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Education (MSc)

  • Duration: 1 year
  • Mode: Full time

Start date

Open day

Find out more about studying here as a postgraduate at our next Open Day.

Why study this course

Explore key challenges and developments in education in today’s global context


Examine contemporary education practices and contexts from national and international perspectives


Wider debates around education

Study education inside and outside classroom settings, laying the foundation for a wide variety of careers.


Interdisciplinary study

Explore childhood and youth in sociology, social policy, education, history, geography and cultural studies.


Independent research

Dissertation includes a small-scale independent piece of research on a topic of your interest.

The MSc Education is designed for students who have an interest in education practice, organisation, or research. Through modules that include comparative and international perspectives, you will study experiences from the UK and across the world and explore the complex issues facing teachers and education leaders and decision-makers in an increasingly globalised context. These challenges include aspects such as the design of curricula, the delivery of teaching in a rapidly changing world or the effects of internationalisation and globalisation on educational ideas and practices.

The programme provides an in-depth understanding of education as a field of study, but also of the connections between education and other social institutions that play a role in tackling complex education problems. Working closely with classmates and academic staff, you will have the opportunity to explore these questions and to benefit from interdisciplinary perspectives, including education, sociology and psychology. You will be challenged to evaluate and formulate recommendations for educational practices and organisation, and to design innovative interventions that will empower learners by improving the quality and relevance of their education.

The programme gives particular attention to the largest education sectors: primary and secondary education, but also gives you the opportunity to discuss developments in education from a broader, lifelong learning perspective – from pre-primary education and higher education to adult learning and non-formal education – that recognises the interconnections between the different parts of education systems. For your dissertation project, you can choose to focus on any level of formal education or on non-formal education.

Please note that whilst this programme is suitable for educational professionals seeking to develop their career, it is not a teaching qualification and does not provide Qualified Teacher Status (QTS). If you are interested in beginning a teaching career, please check teaching qualification requirements for the country and sector where you intend to work.

Where you'll study

School of Social Sciences

Our degrees are delivered by internationally recognised experts with a track record of influencing policy and practice around the world.

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  • MarkerKing Edward VII Avenue, Cardiff, CF10 3WA

Admissions criteria

Applicants should normally hold a minimum 2:2 degree in a relevant subject area or have appropriate professional experience.

The course is directed to recent graduates, from those who have no or little professional experience of education-related work,and to mid-career professionals engaged in teaching, the delivery of other education-related activities, the administration of educational institutions or the analysis of education practices.  It will enable you to develop your knowledge of teaching and learning and your capacity to understand and conduct research in education contexts.

This programme is suitable for graduates with a background in social sciences or humanities. Those with a background in other areas and more than 3 years of teaching, educational administration/planning, educational research or related experience may be considered for admission into the programme.

Information for international students:

Additional information regarding admission requirements into this programme for international students can be obtained from the programme admissions team.

English Language Requirements for non-UK applicants

Typical IELTS offer: 6.5 (with a minimum of 6.5 in writing and no less than 5.5 in all other categories)

Find out more about English language requirements.

Applicants who require a Tier 4 visa to study in the UK must present an acceptable English language qualification in order to meet UKVI (UK Visas and Immigration) requirements



Find out more about English language requirements.

Applicants who require a Tier 4 visa to study in the UK must present an acceptable English language qualification in order to meet UKVI (UK Visas and Immigration) requirements

Criminal convictions

You are not required to complete a DBS (Disclosure Barring Service) check or provide a Certificate of Good Conduct to study this course.

If you are currently subject to any licence condition or monitoring restriction that could affect your ability to successfully complete your studies, you will be required to disclose your criminal record. Conditions include, but are not limited to:

  • access to computers or devices that can store images
  • use of internet and communication tools/devices
  • curfews
  • freedom of movement, including the ability to travel to outside of the UK or to undertake a placement/studies outside of Cardiff University
  • contact with people related to Cardiff University.

Course structure

For a full-time student you would be expected to take a combination of Core and Optional modules in Year One (120 credits).

In Year Two you would undertake a Dissertation module (60 credits).

The modules shown are an example of the typical curriculum and will be reviewed prior to the 2020/21 academic year. The final modules will be published by September 2020.

You will take five compulsory 20-credit modules – one 20 credit optional module and a 60 credit dissertation on a topic agreed with your supervisor – to make up the full 180 credits you need to complete the programme.

Taught modules

The five compulsory modules include core social skills and substantive topics in education. The optional module allows you to tailor your degree to suit your own interests. Each taught module is worth 20 credits, which means it should take approximately 200 hours to complete including formal teaching, independent student and time spend on assessment tasks.


Following successful completion of the taught modules, you will be asked to produce a 60 credit dissertation on an education-related topic of your choice.

This dissertation involves a small-scale independent piece of research that and enables you to develop your interests in a substantive area related to the programme and to put into practice the knowledge and skills developed through participation in the taught modules.

You will be allocated a dissertation supervisor to assist in planning, conducting and writing up the research project.

The University is committed to providing a wide range of module options where possible, but please be aware that whilst every effort is made to offer choice this may be limited in certain circumstances. This is due to the fact that some modules have limited numbers of places available, which are allocated on a first-come, first-served basis, while others have minimum student numbers required before they will run, to ensure that an appropriate quality of education can be delivered; some modules require students to have already taken particular subjects, and others are core or required on the programme you are taking. Modules may also be limited due to timetable clashes, and although the University works to minimise disruption to choice, we advise you to seek advice from the relevant School on the module choices available.

Learning and assessment

How will I be taught?

You will learn from scholars who are contributing to the future of their fields. Our courses reflect both the core ideas of their disciplines and contemporary debates, theories and research.

Teaching methods include a mixture of lectures, seminars, independent study and self-directed learning that use online resources, individual work and group tasks. Lectures generally provide an overview of the relevant topic, introducing key concepts or research, and highlighting contemporary issues or debates. In contrast to lectures, seminars give you the opportunity to discuss particular readings, research or topics in detail. This allows you to consolidate your understanding and get feedback on your individual learning. Seminars also enable you to hone your communication, presentation and collaborative skills as you take part in group discussions and other tasks.

As social science develops in response to the social world, so our curriculum also changes.  Our students play an important role in these developments, with the Student-Staff Panel being consulted about major changes and all students completing module evaluations and an annual student survey.

How will I be assessed?

Typical assessment formats include individual assignments, coursework, projects, presentations or class tests. The most common form of assessment is the production of coursework. Deadlines are spread throughout the academic year.

An important part of assessment is feedback. Feedback exists in any process, activity or information that enhances learning by providing students with the opportunity to reflect on their current or recent level of attainment or their understanding of a topic. It can be provided individually or to groups and can take many forms. It is responsive to the developmental expectations of our programmes and disciplines.

The range of feedback includes: one-to-one individual feedback; generic feedback; peer feedback; informal feedback; self-evaluation to submit along with the assessment.

Academic staff and peers can use a variety of methods to deliver these types of feedback: written feedback; annotation of a text; oral feedback; seminar discussion.


How will I be supported?

A personal tutor will guide you for the duration of your studies and will be available to discuss progress and provide advice and guidance on your academic studies. The Student Hub, and the Taught Programmes Office, both located in the Glamorgan Building, can also provide advice on how to access university services.

All modules within the course make use of Cardiff University’s Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) – Learning Central – on which you will find course materials, links to related materials and information relating to assessment tasks including, for example, assessment criteria, links to past papers (when applicable), and guidelines for submitting assessments.

Additional module-specific support is provided by seminar tutors, lecturers and/or module convenors.  Support for the dissertation is provided by a supervisor who will meet with you regularly.

Formative Feedback

Formative feedback is feedback that does not contribute to progression or degree classification decisions.  The goal of formative feedback is to improve your understanding and learning before you complete your summative assessment. More specifically, formative feedback helps you to:

  • identify your strengths and weaknesses and target areas that need work;
  • help staff to support you and address the problems identified with targeted strategies for improvement.

Formative feedback is routinely provided in seminars. In addition, modules may include specific formative assessment designed to help you prepare for the subsequent summative assessment.

Summative Feedback

Summative feedback is feedback that contributes to progression or degree classification decisions.  The goal of summative assessment is to indicate how well you have succeeded in meeting the intended learning outcomes of a Module and will enable you to identify action required (feed forward) in order to improve in future assessments.

All feedback on coursework is provided electronically to ensure it is readily accessible and easy to read. Verbal feedback is provided for presentations but written feedback will also be provided if/where the presentation makes a significant contribution to the module mark.

Feedback on class tests is usually provided as written feedback for the whole class but you are also able to discuss your individual test paper and the mark it was awarded with the module convenor.

All marks and feedback are made with reference to the relevant marking criteria.

What skills will I practise and develop?

Knowledge & Understanding:

On completion of the programme you will be able to:

  • Demonstrate a deep and systematic understanding of core theories and concepts related to education policy, organisation and practice
  • Analyse and situate local and national education practices and policies within their broader global and historical contexts
  • Demonstrate a high level of knowledge of methodological and ethical considerations relevant to undertaking research on education issues

Intellectual Skills:

On completion of the programme you will be able to:

  • Systematically identify complex connections between aspects of education theory and policy and practice (in education and related areas)
  • Critically evaluate existing research and scholarship on education issues, and make informed judgements between competing claims and theoretical perspectives
  • Describe and critically reflect upon policy and practice relating to complex educational issues, and upon the connection between education and other social institutions
  • Effectively collect, evaluate, synthesise and interpret various forms of complex data –including in the form of a project dissertation

Professional Practical Skills:

On completion of the programme you will be able to:

  • Articulate original solutions to tackle both familiar and unfamiliar problems, to enhance education policy and practice
  • Demonstrate a critical understanding of evidence-based approaches to the design, implementation and evaluation of education interventions

Transferable/Key Skills:

On completion of the programme you will be able to:

  • Communicate (in writing and orally) research findings clearly to specialist and non-specialist audiences, work in an international context, problem solving, time management, ICT and individual and teamwork skills
  • Evaluate your own work and be self-critical

Tuition fees

UK and EU students (2020/21)

Tuition feeDeposit

More information about tuition fees and deposits, including for part-time and continuing students.

Financial support may be available to individuals who meet certain criteria. For more information visit our funding section. Please note that these sources of financial support are limited and therefore not everyone who meets the criteria are guaranteed to receive the support.

EU students entering in 2020/21 will pay the same tuition fee as UK students for the duration of their course. Please be aware that fees may increase annually in line with inflation. The Welsh Government has not yet confirmed fees and funding for EU students starting in 2021/22. We will provide further details as soon as we can.

Students from outside the EU (2020/21)

Tuition feeDeposit

More information about tuition fees and deposits, including for part-time and continuing students.

Financial support may be available to individuals who meet certain criteria. For more information visit our funding section. Please note that these sources of financial support are limited and therefore not everyone who meets the criteria are guaranteed to receive the support.

Additional costs

You should be prepared to invest in some key textbooks and to cover the costs of basic printing and photocopying. You may also want to buy copies of other books, either because they are particularly important for your course or because you find them particularly interesting.

If you have a laptop computer you will have the option of purchasing software at discounted prices.

Will I need any specific equipment to study this course/programme?

What the student should provide:

You do not need any specific equipment to study on this programme. Access to a laptop computer would be advantageous as many readings are available electronically and most assessments are prepared using standard word processing software.

What the University will provide:

Networked computers with appropriate file space and all necessary software. Access to essential and background reading for each module plus a wide range of journals and other online resources. Course documents will be available online (via the VLE) and hard copies of essential documents will be provided if requested.

Career prospects

We encourage our students to think about life beyond University from day one, offering modules and support to give you a competitive advantage on graduating. Turning theory into practical application and providing experience of the working world are important aspects of all our degree schemes and help prepare our graduates for life after higher education.

Graduates of this programme may work in education-related areas within formal or non-formal education organisations, in government departments and regulators, in non-governmental organisations including foundations and think-tanks working, in charities, the media or as social entrepreneurs in the area of education.


Master's Excellence Scholarship

This award worth £3000 is open to UK and EU students intending to study one of our taught master’s degrees.

Postgraduate Master’s Finance

If you’re starting your master’s degree in September 2020 or later, you may be able to apply for postgraduate student finance to support your study at Cardiff University.

Next steps


Open Day visits

Register for information about our 2020 dates.

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