Moray House School of Education and Sport

MSc Education: Philosophy of Education pathway

This pathway explores a range of philosophical issues in education practice, policy and research from a variety of different international contexts, traditions and perspectives.

This pathway builds upon a long Scottish tradition at Edinburgh, going back over three hundred years, where education students studied philosophy and/or philosophy of education courses. If you are interested in the intersection between philosophy and education, or the philosophical underpinnings of educational research methods, this pathway will be ideal for you. It is great preparation for further doctoral study in the philosophy of education.

Key issues covered in this pathway include: 

  • What is 'education'? What should education be for?
  • What is 'knowledge' and how is it acquired? What types of knowledge are of educational value in different contexts of learning?
  • What is the nature of the philosophy of education within different Anglo-American, continental European, Asian, Scottish and South American traditions of inquiry?
  • How does the philosophy of education relate to education policy and practice as well as empirical research projects in education?
  • How can the moral and ethical dimensions of teaching and learning be understood?

You will work closely with academics who are well established in the international philosophy of education community.

You will be able to participate in the Philosophy of Education Research Group at Moray House and seminars at the Philosophy of Education Society of Great Britain (Edinburgh Branch). Seminars are held regularly throughout the academic year.

Philosophy of Education Research Group

Graduates leave with a range of skills including philosophy of education research skills; the capacity to think critically and analytically about the nature and purposes of education policy, practice and research; and an in-depth understanding of the epistemological perspectives that underpin particular research methods.

Pathway structure

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

Compulsory courses

You will take the following compulsory courses:

Option courses

In addition, you complete two option courses, selected from a broad range on offer in the School. Option courses are subject to change each year but in the past have included:

  • Children and Technology
  • Comparative Education and International Development
  • Critical Thinking, Teaching, and Learning

  • Developing Professional Identity
  • Learning in Communities: Place, Power and Pedagogy
  • The Curriculum: Context, Change and Development
  • The Nature of Enquiry
  • Qualitative Data Research
  • Quantitative Data Analysis with SPSS
  • Youth Studies

Course Descriptions (2020-21)

This course gave me an opportunity to think critically and engage with concepts that were valuable to other courses. [Dr Fakunle’s] detailed responses to final course assessment was very helpful; I will be able to employ the recommendations to improve performance in future assessments.

Sources of Knowledge: Understanding and analysing research literature - nominated for Outstanding Course in the EUSA Teaching Awards 2021



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 be supported to write a dissertation with a philosophy of education focus in an area of interest to you. You will have the option of doing a dissertation that is entirely theoretical or one that involves collecting data that is then analysed through a philosophical lens.

Examples of recent dissertation topics in this pathway area include:

  • A philosophical analysis of teacher authority
  • What potential does physical education have to contribute to the ethical development of children?
  • A study on students’ perceptions of meaning in life
  • Re-thinking dissensus, conflicts and controversy
  • An analysis of the evolutionary foundation of John Dewey’s concept of Growth and its implications for education

Contact us

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

Pathway Co-ordinator: Dr Aline Nardo

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

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