Higher Education - PDip, MA


This programme offers an opportunity for Higher Education (HE) professionals to deepen their understanding of principles, theoretical concepts and the policy context of HE.

Practice-based specialist modules are combined with modules supporting the development of research skills, culminating in a dissertation for the MA. The emphasis throughout is on a critical understanding of the HE context and its implications for academic work in the 21st century.

About Centre for the Study of Higher Education

The Centre for the Study of Higher Education (CSHE) provides a base for postgraduate provision with a distinctive focus on the field of Higher Education. CSHE is also a focal point for research in this area, supported by seminars and events to which all postgraduate students and staff are warmly welcomed.

We offer three taught postgraduate programmes (PCert, PDip and MA in Higher Education) and a PhD in Higher Education.

Taught programmes are tailored to different levels of experience and designed for you to select subject matter according to your own professional interests and role. The emphasis throughout is on developing an understanding of the Higher Education context, the diversity of provision and the implications for all aspects of academic work in the 21st century.

This programme is available with start dates in September and January

The PhD programme, offered on a full-time or part-time basis, is aimed at those with a professional or scholarly interest in any aspect of Higher Education who wish to develop as independent researchers in the field.

Students on our programmes come from a wide range of subject backgrounds and bring a rich variety of experiences to their work, resulting in a lively interdisciplinary dimension to taught modules and opportunities for debate.

Please note that we are unable to offer tuition or supervision in relation to other phases of education (e.g. schools), or to schoolteacher education.

Entry requirements

A PGCHE or equivalent professional qualification or negotiated portfolio plus a minimum of two years’ recent experience as an HE professional.

All applicants are considered on an individual basis and additional qualifications, professional qualifications and relevant experience may also be taken into account when considering applications. 

International students

Please see our International website for entry requirements by country and other relevant information. Due to visa restrictions, international fee-paying students cannot study part-time unless undertaking a distance or blended-learning programme with no on-campus provision.

English language entry requirements

The University requires all non-native speakers of English to reach a minimum standard of proficiency in written and spoken English before beginning a postgraduate degree. Certain subjects require a higher level.

For detailed information see our English language requirements web pages. 

Need help with English?

Please note that if you are required to meet an English language condition, we offer a number of pre-sessional courses in English for Academic Purposes through Kent International Pathways.


A group of postgraduates sit outside the Kennedy Building on the Canterbury campus

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Course structure

Duration: 2 years part-time


The following modules are indicative of those offered on this programme. This list is based on the current curriculum and may change year to year in response to new curriculum developments and innovation.  Most programmes will require you to study a combination of compulsory and optional modules. You may also have the option to take modules from other programmes so that you may customise your programme and explore other subject areas that interest you.

Compulsory modules currently include

The subject matter of the dissertation will be individually negotiated with the Programme Director. The production of the dissertation will be supported through individual tutorial supervisions by a member of the programme team with expertise in the student's chosen research area. This will include guidance on the initial framing of the research question and the development of a research proposal which will additionally be considered by the UELT Ethics Committee. MA candidates will be expected to produce a piece of work, between 12,000 – 15,000 words in length using appropriate methodologies and resources.

Find out more about UN899

Optional modules may include

This module offers existing researchers the opportunity to develop and enhance the understanding and skills required for a successful research career in a university, as well as a forum for the recognition, discussion and resolution of problems encountered doing research in higher education. Contributors to the module are drawn from different disciplinary areas across the University.

The module explores the policy framework of research, the mechanisms used to assess research quality, and the structures and networks through which research funding is distributed. The researcher's own role in developing successful research is explicitly acknowledged through sessions on grant applications and reviews, and on the varied disciplinary practices of dissemination and publishing. Participants are encouraged to review their own practice and to consider future strategies for developing research careers.

Find out more about UN812

This module offers new or early-career supervisors the opportunity to review the multiple purposes and varieties of doctoral education, to consider a range of approaches to supervision and other programme components, and to evaluate current and potential methods of assessing research student progress and attainment. The module also strives to provide a forum for discussion of issues encountered in supervisory practice, possible solutions and sources of support. Indicative topics covered include: types of research degree, current developments in doctoral training and the 'skills agenda', supervisory relationships, academic and pastoral support for a diverse student body, assessment and the examination process, and divergent disciplinary and professional perspectives on doctoral education.

Find out more about UN813

This module provides participants with an overview of the field of Learning Technologies and offers an opportunity for experience of various technologies from the points of view of the student, tutor and other HE staff. Participants will analyse and discuss pedagogical principles which underpin possible uses of new technologies and the implications variously on learning and teaching, research and administration, in terms of staff development and student support. Indicative topics are: modes of pedagogy (e.g. the spectrum of pure face-to-face through blended learning, or combined mode, to computer-mediated distance learning) and assessment, including tools such as quizzes, personal response systems and other mobile devices; modes of computer-mediated communication (e.g. one-to-one, one-to-many, many-to-many); technology in society and diffusion of innovations. This module does not consider new technology for its own sake nor does it focus upon technical specifications.

Find out more about UN815

This module is project-based, and requires participants to design, implement and evaluate an innovation in their teaching.

It supports academic staff engaging in the process of educational change. Participants will be planning, implementing and evaluating their project in the course of the academic year in which they take this module. This may be a process of change in their own immediate teaching context; changes in student profile or employers' expectations; a process of major curriculum development. The innovation may be in any area of learning and teaching, such as the use of learning technology, dealing with gender issues, student learning support, resource-based learning, problem-based learning, teaching of critical thinking skills, or incorporation of key skills in the curriculum. Central to the module is the notion of deliberated change, supported by scholarship and critical evaluation. It provides a framework within which participants can engage in research-informed teaching innovation in their disciplinary field. However participants will also have the opportunity to learn from other subject areas and consider alternative approaches.

Find out more about UN816

This module focuses upon assessment and feedback within higher education. The module covers in the main the impact of the educational and policy context on approaches to assessment, the relationships between assessment of and for learning, with approaches to giving feedback. The module considers the impact of 'stakeholder' (eg student, employer, institutional) perceptions on assessment design and practice and how these interact with feedback practices. The module further considers critically the current literature relating to recommended feedback practice and how this can be operationalised within the students learning environment.

Find out more about UN821

This module is intended to offer students the opportunity to investigate a higher education topic of their own choosing, in detail and with academic support. This may take the form of, for example, a literature review on an agreed topic; a small-scale educational research study; a research report on a topic or project related to academic practice within their own discipline; a conceptual study of specific educational ideas, practices or principles.

The curriculum will be negotiated with each Faculty-based group but as a minimum will include:

A survey of relevant sources of scholarly material related to higher education topics

A critical review of relevant investigations of higher education topics

Methods of investigation relevant to selected topics

Group and individual evaluation and reviews of progress

Relevant approaches to academic writing and presentation

A programme of reading, investigation and support will be negotiated with each student.

Find out more about UN822

The curriculum builds upon the skills, knowledge and understanding of policy and practice in Higher Education students will have developed as part of the PGCHE programme (or equivalent appropriate experience) and upon the prerequisite module: Educational Research Methodology in particular. The teaching, content and assessment of this module aims to take students beyond the initial understanding of a range of methods of educational research which will be introduced in the Educational Research Methodology module, and aims to develop their capacity for critical analysis of a range of educational theories and their application in contemporary HE research. The scope for this activity is deliberately broadly interpreted to enable students to interrogate educational research in relation to their personal interests and professional practices. Participants will explore the impact of theoretical approaches to higher education research, through engaging in interdisciplinary discussion focused upon critical analysis of relevant research monographs, journal articles, book chapters or guest lectures. The emphasis throughout is on interrogating the rationale and application of particular theoretical approaches.

Indicative content:

Shifting paradigms in HE research

Truth and bias in HE research

The relationship between theory and method in HE research

The contribution and influence of major thinkers upon HE research (e.g. Bourdieu, Habermas, Bernstein, and Foucault)

A critical overview of current theoretical approaches to HE research, such as: discourse analysis, social and critical realism, actor-network theory, auto/biographical research

Find out more about UN824

The main purpose of this module is to provide programme participants with an introduction to methodologies and methods of conducting educational research, and their implications in terms of ethics, validity and generalisability. Topics introduced include: conceptual analysis, forms of reasoning, epistemology, education as social science, quantitative vs qualitative analysis, datasets and other sources, various methods and approaches for empirical investigation (with room to accommodate participants' needs), research ethics considerations, research writing and audiences.

Find out more about UN825

This module covers:

The meanings, history and development of internationalisation in the UK HE sector, considered in relation to institutional, national and international policy objectives, for example: The Bologna Process.

Internationalisation and the student experience – from mono-culturalism to integration?

Pedagogy and the internationalised HE sector (teaching students for whom English is an additional language; the academic expectations of international students; interrogating a 'Western curriculum')

Contemporary challenges in internationalisation: Marketisation and internationalisation : a critical exploration of selling the UK student experience overseas

The international academic: working in a global labour market – collaborations and partnerships.

A critical appraisal of internationalisation in practice including a consideration of the role of the University of Kent as the UK's European University.

Find out more about UN826

The module is intended to support professional development through a process of critical reflection, and to meet the particular needs of staff engaged in a range of learning support roles. For this reason it is designed to be flexible and adaptable to practice in different specialist fields. It aims to provide an introduction to different approaches to learning, the assumptions on which they are founded and their implications for practice. The curriculum focuses chiefly on student-centred approaches to learning: how students learn, both generally and within subject/ disciplinary/practice areas; effective approaches to student support and guidance; the role of feedback in supporting learning; and strategies for evaluating the effectiveness of professional practice. The module seeks to make explicit links between principles and the application of these to participants' own practice and development. Participants are encouraged to reflect on personal practices, evaluate them and identify how they can be developed.. A further central component of the module is the role of observation: being observed (and observing more experienced colleagues), receiving and responding to feedback, and articulating the values which underpin one’s own practice are central to the development of the skills of a reflective practitioner and to career development.

Find out more about UN828

This module offers the chance to explore what is meant by the idea of reflection or effective reflective practice, how it is used within the academic practice, in teaching, in research, as part of practice as research, and the differences between reflective and reflexive practice. It will offer the opportunity to critically consider a variety of different theories and models of reflective and reflexive practice, including the supervisory model. The module will give the students the opportunity to consider the role of reflection/reflexivity in enhancing an individual's teaching and/or research, how it can be approached for development. It will allow students to critically evaluate Practice as Research within different disciplines, including questions such as "What does this look like / feel like?" “How does it fit within an academic career?” “How is it different from an individual practice?”

Core indicative themes include different theoretical models of reflective practice, how they can be put into practice, how they might be assessed, reflexivity as a researcher, practice as research, embodied practice and the role of reflexivity and reflective practice within academic practice.

Find out more about UN829

Teaching and assessment

Assessment is by a presentation of work in progress, an essay of up to 5,000 words for each module and a 12,000-word dissertation.

Programme aims

This programme aims to:

  • develop your knowledge and skills by focusing on principles, concepts and theoretical perspectives relevant to the study of higher education (HE)
  • develop your capacity to analyse the implications of principles and policy for HE contexts and practice
  • enable you to design, execute and communicate the results of a research project in your specialist area of study.

Learning outcomes

Knowledge and understanding

You gain knowledge and understanding of:

  • current policy issues in higher education in its broadest sense
  • principles, concepts and theoretical perspectives relevant to the study of higher education
  • the implications of policy and theoretical perspectives for practice in higher education
  • research methods appropriate to the study of higher education
  • concepts of professionalism in higher education.

Intellectual skills

You develop intellectual skills in:

  • the ability to locate and critically evaluate relevant data, such as research materials and texts
  • the ability to critically reflect on practice in context
  • the ability to exercise initiative in planning and conducting research (pure and for applied  practice) and communicate the results of that research to broader communities, both specialist and non-specialists

Subject-specific skills

You gain subject-specific skills in:

  • analysing current policy issues in higher education and their implications for higher education contexts and practices
  • showing an understanding of different conceptual bases of higher education, including differing interpretations of its nature and purposes
  • critically evaluating the broader context of principles, policies and processes and  their impact on practice
  • developing an area of specialist study in the field of higher education
  • designing, developing and executing a research project.

Transferable skills

You gain the following transferable skills:

  • organising and managing your own learning
  • developing an understanding of a range of approaches and beliefs that inform higher education policy and practice
  • developing the capacity to communicate research clearly and coherently (speech and writing) to specialist and non-specialist audiences.


The 2020/21 annual tuition fees for this programme are:

Higher Education - MA at Canterbury

  • Home/EU part-time £3950
  • International part-time £8100

Higher Education - PDip at Canterbury

  • Home/EU part-time £3950
  • International part-time £8100

For details of when and how to pay fees and charges, please see our Student Finance Guide.

For students continuing on this programme fees will increase year on year by no more than RPI + 3% in each academic year of study except where regulated.* If you are uncertain about your fee status please contact information@kent.ac.uk

Additional costs

General additional costs

Find out more about general additional costs that you may pay when studying at Kent. 


Search our scholarships finder for possible funding opportunities. You may find it helpful to look at both:

The Complete University Guide

In The Complete University Guide 2020, the University of Kent was ranked in the top 10 for research intensity. This is a measure of the proportion of staff involved in high-quality research in the university.

Please see the University League Tables 2020 for more information.

Independent rankings

In the Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2014, 97% of the University’s research was judged to be of international quality, with 73% of this judged to be internationally excellent.

Staff research interests

Full details of staff research interests can be found on the School's website.


Our students are higher education professionals at various stages of their careers, ranging from early career teachers to lecturers to experienced senior leaders. Throughout, we aim to enhance students’ understanding and capacity for critical analysis of the contexts and practices of higher education.

The MA in Higher Education further encourages students to reflect upon their own professional experiences through critical engagement with topics of academic interest. After completing the MA, recent graduates have gained promotion within their existing roles, taken up new employment or commenced PhD study.

Study support

Research expertise and resources

The Centre for the Study of Higher Education has members of staff based in all faculties in the University, as well as a core team of Education specialists. Higher Education is a broad interdisciplinary field, and members of the Centre for the Study of Higher Education research and publish on a wide range of subjects. Full details can be found on individual staff webpages. The Centre draws on expertise from a range of disciplines; we offer joint supervision with other academic schools, and can accommodate a wide range of research topics.

The University library houses a growing collection of books and journals on higher education, many of which can be accessed online. You also have access to the extensive training and other resources provided through the Graduate School.

Research seminars/events

The Centre holds regular research seminars where academic staff and postgraduate students discuss their research and work in progress. Every term we also invite a number of external speakers to give lectures and seminars. Our students have access to lively national and international research networks and conferences through the Centre’s active involvement in the Society for Research into Higher Education, the British Educational Research Association and other scholarly bodies.

Dynamic publishing culture

Staff publish regularly and widely in journals, conference proceedings and books. Recent contributions include: Journal of Workplace Learning; Discourse; Journal of Further and Higher Education; Teaching in Higher Education; International Journal of Lifelong Education.

Global Skills Award

All students registered for a taught Master's programme are eligible to apply for a place on our Global Skills Award Programme. The programme is designed to broaden your understanding of global issues and current affairs as well as to develop personal skills which will enhance your employability.  

Apply now

Learn more about the applications process or begin your application by clicking on a link below.

Once started, you can save and return to your application at any time.

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Contact us


United Kingdom/EU enquiries

MA at Canterbury

PDip at Canterbury

Admissions enquiries

T: +44 (0)1227 768896

E: information@kent.ac.uk

Subject enquiries

T: +44 (0)1227 824013

E: cshe@kent.ac.uk


International student enquiries

Enquire online

T: +44 (0)1227 823254
E: internationalstudent@kent.ac.uk