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The aim of our MA in Higher Education is to equip students with research skills and substantive knowledge for the study of higher education. You will enhance your ability to facilitate and lead the development of expert knowledge within your specific area of higher education including academic practice. Globalisation, technological advancement and the evolution of the sector means the study of higher education is no longer limited to local, regional or national contexts. Recognising this changing environment, our course aims to enhance practice, research and policy of higher education. Woven throughout are opportunities for formal and informal personal development in a wide range of institutional settings and locations, and emphasis is put on the synthesis of theory and practice (including academic practice). Coursework will draw on your experience and understanding of pertinent issues to higher education, and you’ll be encouraged to bring this together with the current, established body of professional and academic literature. You’ll develop advanced, specialist research skills, and broaden your knowledge of areas of higher education that are most relevant to your personal or professional aims.
Graduates from a wide range of backgrounds, including tutors, lecturers and academics from different disciplines and educational contexts will benefit from the provision of specialist knowledge and research methods training. Our course actively seeks to support the professional development, employability and career progression of managers, administrators and academic-related, professional staff (e.g. learning technologists, academic developers). The offering of a range of specialised research skills is tailored to enhance the expertise of these professionals as well as those aspiring to progress to higher levels of management in the areas of higher education policy, widening participation and access in higher education institutions. Invited lecturers from external higher education and policy institutions will highlight possible pathways for future employment within specialist organisations or universities in a number of countries. The design of authentic course assessment tasks underlines the importance of developing specialised research and professional skills applicable in the workplace. Equally, the research skills element of the course will equip participants with necessary skills for progression to doctoral or independent research.
MODULES & ASSESSMENT
National and International Perspectives on Higher Education PolicyThis module examines policy and policy-making as distinct processes of implementation and change. Students will consider the approaches of different countries to important debates in the field including the purpose and nature of universities, funding, internationalisation, access and widening participation, management, quality, and regulation processes. Utilising policy analysis methods as well as key concepts and theoretical frameworks students will critically examine comparative evidence to enhance their knowledge and understanding of higher education principles, processes and practices drawing on individual national case studies. The module covers the following broad areas of higher education policy, policy-making and change; Access, recruitment and widening participation, Quality assurance and regimes of (de)regulation in higher education, Management and change at institutional, national and international level, Tiers of higher education provision, rankings and their implications for governments and universities, Higher education financing and shifting patterns of funding and Internationalisation, global competition and cross-border flow of students and researchers.
Universities as Contemporary Learning and Teaching EnvironmentsThis module examines the historical development of research in teaching-learning with a view to identify key contributions that influenced how we conceptualise teaching-learning in the university sector. Several theoretical traditions are presented (e.g. communities of practice, student approaches to learning, actor network theory) and emphasis is placed on the role of assessment and feedback as well as the wide-scale implementation of technological media in higher education and their impact on new modalities of learning. Students will be offered the means to enhance their critical understanding and use of relevant theory by supporting critical and systematic reflection on the changing nature of teaching-learning in higher education, on the changing management landscape, and on the relationships between them in national and international contexts.
Special Research Methods in Higher EducationThis module provides an overview of the methods and methodologies applied to research in higher education. In doing so, it provides links between higher education and educational and social research in general without losing its particular focus and applicability on higher education settings. The meanings and associations between methods are discussed and their position in wider epistemological paradigms is considered. Students will be given an overview of the development of these methods and methodologies in higher education and will develop applied research skills on methods relevant to their practice or interests. Conclusions will be drawn on the methodological opportunities and challenges of the presented research methods and their supplementarity to wider educational and social research will be critically examined.
Educational and Social Research MethodsThis module provides you with the opportunity to consider the aims and intentions of educational research, critique published journal articles, and examine the role of evidence from research as a basis for improving education and social care. You will gain grounding in educational research issues, methods and strategies together with knowledge of how to match intended outcomes with specific educational questions and methods of investigation.
Postgraduate Major StudyThis module supports students in the preparation and submission of their Master’s Major project and involves a dissertation of 14,000 words or the equivalent. The Major Project enables students to demonstrate the ability to raise significant and meaningful questions in relation to their specialism which may involve working at the current limits of theoretical and / or research understanding. It will involve the ability to develop solutions to ethical dilemmas likely to arise in their research or professional practice. The project enables students to expand or redefine existing knowledge, to develop new approaches to changing workplace situations and / or to contribute to the development of best practice. It asks the student to communicate these processes in a clear and elegant fashion and to evaluate their work from the perspective of an autonomous reflective learner. Students’ research topics must be negotiated with their appointed supervisor. An application for ethical approval and ethics discussion paper must then be submitted. The project may take the form of a written dissertation, a formal presentation and full research paper, an exhibition, a performance, an artefact or the development of software, or other written, aural or visual material. The project may be formed from a combination of these modes but will normally include a written component.
You will be assessed in a number of ways, from systematic literature reviews to reflective accounts on your professional practice, to ensure you’re learning effectively. Other forms of assessment may include presentations, critical analyses of existing research, producing a dissemination poster and a research project. Each module comprises of one summative assessment and one core formative assessment. The assessment of the modules places emphasis on authenticity of the assessment tasks. Assessment are designed to strengthen your ability to conduct research in higher education settings.