’ survey undertaken by HESA looking at the destinations of UK and EU students in the 2013–2015 graduating cohorts six months after graduation.
Why study this degree at UCL?
The Department of Education, Practice and Society is a multidisciplinary department at UCL Institute of Education. The department has extensive expertise and experience in research, knowledge transfer and consultancy in the UK, Europe and Asia, working closely with transnational bodies, government departments, regional organisations, national institutes, and international organisations.
The Centre for Higher Education Studies brings together students, researchers, consultants and practitioners from around the world focusing on higher education with a distinctive programme of seminars and events
Programmes offered by the Centre for Higher Education Studies provide high level academic and professional education for those working in higher education.
Department: Education, Practice & Society
Research Excellence Framework (REF)
The Research Excellence Framework, or REF, is the system for assessing the quality of research in UK higher education institutions. The 2014 REF was carried out by the UK's higher education funding bodies, and the results used to allocate research funding from 2015/16.
The following REF score was awarded to the department: Education, Practice & Society
78% rated 4* (world-leading) or 3* (internationally excellent)
Learn more about the scope of UCL's research, and browse case studies, on our Research Impact website.
Application and next steps
Students are advised to apply as early as possible due to competition for places. Those applying for scholarship funding (particularly overseas applicants) should take note of application deadlines.
Who can apply?
This programme is suited to all those with professional or voluntary experience of working in higher education and related fields; administrators and managers; researchers, teachers and professional staff such as learning support or widening participation officers; and policy-makers from universities, colleges, national organisations and professional bodies.
- All applicants
- 4 September 2018
For more information see our Applications page.Apply now
What are we looking for?
When we assess your application we would like to learn:
- why you want to study Higher and Professional Education at graduate level
- why you want to study Higher and Professional Education at UCL
- what particularly attracts you to the chosen programme
- how your academic and professional background meets the demands of this challenging programme
- where you would like to go professionally with your degree
Together with essential academic requirements, the personal statement is your opportunity to illustrate whether your reasons for applying to this programme match what the programme will deliver.