Students preparing for their graduation ceremony at Canterbury Cathedral

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.

National ratings

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.

Course structure


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.

Modules may include Credits

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.


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.  

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, and professional qualifications and experience will also be taken into account when considering applications. 

International students

Please see our International Student website for entry requirements by country and other relevant information for your country. 

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.

Staff research interests

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

Fran Beaton: Senior Lecturer in Higher Education and Academic Practice; Director of Taught Programmes in Higher Education.

Principal research interest is in the nature of support for early career academics and the impact of this on practice and self-image. 

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Dr Jennifer Leigh: Lecturer in Higher Education and Academic Practice

Research interests include academic practice, programmes for academic development and part-time teachers as well as aspects of teaching and learning in higher education. She has also explored reflexivity and embodiment, and is interested in how this relates to professional practice.

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Dr Janice Malcolm: Reader in Higher Education and Academic Practice

Principal research interest is in academic work and the construction and practice of academic and disciplinary identities. She has a particular interest in the nature of the academic workplace, and the impact of policy and regulation on disciplinary practice.

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Edd Pitt: Lecturer in Higher Education and Academic Practice

Principal research interest is in assessment and feedback in higher education. He has a particular interest in staff and students' emotional processing of feedback and its implications for teaching practice.

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Dr Joanna Williams: Senior Lecturer in Higher Education and Academic Practice; Director, Centre for the Study of Higher Education

Current research interests include the changing construction of students as consumers of higher education and the impact this may have upon students’ attitudes to learning, the purpose of a university, and the concept of public good in higher education.

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The 2019/20 annual tuition fees for this programme are:

Higher Education - MA at Canterbury:
UK/EU Overseas
Part-time £3750 £7850
Higher Education - PDip at Canterbury:
UK/EU Overseas
Part-time £3750 £7850

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

General additional costs

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


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