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St Mary's University

Education, International Development and Social Justice MA

Previous degree


Distance learning available


Student visa accepted?



1 year (full-time), 2 years (part-time)

The Sunday Times Good University Guide 2023 - Top 10 for Student ExperienceThe Sunday Times Good University Guide 2023 - Top 5 for Teaching Quality

This MA equips you with the knowledge and skills you need to understand the complex relationship between education, international development and social justice within global contexts

  • A dedicated and passionate academic team with decades of experience in helping to shape this sector
  • Access to cutting edge research and social engagement through the work of the Centre for Research into the Education of Marginalised Children and Young Adults (CREMCYA) and the Bakhita Centre for Research on Slavery, Exploitation and Abuse (BCRSEA).
  • Guest lectures, seminars and workshops capitalising on our links to development and humanitarian organisations and charities
  • Unrivalled networking opportunities through our internationally diverse community of students and academics

This degree will help to prepare you for careers in international development, humanitarian assistance, research and consultancy with Government, NGOs, bilateral and multilateral organisations, research institutions and charities.

This degree is particularly suitable for people who are passionate about education and making a difference yet who do not necessarily want to become teachers.

Access to quality education is a fundamental human right.  However, many young people around the world are unable to access it, complete the full education cycle or benefit from their education due to social, cultural, economic and political barriers.

This is particularly the case for girls, the poor and young people from rural and marginalised communities living in developing countries and societies affected by conflict. Even when education opportunities are available in these contexts, they often do not meet the needs of young people or those of their communities.

At best, education that is ill-conceived is of limited value.  At worst, it can result in broken dreams, economic stagnation, socio-economic inequality, social exclusion and conflict.

The MA Education, International Development and Social Justice explores the sociology and political economy of education and learning within development, humanitarian and transnational contexts globally. 

In particular, you will learn about:

  • the social, political, cultural and economic contexts in which young people live their lives and education and learning take place around the world
  • current theories, policies, practices and approaches to education and learning within these contexts
  • challenges faced by governmental and non-governmental organisations in relation to planning and providing quality education for all (such as poverty, gender inequality, humanitarian emergencies, modern slavery, human trafficking)
  • education policy and practice with reference to particular marginalised communities (such as working children, nomads, young people who have been trafficked, former child soldiers, refugees)
  • education policy and practice with reference to life-long learning and adult education (such as higher education, adult literacy).

The programme critically addresses the relationship between education (formal, nonformal, informal) and issues of contemporary relevance, including:

  • human rights
  • poverty and economic development
  • identities, inequalities and social exclusion
  • colonialism and decolonisation
  • gender (in)equality
  • globalisation
  • migration – voluntary and forced
  • nation-building and postnationalism
  • peace and conflict, divided societies, post-conflict reconstruction
  • climate change and sustainable development
  • health and disability
  • livelihoods, vulnerabilities and organised crime.

Why St Mary's

The degree is part of our wider commitment to addressing issues of social justice through the work of the Centre for Research into the Education of Marginalised Children and Young Adults (CREMCYA) and the Bakhita Centre for Research on Slavery, Exploitation and Abuse (BCRSEA).

The wide-ranging and inclusive membership of the centres, encompassing partnerships between academics, charities, governmental and non-governmental organisations and the business sector, provides an ideal environment to stimulate debate, influence public policy and improve professional practice.

The MA Education, International Development and Social Justice is also enhanced by our peaceful location in leafy West London; a short train ride away from the global headquarters of international organisations working in the field.

Mary Mihovilovic 2

Dr Mary Mihovilovic

Programme Lead - Postgraduate Taught Programmes in Education

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Course content


You will take a total of seven modules as part of this degree:

  • Three core content modules
  • One core research methods module
  • Either a dissertation or a work-based research project
  • Two optional modules (out of a choice of four)

Please note: it is possible that a module listed on the website will not be able to run due to reasons beyond our control. For more information please refer to our course information disclaimer.

Entry requirements

2:2 undergraduate degree in any education or social sciences subject (such as sociology, economics, politics or development studies).


Previous degree

Additional requirement information

Students who do not possess a first degree may be admitted provided that the Course Lead is satisfied with the student's fitness to pursue the programme by virtue of professional or other relevant qualifications and/or experience (e.g. professional experience working for an international NGO, etc.)

International Requirements

International students should check our country-specific pages for equivalents. If English is not your first language you will need to achieve an IELTS score of 6.5 overall with no less than 6.0 in any section.

We now accept IELTS Indicator test results as proof of your English language level.

Further Information

For more information about entry requirements please email

Fees & funding






Additional costs

Your tuition fees will cover the cost of all mandatory elements of your programme. Additional costs could be incurred depending on optional modules chosen and other projects undertaken.

For further information about additional costs please see our additional costs webpage

Alumni discount

A 20% tuition fee discount is available for our alumni (undergraduate and PGCE) planning to study this Master's degree. Those studying for a PGDip of PGCert are not eligible for the discount.


Government-funded loans of over £11,000 are available to many home postgraduate students. Home and international students may also be eligible for external sources of funding.  International students should check their eligibility for our International Scholarship.

For more information, please look at our postgraduate funding page.

How the degree is taught

Teaching methods

Teaching will be done through a combination of lectures, seminars, workshops, case studies, tutorials and field visits (where feasible). In addition, students will have the opportunity to participate in workshops that develop employability knowledge and skills (e.g. education programme design and management).

All students on the programme will have the opportunity to participate in activities and events organised by St Mary’s vibrant research centres (including CREMCYA and BCRSEA), as well as activities and events within the wider university community.

Assessment methods

Assessment methods (such as policy analysis, programme evaluation, programme design, business plan, case study, portfolio, proposal, presentation, report) have been specifically designed to reflect authentic activities that graduates would undertake in real-world employment scenarios.

Career opportunities

The MA programme will be taught by faculty who have extensive professional experience in related fields (e.g. international development, humanitarian assistance, human trafficking, modern slavery, forced migration) and awareness of the knowledge and skills in demand by employers.

This will stand you in good stead when seeking employment in Government, NGOs, bilateral and multilateral organisations and the charitable and voluntary sectors. Employers may be involved in the delivery of aspects of the degree.

This MA will also enhance the knowledge and skills of professionals already working in the sector through its unique focus on development, humanitarian and transnational contexts, practical skills development and the study of real-world scenarios and issues of contemporary relevance. 

Apply now

September 2023

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