MSc in Education (Digital and Social Change) | University of Oxford
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Student working in the Department of Education
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MSc in Education (Digital and Social Change)

About the course

New for 2021, the MSc Education (Digital and Social Change) is an exciting and innovative programme, in which you will develop a strong theoretical understanding of new technologies, education and society.

At the core of the programme is a strong commitment to digital inclusion and social justice that addresses contemporary issues regarding the impact of digital and social change in education. You will conceptualise and design learning technologies through participatory approaches, examining how they impact the marginalised in the UK and globally.

At a time when many people are discussing significant moral questions regarding technology and its use in education, including for example, the ethics of Artificial Intelligence, there is a pressing need for a new generation of researchers and practitioners that can affect social change through stronger theoretically-informed practice, design and policy.

Building on the past success of the MSc Education (Learning and Technology), the department welcomes students from a range of disciplinary backgrounds including but not limited to education, computer science, sociology, communications and international development. You will have a commitment to social justice in education, a questioning stance on technology and an interest in developing interdisciplinary knowledge.

Aims of the course

  1. Critically assess and understand the role of technology in education across the lifecourse
  2. Develop the expertise to address the challenges posed by digital inequality
  3. Understand how to embed innovative learning technologies in practice
  4. Cultivate design prototyping skills
  5. Understand the relationship between social justice, technology and learning

Learning outcomes

By the end of the course you will develop:

  1. The ability to integrate educational theory and practice
  2. An in-depth and comparative understanding of learning theories and their appropriate use to develop informative research questions
  3. The necessary research skills for progression to the next stage of your career, including DPhil study
  4. Specialist technical and social knowledge, enabling the evaluation of technologies for digital and social change
  5. An understanding of the ethics of technology when working with marginalised communities
  6. Informed insights into state-of-the-art technical tools utilised in machine learning and critically evaluate their application to, and limitations for, digital and social change in education
  7. The ability to develop and manage a research project, and work collaboratively and reflectively on contemporary research issues

Pathway Modules

The MSc Education (Digital and Social Change) consists of six modules.

  • Module 1: Key Concepts in Digital Education and Social Change (core; taught by DSC team)
  • Module 2: Social Justice and Technology (core; taught by DSC team)
  • Module 3: Critical Digital Innovation (optional; taught by DSC team)
  • Module 4: Education, the Internet and Society (optional; taught by DSC team)

You will take the two core research methods modules, which are common to all pathways:

  • Module 5: Foundations of Education Research I (core)
  • Module 6: Foundations of Education Research II (core)

You can also choose from the optional papers from the other MSc Education pathways, examples of which include:

  • Module 7: Intermediate Quantitative Research (optional)
  • Module 8: Globalisation in Higher Education (optional)
  • Module 9: Perspectives and Debates in Qualitative Research (optional) 

Supervision

The allocation of graduate supervision for this course 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.

You will receive a minimum of four hours of supervision per term. You will meet with your supervisor on a number of occasions during the year: at least twice during Michaelmas term in order to discuss early ideas and plan the initial reading; at least twice during Hilary term, in order to develop a firm plan, and make the ethical approval application; normally four times in Trinity term (which includes during the summer break leading up to dissertation submission), in order (1) to discuss fieldwork, (2) plan the analysis and thesis design, (3) discuss early chapters, and (4) discuss the first complete draft. Supervisors are also available to students via email.

Your choice of dissertation topic is up to you and will be iteratively developed in collaboration with your supervisor. 

Assessment

For each of the six core and option modules, you will complete a 2,000 word formative essay. Course convenors will provide feedback on these formative assignments prior to setting of the summative questions.

Five of the modules (Foundations of Educational Research parts 1 and 2, Key Concepts in Digital Education and Social Change, Education, the Internet and Society, and Social Justice Technology) will be summatively assessed by essays of 2,500-3,000 words in length.  For each, you will be able to select from a choice of three to five questions set by the course convenor.

Critical Digital Innovation will be assessed through an essay totalling no more than 3,000 words, divided into two parts:

  • Part 1: Select from a choice of three to five questions set by the course convenor (2,000 words)
  • Part 2: A self-reflective assessment of your learning in a small group project (1,000 words).

The summative assessments for all modules held in Michaelmas term will have a deadline of noon 0th week Hilary term, and those for Hilary term will have a deadline of noon 0th week Trinity term.

You will also complete a dissertation of 15,000−20,000 words, which will normally be due in the second week of August. Dissertations can relate but are not limited to the research interests of the course team, including digital inequalities, technology for workplace training, medical and health education and innovative technologies in education.

Graduate destinations

The most recent Oxford University Destination of Leavers from Higher Education Survey made contact with 635 master's course students who graduated from the Department of Education between 2012 and 2014. Altogether, 90.2% of alumni were in work and 5.8% in further study with only 2.0% looking for work, ranking the department in the best three of the 20 departments in Oxford's Social Sciences Division.

Although this is a new pathway for 2021, it builds on the success of our MSc Education (Learning and Technology). Alumni from that pathways have gone on to academic and research careers at universities in the UK and abroad, including MIT, LSE, Stanford, The Turing Institute and UCLA. Others have worked for international NGOs, various international organisations and also founded their own technology and consultancy start-ups.

Changes to this course and your supervision

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. The safety of students, staff and visitors is paramount and major changes to delivery or services may have to be made in circumstances of a pandemic (including Covid-19), epidemic or local health emergency. In addition, in certain circumstances, for example due to visa difficulties or because the health needs of students cannot be met, it may be necessary to make adjustments to course requirements for international study.

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 illness, sabbatical leave, parental leave or change in employment.

For further information please see our page on changes to courses and the provisions of the student contract regarding changes to courses.

Other courses you may wish to consider

If you're thinking about applying for this course, you may also wish to consider the courses listed below. These courses may have been suggested due to their similarity with this course, or because they are offered by the same department or faculty.

Oxford 1+1 MBA programme

This course can be studied as a part of the Oxford 1+1 MBA programme. The Oxford 1+1 MBA programme is a unique, two-year graduate experience that combines the depth of a specialised, one-year master’s degree with the breadth of a top-ranking, one-year MBA.

Entry requirements for entry in 2021-22

Proven and potential academic excellence

Degree-level qualifications

As a minimum, applicants should hold or be predicted to achieve the equivalent of the following UK qualifications:

  • a first-class or strong upper second-class undergraduate degree with honours 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 your degree is not from the UK or another country specified above, visit our International Qualifications page for guidance on the qualifications and grades that would usually be considered to meet the University’s minimum entry requirements.

GRE General Test scores

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

Other qualifications, evidence of excellence and relevant experience

Publications are not expected.

Extenuating circumstances

If your ability to meet the entry requirements has been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic (eg you were awarded an unclassified/ungraded degree) or any other exceptional personal circumstance (eg other illness or bereavement), please refer to the guidance on extenuating circumstances in the Application Guide for information about how to declare this so that your application can be considered appropriately.

English language requirement

This course requires proficiency in English at the University's higher level. If your first language is not English, you may need to provide evidence that you meet this requirement. The minimum scores required to meet the University's higher level are detailed in the table below.

Minimum scores required to meet the University's higher level requirement
TestMinimum overall scoreMinimum score per component
IELTS Academic (Institution code: 0713) 7.57.0

TOEFL iBT, including the 'Home Edition'

(Institution code: 0490)

110Listening: 22
Reading: 24
Speaking: 25
Writing: 24
C1 Advanced*191185
C2 Proficiency191185

*Previously known as the Cambridge Certificate of Advanced English or Cambridge English: Advanced (CAE)
Previously known as the Cambridge Certificate of Proficiency in English or Cambridge English: Proficiency (CPE)

Your test must have been taken no more than two years before the start date of your course. Our Application Guide provides further information about the English language test requirement.

Supporting documents 

You will be required to supply supporting documents with your application, including references and an official transcript. See 'How to apply' for instructions on the documents you will need and how these will be assessed.

Performance at interview

Interviews are normally held as part of the admissions process.  

Candidates will be shortlisted based on academic ability, potential and fit of interests with the course content. Interviews for shortlisted candidates are normally held 2-6 weeks after the closing date of the admissions round. They are conducted by two interviewers, in person or using Skype video-conferencing, and will focus on your academic background and the written essays. You may be asked to outline your research interests and how these might be developed during the dissertation element of the course. [Note that students are not expected to already have a fully developed research plan - this will be developed in discussions with supervisors in the course.]  You may also be asked about your reasons for wanting to study in this area and the reasons why this particular course is of interest to you.

Supervision

Any offer of a place is dependent on the University’s ability to provide the appropriate supervision for your chosen area of work. Please refer to the ‘About’ section of this page for more information about the provision of supervision for this course.

How your application is assessed

Your application will be assessed purely on academic merit and potential, according to the published entry requirements for the course. 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. Whether you have secured funding will not be taken into consideration when your application is assessed.

Admissions panels and assessors

All recommendations to admit a student involve the judgement of at least two members of the academic staff with relevant experience and expertise, and must also be approved by the Director of Graduate Studies or Admissions Committee (or equivalent within the department).

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

After an offer is made

If you receive an offer of a place at Oxford, you will be required to meet the following requirements: 

Financial Declaration

If you are offered a place, you will be required to complete a Financial Declaration in order to meet your financial condition of admission.

Disclosure of criminal convictions

In accordance with the University’s obligations towards students and staff, we will ask you to declare any relevant, unspent criminal convictions before you can take up a place at Oxford.

Resources

The Oxford University Department of Education 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. The department 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), the department 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 2019.

Research in the department is organised around three major themes:

  • Language, Cognition and Development
  • Policy, Economy and Society
  • Learning: Pedagogy, Learning and Knowledge.

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

The University expects to be able to offer up to 1,000 full or partial graduate scholarships across the collegiate University in 2021-22. You will be automatically considered for the majority of Oxford scholarships, if you fulfil the eligibility criteria and submit your graduate application by the relevant January deadline. Most scholarships are awarded on the basis of academic merit and/or potential. 

For further details about searching for funding as a graduate student visit our dedicated Funding pages, which contain information about how to apply for Oxford scholarships requiring an additional application, details of external funding, loan schemes and other funding sources. Please ensure that you visit individual college websites for details of college-specific funding opportunities using the links provided on our college pages.

Further information about funding opportunities for this course can be found on the department's website.

Costs

Annual fees for entry in 2021-22

Fee status

Annual Course fees

Home (UK, Republic of Ireland,
Channel Islands & Isle of Man)
£13,600
Overseas (including EU)£25,900

Course 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 course fees). 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.

Course fees cover your teaching as well as other academic services and facilities provided to support your studies. Unless specified in the additional information section below, course fees do not cover your accommodation, residential costs or other living costs. They also don’t cover any additional costs and charges that are outlined in the additional information below.

For more information about course fees and fee liability, please see the Fees section of this website. EU applicants should refer to our detailed fee status information and the Oxford and the EU webpage for details of the implications of the UK’s exit from the EU.

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

For the 2021-22 academic year, the range of likely living costs for full-time study is between c. £1,175 and £1,710 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. When planning your finances for any future years of study in Oxford beyond 2021-22, you should allow for an estimated increase in living expenses of 3% each year.

College preference

All graduate students at Oxford belong to a department or faculty and a college or hall (except those taking non-matriculated courses). If you apply for a place on this course you will have the option to express a preference for one of the colleges listed below, or you can ask us to find a college for you. The Colleges section of this website provides information about the college system at Oxford, as well as factors you may wish to consider when deciding whether to express a college preference. Please note that ‘college’ and ‘colleges’ refers to all 45 of the University’s colleges, including those designated as Permanent Private Halls (PPHs). 

For some courses, the department or faculty may have provided some additional advice below to help you to decide. Whatever you decide, it won’t affect how the academic department assesses your application and whether they decide to make you an offer. If your department makes you an offer of a place, you’re guaranteed a place at one of our colleges. 

The following colleges accept students on the MSc Education (Digital and Social Change):

How to apply

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

The set of documents you should send with your application to this course comprises the following:

Official transcript(s)

Your transcripts should give detailed information of the individual grades received in your university-level qualifications to date. You should only upload official documents issued by your institution and any transcript not in English should be accompanied by a certified translation.

More information about the transcript requirement is available in the Application Guide.

CV/résumé

A CV/résumé is compulsory for all applications. Most applicants choose to submit a document of one to two pages highlighting their academic achievements and any relevant professional experience.

Personal statement:
A maximum of 1,000 words

Your statement should be written in English and explain your motivation for applying for the course at Oxford, your relevant experience and education, and the specific areas that interest you and/or you intend to specialise in.

If possible, please ensure that the word count is clearly displayed on the document.

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).

Written work:
Two essays, a maximum of 2,000 words each

Academic essays or other writing samples, written in English, are required. Extracts of the requisite length from longer work are also permissible.  

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

The written work should be related to the course, and should be on two separate topics. The word count should include any bibliography or brief footnotes.

If possible, please ensure that the word count is clearly displayed on the document.

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

References/letters of recommendation:
Three overall, all of which must usually be academic

Whilst you must register three referees, the department may start the assessment of your application if two of the three references are submitted by the course deadline and your application is otherwise complete. Please note that you may still be required to ensure your third referee supplies a reference for consideration.

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.

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

Start or continue an application

Step 1: Read our guide to getting started, which explains how to prepare for and start an application.

Step 2: Check that you meet the Entry requirements and read the How to apply information on this page.

Step 3: Check the deadlines on this page and the deadline information in our Application Guide. Plan your time to submit your application well in advance - we recommend two or three weeks earlier.

Step 4: Check if you're eligible for an application fee waiver. Application fee waivers are available for:

Step 5: Start your application using the relevant button below. As you complete the form, consult our Application Guide for advice at each stage. You'll find the answers to most common queries in our FAQs.

Application GuideApply

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