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Master of Education (Educational Leadership and School Improvement)

Course Description

This route focuses on leadership and learning in the context of school improvement and with reference to practice, policy and theory. The concept of leadership is treated as problematic and examined as it applies to pupils, teachers and support staff as well as those with formal leadership responsibilities. The route is underpinned by the values and principles of "Leadership for Learning: the Cambridge Network" these beliefs include a democratic concept of leadership rather than a hierarchical one, and a view of learning as a shared enterprise crossing the traditional divisions between 'teachers' and 'learners'.

The route is aimed at a wide audience including practitioners studying part-time as well as full time students. It is of relevance and interest to teachers, middle leaders, headteachers/principals, advisers and others as well as to graduate students interested in the area of leadership and school improvement. We draw on participants' experiences, and students pursue their particular interest by undertaking an individual empirical research project.

See the website http://www.graduate.study.cam.ac.uk/courses/directory/ededmeels

Course detail

The overall aims of this specialist route are to enable participants to develop:

- An advanced knowledge and understanding of educational leadership and school improvement
- A set of skills for analysing educational leadership and school improvement issues and practices
- The ability to bring together theoretical perspectives on educational leadership and school improvement and apply an informed critique of their inter-relationship
- The ability to contribute to informed development of policy and practice in educational contexts
- Familiarity with a range of frameworks for understanding pupil, professional and organisational learning

The route content is covered through eight interrelated themes:

1. Leadership for Learning
2. Policy, Structures and Change
3. School Effectiveness and School Improvement
4. Issues and Dilemmas
5. Perspectives on Leadership
6. Perspectives on Learning
7. Schools, Cultures and Communities
8. Education Evaluation.

Learning Outcomes

By the end of the Educational Leadership and School Improvment route, students are expected to be able to:

- demonstrate knowledge and understanding of literature and concepts relating to educational leadership, school improvement, and learning; 
- show abilities in the critical analysis of educational leadership and school improvement issues and practices; 
- apply knowledge and understanding of educational research to plan and implement enquiry into an issue related to the route; 
- communicate the outcomes of their study and research through extended writing conforming to stipulated academic expectations and conventions.


The course is composed of two key elements: (i) the research methods training course and (ii) the 'Educational Leadership and School Improvement' thematic route. Teaching time is split between the two elements, with 32 hours of teaching being given to research methods and 64 hours being given to the subject specific content. The course is taught through a mixture of lectures, smaller group seminars and individual supervisions.

Written feedback is provided on the thesis by two independent assessors. Informally, feedback will also be provided through regular supervisions. Supervisors are required to provide a report on student progress which can be viewed by the student through CGSRS.


- Thesis: Up to 20,000 words.
- Essay 1: 6,000-6,500 words.
- Essay 2: 6,000-6,500 words.


Students wishing to continue from the MEd in Education to PhD or Ed D are required to achieve:

1) an average of 70 across both sections with the thesis counting as double-weighted (eg: (Essay 1 + Essay 2 + thesis + thesis) divided by 4 = 70 or above.
2) a straight mark of 70 or higher for the thesis.

How to apply: http://www.graduate.study.cam.ac.uk/applying

Funding Opportunities

The Faculty is pleased to say that, in general, education students are successful in most of the funding competitions, and, in a typical year, will host students who have been awarded funding from all of the major funding bodies.

In addition, a number of Colleges have their own scholarships/bursaries, but these will be restricted to College members. Finally, it is important to note that deadlines for scholarships and bursaries are early, so applicants are strongly encouraged to explore funding opportunities as soon as possible - at least a year in advance of the start of the course.

General Funding Opportunities http://www.graduate.study.cam.ac.uk/finance/funding

Visit the Master of Education (Educational Leadership and School Improvement) page on the University of Cambridge website for more details!

Entry Requirements

Applicants for this course should have achieved a UK II.i Honours Degree. The one year part time course is not open to Cambridge PGCE students but is open to students who have completed a PACES qualification at the Faculty.

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