School of Education

Master of Education

Programme Overview

The Master of Education programme is designed for education professionals and others working in the fields of education, training and development: teachers, trainers, lecturers, administrators and managers, across all educational phases and levels, and institutions. The programme focuses on research experience and training, and integrates issues of professional development as well. We aim to provide programmes that are grounded in the research activity of members of the School; recognise and build on the prior knowledge and experiences of students; develop professionally relevant knowledge, skills and understanding; and enable the acquisition of further qualifications that enhance career prospects. In most cases, the programme is offered on a part-time basis, combining attendance in the afternoons, during school holidays, and weekends, allowing for a flexible pattern of study across both of its campuses (Edgewood and Pietermaritzburg). Teaching and learning in the programme follows a hybrid mode with classes conducted in face-to-face and/or online modes. The programme is offered in two modes (i) full dissertation and (ii) coursework and dissertation.

Students enrolled for the Master of Education should:

  • Be able to deal with complex issues in education, both systematically and creatively through research processes;
  • Develop a deeper understanding of the nature, purposes and processes of education, training and development;
  • Develop an understanding of theoretical, conceptual, policy and practical issues impacting on education in general, and in their specialist areas in particular;  
  • Demonstrate self-direction, sound judgement and originality in tackling complex issues in education and related areas;
  • Develop an understanding of research issues; and
  • Demonstrate an ability to do research in a specialist area.

Specialisations on Offer

All students need to choose one of the following specialisations:

  • Adult Education (Pietermaritzburg)
  • Curriculum Studies (Edgewood)
  • Education and Development (Pietermaritzburg)
  • Education Leadership, Management and Policy (Edgewood & Pietermaritzburg)
  • Educational Psychology (Edgewood)
  • Gender Education (Edgewood)
  • History Education (Edgewood)
  • Language and Media Studies (Edgewood)
  • Social Justice Education (Edgewood & Pietermaritzburg)
  • Social Science Education (Edgewood)
  • Science Education (Edgewood)
  • Mathematics Education (Edgewood)
  • Teacher Development Studies (Edgewood & Pietermaritzburg)
  • Technology Education (Edgewood)

The Master of Education by Full Dissertation

A research Master’s degree by full dissertation enables students to specialise in specific areas of interest. It comprises a single dissertation worth 192 credits. In other words, a Master of Education by full dissertation does not include coursework. A student may be registered for a full dissertation in the School of Education for a minimum of two semesters for full-time study OR four semesters for part-time study.

Candidates are required to engage in research on a topic in education related to one of the specialisations outlined above. The primary relationship for the candidate is with his/her supervisor. However, the School does provide training in research proposal writing and research methods, and students who opt for this route are advised to register, for non-degree purposes, for at least two of the research modules on the M.Ed., one of which should be the Proposal Development module.

In this route to a Master’s degree in Education, a substantive research proposal is required to be deve​_loped under the supervision of an appointed supervisor and presented for review to the Proposal Review Committee prior to the research being conducted.  Once the proposal has been accepted by the School Higher Degrees Committee, the student may then embark upon the research project, but only after ethical clearance has been obtained. 

A full dissertation would require a substantive engagement on a chosen research focus area that leads to knowledge of an application of the methods of research and contributes to the advancement of knowledge within an approximately 40 000-word research dissertation.

The Master of Education by Coursework and Dissertation

A Master of Education degree by coursework and dissertation is a postgraduate degree that enables students to develop generic research skills and to specialise in specific areas of interest.  At present the School offers a number of specialisations on a part-time basis over a minimum of two years. The degree comprises 192 credits. Half of these credits (96) are earned through coursework and the other half are earned through completion of a research dissertation.

The coursework component of the Masters degree is conducted through a series of modules that combine core research training and your chosen specialisation. The modules are structured to provide intense debate and discussion, exposure to theory, current research interest and research methodologies through lectures, seminars and workshops.  

The dissertation component of the coursework Masters programme is done in the second year of registration and after a research proposal has been developed and approved by the School Higher Degrees Committee. Ethical clearance is also needed prior to the research being conducted. A supervisor (from within the chosen field of specialisation) for the dissertation is allocated to students in the second semester of the first year of study. The dissertation requires a substantive engagement on a chosen research focus within an approximately 30 000 word dissertation.


Not all specialisations are offered for coursework each year. Course work is offered in the following fields: Adult Education (PMB); Curriculum Studies (Edgewood); Education Leadership, Management and Policy (Both Campuses) Educational Psychology (Edgewood); Social Justice (PMB); Teacher Development Studies (PMB)

Minimum Entry Requirements

Anyone with a Bachelor of Education (Honours) or equivalent degree with a 60% average qualifies for (but is not guaranteed) entry into this programme. In addition to the average, Masters by Full dissertation applicants are required to submit a brief description/concept note of the research they intend to pursue.

Selection for Postgraduate Studies

Candidates are subject to selection and the selection process will be based on a candidate’s record of academic work or academic and professional work acceptable to the Senate and may include academic ranking and other criteria as approved by Senate and Council. 


The minimum duration of the programme is 2 semesters full time (4 semesters part-time) and the maximum duration is 4 semesters full-time (6 semesters part-time)

Programme Application Information

UKZN online applications are available to international and SADC (undergrad and postgrad) and local postgraduate (new and returning) applicants.

The system is user friendly. In order for the application to be finalised and processed, the uploading of documents is required. It is, therefore, recommended that these documents are electronically accessible for uploading at the time of application. Once the application is complete, a student number is immediately issued with details of the application fee payable as well as banking details and a reference number to use when making payment. There is no closing date for Full dissertation Masters, however, applications will stop once we have reached our enrolment target. For coursework Masters, the closing date is 31 October 2022.

Each prospective candidate must submit the following documents:

  1. A formal letter of intention to read for an MED in 2023 (with all relevant contact details). Visit our School website to view our Academic Profiles: or (click here). Indicate in your letter which of the School of Education Academic staff members you have consulted regarding your intended research and suggest whom you would like to work with as the supervisor of your study. Alternatively, indicate what kind of expertise you would consider appropriate to support your study and the School will recommend a possible supervisor.
  2. A certified copy of your identity document/passport and matric certificate (Certified in the last 3 months)
  3. Certified copies of your previous qualification certificates and academic transcripts as well as any other relevant documentation (Certified in the last 3 months)
  4. If any of your previous qualification(s) were obtained at universities outside of South Africa, please also include the South African Qualification Authority (SAQA) certificate.
  5. A 5-page description of the research that you intend to pursue for the MED studies (Concept note)
  6. The URL link for online applications is available on the UKZN web page.

Application Fees

No application fee is payable if there has been no break in studies. Applicants who have been out of the system for a full academic year or more will be required to pay a new application fee.

A non-refundable application fee is payable on submission of the application form.

  • SA applicants on-time – R210
  • SA applicants late – R420
  • SADC and Africa – R490
  • Countries outside Africa – $153

No late international applications accepted.

Tuition Fees Payable

For fee structures, refer to and from ‘Student Portal’, select the 2022 Fees Booklet. Note that fees quoted are for 2022. Please allow for an increase of at least 5-10% for 2023.

Admin Contact Details

Research and Higher Degree Administrators Office proxy e-mail:  and 

Sabelo Mthembu

Sabelo Nkululeko Mthembu

Edgewood Campus • 031-260-3919

Ntokozo Phakathi Mthembu

Pietermaritzburg Campus • 033-260-5856