Institute of Education


Primary Education (4-12) MA

The MA Primary Education (4-12) develops critical understanding of policy development in primary education within the UK and internationally. It meets the rapidly changing needs of professionals educating young children, in examining critically the bases for current practices in primary schools, providing insight into international developments in primary education and in offering opportunities to work with leading researchers and practitioners in the field.

Key information

Programme starts

September 2020

Modes and duration

Full time: 1 year
Part time: 2 years
Flexible: up to 5 years

Application dates

All applicants
Open: 1 November 2019
Close: 4 September 2020

Tuition fees (2020/21)

£8,940 (FT)
£4,605 (PT)
£20,110 (FT)
£10,240 (PT)

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 Students website. Fees for flexible, modular study are charged pro-rata to the appropriate full-time Master's fee taken in an academic session.

Location: London, Bloomsbury

Entry requirements

Normally a minimum of a lower second-class Bachelor's degree in a relevant discipline from a UK university an overseas qualification of an equivalent standard. Students should also ideally have direct professional involvement with pre-school or primary education either in or outside the UK.

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.

International students

Country-specific information, including details of when UCL representatives are visiting your part of the world, can be obtained from the International Students website.

International applicants can find out the equivalent qualification for their country by selecting from the list below.

Select your country:

About this degree

The programme offers opportunities to engage with the latest research and international debate concerning curriculum, pedagogy and assessment and its implications for professional practice in primary education. Students will develop knowledge and skills to evaluate and conduct educational research related to their professional interests and develop their own perspectives as leaders in primary education.

Students take modules to the value of 180 credits.

The programme consists of three compulsory modules (90 credits), one optional module (30 credits) and a dissertation (60 credits).

For those students who import (up to 60) credits via Accreditation of Prior Learning, a report (30 credits) may be undertaken instead of the dissertation. 

Upon successful completion of 180 credits, you will be awarded a MA in Primary Education (4-12).

Please note that the list of modules given here is indicative. This information is published a long time in advance of enrolment and module content and availability is subject to change.

Compulsory modules

Primary Education Policies and Practices
Global Debates and Research into Practice: Educating Children Aged 4-12
Researching Early Years and Primary Education

Optional modules

Students can choose from the optional modules listed below.  Students can also choose one from a range of other Master's-level optional modules across the IOE offering, subject to availability.

Leadership in Early Childhood Education
Guiding Effective Learning and Teaching
Primary Mathematics Teaching: Mathematics and Pedagogy
Literacy Development
Children's Rights in Global Perspectives
Assessment for Learning
Educational Testing
International Perspectives on Education Reform: Curriculum and Assessment


Students undertake an independent research project which culminates in a 20,000-word dissertation or 10,000 word report. The report is only available to those importing credits via Accreditation of Prior Learning as confirmed at enrolment. 


 There is an opportunity in the Autumn term to make an optional visit a primary school, particularly for those unfamiliar with the English education system. This visit may incur a small charge made by the school (see additional costs).

Teaching and learning

This programme is delivered through face-to-face sessions which are a mix of mainly evenings 5.30-8.30pm and a few Saturdays across the year. Sessions are a mixture of input by specialists and discussion in seminars and workshops.  Assessment is through assignments, directed tasks and a dissertation/report. 

Students are required to attend sessions and undertake independent study, reading, and engage with structured activities including online via our virtual learning environment.

Additional costs

If you wish to undertake any of your research in UK schools or settings, you will need to apply and pay for a DBS (Disclosure and Barring Service) check.

In future there may be a discretionary charge levied by primary schools for visits. It is anticipated that this will be no more than £10 and will be confirmed at induction. 

For more information on additional costs for prospective students please go to our estimated cost of essential expenditure at Accommodation and living costs.


Details of the accessibility of UCL buildings can be obtained from AccessAble. Further information can also be obtained from the UCL Student Support & Wellbeing team.


Scholarships relevant to this department are displayed below.

IOE-Clarke Scholarships

Deadline Monday 25 May 2020 (5pm London time).
Tuition fees, stipend, flights (1 year)
Based on both academic merit and financial need

IOE-ISH Centenary Masters Scholarships

Deadline: Monday 18 May 2020 (5pm London time).
Full tuition fees and accommodation (1 year)
Based on both academic merit and financial need

For a comprehensive list of the funding opportunities available at UCL, including funding relevant to your nationality, please visit the Scholarships and Funding website.


Graduates of this programme are currently working in a broad range of careers, both nationally and internationally. Many have leadership roles in schools, for example as school mentors for early career teachers, subject leaders, phase co-ordinators, assistant head teachers or head teachers. Others work as education advisers and consultants across a range of schools or as inspectors and policymakers at both local and national levels. Graduates can also be found working as researchers, lecturers and teacher educators in higher education and in educational services outside schools such as museums, publishing or children's support services. 


By taking this programme students develop an international, critical and deep understanding of primary leadership, curriculum, pedagogy and assessment. Participants have used their studies to gain promotion, apply for new careers and to set up educational businesses. 

Why study this degree at UCL?

The Primary and Early Years Education staff team at UCL Institute of Education (IOE) have been at the forefront of international research for two decades including the renowned Effective Pre-School, Primary and Secondary Education (EPPSE) project. The programme also has strong links to the innovative Helen Hamlyn Centre for Pedagogy (0-11).

The programme sits as part of the wider MA Early Years Education. The MA Primary Education (4-12)  focuses specifically on primary education but you will also have the opportunity to exchanges ideas with and learn from students and UCL IOE colleagues across the early years and primary age phases in UK and internationally. 

This degree supports understanding and insights into primary education nationally and internationally, and contributes to personal and professional development in the field of study. For example: "the programme equips me with a thorough understanding of the primary education system, education policies, contemporary issues, and good practices in primary education" (international student). 

Previous students have found it helpful in developing their critical awareness of how policy and practice interact and its influence on their practice, for example: -"linking classroom and school practice to research and thinking about the implications of research findings and resulting possibilities" (E. Taylor-Jones, 2018)

Department: Learning & Leadership

What our students and staff say

Alumni view

"I found the programme really interesting and it made me think about the wider - national and global - context of education much more, and how my teaching fits in with that. Parts of the taught modules and particularly my report module really influenced my practice - linking classroom and school practice to research and thinking about the implications of research findings and resulting possibilities."

Emma Taylor-Jones

Primary Education (4-12) MA (2018)
Alumni view

"I enjoyed my dissertation the most. To start with, I thought it would be painful and boring. However, I found it to be one of the most interesting parts. In order to write my dissertation, I did some data collection at several schools. The experience helped me to gain a deeper understanding of the primary school system in London. It was very beneficial considering that I was an international student, having only learnt about the UK’s primary education system from previous university courses. Q&A with Jing Wang"

Jing Wang

Primary Education (4-12) MA (2018)

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.

There is an application processing fee for this programme of £80 for online applications and £105 for paper applications. Further information can be found at: www.ucl.ac.uk/prospective-students/graduate/taught/application.

Who can apply?

This programme is suited to a wide range of professionals involved in primary education seeking continuing professional development, such as class teachers, curriculum co-ordinators, senior leaders, policy advisers, consultants and lecturers in higher education, and those working with children in related fields such as museums or children's services and publishing.

Application deadlines

All applicants
4 September 2020

Normally a minimum of a lower second-class Bachelor's degree in a relevant discipline from a UK university an overseas qualification of an equivalent standard. Students should also ideally have direct professional involvement with pre-school or primary education either in or outside the UK.

This programme is an academic masters, it does not offer Qualified Teacher Status (QTS) to teach in the UK. 

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 Primary Education at graduate level
  • why you want to study Primary 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.

UCL is regulated by the Office for Students.

Page last modified on 31 July 2020