MSc in Education (Higher Education) | University of Oxford
Department of Education
Exterior of the Department of Education
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MSc in Education (Higher Education)

About the course

The MSc Education (Higher Education) at the University of Oxford provides a broad introduction into the complex field of theories and practice in higher education globally.

The increasing significance of university rankings and the growing range of international student exchange schemes, as well as public discussion of tuition fees and the ‘vocationalisation’ of degree programmes, are just some of the current issues within higher education in many countries.

The master’s programme will provide you with the possibility to engage not only with the issues outlined, but also with a wide range of stimulating topics surrounding universities and colleges.

It is aimed at future leaders in the field – academics, policy-makers, researchers and managers.

The course is assessed through written assignments, a two-hour examination, and a research dissertation.

Graduate destinations

Education graduates go on to a range of policy, professional and academic careers.  A significant number continue to doctoral research in the department.

Related courses

Changes to the course

The University will seek to deliver this course in accordance with the description set out in this course page. However, there may be situations in which it is desirable or necessary for the University to make changes in course provision, either before or after registration. For further information, please see our page on changes to courses.

Entry requirements for entry in 2016-17

Within equal opportunities principles and legislation, applications will be assessed in the light of an applicant’s ability to meet the following entry requirements:

1. Academic ability

Proven and potential academic excellence

Applicants are normally expected to be predicted or have achieved a first-class or strong upper second-class undergraduate degree with honours (or equivalent international qualifications), as a minimum, in a relevant subject, preferably in the social sciences.

For applicants with a degree from the USA, the minimum GPA sought is 3.6 out of 4.0.

If you hold non-UK qualifications and wish to check how your qualifications match these requirements, you can contact the National Recognition Information Centre for the United Kingdom (UK NARIC).

No Graduate Record Examination (GRE) or GMAT scores are sought.

Other appropriate indicators will include:

References/letters of recommendation 

Your references will support intellectual ability, academic achievement, motivation and ability to work in a group.

One of your references should be from your most recent academic tutor. If you are currently in employment, you would be expected to provide a reference from your employer alongside academic references which comment on your academic suitability for the course.

Written work produced by the student

You should supply two pieces of written work, of about 2,000 words each.

This will be assessed for understanding of the subject area, an ability to construct and defend an argument, and proficiency in academic English. 

The written work should be related to the course, and should be on two separate topics.

You may submit written work previously completed for a prior course of study if the topic is relevant ie an assignment or chapter of a dissertation etc, provided it meets the requirements. If the piece of work is significantly longer than 2,000 words it should be edited to meet the requirements.

If you do not have any existing material that fits this requirement, we would suggest that you may like to critique an article or write a book review based on the course subject.

A list of relevant references is required for the two samples of written work and should be included in your word count.

Statement of purpose/personal statement

The personal statement should be one to two pages in length, in English.

This will be assessed for:

  • your reasons for applying to this particular course
  • the areas of study in the subject which interest you
  • your relevant academic, research and/or practical experience
  • what you want to achieve from the programme you are applying for
  • your future aspirations, ie where you will take what you have learnt from the course
  • the nature of the research project that you hope to undertake (if you have ideas about this).

Performance at interview(s)

Interviews are normally held as part of the admissions process.  

Interviews are held with a minimum of two interviewers, in person or using Skype videoconferencing, and will focus on your research interests, and how these might tie in with the research specialisms of academic staff within the department. Assessors will ask you about your knowledge of the course, your reasons for wanting to study in this area, and initial ideas for your dissertation research.

Publications

Publications are not expected.

2. English language requirement

Applicants whose first language is not English are usually required to provide evidence of proficiency in English at the higher level required by the University.

3. Availability of supervision, teaching, facilities and places

The following factors will govern whether candidates can be offered places:

  • The ability of the Department of Education to provide the appropriate supervision, research opportunities, teaching and facilities for your chosen area of work
  • Minimum and maximum limits to the numbers of students who may be admitted to Oxford's research and taught programmes.

The provision of supervision, where required, is subject to the following points:

  • The allocation of graduate supervision is the responsibility of the Department of Education and it is not always possible to accommodate the preferences of incoming graduate students to work with a particular member of staff
  • Under exceptional circumstances a supervisor may be found outside the Department of Education.

Where possible your academic supervisor will not change for the duration of your course, however it may be necessary to assign a new academic supervisor during the course of study or before registration for reasons which might include sabbatical leave, maternity leave or change in employment.

4. Disability, health conditions and specific learning difficulties

Students are selected for admission without regard to gender, marital or civil partnership status, disability, race, nationality, ethnic origin, religion or belief, sexual orientation, age or social background.

Decisions on admission are based solely on the individual academic merits of each candidate and the application of the entry requirements appropriate to the course.

Further information on how these matters are supported during the admissions process is available in our guidance for applicants with disabilities.

5. Assessors

All recommendations to admit a student involve the judgment of at least two members of academic staff with relevant experience and expertise, and additionally must be approved by the Director of Graduate Studies or Admissions Committee (or equivalent departmental persons or bodies).

Admissions panels or committees will always include at least one member of academic staff who has undertaken appropriate training.

6. Other information

Whether you have yet secured funding is not taken into consideration in the decision to make an initial offer of a place, but please note that the initial offer of a place will not be confirmed until you have completed a Financial Declaration.

The Oxford University Department of Education (OUDE) has been making a major contribution to the field of education for over 100 years and the department has a world class reputation for research, for teacher education and for its master's and doctoral programmes. OUDE combines international standing as a research-intensive department with the highest quality teaching.

In the 2014 evaluation of research quality in UK universities, the Research Excellence Framework (REF), OUDE was the top-ranked Department of Education in the UK. The department has ESRC recognition for its graduate training, and its teacher training was rated ‘outstanding’ by the Office for Standards in Education (OfSTED) in its most recent inspection in 2011.

Research in the department is organised around three major themes:

  • Language, cognition and development
  • Economy, policy and society
  • Knowledge, pedagogy and design

Within each of these themes there are several research groups and centres. All staff and doctoral students belong to one or more of these research groups, each of which has its own seminar programme to which graduate students often contribute. In addition, the department as a whole sponsors regular seminars and public lectures which attract distinguished national and international speakers.

The Bodleian Education Library, located at the centre of the Department of Education, specialises in material on education and related fields. As well as a print collection of books, journals and statistics, the library provides access to a wide range of electronic resources. The library also houses a collection of teaching resources, primarily in support of subjects covered by the department's secondary PGCE course. The Social Sciences Library provides valuable additional resource to students pursuing programmes in the Department of Education.

Funding

There are over 1,000 full graduate scholarships available for courses starting in 2016-17. Full scholarships will cover your course and college fees and provide a grant for living costs. Information about the full range of funding available can be found in the Fees and funding section.

For over 70% of Oxford scholarships, nothing more than the standard course application is usually required. If you fulfil the eligibility criteria and apply by the relevant January deadline, you will be automatically considered. Use the Fees, funding and scholarship search to find out whether you are eligible for scholarships which require an additional application. If you are, the tool will include links to full details of how to apply.

Divisional funding opportunities

Oxford hosts one of 21 Doctoral Training Centres accredited by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC). In 2016 approximately 65 ESRC studentships are available across the Social Sciences. See the Social Sciences Doctoral Training Centre website for details. Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) funded studentships are available for the Oxford Doctoral Training Partnership in Environmental Research and Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) studentships are available through the AHRC Doctoral Training Partnership.

Departmental funding opportunities

Additional funding opportunities may also be offered by your department. Department scholarships are included in the funding search tool, with links to further information. More details on funding opportunities may also be available on the department’s website.

Costs

Annual fees for entry in 2016-17

Fee status

Tuition fee

College fee

Total annual fees

Home/EU
(including Islands)
£8,460£2,933£11,393
Overseas£16,280£2,933£19,213

The fees shown above are the annual tuition and college fees for this course for entry in the stated academic year; for courses lasting longer than one year, please be aware that fees will usually increase annually. For details, please see our guidance on likely increases to fees and charges.

Tuition and college fees are payable each year for the duration of your fee liability (your fee liability is the length of time for which you are required to pay tuition and college fees).

For more information about tuition fees, college fees and fee liability, please see the Fees section of this website. EU applicants should refer to our dedicated webpage for details on the impact of the result of the UK referendum on its membership of the European Union.

Additional information

There are no compulsory elements of this course that entail additional costs beyond fees and living costs.  However, as part of your course requirements, you may need to choose a dissertation, a project or a thesis topic. Please note that, depending on your choice of topic and the research required to complete it, you may incur additional expenses, such as travel expenses, research expenses, and field trips. You will need to meet these additional costs, although you may be able to apply for small grants from your department and/or college to help you cover some of these expenses.

Living costs

In addition to your tuition and college fees, you will need to ensure that you have adequate funds to support your living costs for the duration of your course.

For the 2016-17 academic year, the range of likely living costs is between £970 and £1433 for each month spent in Oxford. Full information, including a breakdown of likely living costs in Oxford for items such as food, accommodation and study costs, is available on our Living costs page.

Supervisors will be allocated by the department and it is not necessary for you to contact academic members of staff directly.

The set of materials you should send with an application to this MSc comprises:

  • a statement of purpose/personal statement, of one to two pages in length
  • a CV/résumé
  • three academic and/or professional references
  • official transcripts detailing your university-level qualifications and marks to date
  • two relevant academic essays or other writing samples from your most recent qualification of 2,000 words each, or 2,000-word extracts of longer work.

Statement of purpose

Your statement of purpose should include:

  • your reasons for applying to this particular course
  • the areas of study in the subject which interest you
  • your relevant academic, research and/or practical experience
  • what you want to achieve from the programme you are applying for
  • your future aspirations, ie where you will take what you have learnt from the course
  • the nature of the research project that you hope to undertake (if you have ideas about this).

References

One of your references should be from your most recent academic tutor. If you are currently in employment, you would be expected to provide a reference from your employer alongside academic references which comment on your academic suitability for the course.

Written work

The written work should be on two separate topics, both related to the course. If you do not have any existing material that meets requirements, you may wish to produce work critiquing an article or write a book review based on the course subject.