Moray House School of Education and Sport

MSc Education: Comparative Education and International Development pathway

This pathway will develop your critical understanding of the policies, politics, histories, ideas and cultural practices that shape education around the world.

Gain perspectives that bridge the relationship between the global and local by drawing on different traditions of educational research in the fields of sociology and anthropology.

Key issues covered in this pathway include:

  • How are theories and policies of education conceived of and practised in a globalised world?
  • What roles do governmental and non-governmental agencies play in these processes?
  • What are the diverse historical perspectives and socio-political practices that inform particular national education systems and policies?
  • What can an in-depth study of socio-cultural and historical practices reveal about values and beliefs embedded in educational processes?
  • What are the relationships between formal and informal learning and education in different cultural contexts?

For students, educational practitioners and government and NGO staff who wish to acquire knowledge in educational policy, practice and development around the world, this pathway will provide an opportunity to make cross-cultural comparisons using specific (local) practices of education in relation to wider (global) social and cultural contexts.

You will be able to take a course in the University of Edinburgh’s School of Social and Political Science, allowing you to broaden your network and meet students from related disciplines (such as Sociology, Social Anthropology, Politics and International Relations).

Pathway structure

You will be required to take a number of compulsory and option courses and complete a dissertation in order to complete this MSc programme.

Compulsory courses

Option courses

In addition, you will complete two option courses (40 credits) including from the broad range on offer in the School or Interpreting Development: Institutions and Practices, offered by the School of Social and Political Science.

Course Descriptions (2020-21)


On successful completion of the core and option courses, you will complete a dissertation project which is a piece of independent, original research of 12,000 words.

You will receive support in planning and writing a dissertation with a comparative education, development or anthropological focus. The dissertation could involve empirical research, analysis of documents or both.

Examples of recent dissertation topics in this pathway area include:

  • A comparative study of civic education in Hong Kong and Macao
  • Implementing the policy of Decentralisation of Education in the United Arab Emirates
  • A discourse analysis of ‘ideo-moral’ textbooks for Chinese junior middle schools
  • Partnerships and challenges in teaching Mandarin in Scottish schools

Career outcomes

Graduates develop a range of skills including: 

  • A nuanced understanding of how the local and global intersect in the context of educational policy and practice in a variety of geographical settings.
  • The ability to question and critically engage with conventional beliefs about the role of education in society.
  • Research skills and methodological tools to compare and critically analyse comparative and international educational issues.

Contact us

For further information about this pathway, please contact the Pathway Co-ordinator.

Pathway Co-ordinator: Dr William Smith

Apply now

Find detailed entry requirements, fees and costs, and apply for this pathway via the Degree Finder.  

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