Education with Specialisms - MEd

2024/25 Part-time Postgraduate course


Master of Education


Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences


School of Education


This course is taught online so you can study where you want, when you want.

Start date:

September 2024


Master of Education with Specialisms.


The Master of Education degree is a professional development course for teachers and other adult educators, who wish to update their knowledge and qualifications. The award has been developed in conjunction with the teaching community and is designed to ensure you will have the opportunity to explore contemporary issues in education which impact upon your own professional practice. The full master’s programme will normally take you up to 3 years to complete, but you can exit with the Postgraduate Certificate (normally after 1 year) or Postgraduate Diploma (normally after 2 years).

We’d love to hear from you!

We know that choosing to study at university is a big decision, and you may not always be able to find the information you need online.

Please contact Ulster University with any queries or questions you might have about:

  • Course specific information
  • Fees and Finance
  • Admissions

For any queries regarding getting help with your application, please select Admissions in the drop down below.

For queries related to course content, including modules and placements, please select Course specific information.

We look forward to hearing from you.

About this course


If you are currently working in a teaching or training environment and you wish to build on the qualifications and experience you already have, then this course is for you. You will enter at the Postgraduate Diploma level and undertake modules worth 120 credits for your Postgraduate Diploma award and a further 60 credits for your MEd award.

If, after completing 60 credits, you wish to exit the course, you can do so with a Postgraduate Certificate award.

This is summarised below:

  • Year 1

Award: Postgraduate Certificate (exit award only)

Modules: 2 modules of 30 credits

Accumulated credits: 60

  • Year 2

Award: Postgraduate Diploma

Modules: 2 modules of 30 credits

Accumulated credits: 120

  • Year 3

Award: MEd

Modules: 1 modules of 60 credits (Dissertation)

2 modules of 30 credits to include the Research Project module

Accumulated credits: 180

Please note that this award does not qualify you as a teacher.

Four Specialisms are available (you must complete ONE module in a Specialism plus a Research Project or Dissertation in a cognate area to get that named on your parchment):

  • Education Management Specialism
  • Modules
    • EDU927 Building Teams and Managing Resources (fully online:Semester 1, Year 1,2, or 3)
    • EDU867 Leadership for Learning (fully online: Semester 1 or 2, Year 1, 2 or 3)
    • EDU912 Strategic Development Planning (fully online:Semester 2, Year 1 or 3)
  • International and Comparative Education Specialism
  • Module
    • EDU732 International and Comparative Education (fully online:Semester 1, Year 1, 2, or 3)
  • Inclusive and Special Education Specialism
  • Module
    • EDU964 Inclusive and Special Education - Leading and Managing (fully online:Semester 2, Year 1 or 3)
  • Information Communication and Technology Specialism
  • Module
  • EDU922 Collaborative Learning Online (fully online:Semester 2, Year 1 or 3

A candidate who does not do two modules from the same specialism will get the Specialism of Professional Practice

Compulsory modules

Year 1 Semester 1: EDU957 The Reflective Professional(except for students studying for the Educational Leadership Specialism at Monaghan)

Year 2 Semester2: EDU958 Research Design and Initiation (preparing for personal research)

Year 3 Semester 1or 2: EDU969 Research Project (8000 word individual research, suppported by a supervising tutor)


Year 3 Semester 1and 2: EDU899 Dissertation (18000 word individual research, suppported by a supervising tutor)

You can access more details on the Specialisms, and when they are offered here.


It is possible to complete the course fully online so that your physical attendance is not required.

Webinar attendance requirements will depend on the modules that you select.

Start dates

  • September 2024

Teaching, Learning and Assessment

Attendance and Independent Study

The content for each course is summarised on the relevant course page, along with an overview of the modules that make up the course.

Each course is approved by the University and meets the expectations of:

  • Attendance and Independent Study

    As part of your course induction, you will be provided with details of the organisation and management of the course, including attendance and assessment requirements - usually in the form of a timetable. For full-time courses, the precise timetable for each semester is not confirmed until close to the start date and may be subject to some change in the early weeks as all courses settle into their planned patterns. For part-time courses which require attendance on particular days and times, an expectation of the days and periods of attendance will be included in the letter of offer. A course handbook is also made available.

    Courses comprise modules for which the notional effort involved is indicated by its credit rating. Each credit point represents 10 hours of student effort. Undergraduate courses typically contain 10, 20, or 40 credit modules (more usually 20) and postgraduate courses typically 15 or 30 credit modules.

    The normal study load expectation for an undergraduate full-time course of study in the standard academic year is 120 credit points. This amounts to around 36-42 hours of expected teaching and learning per week, inclusive of attendance requirements for lectures, seminars, tutorials, practical work, fieldwork or other scheduled classes, private study, and assessment. Teaching and learning activities will be in-person and/or online depending on the nature of the course. Part-time study load is the same as full-time pro-rata, with each credit point representing 10 hours of student effort.

    Postgraduate Master’s courses typically comprise 180 credits, taken in three semesters when studied full-time. A Postgraduate Certificate (PGCert) comprises 60 credits and can usually be completed on a part-time basis in one year. A 120-credit Postgraduate Diploma (PGDip) can usually be completed on a part-time basis in two years.

    Class contact times vary by course and type of module. Typically, for a module predominantly delivered through lectures you can expect at least 3 contact hours per week (lectures/seminars/tutorials). Laboratory classes often require a greater intensity of attendance in blocks. Some modules may combine lecture and laboratory. The precise model will depend on the course you apply for and may be subject to change from year to year for quality or enhancement reasons. Prospective students will be consulted about any significant changes.

  • Assessment

    Assessment methods vary and are defined explicitly in each module. Assessment can be a combination of examination and coursework but may also be only one of these methods. Assessment is designed to assess your achievement of the module’s stated learning outcomes.  You can expect to receive timely feedback on all coursework assessments. This feedback may be issued individually and/or issued to the group and you will be encouraged to act on this feedback for your own development.

    Coursework can take many forms, for example: essay, report, seminar paper, test, presentation, dissertation, design, artefacts, portfolio, journal, group work. The precise form and combination of assessment will depend on the course you apply for and the module. Details will be made available in advance through induction, the course handbook, the module specification, the assessment timetable and the assessment brief. The details are subject to change from year to year for quality or enhancement reasons. You will be consulted about any significant changes.

    Normally, a module will have 4 learning outcomes, and no more than 2 items of assessment. An item of assessment can comprise more than one task. The notional workload and the equivalence across types of assessment is standardised. The module pass mark for undergraduate courses is 40%. The module pass mark for postgraduate courses is 50%.

  • Calculation of the Final Award

    The class of Honours awarded in Bachelor’s degrees is usually determined by calculation of an aggregate mark based on performance across the modules at Levels 5 and 6, (which correspond to the second and third year of full-time attendance).

    Level 6 modules contribute 70% of the aggregate mark and Level 5 contributes 30% to the calculation of the class of the award. Classification of integrated Master’s degrees with Honours include a Level 7 component. The calculation in this case is: 50% Level 7, 30% Level 6, 20% Level 5. At least half the Level 5 modules must be studied at the University for Level 5 to be included in the calculation of the class.

    All other qualifications have an overall grade determined by results in modules from the final level of study.

    In Masters degrees of more than 200 credit points the final 120 points usually determine the overall grading.

    Figures from the academic year 2022-2023.

Academic profile

The University employs over 1,000 suitably qualified and experienced academic staff - 60% have PhDs in their subject field and many have professional body recognition.

Courses are taught by staff who are Professors (19%), Readers, Senior Lecturers (22%) or Lecturers (57%).

We require most academic staff to be qualified to teach in higher education: 82% hold either Postgraduate Certificates in Higher Education Practice or higher. Most academic and learning support staff (85%) are recognised as fellows of the Higher Education Academy (HEA) by Advance HE - the university sector professional body for teaching and learning. Many academic and technical staff hold other professional body designations related to their subject or scholarly practice.

The profiles of many academic staff can be found on the University’s departmental websites and give a detailed insight into the range of staffing and expertise.  The precise staffing for a course will depend on the department(s) involved and the availability and management of staff.  This is subject to change annually and is confirmed in the timetable issued at the start of the course.

Occasionally, teaching may be supplemented by suitably qualified part-time staff (usually qualified researchers) and specialist guest lecturers. In these cases, all staff are inducted, mostly through our staff development programme ‘First Steps to Teaching’. In some cases, usually for provision in one of our out-centres, Recognised University Teachers are involved, supported by the University in suitable professional development for teaching.

Figures from the academic year 2022-2023.


Here is a guide to the subjects studied on this course.

Courses are continually reviewed to take advantage of new teaching approaches and developments in research, industry and the professions. Please be aware that modules may change for your year of entry. The exact modules available and their order may vary depending on course updates, staff availability, timetabling and student demand. Please contact the course team for the most up to date module list.

In this section

Year one

Collaborative learning online

Year: 1

This module is optional

This module embraces the use of on-line environments to promote collaborative learning. Collaboration lends itself to a constructivist approach to learning in which the learners are at the centre of the learning process. It provides a critical community for articulating, challenging and clarifying ideas and for promoting knowledge building communities. Opportunities are provided for evaluating on-line courses/learning and appreciating the learning and teaching implications surrounding the design and implementation of teaching on-line.

Building Teams and Managing Resources

Year: 1

This module is optional

Building Teams Increasingly, schools require teachers to operate as a team and communicate effectively. This module provides an opportunity to acquire the methods and skills for effective team presentations, as well as providing a chance for personal development in the company of other teachers. Managing Resources The effective management of resources is an important element in raising the quality of learning in schools. Education managers need to understand the methods of managing financial and other resources to enhance the effectiveness of learning. The module provides opportunities to develop new approaches to resource management in schools.

The Reflective Professional

Year: 1

This module is optional

This module is designed for all students to help develop their abilities in critical reflection on their practice. It is concerned with the theory and practice of reflective analysis as well as the development and application of curriculum theory. Special emphasis is placed on the understanding, philosophy and application of these reforms in the new Northern Ireland Curriculum. The module is designed to improve current practice in context, as well as preparing participants for later modules.

Inclusive and Special Education: Developing and Analysing Practice

Year: 1

This module is optional

This module encourages participants to analyse, share and build upon their knowledge and experiences and to consider alternative strategies that will enhance the educational, social and emotional development of pupils with SEN within a changing educational environment. The existing context in which practitioners find themselves will be the starting point for these activities. Forms of educational enquiry will be used to enable participants to investigate aspects of their existing practices as a basis for development and improvement. This will include the promotion of supportive teacher and peer strategies that acknowledge the particular requirements created by different learning needs and school/classroom environments. Participants will examine their individual and institutional practices with a view to developing a positive, equitable and inclusive education environment.

Year two

Research Design and Initiation

Year: 2

The Research Design and Initiation module introduces students to the key ideas and issues that underpin educational research theory and practice. It provides a research methods course to guide them in commencing their own empirical research project. All students will have developed knowledge, insight and skills as reflective practitioners in the classroom or practice situation, and many will be very familiar with action research. This module is designed to widen their views of research enquiry, to help students organise, implement and progress an educational research project by dissertation encompassing good practice in primary and secondary research, methodological design, analytical insightfulness and piloting, and implementation planning including ethical enquiry.

Research Project

Year: 2

This module gives candidates the opportunity to carry out an independent piece of research that will be academically rigorous yet manageable within the circumstances of professional life. It will draw upon knowledge of research methodology and involve a synthesis of theory and practice of benefit to the student intellectually and to the workplace within which he or she functions.

Leadership for learning

Year: 2

This module is optional

The key theme of the module is that leadership at all levels of the school matters in enhancing student learning. Distributed leadership and learning-centred leadership are important concepts for leaders in helping improve learning and teaching in classrooms and schools.

Strategic Development Planning

Year: 2

This module is optional

This module analyses the concept of strategic planning in school improvement. It provides practical guidelines for using strategic planning techniques and tools. Opportunities are given to participants to practice using the techniques and tools. Case studies and examples of strategic planning in action in schools and colleges are provided. The possible future of schools in 10 to 20 years is considered.

Children's Learning and Assessment

Year: 2

This module is optional

This module is designed to develop the student's knowledge and ability to apply current thinking about the nature of teaching and learning to enhance learning performance. The module will require reflection on personal practice followed by action research in the quest to bring about effective change in children's learning and attainment.

Year three

International and Comparative Education

Year: 3

This module is optional

This module embraces the use of wider reading and enquiry to reflect on educational systems and practices across the world before making informed, evaluative comparisons. Students will be encouraged to articulate their thinking on key issues such as access, gender, progression and the teaching profession in a range of settings. The module will be taught using lectures/webinars, structured reading and discussion.


Year: 3

This module is optional

This module allows participants to produce a sustained piece of independent research. It seeks to improve the quality of the participants' personal and professional understanding and the excellence of their practice, so that the impact on their organisation and on their colleagues and students is enhanced. It provides opportunities for the development of educational research methodologies and deepening understanding of the participant's situation and context.

Standard entry conditions

We recognise a range of qualifications for admission to our courses. In addition to the specific entry conditions for this course you must also meet the University’s General Entrance Requirements.

Entry Requirements

Applicants must normally:

(a) have gained

(i) a degree from a university of the United Kingdom or the Republic of Ireland, from the Council for National Academic Awards, the Higher Education and Training Awards Council, or from an institution of another country which is recognised as being of an equivalent standard; or

(ii) an equivalent standard (normally 50%) in a Graduate Diploma, Graduate Certificate, Postgraduate Certificate or Diploma or an approved alternative qualification, e.g. a professional qualification; and

(b) be currently working in a teaching or training environment

(please note: the PGDip/MEd with Specialisms does not qualify you as a teacher).

English Language Requirements

English language requirements for international applicants
The minimum requirement for this course is Academic IELTS 6.0 with no band score less than 5.5. Trinity ISE: Pass at level III also meets this requirement for Tier 4 visa purposes.

Ulster recognises a number of other English language tests and comparable IELTS equivalent scores.

Exemptions and transferability

The PGDip/MEd with Specialisms comprises six 30-credit point modules (180 credits in total).

You may be able to enter the course at a higher stage or claim exemptions from particular modules. We call this process the Accreditation of Prior Learning (APL). You can gain APL credits based on awards that you hold (certificated learning) or life experiences that you have accrued (experiential learning). In the case of certificated learning, awards must have been achieved within the last five years.

There is a limit to the number of APL credits that you can claim against our course. See the table below:

Award: Postgraduate Diploma in Education with Specialisms

Comprising: 120 credits

Maximum APL claim: 60 credits

MEd with Specialisms

Comprising: 180 credits

Maximum APL claim: 120 credits

Careers & opportunities

In this section

Career options

In addition to improving your career portfolio, this course will allow you to develop higher level skills of argument and critical thinking as well as developing academic writing skills and research capability. Having a Masters level qualification should enhance potential career advancement, and is a useful preparation for Doctoral level study.

Past students who have taken the specialisms Learning and Teaching, Inclusive and Special Education and ICT have used the qualifications for career advancement, while several of those studying or having completed the Leadership and Management modules have been successful in gaining Vice-Principal and Principal posts both in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. Other pathways have also led to enhanced professional practice and career advancement.


Start dates

  • September 2024

Fees and funding

The price of your overall programme will be determined by the number of credit points that you initiate in the relevant academic year.

For modules commenced in the academic year 2024/25, the following fees apply:

Credit Points NI/ROI/GB Cost International Cost*
5 £194.45 £474.70
10 £388.90 £949.40
15 £583.35 £1,424.10
20 £777.80 £1,898.80
30 £1,166.70 £2,848.20
60 £2,333.40£5,696.40
120 £4,666.80£11,392.80
180 £7000.20£17,089.20

NB: A standard full-time PGCert is equivalent to 60 credit points per year. A standard full-time PGDip is equivalent to 120 credit points per year.

*International student access to courses is subject to meeting visa requirements. More information can be found in the Visas and Immigration section.

Scholarships, awards and prizes

Biggar Awards are awarded annually to two MEd graduates.

Additional mandatory costs

It is important to remember that costs associated with accommodation, travel (including car parking charges) and normal living will need to be covered in addition to tuition fees.

Where a course has additional mandatory expenses (in addition to tuition fees) we make every effort to highlight them above. We aim to provide students with the learning materials needed to support their studies. Our libraries are a valuable resource with an extensive collection of books and journals, as well as first-class facilities and IT equipment. Computer suites and free Wi-Fi are also available on each of the campuses.

There are additional fees for graduation ceremonies, examination resits and library fines.

Students choosing a period of paid work placement or study abroad as a part of their course should be aware that there may be additional travel and living costs, as well as tuition fees.

See the tuition fees on our student guide for most up to date costs.


We’d love to hear from you!

We know that choosing to study at university is a big decision, and you may not always be able to find the information you need online.

Please contact Ulster University with any queries or questions you might have about:

  • Course specific information
  • Fees and Finance
  • Admissions

For any queries regarding getting help with your application, please select Admissions in the drop down below.

For queries related to course content, including modules and placements, please select Course specific information.

We look forward to hearing from you.

For more information visit


  1. Although reasonable steps are taken to provide the programmes and services described, the University cannot guarantee the provision of any course or facility and the University may make variations to the contents or methods of delivery of courses, discontinue, merge or combine courses and introduce new courses if such action is reasonably considered to be necessary by the University. Such circumstances include (but are not limited to) industrial action, lack of demand, departure of key staff, changes in legislation or government policy including changes, if any, resulting from the UK departing the European Union, withdrawal or reduction of funding or other circumstances beyond the University’s reasonable control.
  1. If the University discontinues any courses, it will use its best endeavours to provide a suitable alternative course. In addition, courses may change during the course of study and in such circumstances the University will normally undertake a consultation process prior to any such changes being introduced and seek to ensure that no student is unreasonably prejudiced as a consequence of any such change.
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I began the M.Ed. course largely because I wanted to challenge myself: after many years’ teaching, I wanted to ensure that I was still learning. It certainly provided a great learning experience, whether at lively seminars at Magee or Coleraine, or through online learning in the University’s VLE.

Although it wasn’t always easy to balance reading, research and assignments with a demanding school schedule and all the complications of ‘real life’, it always felt worthwhile. Completing this course reminded me just how much I love learning new things: even though studying took up a lot of my spare time and holidays, I always found it very interesting and stimulating.

In particular, working on the Dissertation module attuned me to the difficulties faced by A Level students completing A2 coursework or extended essays, and I hope it helped me to improve my teaching in this respect. I found my Dissertation topic – the role and importance of effective teacher Continuous Professional Development – absorbing, thought-provoking and worthwhile.

I would recommend this course really highly to anyone interested in a personal or professional challenge: the modules are interesting and offer something for everyone, the combination of seminars and VLE contact makes the learning flexible enough to fit around a busy working life, and the teaching is excellent. I’ve been inspired and rejuvenated in completing this course.


Carragh Little MEd (Graduated 2015)

After working as a primary school teacher for seven years, in 2012, I decided to finally take the plunge and enrol as a student once again in the in the quest of a Masters in Education qualification. Initially, I feared that I may find it difficult to settle into student life and to motivate myself, however, I was surprised at how quickly I adapted to the change. As I was a distance learner, good time management was essential for me because I was already quite a busy person. I immediately put a plan in place and decided which evenings would suit me best to do my study. The introductory online sessions put me more at ease as I quickly learned that others were in similar positions and together, we became a close-knit community of online learners, very ably led by our supervisor. Even though I had not met many of my online fellow students, I felt I had a good relationship with them and trust and loyalty among the group predominated alongside a strong culture of collaborative learning and sharing. On many occasions, I learned a lot from the online contributions of my fellow students. I particularly enjoyed the real time ‘live’ chat forums where our tutor would often bounce questions and provoke invaluable discussions, which was golden when preparing for assignments.

Although I am based in County Galway, and never actually got to visit the University Campus during my study, I grew a huge allegiance for Ulster University as I felt that the course director, tutors, supervisors and library staff were only more than happy to help me when I needed support. The hardest part is getting started and after that, it’s just about using your time efficiently, or studying smartly as I called it. I am delighted now that I dipped my foot into the unchartered waters and am honoured to have achieved my goal. I am also honoured to be awarded the Biggar Award in Educational Studies, in recognition of my results. I certainly feel that I am a better teacher and moreover, a better person as a result of the education I have received from Ulster University.

Sinéad Cahalan MEd (Graduated 2015)


“The master’s programme at the University of Ulster enriched my life both personally and professionally”.

Having taught in a mainstream primary school for eight years I decided to undertake the three-year part-time Masters of Education programme with the University of Ulster. The master’s programme offers different specialisms in the area of education but the area in which I chose to specialise was ‘Special and Inclusive Education’. I found it to be an enriching and rewarding experience.

The first two years of the Masters paved the foundation for my dissertation year. The module entitled ‘Reflective Practitioner’, allowed me to critically reflect on my own practice. The first module which focused on Special and Inclusive Education entitled ‘Inclusive and Special Education: Developing and Analysing Practice’, allowed me to develop an in-depth knowledge of special educational needs and inclusion in the every changing classroom. The second module of SEN programme ‘Policy and Practice’ helped me to analyse and reflect on my own practice and to recognise international policy. The last module’ Research Design and Initiation’, focused my study on research methodology. All modules were delivered online and were building blocks towards my final year. The course is facilitated by tutors who are highly skilled, very approachable and helpful. Their support was paramount to the success of my master’s programme

The third year of my master’s programmes was the most challenging but worthwhile. I learned many new skills during this journey. The dissertation offered me an opportunity to pursue in-depth study of an area of Special and Inclusive Education. It enabled me to analyse qualitative and quantitive data and to evaluate the perceptions of Irish primary school teachers.

My experience with the University of Ulster has been very positive and rewarding. The master’s programme is very manageable with full-time employment and family commitments. The journey towards a master’s programme is one which I would highly recommend.

Jennifer Fox MEd (Graduated 2015)