International Studies in Education MA

Quick links: Modules | Fees and Funding | Entry Requirements | How to apply

This programme is for people who are interested in taking an international and comparative perspective on educational issues. We offer two pathways on the International Studies in Education programme, the general International Studies in Education and the Education and Development specialist pathway. The specialist pathway shares the same core themes and outcomes, however it has a distinctive focus and different compulsory modules.

The International Studies in Education programme may be of interest to teachers, headteachers/principals, education administrators, and those working with non-governmental organisations and international agencies that play a role in formal and non-formal education. It will enable you to have a critical understanding of key debates surrounding education as an international issue and to make analytical comparisons between educational issues in different contexts, including your own.

Please note that the part-time route will not be offered as an option for 2019.

Download information on all the postgraduate study programmes in the School of Education (PDF)

Dr Dina Kiwan 
Telephone +44 (0)121 414 6734  

Dr Claire Mcloughlin
Tel: +44 (0) 121 414 7592

This programme is designed for people who want to gain an international perspective on education. You will be studying with a wide range of people from different countries, with diverse career aspirations, and with varied levels of experience. What you will all have in common is an interest in education, and a desire to understand its functions in different parts of the world, and as a global phenomenon. 

Programme Aims

  • You will have a critical understanding of key debates surrounding education as an international issue
  • You will make analytical comparisons between educational issues in different contexts, including your own

Global social justice is a theme of all strands of this programme.

Specialist pathway

The Education and Development pathway is in collaboration with the International Development Department in the School of Government and Society. It follows the same broad lines of the core programme, but has a different focus and different compulsory modules.

Please note that like most Masters programmes, this programme does not confer qualified teacher status.

Ask our current students and alumni a question

The following are experienced postgraduates who have previously studied, or are currently studying, at the University of Birmingham, and they will offer help and advice from a student perspective.

You may also be interested in our Management of Special Education in Developing Countries programme

Why study this course

Lesego, Yanqi Hu and Happy Agbenyega discuss their lives as international students at the University of Birmingham and the skills and knowledge they have gained whilst here. 

Happy Agbenyega

What were you doing before you came to the University of Birmingham?

Happy Agbeyega

As a professionally trained school counselor, I was working as a Guidance and Counselling coordinator of school counselling activities in schools in the Dangme West District of Ghana.

What attracted you to this programme?

I was attracted to the international nature of the course after taking a close look at the course design that deals with the relevant global issues in Education such as the curriculum design in the global context, leadership skills, Professional and personal development skills, School observation, and Professional and personal development skills. As a trainer in the educational sector in my Country, I need to acquire more knowledge in those areas and be abreast with current global educational issues so that I would be able to transfer the knowledge to teachers in my Country.

What do you enjoy most about your course here at Birmingham?

I found the learning experience very interesting and thought provoking because in the first place, most issues in the course content are relevant to what we experience in real life situations. After going through the discipline, I acquired the practical skills that are required in leadership, interpersonal interactions, professional ethics, presentations or public speaking, observations, interactive studies, critical and analytical presentations and writings. 

In addition, taking this course has helped me to realize the importance of having ethical obligation towards people outside my Country since I had the opportunity to interact and learn with people from different countries. Therefore I believe it is going to be easier for me to deliver my services anywhere in the globe because I learnt about how to belong and participate in a wider global community.

My lectures are my role models now because they are very enthusiastic about their work. By their example, I want to be more assertive, transparent, and very efficient when I go back to join the working force. 

What did you find challenging about the course?

What I initially found challenging was how to support my views with evidence and eliminate assumptions when writing assignments. Secondly it was quite difficult to combine weekly assignments, extra academic events with the writing of 4000 words term paper. However, when I discovered that they were all part of the leadership training skills we were supposed to acquire, I quickly adapted myself to it by planning and managing my time very well in order to meet deadlines for submitting assignments. Before the end of the first semester, I also mastered the style of critical and analytical way of writing.

What attributes should students possess?

I think students need to have organizational skills whereby they will have the ability to set priorities. Secondly, they should be able to identify distractive elements that will shift their focus from their academic goals. For example they should avoid unprofitable social activities such as unnecessary travels, night club activities etc. They should always plan ahead, set academic achievable goals so that they will be motivated by them.

Would you recommend this course to others and why?

I would highly recommend this University and particularly International Studies in Education for the following reasons: 

  1. I am convinced that the course has what it takes to mold people into responsible global citizen as well as a purposeful career oriented persons because during the period of study, they will discover skills that will make them socially confident and professionally competent. 
  2. I believe the core value of the course is for everyone irrespective of their ethnic background to be included, challenged and become successful. 
  3. We can see that the world is increasingly becoming complex; therefore, we need to prepare ourselves through international education so that we would be able to understand how to share our planet, communicate freely with each other world-wide, solve global common issues, respect each other’s views so that we can have a positive disposition towards helping each other globally. I can also testify that we International Studies Education students perceive themselves as change agents because we believe the skills and knowledge we have developed are going to help us to make a positive impact globally. 

Any advice for students?

I would advise students to get themselves very organized from the start of the program me by getting a work planner diary, separate files for each model assignment, draw up a personal study time table, and spend most of their time in the library. Secondly they should make sure they attend every function organized by school authorities since these activities are linked to the main course modules. 

What are your plans after you have graduated?

I have drawn up an action plan for the establishment of a learning and Counselling Center where I would organize training program me for teachers on issues relating to teaching and learning, professional and personal improvement, and counsel the youth on career education and personal-social problems.

Finally, if there was one thing you could have done differently over the course of your study what would it be?

Nothing else than to encourage stake-holders of education in Ghana to net-work with the University of Birmingham and the department of Education for them to introduce the International Studies in Education into Ghanaian Universities.

Yanqi Hu

 What were you doing before you came to the University of Birmingham?

Yanqi Hu

Before I came to Birmingham, I studied teaching Chinese as a second language in China.

What attracted you to this programme?

The international aspect was the most attractive thing for me. The program says that students study educational issues from an international and comparative perspective. It seemed this program was ideal for me, a very curious young person who is interested in other cultures, especially the educational aspect.


What do you enjoy most about your course here at Birmingham?

Interculture communication is both an enjoyable experience and a challenge for me. On the course, people from all over the world get together, share ideas, and discuss. Sometimes I am inspired by my classmates’ opinions. Sometimes I have to try my best to discuss or explain my thinking.

What qualities do you think a student needs to have in order to be successful on the course?

Hard work is a significant factor if you want to achieve success on this course, because the students have to finish three 4000 words assignments every semester. Finishing the three assignments is a big challenge for the students especially the non-native English speakers.

Would you recommend this course to others?

Of course! Because the modules of this course are interesting and I enjoy the international atmosphere here. The staff in the School of Education are very nice and helpful.

Any advice for students?

Just come and enjoy. Additionally, work hard and submit assignments on time.

What are your plans after you have graduated?

I intend to get a job in an educational publishing company in China after graduation.


Core modules for International Studies in Education

Citizenship, Human Rights and the Environment 

Curriculum Design In Global Contexts 

Education Observation, Evaluation and Supervision 

Education as an International issue 

Researching Education

Personal and Professional Skills in Education Management

Dissertation (60 credits)

Core modules for International Studies in Education, Education and Development Pathway

Education as an International issue 

International Development

Researching Education

Dissertation (60 credits) 

One module needs to be taken from the following list of Education modules

Citizenship, Human Rights and the Environment 

Curriculum Design In Global Contexts 

Education Observation, Evaluation and Supervision 

Personal and Professional Skills in Education Management

Leadership in School Improvement

One module needs to be taken from the following list of IDD modules

Development Management

Development Politics 

Gender and Development

Poverty and Inequality : Interventions and Approaches

Social Analysis of Inequality, Poverty and Development

One further module to be taken from the optional lists above or from within the wider college with the approval of the Programme lead.

The modules listed on our website may occasionally be subject to change. For example, as you will appreciate, key members of staff may leave the University and this might necessitate a review of the modules that are offered. Where a module is no longer available, we will let you know as soon as we can and help you make other choices. 

Fees and funding

Fees 2019 - 2020


  • Code 7335 MA full time £9,250
  • Code 9140 MA full time £9,250 (Education and Development pathway)


  • Code 7335 MA full time £16,995
  • Code 9140 MA full time £16,995 (Education and Development pathway)

Please view our Fees for International Students page for further details on what your fee covers.

The fees shown above are the first year fees for students starting their course in September 2019 and the fee may change in subsequent years. 

Learn more about fees and funding

For EU students applying for the 2020/21 academic year

The UK Government has confirmed that EU students will continue to be eligible for 'home fee status' for entry in September 2020, and will continue to have access to eligible financial support via the Postgraduate Masters or Doctoral loan for the duration of their course. For more information visit the website.

You can also visit our EU Referendum information page for more information and updates.

Scholarships, Studentships and Loans

Postgraduate Loans for Masters students

A postgraduate loans system for Masters degrees in the UK has been introduced. The government-backed student loans will provide up to £10,609 for taught and research Masters courses in all subject areas. 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 Funding, Graduation & Awards Office via online enquiries. 

Entry requirements

Applicants are required to have a first degree (2:1 or equivalent) in a related field such as education, development, policy. However individuals from a range of educational and professionals are considered. 

A clearly demonstrated interest in education is importants and whilst some teaching experience is an advantage, it is not an essential requirement.

International students

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

VISA Requirements

Obtaining a visa can be a lengthy process. Please allow sufficient time to obtain your visa. Find out more about visa requirements

English language support - before your course starts

The University offers Presessional English courses for students who wish to improve their knowledge of spoken and written English in preparation for academic study at the University of Birmingham. Students with conditional offers have the option of attending one of these courses instead of retaking IELTS  

English language support - during your studies

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.  For a small fee, BIA also offers classes for partners of international postgraduate students and staff, social events including day trips and HOST visits.   

How to apply

Monday 1 July 2019 is the application deadline for international students (Tier 4) who wish to study in the United Kingdom. We are not able to consider applications for 2019 made after this date. The deadline for Home/EU (non-Tier 4) students is Monday 12 September 2019. Applications will reopen for 2020 entry in early October 2019.

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

Module sessions run in weekly three-hour blocks. In a typical three-hour session, there will be a mixture of tutor presentation, group discussions and exercises, and independent research. We aim for a stimulating variety, and to take advantage of the international nature of the group, we encourage student-to-student learning to develop a comparative and international perspective. There are also opportunities for one-to-one tutorials with lecturers.

Assessment for the modules is typically comprised of one 4,000 word written assignment. For some modules, this will take the form of a traditional essay based mainly on an analysis of relevant literature. Innovative assessment approaches used in some modules include producing a written curriculum, reflections on school visits, or diaries. In the first term, there will be an early opportunity to submit a short piece of written work; the tutor will provide constructive feedback but a grade will not be assigned or counted. The dissertation is for 15,000 words in length, and usually includes some empirical research as well as literature review.

By the end of the programme, students will: 

  • combine the study of education internationally with development studies
  • explore the interconnectedness of theories, issues and practices in education and development
  • carry out empirical research on a question that concerns both education and development
  • develop knowledge and skills that will help them to take up or build on careers in education (eg schools, colleges, higher education) and governmental, non-governmental and international organisations concerned with education in developing countries (eg aid agencies, charities, UNESCO)  

The employment prospects from the International Studies in Education programmes are as diverse as the students on the course. These courses are not qualifications for a particular role, but the knowledge and skills you gain will enable you to pursue a range of career paths in education. For example, graduates from this programme have gone on to work in the education sector in the following kinds of jobs in different countries:

  • education management at school level 
  • work in Ministries and other national and regional authorities 
  • work in non-governmental organisations promoting education 
  • work in UN agencies 
  • educational research 
  • publishing 
  • teaching in national or international schools 
  • jobs in further or higher education institutions 
  • establishing private schools 
  • education consultancy

International Studies in Education can help you to start your career; advance your career in new directions or to new levels; or it can simply help you to do and to appreciate your current job with an enlightened international perspective.