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MA Character Education

Start date
3 years PT
Course Type
Postgraduate, Continuing professional development, Distance learning, Taught

£3,510 (UK)
£7,770 (International)
More Fees and funding details.

The MA Character Education focuses on character education and the theory and practice of human flourishing. It is a three-year part-time distance learning MA and the first of its kind to focus on this topic.

The course adopts a broad understanding of character – encompassing aspects of wellbeing, ethics, citizenship and social and emotional education. 

The MA Character Education enables you to develop your knowledge and expertise in your field of character education. You will learn alongside professionals within a dynamic online learning community.

The course covers a range of topics, including: theories of character, virtue and flourishing; researching character education; the history and politics of character education; running character education interventions; and character education leadership in schools and organisations.

The course is run by The Jubilee Centre for Character and Virtues based at the University of Birmingham. The Centre is widely acknowledged as one of the world’s foremost research and teaching centres 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 in character education, both in Britain and internationally.

The MA Character Education is:

  • Multi-disciplinary: the MA Character Education includes content from the fields of education, philosophy, (positive) psychology, sociology, social sciences and theology
  • Flexible: you will work at your own pace alongside existing commitments
  • Diverse: students come from multiple professions including teaching, medicine, psychology, the armed forces, business, and non-profits/charities
  • Practice focussed: the MA Character Education helps students play their part in transforming people, organisations and places
  • Collaborative: you will work alongside and learn from peers from around the world
  • Supportive: throughout the MA Character Education you will be provided with a dedicated personal tutor who supports your personal and academic development
  • Engaging: the MA Character Education utilises the latest technology to ensure an engaging and participatory online learning experience


The University of Birmingham is offering awards of £2,000 via a tuition fee discount to support the brightest and best applicants wishing to undertake Masters study at the University during 2024-25.

Find out more about the scholarship scheme


There are 3 postgraduate awards associated with the MA 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) 

Please contact Assistant Professor Michael Fullard, if you have any queries

At Birmingham, I gained skills that have been crucial to my development. Most importantly I learned that I was capable of more than I believed I was!

Adrian Mclean, alumni.


Unless indicated otherwise the modules listed for this programme are for students starting in 2024.

Year 1.

Theories of Character, Virtue and Flourishing (20 credits)

This module examines the key theories of character, virtue and human flourishing. Within the module, you will consider various theories from the fields of psychology, philosophy and education. You will consider how these theories impact on your professional practice, in particular how they inform planning, administration and policy. Throughout the module current problems and/or new insights in the field will be examined and critically debated. 

Research Methods in Character Education (20 credits)

This module will introduce you to the research process and how it is applied within character education. You will learn about the advantages and disadvantages of different types of research designs (e.g., qualitative versus quantitative) and tools for collecting data (e.g., interviews versus surveys), and how these have been used within character educational research. This module will enable you to correctly formulate your own research questions and identify research methods appropriate to answering those questions. In doing so, you will consider practical and ethical challenges, and how your research should be communicated to stakeholders for maximal impact.

History and Politics of Character Education (20 credits)

This module examines how historical, political and religious ideas about character have shaped character education in the past and continue to shape character education today. Throughout the Module a comparative approach is taken, asking you to examine the history and politics of character education within your own and other contexts. The module encourages you to explore the interconnections between history, politics and religion in relation to character education and to develop an understanding of the benefits of, and issues with, comparative work and "policy borrowing" in the field of character education.

Year 2

Character Education Interventions in Schools and Organisations (20 credits)

This module looks at the practical application of character education. Within the module, you will examine how character education can be implemented in various educational settings, including schools and community organisations. You will apply critical thinking to develop your own character education interventions aimed at enhancing the cultivation of character and virtues. You will consider appropriate design methodology and evaluation strategies when developing an intervention.

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. Within the module, you will consider various leadership theories and critically debate the character virtues of a “good” leader. You will consider how leadership theories might underpin the leadership of character education within schools and organisations and will examine the challenges of leading character education programmes.

The Virtuous Practitioner (20 credits)

This module is framed around a central question: what does it mean to be a virtuous practitioner? Within the module, you will consider the character virtues of professionals working in different education contexts. You will consider moral dilemmas facing professionals, and professionals’ moral and civic responsibilities. You will focus on models of reflection and consider how reflection and practical wisdom might be developed through training in professional contexts.

Year 3


In year three, you will complete a dissertation (max. 15,000 words) on a topic of your choice related to a core theme covered within the modules.

Please note: The modules listed on the website for this programme are regularly reviewed to ensure they are up-to-date and informed by the latest research and teaching methods. On rare occasions, we may need to make unexpected changes to compulsory modules; in this event we will contact offer holders as soon as possible to inform or consult them as appropriate.


Fees 2024-2025


  • Code 630B MA £3,510


  • Code 630B MA £7,770

Fees for distance learning programmes are based on students studying 60 credits per year.  The fees shown above are the first year fees for students starting their courses September in 2024. The fees are fixed at this price for each year of study for the duration of the programme.

Scholarships and Loans

You may be eligible for a postgraduate loan which provides up to £12,167 (for 2023/2024 entry) for taught and research Masters courses in most subject areas. This includes Distance Learning. 

Other 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 visit the Funding, Graduation & Awards Office via  online enquiries. 

How To Apply

How to apply

To apply for a postgraduate taught programme, you will need to submit your application and supporting documents online. We have put together some helpful information on the taught programme application process and supporting documents on our how to apply page. Please read this information carefully before completing your application.

Apply now

Our Standard Requirements

We are keen to encourage applicants with a wide range of qualifications and prior learning experiences. Typically, successful applicants will hold an undergraduate degree at 2.1 level or above and have some relevant and related experience in the field of education; however, account will be given to equivalent professional qualifications and experience.

Speakers of English as a second language will be required to hold an IELTs 6.5 with no less than 6.0 in each band or equivalent qualification.

English language support 

The 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. 

International Requirements

Learning takes place on Canvas – the University’s virtual learning environment (VLE). Taught components of the modules usually last 9 to 11 weeks (4 or 5 units plus a reading week) and three modules are completed consecutively throughout each of the first two years. The final year consists of a dissertation based on a topic of interest.

Each unit consists of a number of steps – including mini teaching films explaining key concepts, associated reading (mainly free and available through the University’s Online Library), optional synchronous lectures and seminars, and interactive elements including discussion boards and quizzes. Module assignments are usually due 4 to 5 weeks after completion of the final unit; time to complete assignments generally coincides with the Christmas, Easter or summer holidays in the UK.

Each student has a designated tutor who guides and supports their learning and assignment ideas. Tutors are in regular contact with students through the VLE, via email, telephone or video call. The module assignment activities are wide-ranging and include academic essays, an online presentation, written reflections, a research proposal and a fieldwork report.

The MA Character Education has been developed in response to the overwhelming interest in character education (and associated concerns such as wellbeing, social mobility and ethics) around the world. 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 school or organisation.

Students and graduates of the MA Character Education come from a variety of professional backgrounds and experiences. Current and former students include: school headteachers/principals, deputy headteachers and assistant headteachers who want to transform their school through character education; teachers who have taken, or aspire to take, leadership roles in their schools; individuals running and working for charities and not for profit businesses; parents looking to further their theoretical and / or practical enhanced knowledge about character; teacher educators and other higher education professionals responsible for pre-service and in-service education in a range of professions, including medicine, law, and the army; graduates looking for further studies in education; and individuals looking to develop foundational learning for a PhD.