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Education, Power and Social Change (MSc/PGDip/PGCert)

Course Description

On this Master’s degree we explore the links between education and social and political movements, and develop understandings of how 'education' as a contested field should be viewed within a globalised and postcolonial context. By 'education' we mean all forms of informal and formal learning, across all age ranges, including adult, higher and professional education. We ask the key question: is education a force for reproduction or transformation in the world? In other words, does education change the world or maintain the current system? For example, can it alleviate the effects of poverty or does it increase existing inequalities? Key debates on what is the role of education and how people learn are developed from a range of viewpoints, including critical theory. We take an interdisciplinary approach to thinking about education, drawing on the arts and humanities as well as the more conventional respresentations of education in social science. The programme offers those with an interest in, or concern about, education the opportunity to explore relevant theories, to develop research skills in social science and to apply these to education practices.

The degree will appeal to those interested in developing and extending their knowledge and understanding of education and social change. In addition to the core modules, you can choose from a range of option modules in order to tailor a programme to suit your developing interests. You will also take a course on research methodologies, which will provide you with the tools to undertake an original piece of research into an aspect of education that fascinates you.

The programme will deepen your awareness of how education shapes, and is shaped by, our understanding of the world and may contribute to your professional development. In previous years, some students have used the qualification to take their careers in new directions, while others have used the programme to deepen their thinking about their current practice. It is flexibly designed with a range of option modules, and a Postgraduate Diploma and Postgraduate Certificate are also available.

Why study this course at Birkbeck?

A high-quality, postgraduate-level qualification for those involved, or wishing to be involved, in the interdisciplinary field of education.
A range of option modules allows you to select pathways relevant to your professional and personal needs and interests.
You will have the opportunity to develop either a dissertation or an action research project.
The Department of Psychosocial Studies has a formal link with the University of São Paulo, Brazil. This link enables students on this programme to undertake an optional module at the university as part of their programme of study at Birkbeck.
As well as having access to the library and the wide range of public events and seminars run by Birkbeck, you will have access to the events run by the Birkbeck Centre for Social Transformation and Research in Higher Education and the Birkbeck Institute for Social Research.

Our research

Birkbeck is one of the world’s leading research-intensive institutions. Our cutting-edge scholarship informs public policy, achieves scientific advances, supports the economy, promotes culture and the arts, and makes a positive difference to society.

Birkbeck’s research excellence was confirmed in the 2014 Research Excellence Framework, which placed Birkbeck 30th in the UK for research, with 73% of our research rated world-leading or internationally excellent.

In the 2014 Research Excellence Framework (REF), Sociology at Birkbeck was ranked 13th in the UK.

Visit the Education, Power and Social Change (MSc/PGDip/PGCert) page on the Birkbeck, University of London website for more details!

(Student Profile)

Johanna Haffenden

4055.jpg ‘I researched many courses but Birkbeck’s MSc Education, Power & Social Change really appealed. From my sociology degree I know that an understanding of the two concepts – of power and of social change – is very important to any analysis of the various problems that exist in society. And education is a field above all where you can create social change.

‘I took two years to complete the MSc part-time. The course absolutely delivered what I wanted. Analysing different concepts of power and social change ­­­- and linking them to education - was very relevant to the work I wanted to be doing.

‘I’m now a data manager for a support service linked to a local authority. I work with people with varying degrees of deafness and as a data manager I analyse trends, look at the quantitative data and this is used to inform our policies and shape our practices.

‘Completing the MSc definitely helped me in getting my job, as well as my ability to do the job. But while there were very practical reasons for doing this course, studying at Birkbeck also gave me the chance to develop professionally and as a person. English isn’t my first language, so studying helped me to build my vocabulary and confidence as a sociologist. My writing skills improved a great deal, and I learned how to develop a written argument.

‘I also built new relationships, with my fellow students and with the course directors, who were wonderful! I particularly enjoyed being given the space to develop my own thoughts and ideas.

‘I also feel that when you have an MSc people see you differently – you are seen as a specialist in that area, with a particular body of knowledge. It gives you a professional status which I really value.

‘Studying for an MSc can be hard work, so you need to make sure you choose something you really want to do and know that you are going to enjoy. You just have to go for it!

‘For me, the choice was strategic – I regularly reminded myself what I was doing this for. I’m now doing the job I wanted. Doing the MSc was one of the best investments I have made.’


School of Social Sciences, History and Philosophy, Postgraduate Taught (PGT) Bursary - Single Award

Applications are invited for one 'Postgraduate Taught' Bursary worth £6,000, to be awarded to a candidate with an outstanding academic record who shows high potential for strong performance on one of the School's 'Postgraduate Taught' programmes.This competition is open to new Home/EU and International students who are applying for either a full-time or part-time MA/MSc place in the departments listed below; the competition is also open to students who are applying to the Department of Philosophy and the degree of M.Phil. Stud. Philosophy.This £6,000 award is in the form of a bursary (i.e., there is no 'fee waiver' but the bursary may be used towards payment of fees). If awarded to a part-time student, the bursary will be paid for two years of PGT study.Please note that in order to apply for funding you must also complete an application for a place at Birkbeck on an MA/MSc programme within the School of SSHP or the MPhil. Stud. in the Department of Philosophy, either before or at the same time as applying for funding.Prospective studentsCandidates will be expected to fulfil similar academic criteria to those demanded by external funding bodies. They will normally possess at least an upper second class honours degree or equivalent.

Value of Scholarship(s)



This competition is open to new Home/EU and International students who are applying for either a full-time or part-time MA/MSc place in the School of Social Sciences, History and Philosophy; the competition is also open to students who are applying to the Department of Philosophy and the degree of M.Phil. Stud. Philosophy.This competition is open to new students only

Application Procedure

Before you apply, you should contact the relevant department for advice.Once you have identified a relevant programme, you will need to:Apply online for the relevant MA/MSc or MPhil. Stud. (Dept. of Philosophy) degree in the normal wayDownload the SSHP Postgraduate Taught Bursary Application Form Word iconThe SSHP Studentship application form should be returned to Jane Halstead, Assistant School Manager, via the following email address:[email protected] STATE ‘PGT BURSARY’ AND DEPARTMENT APPLIED TO IN THE ‘SUBJECT’ LINE OF YOUR E-MAIL.Any queries relating to the PGT Bursary can also be sent to this email address.

Further Information



Postgraduate Support Scheme for final-year undergraduates (full-time) - 20+ Awards

We are pleased to announce that, for October 2015 entry, Birkbeck has a limited number of new £10,000 postgraduate scholarships. These scholarships are for students progressing from a full-time undergraduate degree to a part-time Master’s degree starting in 2015/16.

Value of Scholarship(s)



To be eligible for the scholarship you must be:Starting a 2-year part-time taught Master’s degree in 2015/16
Domiciled in the UK/EU
Progressing from an undergraduate course for which you were charged the higher tuition fee (applicable since 2012–13)
studying at postgraduate Master’s level for the first time

Application Procedure

If you want to apply for this support, you must follow these steps:Submit an application for your intended course
Submit an application for the Postgraduate Support Scheme

Further Information


Entry Requirements

Good first degree or other relevant qualifications. If English is not your first language or you have not previously studied in English, our usual requirement is the equivalent of an International English Language Testing System (IELTS Academic Test) score of 6.5, with not less than 6.0 in each of the sub-tests.

Course Fees

Part-time home/EU students: £ 3975 pa Full-time home/EU students: £ 7950 pa

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Recipient: Birkbeck, University of London
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