Open University in Ireland


This flexible qualification offers four specialist routes – applied linguistics; inclusive practice; leadership and management; and learning and teaching. Your choice of route will enable you to engage with issues, concepts, and debates in an area that supports your professional development. Your investigative study will draw on your own and others' experience and on appropriate literature, and will develop your understanding of the role and the limitations of research in informing educational practice. The qualification includes a literature review in a topic of your choice, and a substantial dissertation or research project situated in your own practice.

Key features of the course

Choice: a rich choice of specialisms to suit a range of interests.

Flexibility: change your specialism after Stage 1 and complete in three or up to six years.

Optionality: choose from a small-scale inquiry or an extended literature review and research proposal to fit with your own personal and professional circumstances.

Opportunity: work your way up from a postgraduate certificate and postgraduate diploma to the MA in Education (MA Ed) or Master of Education (MEd). Plus you have the option to count your previous study towards this qualification, helping you pay less and finish sooner.

Engage with issues, concepts and debates that enrich your knowledge and improve your professional practice.

Develop and consolidate advanced scholarship and independent learning in the context of your own practice.

Subjects taught

To gain this qualification, you need 180 credits as follows:

You'll choose ONE of four specialisms:

applied linguistics1
inclusive practice
leadership and management
learning and teaching
And study one 60-credit module at each stage:

Stage 1

This is the first stage of any route and introduces some of the big ideas in education and their specialist domain(s). You will engage with concepts, current debates and issues in the area of education relevant to your chosen route. It focuses on generic learning outcomes but retains a subject-specific focus. There is emphasis on collaborative learning and the development of digital information literacy. Students are encouraged to bring together their personal understanding of issues relating to specific aspects of education with the enduring and current body of professional and academic research publications relevant to their professional/personal agenda. It also provides for the development and consolidation of advanced scholarship through practice and refinement of independent learning inherent in the academic literacy and conventions of academic writing required for successful study at master's level.

Stage 2

This stage offers you the opportunity to progressively broaden your knowledge and understanding of your chosen aspects of education. You'll explore the full range of educational research in current practice and develop an understanding of the role and limitations of research for informing educational practice. You will explore conducting a literature review on a topic of your choice and have the chance to demonstrate your knowledge of the literature, ability to critically read and synthesize research, and write according to standard academic protocols. You will have opportunities to present your work/ideas to other members of the Masters and OU academic community through optional online collaborative activities. The flexibility within the qualification allows you to change your specialism after Stage 1 if you wish, giving you the opportunity of studying across two specialisms (however, if you intend to complete the full degree, your choice at Stage 2 will commit you to that specialism as your Stage 3 dissertation topic).

Stage 3

In the final module, you are required to submit a 12,000 word dissertation in a chosen area (based on what has been studied at Stage 2) which is situated in your practice and which will contribute to organisational development and/or effectiveness. This will take the form of either a small-scale inquiry on a topic of your choice situated within your own educational practice or setting. Or, for all pathways excluding applied linguistics, there is the option of completing an extended literature review and research proposal relevant to your own educational professional interests and practice, if undertaking a small-scale inquiry is not possible in your setting.

For more information on modules go to the course webpage below.

Entry requirements

To study for this masters degree course you must hold a bachelors degree from a UK university or other recognised degree-awarding body, or a qualification at equivalent level.

The multi-disciplinary dissertation at Stage 3 – Masters multi-disciplinary dissertation: education, childhood and youth? (E822) – provides optionality (as do other modules in the qualification in which you are required to engage with research activity), to either undertake a small-scale investigation or an extended literature review and research proposal.

Please note: It is a legal requirement in the UK, rather than an Open University requirement, that you must obtain Enhanced DBS clearance (or equivalent in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland) in order to work with children on the module, Masters multi-disciplinary dissertation: education, childhood and youth? (E822). This is the responsibility of you and your employer and not The Open University. If you are in doubt about your eligibility, or to find out more, you should contact the relevant agency in the country in which you are proposing to conduct your study for more information.

Your spoken and written English must be of an adequate standard for postgraduate study. If English is not your first language, we recommend that you will need a minimum score of 7 under the International English Language Testing System (IELTS). Please see their website for details.

You will need some experience of working with learners, for example in either the teaching, tutoring or a professional development capacity, the education advisory service, educational administration or an allied field. This may include informal as well as more traditional formal learning settings.

You will be encouraged to relate the content of the modules to your own experiences therefore you will need experience of or access to an educational setting either through employment or other means such as volunteering and/or special arrangements undertaken for the purposes of your study. Apart from schools and colleges, other organisations providing educational services – such as health and care education environments, youth, play, or early years work, armed forces, business and commercial environments – all could provide suitable settings to apply your learning and later carry out your dissertation. The various activities embedded in the study guide and supporting examples and literature will help you develop skills of independent study and enquiry.

If you are not sure whether your qualifications and experience are suitable, please contact us for advice.


180 credits


3 - 6 years.

How long it takes
The minimum time to complete is 3 years, the maximum time to complete is 6 years.

Post Course Info

Career relevance
Throughout the world there is an increasing demand for creative, innovative education professionals who have highly developed skills and a deep understanding of learning. In many countries a masters degree is becoming essential for career advancement in education, training and professional development settings.

This qualification is designed to enrich your knowledge and improve your professional practice. On completing your studies, you should be able to:

demonstrate self-direction and originality in tackling and solving problems at a professional or equivalent level

reflect critically and constructively, in the light of ideas and frameworks presented in the modules, on how these apply to your
practice and organisational context.

You will also acquire qualities and transferable skills that are highly prized by employers within education and related fields, such as:

exercising initiative and personal responsibility

the ability to make decisions in complex and unpredictable situations

the ability to draw on appropriate research and ethical understanding

the production of reports/outputs for academic and professional purposes.

You will be guided through the materials on how you can recognise and acknowledge these additional skills.

Please note that this masters degree does not qualify you for teacher registration in any country.

Careers and Employability Services have more information on how OU study can improve your employability.

More details
  • Qualification letters

    MA Ed or MEd

  • Qualifications

    Degree - Masters at UK Level 7

  • Attendance type

    Part time,Flexible

  • Apply to

    Course provider