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    UCL Institute of Education Logo
  • Study Type

    Distance learning , Full time & Part time available

  • Subject Areas


  • Start Date


  • Course Duration

    1 year full time, 2 years part time, up to 5 years flexible learning

  • Course Type


  • Course Fees

    UK/EU: £8,430 (FT) £4,340 (PT)

    Overseas: £18,240 (FT) £9,290 (PT)

  • Last Updated

    19 July 2018

Course content

The Higher Education Studies MA 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.

The programme will develop your understanding of conceptual and analytical frameworks in professional practices and processes, increasing your knowledge, skills and confidence to operate effectively and creatively in diverse institutions in higher education.

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 awards.

·        Innovation and Change in Higher Education

·        Higher Education: Comparative and International Perspectives

In 2017/18 both core modules were timetabled 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 Master's 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 Education Studies MA


Graduates of this programme are currently working across a broad range of areas in the higher education sector in the UK and internationally, for example in university governance and quality assurance. Other examples are jobs as a government policy adviser for education, university lecturer, academic standards and quality officer, careers and professional development consultant, learning, teaching and quality manager, and qualifications manager and students’ union officer. Some have gone on to doctoral studies in the field of higher education at the Institute of Education and other universities.

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 programme is designed to develop knowledge and skills which will help you to efficiently connect theory, policy and practice in your work in higher education.

For those with more than four years of middle management experience in HE seeking a programme to enhance their understanding of their professional context for career development CHES also offers the MBA in Higher Education Management.

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 (CHES) brings together students, researchers, consultants and practitioners focusing on higher education with a distinctive programme of seminars and events. This programme provides you with the opportunity to study for an inter-disciplinary, inter-professional qualification, examining higher education policies and practices in relation to your own professional experience.

Programmes offered by the Centre for Higher Education Studies provide high level academic and professional education for those working in higher education.

Department: Education, Practice & Society

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.

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.

Application fee: There is an application processing fee for this programme of £75 for online applications and £100 for paper applications. More details about the application fee can be found at

Who can apply?

This programme is suited to all those with professional or voluntary experience of working in higher education and related fields; administrators and managers; researchers, teachers and professional staff such as learning support or widening participation officers; and policy-makers from universities, colleges, national organisations and professional bodies.

Application deadlines

All applicants

4 September 2018

Visit the Higher Education Studies MA page on the University College London website for more details!






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Recipient: University College London

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