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Course content

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.

About this degree

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).

Core modules

The two core modules must both be completed in order to gain the named award.

  • Innovation and Change in Higher and Professional Education
  • Higher Education: Comparative and International Perspectives

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.

Optional modules

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
  • Understanding Education Policy
  • Debates in the History of Education
  • Education and Technology: Key Issues and Debates
  • Learning and Teaching for Adults
  • Philosophy of Education: Values, Aims and Society
  • Sociology of Education
  • Understanding Education Research
  • Understanding 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.

Further information on modules and degree structure is available on the department website: Higher and Professional Education MA


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.

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.

Visit the Higher and Professional Education (MA) page on the University College London website for more details!






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