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Course content

This Literacy Learning and Literacy Difficulties MA will provide students with a deeper understanding of the processes involved in learning to read, write and spell, the sources of difficulties, and approaches to intervention.

About this degree

This programme provides students with the opportunity to draw on the strengths of a team with research expertise in literacy and experience in evaluating early literacy interventions. They will also investigate literacy acquisition and problems in depth, covering reading, writing and spelling.

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) 

Core modules

There are two core modules and all students should take these to qualify for the MA. The dissertation or report are also compulsory. Both of these modules are taken in year one of the programme

  • Research Methods in Literacy
  • Literacy Development

Recommended optional modules include:

  • Reading and Spelling Difficulties
  • Literacy Practice in Writing and Comprehension

Students can also choose one or two optional Master's level modules from across the IOE offering.


All students submit either a 20,000-word dissertation (60 credits) or a report (30 credits).

Teaching and learning

Sessions for all modules are offered face-to-face in the evenings, supplemented by online discussion and reading. Dissertation/report group sessions are also delivered in the evening and are supplemented by one-to-one supervision. All 30-credit modules are assessed via the equivalent of a 4,000-word assignment.

Further information on modules and degree structure is available on the department website: Literacy Learning and Literacy Difficulties MA


Graduates of this programme are currently working across a broad range of areas. Some are working as literacy co-ordinators and special educational needs co-ordinators, while others have jobs as literacy advisers and specialists. Graduates can also be found working as teachers and as independent literacy intervention tutors.

Recent career destinations for this degree

  • Primary School Class Teacher (Early Years), Unspecified Primary School
  • Special Educational Needs Co-ordinator (SENCO), Unspecified Literacy Centre
  • Primary School Class Teacher (Year 5), Unspecified Primary Academy
  • Special Education Deputy Head Teacher, Unspecified School


Students learn to diagnose a range of literacy difficulties and then to be able to consider appropriate interventions for those struggling with their reading and/or writing. Those graduating from the programme usually enhance their career prospects and can demonstrate a deeper understanding of literacy learning and supporting struggling readers and writers. Graduates usually move into co-ordinator/literacy management roles.

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 Learning and Leadership at UCL Institute of Education (IOE) has developed an internationally-recognised reputation for early childhood and pre-school and primary education studies.

The department has a vibrant teaching programme and offers a range of enriching events including research seminars and conferences in the field of early childhood and primary education.

In all its work, the department is strongly committed to working in partnership with government agencies, education authorities, schools, early years and community groups and other departments within the IOE.

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: Learning & Leadership

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 Literacy Learning and Literacy Difficulties (MA) page on the University College London website for more details!





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