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Research and Practice in Higher Education MA

Course Description

Choose Kingston's Research and Practice in Higher Education MA

Higher education is key to expanding people's knowledge, their personal and professional horizons, and their contribution to society's wellbeing and welfare. This course aims explicitly at creating inquisitive, critically aware and well-prepared professionals in higher education who can impact positively, with their knowledge, skills and inquiry-led attitudes on the future of the sector.

The course is primarily designed both for those who are currently working in higher education or have experience of working in the sector in the past. By the end of the course, students will have a critical understanding of different higher education practices, along with an ability to research these practices in a scholarly way for the benefit of their own professional future and personal satisfaction. An inquiry ethos is core to the whole course.

In contrast with more specialising courses, like MBAs and programmes based more specifically on learning and teaching issues, the Research and Practice in Higher Education MA is distinguished by its focus on higher education as a whole, in all its overlapping professional and inter-professional practices (teaching, research, administration, leadership and support). The course will also utilise the experience and expertise of a number of professionals at Kingston University, both academic and academic-related staff (such as in human resources, marketing and finance), to allow students to be exposed to real practitioners in higher education and encourage professional and inter-professional thinking. This is a key aspect of the course, which does not just rely on a theoretical understanding of higher education issues but embeds these within different higher education practices through an interaction between students and a variety of scholars and professionals who support the course. This holistic focus is essential to understand a sector that is experiencing significant and ongoing change, and to reflect on change in ways that can bring about meaningful innovation.

The knowledge and skills gained on the course should allow students to enhance their career opportunities in their institution or elsewhere, to be employed not only in traditional professional roles in higher education but also to operate as consultants or researchers in higher education agencies. Also, students should be equipped for work in research councils and educational think tanks.

The course has several challenging and exciting aims:
to develop a critical and reflective understanding of higher education practices (both academic and academic-related);
to sharpen conceptual awareness and use of tools of critical thinking and reflection in relationship to the study of key and emerging higher education practices;
to develop and apply relevant research methods (based on a sound understanding of their underpinning philosophies) to investigate specific areas of higher education practice; and
to foster scholarly independence and professional judgement to work within complex higher education environments, for the purpose of personal intellectual satisfaction and professional/career enhancement.

What will you study?

The MA is divided into three parts, each corresponding to a 60-credit exit point:

Certificate (upon completion of modules 1, 2)
Diploma (upon completion of modules 1, 2, 3, 4)
Master (upon completion of modules 1, 2, 3, 4, 5)

The course requires attendance at Kingston University for a total of two teaching weeks (at different times in the academic year), one for each module (1 and 3). During each of these weeks, students will be exposed to intensive teaching, at the end of which activities will be provided online for further study and engagement, also towards the fulfillment of assessment requirements. Module 2 is delivered completely online through tasks, activities and readings that students will engage with regularly and vigorously. Modules 4 and 5 are entirely made of independent study relating to a specific topic/area in Higher Education, with regular access to supervisors, either online or face-to-face (or a mixture).

The course allows for breadth and depth of knowledge, thus giving opportunities to students both to learn widely about higher education (modules 1 and 3) and to specialise in one specific area of their choice (modules 4 and 5). Breadth implies both covering a number of topics that are current in higher education today (such marketisation, globalisation, internationalisation, the changing nature and scope of knowledge, widening participation) and considering these topics from specifically professional and inter-professional viewpoints to enrich understanding. To this end, students will be encouraged to reflect on their professional expertise and experiences, and compare these with others. The programme also provides opportunities to develop and demonstrate knowledge, understanding, skills and other attributes that are typical of the field of higher education studies (such as ‘reflection', ‘critical thinking' and ‘positioning' [Module 2]).

Course structure

Please note that this is an indicative list of modules and is not intended as a definitive list.


Module 1: Landscapes of higher education practices
Module 2: The process and methods of research into higher education
Module 3: Being and thinking professionally and interprofessionally in higher education
Module 4: Looking at specific practices: literature review
Module 5: Research dissertation and conference presentation

English language requirements

All non-UK applicants must meet our English language requirement, which is Academic IELTS of 6.5 overall, with no element below 5.5. Make sure you read our full guidance about English language requirements, which includes details of other qualifications we consider.

Applicants who do not meet the English language requirements could be eligible to join our pre-sessional English language course.

Applicants from a recognised majority English speaking countries (MESCs) do not need to meet these requirements.

Visit the Research and Practice in Higher Education MA page on the Kingston University website for more details!

Entry Requirements

An honours degree in any subject. Previous or current employment in the HE sector would normally be expected.

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