Course overview

Our MA Education allows you to consider education in all of its complexity, as something that both reflects and works to construct different aspects of our social lives and the way our society is organised.

This course aims to strengthen and refine your ability to critically reflect upon your own teaching. You will engage with contemporary theories in education and examine how you might apply them to the practice you carry out. It is ideal for those who are looking to take the next step in their career within the education/teaching sector.

We have designed a course that is extremely flexible and meets the needs of individuals and organisations. These include: 

  • a range of optional modules - tailor your degree to your personal and professional interests
  • different modes of delivery - taking account of individual needs and professional contexts

With an advanced education degree from the University of Nottingham, you will graduate with all the knowledge, practical skills and confidence to pursue your career goals.

We welcome approaches from educational organisations looking for a bespoke programme for their staff. 

Please note that this course is not a teacher training course, there is no placement and graduates do not gain Qualified Teacher Status. Please visit our website for postgraduate teacher training if this is the route you wish to follow.

We also offer a distance learning version of this course - MA Education (Online)

Alumni profiles

View our alumni profiles to see what they say about their experience on the course and how it has helped with their career.

Why choose this course?

Top 50

in the world for education

Tailor your degree

with a wide range of optional modules to suit your personal and professional development

Learn from experts

who are internationally recognised for their research in this area

Over 100 years

of experience in the field of education

Excellent research

The majority of our research outputs are assessed as internationally excellent.

Course content

The taught element of this course is made up of 120 credits, plus a 60-credit dissertation. 

There are currently three core modules for full-time students. 

You can choose the remaining modules to suit your specific interests from a range that covers many of the key areas of education. If you qualify for recognition of other learning, you will not have to take the full 120 module credits.

Current areas include:

  • early childhood education
  • education 
  • educational leadership and management 
  • digital teaching and learning
  • special and inclusive education

While each module has its own particular focus, all are concerned with investigating contemporary educational issues in the light of historical, political and social contexts, appropriate literature and the shared experience of other students.

The course can be completed over one year full-time (including dissertation). It is available to individuals and cohorts from schools/consortiums. 

General course reading

  • Kelly, A. V. (2009). The Curriculum: Theory and Practice. Sage.
  • Sadovnik, A. R. and Coughlan, R. W. (Eds). (2016). Sociology of Education: A Critical Reader (3rd edition). Routledge.
  • Darder, A., Mayo, P. and Paraskeva, J. (Eds.). (2017). International Critical Pedagogy Reader. Routledge.
  • Swales, J. M. and Feak, C. B. (2012). Academic Writing for Graduate Students: Essential Tasks and Skills (3rd edition). University of Michigan Press.
  • Bryman, A. (2016). Social Research Methods (5th edition). Oxford University Press.
  • Clark, T., Foster, L. and Bryman, A. (2019). How to do your Social Research Project or Dissertation. Oxford University Press.

Other texts you will engage in will be dependant on your optional modules.

Course leader

Dr Yuwei Xu (contact for academic enquiries)


Core modules

Critical Perspectives on Curriculum and Pedagogy

This module critically examines contemporary debates surrounding orthodoxies in curriculum, learning and assessment in schools, and how these relate to policy and practice.

In particular it considers the way different orthodoxies frame what children and young people learn in schools, how they learn and how assessment practices inform learning processes. The module will explore these orthodoxies in terms of their origins and purposes and it will consider alternative models from an international perspective.

The module starts by considering the history, politics and ideology of the curriculum as it currently exists. It then develops understanding through application of psychological, social and cultural theories of learning and assessment. These theorised views of schooling and classroom practices enable us to analyse and critique the wide-ranging policy and research discussions about curriculum, learning and assessment that are currently under way.

You will be engaged in considering how developments of, and alternatives to, current practices will impact learning and teaching in the future.

Understanding and Planning Educational Research

This compulsory module will develop or build upon your existing critical engagement with educational research, focusing on the complexities of the research process in order that you are able to respond to the kinds of research evidence used in educational discourse, as well as to conceive your own questions and interests in research-oriented terms. The module will introduce different approaches to conducting and evaluating research in a range of educational contexts, drawing on methodological literature as well as examples of educational research, and developing the foundations from which you can begin to plan your own research project. Through the assignment, you will gain the skills to read and write from a methodological perspective, developing an evaluative approach to your encounters with educational research. The module aims to:

  • develop ‘research literacy’ by highlighting and evaluating the different purposes, perspectives and audiences for educational research
  • explore different methods for each stage of the research process, from first questions to ethical issues, data analysis and project presentation
  • enable you to structure your own educational inquiry based on current practice or area of interest

This involves the researching and writing of a substantive piece of scholarship within the field of the course.

You will choose a topic in consultation with your course leader and an appropriate supervisor. The topic will normally be based on interests and skills you have developed in the course of the modules already studied.

Optional modules

Subject area: Early Childhood Education

Literacies and Learning in and out of School

This module covers:

  • theories and definitions of literacy
  • school literacy - histories and debates
  • children's literature and media
  • community and lifelong literacies
  • multimodality, multimedia and new literacies

Experience required: We would normally expect you to have experience of working as teachers in schools, or as educators in less formal arts or community-based settings, for example, in arts organisations, community literacy projects, in the production and distribution of texts in traditional and new media or in arts-based therapies.

Global Perspectives on Early Childhood Education

This module brings together international scholars in education to introduce contemporary and global topics on early childhood education (ECE). Through attending lectures delivered by both University of Nottingham lecturers and guest speakers from across the world, you will then engage in interactive activities and critical discussions on how global perspectives on different topics embed in your own societal contexts. You are further encouraged to reflect on how to ‘localise’ global perspectives into your everyday practice working in ECE contexts, developing culturally-sensitive and -reflective approaches to ECE pedagogy and practice.

The module will cover broad topics relating to:

  • Globalisation and ‘globalisation’ in ECE
  • National ECE curriculum policy frameworks across countries
  • Social justice issues and sustainable development goals in ECE
  • International approaches to pedagogy and practice in ECE
  • Children’s perspective on quality of ECE
  • Teacher development and ECE workforce globally
  • Parenting in intersectional contexts

Subject area: Education

Schools, Society and Mental Well Being

The context of the early 21st century is exerting new pressures in the lives of young people and educators. Research indicates that in the UK and other countries, there is an increasing prevalence of mental-ill health amongst young people together with stress-related illness triggered by the demands of performativity in the experience of teaching staff.

The central question that the module seeks to critically explore is the scope and role that educators can play in understanding and supporting mental well-being both within themselves and in their relationships with others.

The module is taught in an experiential and process-lead way, beginning with an audit of personal/professional experience. The prevalence of mental ill-health is traced and the impact of trauma is explored. You are then introduced to a theoretical /skills based model of helping and supporting before exploring a series of commonly presenting themes encountered in school settings.

The module concludes via a critical consideration of the opportunities and limitations of providing support in school settings as well as quality assurance procedures in the form of supervision and self-care of the educator.


Social Theories and Conceptual Frameworks in Education

This module critically examines leading examples of social theories and frameworks that both inform and help conceptualise key issues within the field of education. It will draw on theories that have originated within the field and also from different disciplines which have application to a study of education.

Throughout the module, you will engage in considering the origins of particular theories of knowledge and of how these help us to understand educational issues and debates across time and in contemporary society. The module will incorporate epistemological issues from a range of historical and global perspectives and will consider the implications of these for educational theorising, conceptualising and research.

Subject area: Educational Leadership and Management

Leading Learning

The module will address the essential features of effective learning, as relevant to your sector by examining:

  • the process of learning
  • supporting learning (for example, through adults, peers and technology) both within and beyond the educational organisation
  • an overview of approaches to improvement and raising achievement in educational organisations
  • monitoring and evaluation of learning: the use of data, target-setting, monitoring


Practice-Based Inquiry

The content will involve you in active critical consideration of participating in and leadership of practitioner inquiry in relation to professional context mapping and workplace learning.

These processes will be achieved through:

  • conceptualising different kinds of practitioner inquiry relevant to work-based understanding and development (purposes, processes, contexts, dilemmas, outcomes)
  • examining a range of approaches to educational inquiry, with an emphasis on action research
  • developing an inquiry into your professional context

Subject area: Digital Teaching and Learning

Social Contexts of Learning

This module focuses on how people learn together in pairs, teams, small groups, the classroom, or an informal community. It works through classical and modern theories of social learning, explaining the social aspects of almost any type of learning and mechanisms that boost the power of learning together.

Equipped with these theories, it explores the various technologies mediating and supporting social learning, such as social media, participation in the World Wide Web, online communities, online communication platforms and virtual reality.

Subject area: Special and Inclusive Education

Responding Mindfully to Challenging Behaviour

This module considers:

  • experiential learning and its relationship to reflective practice and reflexivity: exploration via a learning journal genre
  • world views and models of human behaviour
  • theoretical perspectives on behaviour: behaviourist, humanistic and postmodern approaches
  • social and emotional aspects of behaviour: mental well-being, shame, self-esteem
  • punitive and restorative justice: responding to bullying and challenging behaviour, conflict resolution and peer mediation
  • the intensity/functionality of behaviour: escalation/de-escalation, communication and crisis intervention
  • controversial issues: for example, restraint, exclusion from school, sex and relationship education
  • supporting students with ADHD
  • the role of self-awareness and mindful practice as an essential classroom management approach
  • workforce issues: self-care, partnership working
Communication and Literacy

This module considers:

  • typical and atypical development of communication by looking at means, opportunities and reasons for communicating, along with the influence of expectations
  • typical and atypical development of cognition and literacy including specific learning difficulties/dyslexia
  • communication and literacy/learning assessments and interventions
  • understanding autism and Autistic Spectrum Disorder
  • communication and literacy/learning for children with learning disabilities including autism, Down's syndrome and dyslexia
  • effective teaching and learning environments
Education for Students on the Autism Spectrum

This module will explore key issues concerning the field of special and inclusive education:

  • Definitions of special needs and inclusion
  • Global perspectives on diversity and access to equality of educational opportunities
  • Understanding theoretical approaches to special needs/inclusion and models of disability
  • Understanding prevalence of need and issues concerning classification and assessment
  • Exploring the impact of policy on practice and equality of opportunity
  • Examining the evidence on effectiveness of different types of educational settings eg mainstream, resource base and special provision
  • Pedagogy and creativity
  • Balancing equity and choice through collaborative and ethical problem solving
The above is a sample of the typical modules we offer but is not intended to be construed and/or relied upon as a definitive list of the modules that will be available in any given year. Modules (including methods of assessment) may change or be updated, or modules may be cancelled, over the duration of the course due to a number of reasons such as curriculum developments or staffing changes. Please refer to the module catalogue for information on available modules. This content was last updated on Tuesday 27 February 2024.

Due to timetabling availability, there may be restrictions on some module combinations.

You can view an example PDF timetable, however this is subject to change year on year and your live timetable will be available via the online timetable system. Please note that you may be expected to attend twilight sessions up to 7.30pm in both the autumn and spring semesters.

Learning and assessment

How you will learn

  • Seminars
  • Group study
  • Presentations
  • Tutorials

Our MA Education puts you at the centre of the learning process. This is through both your module selection and the emphasis you choose in your approach to the assignments.

We use a range of teaching methods, which means at times you'll be working on your own, engaging with literature and a variety of different media, or working synchronously and asynchronously with others.

How you will be assessed

  • Coursework
  • Dissertation
  • Personal reflections

Each 30-credit module is assessed by a 6,000-word written assignment or equivalent. You must achieve a pass of 50% on each assignment to complete the masters.

Contact time and study hours

Full-time students will choose two modules per semester. Each module involves 30 hours of teaching, plus 270 hours of private study, assignment preparation and tutorial support.  

We offer a flexible approach for applicants and our modules can be studied in a variety of ways, including:

  • 10 weekday twilight sessions over the course of a semester or academic year
  • via online study through our MA Education (online) course


Entry requirements

All candidates are considered on an individual basis and we accept a broad range of qualifications. The entrance requirements below apply to 2024 entry.

Undergraduate degree2:1 honours degree (or international equivalent)
Work experience

Applicants with a 2:2 degree and three years or more full-time relevant professional experience in education-related positions will be considered. Relevant professional work experience includes those with experience in teaching or a role directly engaged with education. A teaching qualification that includes a substantial placement-based component, for example PGCE, can be considered as part of this work experience.

Additional information

Other requirements
A personal statement is required that demonstrates both a clear understanding of and relevant motivation for pursuing this course.


Start date Application deadline
23 September 2024 2 August 2024 (International)
19 August 2024 (Home)

Recognition of other Learning (ROL)

If you have prior learning or experience at an appropriate level, you may apply for exemption from some of the credit requirements of the course. Applications for ROL should be made at the time of application for admission to the university and at least four weeks before the start of the course. Applications for ROL are processed free of charge. Late applications will not be considered. Please visit the School of Education ROL pages for full information and how to apply.

Our step-by-step guide covers everything you need to know about applying.

How to apply


Qualification MA
Home / UK £9,700
International £25,250

Additional information for international students

If you are a student from the EU, EEA or Switzerland, you may be asked to complete a fee status questionnaire and your answers will be assessed using guidance issued by the UK Council for International Student Affairs (UKCISA) .

These fees are for full-time study. If you are studying part-time, you will be charged a proportion of this fee each year (subject to inflation).

Additional costs

All students will need at least one device to approve security access requests via Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA). We also recommend students have a suitable laptop to work both on and off-campus. For more information, please check the equipment advice.

As a student on this course, we do not anticipate any extra significant costs, alongside your tuition fees and living expenses.

You should be able to access most of the books you’ll need through our libraries, though you may wish to purchase your own copies, which you would need to factor into your budget.


There are many ways to fund your postgraduate course, from scholarships to government loans.

We also offer a range of international masters scholarships for high-achieving international scholars who can put their Nottingham degree to great use in their careers.

Check our guide to find out more about funding your postgraduate degree.

Postgraduate funding


We offer individual careers support for all postgraduate students.

Expert staff can help you research career options and job vacancies, build your CV or résumé, develop your interview skills and meet employers.

Each year 1,100 employers advertise graduate jobs and internships through our online vacancy service. We host regular careers fairs, including specialist fairs for different sectors.

International students who complete an eligible degree programme in the UK on a student visa can apply to stay and work in the UK after their course under the Graduate immigration route. Eligible courses at the University of Nottingham include bachelors, masters and research degrees, and PGCE courses.

Graduate destinations

Career destinations for School of Education graduates include education advisers, language tutors, primary/secondary teachers, vocational/industrial trainers and instructors and those working in the caring professions including counsellors.

A number of our graduates are already in employment while undertaking part-time study for professional development in their chosen career.

Career progression

95.2% of postgraduates from the School of Education secured graduate level employment or further study within 15 months of graduation. The average annual salary for these graduates was £28,108.*

* HESA Graduate Outcomes 2020/21 data published in 2023. The Graduate Outcomes % is derived using The Guardian University Guide methodology. The average annual salary is based on graduates working full-time, postgraduate, home graduates within the UK.

Two masters graduates proudly holding their certificates
" I look forward to welcoming students from all parts of the world to join us on the course and to explore together the role education plays in society and in the lives and experiences of people globally. Our interactive and student-centered approaches to teaching and learning will assure you an experience of engagement, diversity, and inclusion in discussing all aspects of education. "
Dr Yuwei Xu - Course Leader

Related courses

This content was last updated on Tuesday 27 February 2024. Every effort has been made to ensure that this information is accurate, but changes are likely to occur given the interval between the date of publishing and course start date. It is therefore very important to check this website for any updates before you apply.