MA in Character Education

To meet the growing interest in character education across the globe the University of Birmingham is proud to launch the first ever online M.A. in Character Education.  This programme will equip you with:

  • the latest theory and research in character education
  • knowledge and tools for character education practice in more or less formal educational settings

The course will be run by The Jubilee Centre for Character and Virtues which is widely acknowledged as one of the foremost research and teaching Centres in the world specialising in the examination of how character and virtues impact on individuals and society. You will be taught by some of the best known names, both in Britain and internationally, in character education. 

It is a distance learning programme which offers both flexibility and an opportunity to debate key questions about the purpose of education with fellow students around the world. It will particularly appeal to teachers and other practitioners working with children and young people.

There are 3 awards associated with the MA in Character Education

  • PGCert (3 modules, 60 credits over 12 months)
  • PGDip (6 modules, 120 credits over 24 months)
  • MA (6 modules and a dissertation, 180 credits over 3 years)

 Download a summary of the MA in Character Education programme (PDF)

Drawing on the wealth of research and experience of academics in the Jubilee Centre for Character and Virtues and internationally regarded academics attached to the Centre, this programme will enable you to develop your knowledge and expertise in the field of character education.

The aims of the programme are:

  • To engage teachers and others working with children and young people in a challenging course where they can access the latest research on character education and subsume it into their own practice
  • To enhance cross cultural knowledge, understanding and learning about the theory and practice of character education which will benefit both individuals and societies.
  • To enable student to student and student to teacher debate, dialogue and critical analysis of the link between character virtues and individual and societal flourishing.

The programme will provide you with a broad multidisciplinary knowledge and understanding of how key theories in psychology, philosophy and education inform planning, administration, policy and professional practice.  Through modules including various forms of assessment, and dedicated personal tutorial support, you will learn to critically evaluate education research from theoretical and methodological perspectives in order to contribute to character education and will gain fundamental skills in data analysis and critical thinking, which can be applied to your own professional contexts.

The programme includes an optional on-campus residential for students. This is highly recommended for students in the Uk and Europe and the rest of the world. 



Year One

Compulsory modules

Research Methods in Character Education (20 credits)

This module will teach you how to evaluate educational research from theoretical and methodological perspectives in order to contribute to character education through the demonstration of original thinking in teaching and learning.  We will discuss the various research methods available to researchers and explain alongside about the ethical implications and challenges associated with researching character in education, with a strong focus on issues of reliability and validity in research.

Theories of Character, Virtues and Flourishing (20 credits)

The Theories of Character, Virtues and Flourishing module will explain how key theories from the fields of psychology, philosophy and education, inform, planning, administration, policy and professional practice – including a critical awareness of current problems and/or new insights in the field.  

Character Education Interventions in Schools and Organisations (20 credits)

This module looks at the practical implications of character education, drawing and building on the theory learnt in previous Modules.  You will learn about how character education can be implemented in various educational settings, including schools and community organisations. It will give you the ability to analyse data, synthesise information and apply critical thinking to develop your own relevant interventions and tools to create a culture and ethos designed to enhance good character.

Year Two

History and Politics of Character Education (20 credits)

This Module starts with a consideration of the historical development of character education and you will gain an understanding how character education has been delivered in and out of schools and what form this schooling has taken.  The politics of character education (both UK and international) will be examined during the second half of the Module and an in depth investigation of current character education policy in the UK will be used as a case study to consider how the subject is shaped by government priorities.  Comparisons will be made with other countries who have adopted character as a central plank of their educational policy.

Character Education Leadership in Schools and Organisations (20 credits)

This module examines the role of leaders in developing character education in schools and other organisations.  It covers positive organisational theory, and both leadership theory and practice with a specific focus on making decisions that bring about change in schools. 

Units in the Module will focus on the following themes:

  • creating a values-led schools and / or organisation;
  • leading staff;
  • implementing taught and caught approaches to character education; and,
  • self-evaluation. 

Throughout the Module the challenges of implementing and leading character education programmes are examined and critically debated.

The Virtuous Practitioner (20 credits)

The responsibilities of teachers and other educators working with children and young people will be examined throughout this Module. 

The central question that this Module will be framed around is: what does it mean to be a virtuous professional?  Drawing on research (both theoretical and empirical) into the character virtues of teachers (as well as other professionals) this Module will consider the moral responsibilities of teachers. Throughout the Module, you will consider both initial and continuing professional development (CPD) teacher education. 

Important themes explored include:

  • the professional versus personal virtues of teachers;
  • ethical dilemmas;
  • emotional labour and the danger of burn-out;
  • practical wisdom; role-modelling; and self-reflection.

Related staff

Fees and funding

Fees 2017-2018


  • Code 630B MA £2,340


  • Code 630B MA £5,220

Fees for distance learning programmes are based on students studying 60 credits per year. 

The fees shown above are the annual fees for students starting their courses September in 2017. Please note that where courses last more than one year, the annual fees for subsequent years on the course may increase due to inflation.

Scholarships, Studentships and Loans

Postgraduate Loans for Masters students

A new postgraduate loans system for Masters degrees in the UK was introduced for students commencing their studies in the 2016-17 academic year. The government-backed student loans provide up to £10,000 for taught and research Masters courses in all subject areas including part-time and distance learning. For more detailed information view our Postgraduate funding page

Scholarships and studentships
Scholarships may be available, please view the Scholarships webpage in the School of Education. International students can often gain funding through overseas research scholarships, Commonwealth scholarships or their home government. More details may be found on the international scholarships page.

For further information contact the School directly or Fees and Financial Support university webpages. 

Entry requirements

Applicants must have a first degree at 2.1 level or equivalent and should have some relevant and related experience in the field of education. Account will be given to equivalent professional qualifications and experience.

International students

We accept a range of qualifications, our country pages show you what qualifications we accept from your country.

English language support

Birmingham International Academy (BIA) provides free English language services to international students who are currently studying on undergraduate or postgraduate courses at the University of Birmingham.  Services include Open-access English classes, online self-assessment, online materials through CANVAS, email answers to quick questions and individual one to one tutorials. 

How to apply

When clicking on the Apply Now button you will be directed to an application specifically designed for the programme you wish to apply for where you will create an account with the University application system and submit your application and supporting documents online. Further information regarding how to apply online can be found on the How to apply pages

Apply now

You will have a designated Programme Tutor who will be in regular contact with you through the Virtual Learning Environment (VLE), via email, telephone or Skype.  In addition you will also have regular contact with the Module Leaders / Tutors through VLE, email, Sykpe and telephone.

Lecturers on the course will include:  Professor James Arthur, Professor Kristjan Kristjansson, Professor Bob Roberts and  Professor Steve Thoma as well as other internationally recognised names in the field. 

Assessment will be through essays, online presentations (written or verbal), a fieldwork report and a dissertation

The MA in Character Education has been developed in response to the overwhelming interest in character education from policy makers and parents as well as teachers themselves. Completion of the programme will ensure that you will further your understanding of this area and will gain the knowledge and experience to implement informed change in your own institution.