This is a professional development course for qualified teachers who are currently working in schools or similar educational settings.  It focuses on developing your pedagogical practice in schools and classrooms through engagement with and in research.

The programme is part-time, intended for teachers, in both primary and secondary schools, and including school leaders, who are interested in developing a research-informed approach to their existing practice. It focuses on the processes of learning and teaching, and is rooted in your own practice in school (or a similar educational setting); it is not possible to enroll if you are not currently working in a school (or similar setting). The course involves attending teaching weekends (held on Friday afternoons and Saturdays), and carrying out investigations in school, which are supported by set readings.  We do not offer an entirely distance learning option.

There are three Parts overall.  In Part 1 and 2, attendance is required at five intensive two-day residential courses in Oxford; supervision will mainly be offered within small subject-specific support groups, and from a University supervisor with expertise in a particular subject. In Part 3, you will largely work with a specialist supervisor on your own project.

Throughout the course there is a strong emphasis on collaboration within your school and across the course. The University’s Virtual Learning Environment (Weblearn) is used to support the school-based tasks and sustain critical discussion with peers. In addition to attendance at the seminars, all students are expected to engage in online activities, reporting and reflecting on their reading and school- based investigations.

You will follow either a two or three year course, depending on your entry qualifications (see entry requirements).

Applicants who already have a master’s-level PGCE qualification can omit Part 1. Those with M level accreditation (worth at least 60 credits) start in Part 2 and complete one taught year before carrying out a Part 3 research and development project. Those with no previous M level accreditation are introduced to master’s-level work in Part 1, then joining those starting Part 2, before going on to complete the final project.

Core teaching for all students is supported by work in supervision groups exploring the specific applications and implications of these key ideas in their curriculum areas.  Some of the teaching and all of the supervision in Part 2 of the programme is offered on a subject-specific basis (in those subjects in which the department has particular expertise). Those applicants to join the programme in Part 2 who are offered places but find that a particular subject group is already full will be given the option of joining a generic group or deferring their place until the following year when they can join the subject-specific group of their choice.

The course has enabled many alumni to progress on to leadership roles in schools, including several headteachers.

You will be initially registered for the Postgraduate Diploma in Learning and Teaching for the first one or two years (Part 1 and Part 2) and transferred onto the MSc Learning and Teaching for the final year (Part 3).

The course

The topics you will follow while reading for the MSc in Learning & Teaching depend on whether you have been accepted onto the two-year programme or the three-year programme (please see the entry requirements section for further details).  This will be confirmed at the time of acceptance.

The course is built around the same four main topics for both Parts 1 and 2, but each Part adopts a different perspective on them.  Part 1 is an introduction to Masters level work.  It starts by focusing on teaching, and then considers how this affects pupils and schools.  In Part 2, the course starts by focusing on pupils, and then considers how teachers and schools can respond.  The course for Part 1 covers:


You will have some seminars together and work in either subject-specific groups or general groups.  Those who have completed Part 1 will join with those who are starting in Part 2.  The course for Part 2 covers:


1. Teachers and Learners

Part I: Teacher identity and agency: educational research about and for teachers, notably theories of efficacy and agency.

Part II: Pupil identity and agency: how pupils learn, including pupils’ perspectives on learning, teaching, the curriculum and schooling.

2. Curriculum, pedagogy and assessment

Part I: Curriculum, pedagogy and assessment – introduction: notably the interplay between generic and subject-specific issues in curriculum, pedagogy and assessment.

Part II: Mediation, alignment and assessment design: particularly theories of assessment, theories of alignment, and how they inter-relate.

3. Responding to pupils

Part I: Learners, diversity and inclusion: Special educational needs, adolescence and well-being

Part II: Motivation and task design: mediation, task design and writing, including classroom talk and curriculum development

4. Schools, equity and achievement

Part 1: Educational research, professional communities and networks: schools in policy; professional collaboration within and between schools, and inter-agency working

Part II: Policy, schooling and research: reviewing current educational policy, and the inter-relationship between achievement, diversity and disadvantage

In the final year you will undertake a Research and Development unit in which you will research an aspect of teaching in your subject for a dissertation.  The taught programme for this part of the course will focus primarily on advanced methods of practitioner research, particularly the challenges of identifying a worthwhile innovation for the research and development work, elaborating the criteria for success and determining the nature of the evidence that will allow the participant to evaluate the impact of the innovation. The programme also includes a key focus on collaborative strategies within research and development work in schools and their communities.

The focus of the final research and development project is chosen by the student to reflect their own needs or interests and those of the context in which they work.

The project must involve the implementation and evaluation of some kind of teaching innovation in the student’s own context (which may be their own classroom, or within the school and its local community, or even across a network of schools). The project must include a collaborative dimension which means that students need either to engage their colleagues (e.g. teachers, teaching assistants) or other stakeholders (e.g. parents) in the school-based research work, or to develop ways of sharing their findings that encourage others to engage in further development work.

As part of the work for their research and development project all students will be expected to contribute to an annual conference held for course participants presenting ideas about effective research instruments and strategies to evaluate the effectiveness of the teaching innovations they introduced.

Projects completed by students include:

  • Getting all International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme Teachers involved in the theory of knowledge course: Action research in a South East Asia IB school
  • Boys and Geography: An inquiry into student-led learning as a strategy for increasing engagement at GCSE.
  • Perceptions of learners and classroom practitioners on the value of physical education as an ‘academic’ subject in a grammar school.
  • History and change: How to help pupils write effectively about the concept of continuity and change in history.
  • Tackling underachievement in Y12 Biology; how can teachers influence pupil motivation?
  • Developing mathematical reasoning and problem-solving skills – an investigation into strategies to develop students’ mathematics in a Year 7 mixed ability class.
  • “I would like support from school when it comes to doing extra to get into one of the top universities”  How do high achieving history students respond to University preparation classes?
  • Supporting pupil premium attainment in science exams.
  • Is summative assessment in science the tail that wags the teaching and learning body?  Can assessment for learning offer a way forward?
  • Challenging conceptions of boys as reluctant readers: an investigation into boys’ reading preferences and how they might be developed to improve boys’ achievement in English.
  • A virtual writing community: An investigation into the Internet’s potential to engage girls in writing outside of the classroom.
  • What roles do funds of knowledge and learning dispositions have in the development of primary pupils’ writing?
  • Identity Development in the Secondary School: adolescents as ‘selves’ as well as ‘learners’.
  • Formative assessment: an ICT intervention to improve students’ motivation to learn away from the classroom.
  • Investigating ways of preventing students’ anxiety during spontaneous Target Language use in the MFL classroom.

Programme of Study

Part 1

Year 1 for students following the three-year programme

1 year (part-time) involving four two-day intensive courses at the Department and a series of tasks shared online between each weekend seminar

Form of assessment
One assignment of 8000-10000 words (or equivalent)
Exit Award
There is no exit award for this point of the course


Part 2

Year 1 for those following the two-year programme

Year 2 for those following the three-year programme

1 year (part-time) involving five two-day intensive courses at the Department and a series of school-based research tasks shared online between each weekend seminar

Form of assessment
One assignment of 8000-10000 words (or equivalent)
Exit Award It is intended that students automatically progress to the MSc. Students who exit the course at the end of this year will be awarded the Postgraduate Diploma in Learning and Teaching. Students who do so cannot, however, later return to complete the MSc. Those who progress to the MSc will forego the right to the award of the Diploma.


Part 3

Year 2 for those following the two-year programme

Year 3 for those following the three-year programme

1 year (part-time) including two intensive weekends at the department

Form of assessment
A research and development project of between 15000 and 20000 words (or equivalent), reporting on an empirical research study in relation to the development of professional practice within the participant’s own school or educational setting.

This academic report of the design, implementation and evaluation of a specific innovation must include a strong emphasis on the choice of criteria and the nature of the evidence by which the impact of the evaluation was assessed, and clear evidence of research collaboration with other adults – either engaging others in research; or enabling others engaged in education to learn from research findings.

Exit Award MSc Learning and Teaching


Assessment is through formally submitted assignments at the end of each year. In Part 1 and Part 2 of the course, you will draw on the content of the units studied, while in the final year (Part 3) you will be required to complete a research and development project, which involves implementing a new strategy and reviewing its progress, while working with colleagues.  All assignments are submitted online through the University’s Virtual Learning Environment and are subject to the rules and regulations surrounding examined submissions.


A departmental bursary of £450 is available to students commencing their studies in 2019/20. Eligible students must fulfil the following criteria:

  • Students must be within their first three years of teaching at the start of the course, i.e. NQT, NQT+1, or NQT+2
  • Self-funding for a proportion of the fees. Note that if the self-funded amount is less than the available bursary, the bursary will be reduced to match

The bursary is available in the third term of study, i.e. Trinity (Summer) Term 2020, it cannot be used to reduce termly fees. Further Departmental grants, and the amount to be funded, for subsequent years will be announced at the beginning of the second and third year (if appropriate).

MSc in Learning & Teaching (HK) Bursary, generously funded by donation from Enhancing Holistic Learning Academy (EHLA), a Hong Kong based educational organisation developing innovative learning systems to support disadvantaged children in Asia.  The donation is managed through the auspices of the Oxford Education Society – the society of alumni and friends of the Department – in cooperation with the University of Oxford China Office and the Oxford Thinking Campaign.  Each application will be considered by a panel and the decision to award a bursary will be based on the following criteria:

  • Students should be working directly with disadvantaged pupils in their school (in the UK, disadvantaged pupils are understood to be those eligible for free school meals).
  • At least 50% of the course fees are self-funded by the student.
  • Students should be working with non-fee paying schools in the UK or the equivalent overseas.

The bursary will be awarded to a maximum of five students in the first year.  Successful students will receive £1,000 in 2019/20, with a further sum of £1,000 payable in each year of the course.  Payments will be made by termly instalments.  Students awarded the bursary will no longer be eligible for the NQT bursary.  Applications should be made by 30th June 2019, once an offer for a place on the course has been made.

Religious Education: http://www.cstg.org.uk/grants/3forre/

  • 3forRE is a way to help teachers of RE to take relevant Masters courses in an affordable, manageable way. It is a unique scheme based on a three-way partnership between you, your school and Culham St Gabriel’s Trust.   Please visit the website for further details.


Who is the course for?

We welcome teachers at all levels of education (primary, secondary, sixth form), in any subject.

The course has subject-specific routes and generic routes.  In Part 1, all teachers are in generic groups, in a mix of subjects, school phases and school types.  For Part 2, the main expertise of staff currently teaching on the MSc Learning and Teaching relates to teaching the 11-18 age range, and subject-specific supervisory support can only be guaranteed for secondary teachers of certain subjects in Part 2 – currently Citizenship, English, Mathematics, Science, History, Modern Languages, Religious Education and Geography.  (The provision of such support in any particular subject is, however, dependent on the numbers applying.  Successful applicants for Part 2 who find that a particular subject group is already full will be given the option of joining a generic group or deferring their place until the following year when they can join the subject-specific group of their choice.)

The department does, however, also include strong research programmes related to pre-school and primary education and to education and training for the 14-19 age range, and we are able to draw on some of this expertise to inform teaching and give students access to specialist guidance. The current cohort therefore includes primary teachers as well as a small number of teachers in tertiary colleges.

Teachers of all phases of education – KS1-KS5 – are therefore welcome to apply but need to be aware that most participants are likely to be secondary school teachers. In the past two years we have accepted primary school teachers into the programme. They are then able to pursue an area of curriculum specialisation alongside secondary school colleagues.  Teachers from other subjects, e.g. Business Studies, Health Care, Latin or PE, tend to work in more generic groups.

How much time will I be expected to spend on study?

Course tutors are aware that students have very busy classroom lives and we have tried to time tasks so that they can be completed during holiday periods. There are texts to be read in your own time and tasks to be undertaken in school but we anticipate that over the year, your commitment would average out to about two to three hours per week. The reading commitment for the final dissertation is greater than for the taught course, and you will need to build this in to your planning: if you have maintained a steady reading programme throughout the early stages of the course, the final year will be that much easier. During the taught course, you are expected to attend the four or five weekend seminars each year and complete the reading and investigative tasks set in each of the taught themes.  In the final year of the course there are two weekend seminars.

How will my work on the course be supported?

You will be allocated a supervisor who will provide individual guidance and you will gain access to the University’s VLE (WebLearn); we require students to use the VLE to discuss aspects of their work. You will also have the opportunity to meet with other members of your subject specific (or generic) support group throughout the year (see above).

How often will I need to come to the Department for meetings?

Attendance is required in Oxford at four (Part 1), five (Part 2) and two (Part 3) seminars over the course, with some tasks online.  The weekend seminars will run from late afternoon on Friday to late afternoon on Saturday.  In your first year you will also be required to attend an induction and registration day in September, and at the beginning of Part 3 you will need to attend the matriculation ceremony (in October) when you formally begin the MSc.

Do I have to apply to a college?

College affiliation is an important part of being a student at Oxford, but is only required in the final year of the course (the Research & Development Project).  For this year, you will deal with the college directly for certain processes.  Colleges will try to make you welcome; some have rooms available to rent when you are in Oxford.  We deal with college places during Part 2 of the course.  Oxford graduates, particularly ex-PGCE students, often return to their old college.  Otherwise, there are a few colleges which accept part-time students.  We have particular links with Kellogg College, which was specifically set up for students who undertake part-time studies at Oxford. Please note that there is no guarantee that you will be placed at any given College, and a place will be found for you where possible.

What should I include in the statement of purpose on the application form?

The statement of purpose really just tells us why you are interested in doing this course. You might have particular priorities that you want to investigate or to develop in your teaching and already know the kind of ideas you want to explore in your final research and development project. You may have taken on a new role or responsibility at school and be looking to develop particular kinds of knowledge or expertise, perhaps involving work with others. Your interests could relate to the particular needs of the students that you are teaching, or to the demands of a new kind of syllabus, or leadership position. But you might simply be looking for structured support and access to ideas and resources that will challenge and extend your thinking and understanding of the teaching and learning process, giving you new ideas and the encouragement to experiment with different approaches. Your school may have particular reasons for encouraging you to undertake the course, again perhaps with a specific development project in mind. Do tell us if you have any particular aims of this kind or if there are specific challenges in your teaching/school context to which you are seeking answers. If your ideas are less focused, it is fine simply to explain in more general terms what you are hoping to get out of the course and why you would have the support of your school (or other educational setting) in undertaking it now.

Who should I choose as my referees?

You are required to provide the details of three referees on your application form. We are looking for references from your school and from another institution, for example, a course tutor if you have completed your PGCE course in the past two years. Due to the nature of the course we would like to see a reference from your Headteacher and/or HoD if possible as the research work you will carry out will be within the school.

We strongly advise you to discuss the course with your Headteacher as you may need to leave school earlier than normal on seminar weekends in order to travel to Oxford.  Attendance at these seminars is a requirement of the course.

Please note that, as part of the University regulations, the Graduate Admissions Office is unable to release your application to us until you have provided at least two references with your application (either by paper or on-line). Once we have received and considered your application we will then make a decision whether or not we wish to pursue the third if you have not already provided it.

Do I still need to pay college fees even though the course is part-time and I do not need accommodation?

All the students in their final year of this programme have college affiliation so they need to pay college fees for one year in their period of study. These are less than the full time cost, reflecting the non-resident status of our students.  Fee payments continue to be paid to the department in the final year.

Will I be able to pay fees in installments?

The department assumes payment will be made on a yearly basis at the start of the year, however, arrangements can be made for a termly payment of fees. The schedule for this is set in September of the year of entry.

Why am I entered for the Postgraduate Diploma on entry when I have applied for the MSc?

The Postgraduate Diploma is simply part of the process of the course which allows us to offer an exit award after Part 2 if any student wishes to discontinue their studies at this point. We expect all students to continue to the MSc when they sign up for the course, and the course is designed to lead students through to this point, however, we understand that personal circumstances can sometimes change.


Couldn’t find your answers under our FAQ section?

Please direct any enquiries you may have about this course to our Professional Programmes Office and a member of the administrative team will be happy to assist you.

Phone: +44 (0)1865 274021
Email: msc.learnandteach@education.ox.ac.uk