What value does a Master’s in Education have for diverse student groups?

Exploring the experiences and motivations of students partipating in taught Master's courses to understand the benefits of and challenges of Master's level study for a diverse group of students, as well as contribute to course development.

PG student writing on whiteboard


Research background

Master’s level study is ‘one of the least understood for researched academic levels in higher education’ (Drennan and Clarke, 2009:483), especially in education. This project, funded by HELS Pilot funding, sets out to explore the experiences of students on a taught master’s course as it is experienced by a diverse student body.  International students, part time students in professional educational roles and full time students from both undergraduate and postgraduate degree level access Master’s course in different ways and for multiple professional and personal reasons. The role of Master’s study in professional development is under-explored and yet has the potential to support a critical and intellectual resilience within professional educational workplaces.

Research aims

The aim of the research is to develop an enhanced understanding of students’ expectations, motivations and experiences. Taking an intersectional approach, it looks to consider the implications of students’ experiences for how a Master’s course is understood to be successful by different students. It also aims to consider what the role of Master’s level study is in creating critical resilience within complex professional educational futures and within turbulent policy environments.

Research methods

The project has recruited past and current students to be co-researchers. Two PhD students (previously Master’s students) and five current Master’s students will conduct focus groups with different groups of current and past students over the course of 6 months. A vital part of the project is its commitment to developing the co-researchers as academic researchers and the project will have a number of workshops on data collection methods, data analysis and writing up and sharing projects that will run alongside the focus groups.

Projected outcomes

The outcomes of the research will be threefold:

  1. A richer understanding of the benefits and challenges for Master’s level study in education for diverse groups of students. This contributes to an under-researched field as well as to course development on a local level.
  2. An enhanced understanding of the ways Master’s level study might contribute to fostering a critical resilience needed by professionals working in complex and turbulent policy environments.
  3. That a model for developing students as co-researchers will be established, giving students opportunities to develop as academic educational researchers.