About the course
The MSc Education (Higher Education) at the University of Oxford provides a broad introduction to the complex field of theories and practice in higher education globally.
The increasing significance of university rankings, the growing range of international student exchange schemes and public discussion of the ‘vocationalisation’ of degree programmes, are just some of the current issues within higher education in many countries. Debates about the benefits of higher education to graduates, employers and the state underpin considerations of student fees and how they should be funded.
During this full-time course, students will have the opportunity to consider these and other complex issues that university and college leaders and higher education policy-makers are addressing today. Teaching sessions will combine tutor input and class discussion, plus small group working.
Course members study three core papers which consider national higher education systems and their economic impacts from theoretical, historical and empirical perspectives. Invited speakers will present their own recent research findings, ensuring that the course content reflects live debates and emerging understandings within the field of higher education policy.
In addition to these three pathway-specific core papers, two core papers in research methods develop students’ understanding of key concepts and principles of educational research design and methodology, using quantitative and qualitative methods and data. Students benefit from the expertise available through the Qualitative Methods Hub and the Quantitative Methods Hub at the Department of Education. MSc Education students also choose one assessed option paper from a selection offered by academic staff across the department.
This MSc is aimed at future leaders in the field – academics, policy-makers, researchers and managers. It is assessed through written assignments, a two-hour examination, and a research dissertation. Work towards this dissertation will be supported by practical sessions, that develop themes covered in the research design and methodology lectures, and one-to-one meetings with a supervisor throughout the course.
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. Fully 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 3 of the 20 departments in Oxford's Social Sciences Division.
Past master's and DPhil students from the Department of Education have gone on to academic and research careers at a range of universities in the UK and across the world, or are employed across a wide range of other sectors such as policy for government departments or NGOs, international organisations such as OECD, think tanks and administration at local and national levels. The department’s ‘Conversations with Alumni’ feature includes interviews with two DPhil alumni on their career paths after Oxford.
Other courses in this area
- DPhil in Education
- MSc in Applied Linguistics and Second Language Acquisition
- MSc in Education (Child Development and Education)
- MSc in Education (Comparative and International Education)
- MSc in Education (Research Design and Methodology)
- MSc in Learning and Teaching
- MSc in Applied Linguistics for Language Teaching
- Oxford 1+1 MBA
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 2019-20
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:
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(s)
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 2-4 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. You may be asked to outline your research interests and how these might be developed during the dissertation element of 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.
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. This will be done on the basis of the topic of research and the availability of individual supervisors. 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.
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.
There are over 1,000 full graduate scholarships available across the University, and these cover your course fees and provide a grant for living costs. If you apply by the relevant January deadline and fulfil the eligibility criteria you will be automatically considered. Over two thirds of Oxford scholarships require nothing more than the standard course application. Use the Fees, funding and scholarship search to find out which scholarships you are eligible for and if they require an additional application, full details of which are provided. Further information about scholarships and funding opportunities available through this academic department and for this course (if applicable) can be found on the department's website.
Annual fees for entry in 2019-20
Annual Course fees
|Home/EU (including Islands)||£12,570|
The fees shown above are the annual course fees for this course, for entry in the stated academic year.
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. You may have seen separate figures in the past for tuition fees and college fees. We have now combined these into a single figure.
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.
For more information about course fees and fee liability, please see the Fees section of this website. EU applicants should refer to our dedicated webpage for details of the implications of the UK’s plans to leave the European Union.
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.
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 2019-20 academic year, the range of likely living costs for full-time study is between c. £1,058 and £1,643 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 2019-20, you should allow for an estimated increase in living expenses of 3% each year.
The following colleges accept students on the MSc in Education (Higher Education):
- Brasenose College
- Campion Hall
- Green Templeton College
- Harris Manchester College
- Jesus College
- Kellogg College
- Lady Margaret Hall
- Linacre College
- New College
- Regent's Park College
- St Anne's College
- St Antony's College
- St Catherine's College
- St Cross College
- St Edmund Hall
- St Hilda's College
- St Hugh's College
- St Stephen's House
- Wolfson College
- Worcester College
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:
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.
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.
One to two pages
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.
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 and how these relate to the course and your proposed MSc dissertation project
- 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 for your MSc dissertation (if you have ideas about this).
Two essays 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, in which case it is important to clearly indicate that the submitted text is part of a longer piece of writing.
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. Please clearly indicate for what purpose the piece was originally written.
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.
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.
This will be assessed for understanding of the subject area, an ability to construct and defend an argument, an understanding of relevant conventions of academic writing and referencing, 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.