The Policy Studies in Education MA will introduce students to ways of critically analysing education policy within a broad social, economic and political context, considering contemporary developments in education policy in institutional, local, national and global contexts. It will enable them to explore existing policy issues and practices both in England and elsewhere around the world, and apply the insights provided to their own experiences.
Modes and duration
Teaching sessions are commonly in the evenings. Part-time students will normally attend one module (i.e. one evening session per week) per term, and full-time students two modules per term.
Tuition fees (2021/22)
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: ucl.ac.uk/students/fees. 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 second-class Bachelor's degree from a UK university or an overseas qualification of an equivalent standard in education or sociology or a cognate discipline is required. Some educational experience in either teaching or administration is considered an advantage.
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
UCL Pre-Master's and Pre-sessional English courses are for international students who are aiming to study for a postgraduate degree at UCL. The courses will develop your academic English and academic skills required to succeed at postgraduate level. International Preparation Courses
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 Student visa – study must be full-time, face-to-face, starting October.
International applicants can find out the equivalent qualification for their country by selecting from the list below.
Select your country:
About this degree
Students have the opportunity to develop a comprehensive theoretical understanding of education policy, drawing in particular on sociological perspectives. Students will study major and topical themes within social science (such as globalisation, markets and managerialism) with a particular emphasis on their effects on and relevance to education within and beyond England.
Students undertake modules to the value of 180 credits.
The programme consists of two core modules (60 credits), two optional modules (60 credits) and a dissertation (60 credits), or a report (30 credits) and a third optional module (30 credits).
There are approximately 6-8 optional modules available, including those that focus on the following topics: race; gender and sexuality; research methods; human rights; and social theory.
Upon successful completion of 180 credits, you will be awarded a MA in Policy Studies in Education.
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.
The compulsory modules are 'Sociology of Education' (focusing on how belonging to particular social groups can affect educational experiences) and 'Understanding Education Policy' (focusing on contemporary global education policy issues).
- Sociology of Education
- Understanding Education Policy
- Dissertation or Report
Students can choose optional modules from the list below. Students can also choose from a range of Master's-level optional modules across the IOE offering, subject to availability.
- Understanding Education Research
- Sociology of 'Race' and Education
- Rights and Education
- Gender, Sexuality and Education
- Theoretical Foundations of Educational Ideas
- Minorities, Migrants and Refugees in National Education Systems
- Social Theory and the Study of Contemporary Social Problems
- Higher Education: Comparative and International Perspectives
- Gender, Education and Development
- Education, Values and Identities
Visit the UCL Institute of Education website for more information, including module descriptions, which can be seen by clicking on the module title.
All students undertake an independent research project which culminates in a 15,000-word dissertation or 7,500-word report.
Teaching and learning
The programme is usually delivered through a combination of face-to-face evening sessions and interactive online learning using a variety of teaching and learning styles. Lectures are usually followed by open discussion or group work. At other times a seminar format is adopted involving, for example, group discussion of set reading, a video or an introductory presentation. It is assessed by coursework assignments of up to 5,000 words and the dissertation or report.
For more information on additional costs for prospective students please go to our estimated cost of essential expenditure at Accommodation and living costs.
Scholarships relevant to this department are displayed below.
- Applications for this scholarship are now closed for 2021/22
- Full fees, flights, stipend, and other allowances (1 year)
- Based on both academic merit and financial need
- Full tuition fees and accommodation (1 year)
- Based on both academic merit and financial need
- Tuition fees, stipend, flights (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 across a broad range of areas. Some are working as teachers, while others have jobs in education policy-making. Graduates can also be found studying for PhDs.
Transferable skills include the opportunity to develop your written and analytical skills, such as to concisely summarise diverse bodies of literature and theory, and present written and spoken arguments and reflections.
In terms of content, you will have the opportunity to acquire a broad understanding of contemporary education reforms world-wide with the opportunity, through your written work, to focus on researching in-depth particular topics of your choice.
Why study this degree at UCL?
The Department of Education, Practice and Society at UCL Institute of Education is the home of an interdisciplinary grouping bringing together high-quality teaching and research in the history, sociology and philosophy of education, international development, post-compulsory and vocational education and higher education.
Policy Studies in Education, along with the MAs in Sociology of Education and Social Justice and Education, is part of the Department’s Sociology MA cluster. The three ‘pathways’ share some modules and the MA Programme Leaders and Module Leaders work closely together as a team. Students therefore gain invaluable opportunities to study with leading scholars and a cohort of internationally diverse students across these MA cluster pathways.
The MA is taught primarily by sociologists within the department who have expertise in policy analysis, gender, 'race', sexuality, youth, and social class. Those teaching you are active researchers and will introduce you to the latest research and developments in their fields. Linking research, policy and practice, the result is an extraordinarily powerful learning community.
The MA attracts both home and international students, with a range of backgrounds and experiences thus providing excellent educational and networking opportunities.
Department: Education, Practice & Society
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.
This programme requires two references. Further information regarding references can be found in our How to apply section.
There is an application processing fee for this programme of £90 for online applications and £115 for paper applications. Further information can be found at: ucl.ac.uk/prospective-students/graduate/taught/application.
Who can apply?
This programme is suited to people involved in or interested in contemporary education policy, administration, and governance. It attracts both full-time and part-time students. Some experience in studying sociology is desirable.
Experience in working/volunteering in educational settings is an advantage.
- All applicants
- 31 May 2021
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 Policy Studies in Education at graduate level
- why you want to study Policy Studies in 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.
We look for a strong academic background in general, since the course is intellectually demanding. We particularly look for some background in Sociology, as its concepts are key to the Programme, or in Education and other cognate fields, and/or experience as an educator. Your application will still be considered if you do not have these, but you would need to address this explicitly in your Personal Statement.
UCL is regulated by the Office for Students.