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    UCL Institute of Education Logo
  • Study Type

    Full time & Part time available

  • Subject Areas


  • Start Date

    September, April

  • Course Duration

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

  • Course Type


  • Course Fees


Course content

The Primary Education (Policy and Practice) MA meets the rapidly changing needs of professionals educating young children, in examining critically the bases for current practices in primary schools, providing insight into international developments in primary education and in offering opportunities to work with leading researchers and practitioners in the field.

About this degree

The Primary Education (Policy and Practice) MA offers opportunities to engage with the latest research and international debate concerning curriculum, pedagogy and assessment and its implications for professional practice in primary education. Students will develop knowledge and skills to evaluate and conduct educational research related to their professional interests and develop their own perspectives as leaders in primary education.

Students undertake modules to the value of 180 credits.

The programme consists of three core modules (90 credits), and either a dissertation (60 credits) and one optional module (30 credits), or a report (30 credits) and two optional modules (60 credits). Some modules are available to study remotely.

Core modules

  • Futures for Policy and Practice in Primary Education
  • Researching Early Years and Primary Education
  • What is Education?

Optional modules

A range of optional modules is available to students each year. Students can select optional modules to reflect their personal and professional interests. Recommended modules taken by students in recent years include:

  • Contemporary Issues and Debates in Primary Education
  • Literacy Development
  • Children's Rights in Practice
  • Assessment for Learning
  • Bilingualism and Multilingualism

Other modules are also possible - please contact the programme leader,, for advice.


All students undertake an independent research project in primary education (policy and practice). The project culminates in a dissertation of 20,000 words or a report of 10,000 words on a topic agreed with their tutor.

Teaching and learning

A range of learning and teaching approaches is employed across the programme, including lectures, student presentations, group discussion, directed reading/writing tasks and contributions to the Virtual Learning Environment, designed to promote active engagement and capitalise on participants' diverse backgrounds. Student performance is assessed through coursework assignments and the dissertation/report.

Further information on modules and degree structure is available on the department website: Primary Education (Policy and Practice) MA


For a comprehensive list of the funding opportunities available at UCL, including funding relevant to your nationality, please visit the Scholarships and Funding website.


Graduates of this programme are currently working in a broad range of careers, both nationally and internationally. Many have leadership roles in schools, for example as school mentors for early career teachers, subject leaders, phase co-ordinators, assistant head teachers or head teachers. Others work as education advisers and consultants across a range of schools or as inspectors and policymakers at both local and national levels. Graduates can also be found working as researchers, lecturers and teacher educators in higher education and in educational services outside schools such as museums, publishing or children's support services.

Recent career destinations for this degree

  • Curriculum Co-ordinator, Unspecified School
  • International School Teacher, Unspecified International School
  • Preparatory School Teacher (Deputy Head of Pre-Prep), Unspecified School


Participation in the programme fosters the development of a number of key skills and personal qualities important in a range of professional contexts including:

  • independence and self-direction in learning - important in continuing professional development in a fast-changing educational climate
  • ability to examine complex issues systematically and critically - in the context of rapid policy change and increasing requirements for accountability
  • exercise of initiative and creativity - in interpreting policy and research in particular local contexts to enhance the quality of learning and teaching
  • skills in communication both orally and in writing to varied audiences - children, educators, parents, governors, policymakers.

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, providing opportunities for specialist study of early years and primary education in initial teacher education and at graduate and doctoral levels. It offers a range of enriching events including research seminars and conferences in the field.

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.

Visit the Primary Education (Policy and Practice) (MA) page on the University College London website for more details!





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