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Course content

Through online delivery of content, our Higher Education MA offers you the flexibility to create a programme that suits your professional development needs in the field of university teaching, and is offered on a part-time basis over five years.

The programme allows you to construct your own developmental pathway through a choice of optional modules. You will do this by engaging with the explicit pedagogic framework that underpins the programme, emphasising the connections between concepts, theory and practice, teaching and research, disciplinary methods, and teachers and students.

On the programme you will analyse issues relating to your everyday teaching practice, share practice and explore solutions with your fellow participants and tutors.

Programme structure

This programme is studied over three academic years and is part-time via distance learning. It consists of eight taught modules and a dissertation.

On successful completion of the PGDip in Higher Education and a review of a portfolio of work via an accreditation panel, participants may apply to become a Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (subject to accreditation).

Example module listing

The following modules are indicative, reflecting the information available at the time of publication. Please note that not all modules described are compulsory and may be subject to teaching availability and/or student demand.

Educational aims of the programme

  • Contribute to the development of participants' theoretically informed understandings, and teach in ways that support epistemological access for a diverse student body
  • Respect participants' disciplinary backgrounds, and encourage participants to interrogate the nature of their own disciplines and relate this to ideas presented in the programme
  • Promote reflective practice, requiring critical engagement based on evidence and theory with the roles and practices of higher education teaching, rather than having as its goal the teaching of a set of generic skills and techniques
  • Disrupt participants' existing beliefs about teaching and learning

Student experience

As part of induction to the programme, you will have a discussion with a personal tutor to help you make the appropriate choices for your professional learning journey based on your previous teaching and learning experience in the higher education context and your developmental aspirations.

A personal tutor will work with you to develop a personalised plan to ensure you get the most from the programme by developing your professional knowledge and skills.


As we recognised that you will be working within your own higher education institutions while you study, the programme is offered as part-time registration. It is anticipated that the Diploma would be completed within two years of registration and the Dissertation would normally be completed within an additional year.

You will be registered initially for the MA in Higher Education (180 credits). However, you can choose to step-off at Postgraduate Certificate (60 credits) or the Postgraduate Diploma (120 credits) Level.

You can decide to study for a general MA in Higher Education or a MA in Higher Education with a specialist pathway. Specialist pathways are only available for the MA in Higher Education (not at the award of Diploma).

If you decide, a pathway is right for you, you will need to take 60 credits from the specialist modules and conduct research within the Research Dissertation module on an area relating to the pathway. The following are the three specialist pathways available:

  • Academic Leadership
  • Technology Enhanced Learning
  • Veterinary Education

If you decide to take the Academic Leadership pathway, you will be awarded for example, 'MA in Higher Education (Academic Leadership)'.

Postgraduate Certificate

The postgraduate certificate is built around the compulsory module of 'Teaching in Your Own Discipline'. You will choose three optional modules that help builds your own professional pathway and suits your needs.

Postgraduate Diploma

For the Postgraduate Diploma, based on your personal/professional development plan, you will choose three further modules that fulfil your personal and professional aims and which strengthens your activities, knowledge and professional values in your career.

You will also do the compulsory module of 'Researching in Higher Education', which aims to help you to start thinking about how to investigate and explore issues that intrigues and challenges you in the Higher Education landscape.


For the MA in Higher Education, you will have to conduct a piece of independent research as part of the compulsory Research Dissertation module.

This allows you to investigate an issue that you have personally selected that will contribute to your growing understanding of your professional practice.


The programme will be delivered online so you can access the materials from your place of work, home or elsewhere. All materials will be available through the University’s virtual learning environment (SurreyLearn).

Each participant will also have their own personal tutor from the Department of Higher Education.

Global opportunities

We often give our students the opportunity to acquire international experience during their degrees by taking advantage of our exchange agreements with overseas universities.

In addition to the hugely enjoyable and satisfying experience, time spent abroad adds a distinctive element to your CV.

Visit the Higher Education MA page on the University of Surrey website for more details!






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