MSc Education (Higher Education)

The MSc Education (Higher Education) at Oxford University 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 ‘vocationalization’ of degree programmes, are just some of the current issues within higher education in many countries.

The Masters provides students 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 provides a strong foundation for:

• using research to analyse and evaluate current structures and future reforms of higher education in different international contexts
• developing higher education provision, curricula and learning programmes to meet a range of local and international needs
• understanding the economic impacts of higher education and their implications for policy making
• analysing transitions of higher education graduates into the labour market and further studies
• conducting doctoral, post-doctoral and professional research

The Department of Education offers a challenging but supportive atmosphere for conducting graduate studies. The course is run by the Department of Education but also draws on the expertise of colleagues elsewhere within the University.

The MSc Education (Higher Education) student group (October 2017)

Studying for the MSc Education (Higher Education)

Course sessions consist of a combination of seminars, lectures and collaborative course work. These sessions take place three half-days a week. In addition:

  • you will have the opportunity to work together with your course colleagues on selected higher education topics and problems
  • you will reflect on your own higher education experience, and on the University of Oxford as your new educational context
  • you will be able to select the focus for your MSc dissertation from a range of relevant international higher education contexts
  • you will have one-to-one meetings with your dissertation supervisor on a regular basis to discuss your progress and the design of your own research study
  • you will spend extended time in your chosen research setting during the third term in order to carry out fieldwork for your dissertation
  • you will be assessed through a combination of examinations, dissertation and course-work.

Examples of recent dissertations

  • Kira Brayman A love-hate relationship”: Canadian laypeople’s construction of academic theories as diffusing innovations
  • Rachel Kolb All-Around Inclusion: Mainstreamed Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing Students’ Perceptions on Accommodations and Access in American Universities
  • Tara Nicola Measuring Success? The Predictive Validity of the Undergraduate Admissions Interview at the University of Oxford
  • Naveen Amblee The Development of managerial competencies in MBA programmes: An empirical Study of MBA core curricula
  • Yushi Inaba Higher Education in a depopulating society: survival strategies of Japanese Universities
  • Elizabeth Miller Degree apprenticeships in England: how do they work and who and what are they for?
  • Yu Yang Who got the information – an investigation into the equity and equality of China’s Gaokao reform

Who should apply?

The full-time Masters is aimed at students and professionals with an interest in higher education at all levels and areas:

  • higher education tutors and lecturers
  • researchers
  • administrators and managers
  • policy and decision makers

The course will help you to develop your knowledge, expertise and research skills in the following aspects of higher education:

  • institutional and administrative structures
  • research strategies, design and methods
  • access, completion and transition to the labour market
  • international and comparative questions
  • philosophical and historical underpinnings of research and teaching
  • learning environment and professional development

We accept students from a wide range of disciplines and educational backgrounds – a previous degree in education is beneficial but not necessary for successfully participating and completing the MSc in Higher Education. However, a keen interest in the debate on higher education nationally and internationally and an openness to engage with new and challenging ideas is necessary.

You are welcome to ask for further guidance from the Higher Degrees Office.

The course

The course consists of six papers and a dissertation. For the current year (2017/18) the following five papers are obligatory. More detail on each is provided in the programme specification below:

  • Higher Education I: Philosophical underpinnings and current debates
  • Higher Education II: Issues of internationalisation and equity
  • Higher Education and the Economy
  • Foundations of Educational Research 1: Concepts and Design
  • Foundations of Educational Research 2: Strategies and Methods

Students also choose one option from a list of option papers. The following list provides an indication of option papers usually available:

  • Technology in International Contexts: Applications to Learning and Health
  • Intermediate Quantitative Research
  • International Large Scale Assessments
  • Perspectives and Debates in Qualitative Research
  • Political, Economic and Cultural Dimensions of Education in Africa

These papers are taken during the first two terms. In their third term, students undertake work towards the production of a dissertation of between 15,000 and 20,000 words (including footnotes/endnotes but excluding appendices and references or bibliography).

Learning approaches and strategies

Learning in the course is organised around tutor presentations, small group work, student led presentations, seminars and workshops, project work, input from external experts and tutorials.

All students participate in a course project in which they co-operate with other class members to produce a presentation on a given topic. Tutorials support students in identifying research questions, selecting areas for literature review, carrying out field work, and reviewing drafts of the dissertation. Supported ICT sessions and literature access skills (including electronic searches) are provided by library staff.

Additionally, students are expected to attend departmental research seminars which are held usually during the course of the year in order to broaden the scope of their learning and further develop their own critical skills. Oxford University provides the opportunity to participate in a wealth of further academic-related activities and students are encouraged to attend lectures and research seminars in other departments within the University.

Page last modified: October 26, 2017