Moray House School of Education and Sport

Programme Structure

In Scotland, the term Community Learning and Development (CLD) is used to incorporate community-based adult learning, youth work, and community capacity building under a single professional rubric.

Video: Introduction to MA Learning in Communities
Programme Co-Director, Dr Gary Fraser, introduces the MA Learning in Communities, a new professionally-endorsed qualification which builds on the expertise of our former BA Community Education, enabling graduates to apply for a range of careers in community learning and development.

Known as the empowering profession, Community Learning and Development is an informal educational practice that seeks to serve people in communities.

Drawing on a range of educational concepts and approaches, practitioners work alongside individuals and groups to promote their engagement in life-long learning. Community Learning and Development practitioners work to build peoples' capacity in applying this approach to help think critically about their world, with a focus on bringing about change in their own lives, their communities, and in society.

Working in this way practitioners seek to help people learn about and build a vibrant democratic culture in their communities and wider society, and work towards social justice.

This programme will be of interest to those who want to develop their educational knowledge and skills in working alongside young people and adults in communities. It will also appeal to those who have a desire to help people and communities achieve their full potential, and have a commitment to facilitate individual and collective change and action for social justice.

This degree programme is tailored to the needs of those who want to enter this sector of education. It provides both a well-rounded and rigorous academic grounding in education and the social sciences, with appropriate professional preparation through work-based learning placements in the field of practice.

A developed base of theoretical understandings supports the practices of Community Learning and Development work, and in particular, the programme seeks to develop your understanding of the complex and dynamic relationship between theory, policy and practice.

Programme Structure

This programme is only offered as a full-time, campus-based degree. It is delivered mainly at the Moray House School of Education and Sport campus in Edinburgh. Although campus-based, the programme will include some elements of blended learning.

As standard, students will enter on the four year degree programme, graduating with an MA (Hons) degree. However, there is an option for students to exit at the end of year 3 with a BA (Ord) degree.

This flexible exit route is designed to enhance the student experience and to facilitate the needs of individual students and their particular career and academic aspirations.

Find details of the programme structure for each year of study on the University's Degree Finder page:

Programme Structure / Entry requirements

Programme Aims

The programme’s aims are achieved through four distinct learning strands focused on:

  • Informal and non-formal educational methods and approaches
  • Theoretical ideas and conceptual frameworks
  • Research capacity
  • Professional practice placement experiences

As a professionally approved programme, informed by research and the developing contexts of practice, graduates of this programme will be well prepared to enter employment. You will be equipped with educational knowledge and skills to work alongside people in communities.

As a result, graduates will be able to apply for a broad range of education and development jobs in a wide variety of contexts in the public, voluntary and third sectors.

Students on this programme will be taught by staff who have extensive fieldwork practice experience in a range of settings. Staff also contribute to both the academic literature and research knowledge in this dynamic field of professional educational practice.

The programme staff draw on this practice experience, research and academic knowledge to inform students' teaching and learning experience.


This programme has two possible exit routes leading to two qualifications:

  • BA (Ordinary) - exit after Year 3
  • MA (Honours) - exit after Year 4

The BA (Ord) Learning in Communities degree, awarded after three years of study, is professionally approved by the Community Learning and Development Standards Council for Scotland (CLDSCS).

Students can also graduate after Year 4 with an MA (Hons) Learning in Communities degree. However, progression to Year 4 and graduation with the MA (Hons) degree can only be achieved by the successful completion of the first 3 years of study, leading to the professionally approved BA (Ord). This is unconditional.

All graduates with the MA (Hons) Learning in Communities degree will be professionally qualified and eligible to register with the CLDSCS, as the full qualification includes the professionally approved BA (Ord) degree.


This degree programme is professionally endorsed by the Community Learning and Development Standards Council for Scotland (CLDSCS). The programme is required to contain a significant element of professional practice learning, in the form of work-based placements.

As part of your professional preparation, placement involves the provision of opportunities for you to encounter and develop the skills, attitudes, and values present in professional contexts. You will also develop your sense of professional competence as a result.

Professional practice placements take place in a range of settings that represent the diverse scope of contemporary CLD practice. This will help to prepare you for the multiple future roles that you may encounter after graduation.

On this programme you will undertake three significant practice-based learning placements in Years 1, 2 and 3 of study (there is no placement requirement in Year 4 of study).

You are required to complete 370 placement hours. You will be on placement in Semester 2 of each year and will normally attend your placement on a part-time basis 3 days per week, for 17 weeks. You will have access to an extensive and diverse range of appropriate professional practice placements.

Your family commitments, as well as learning and development needs, professional interests, and career aspirations are taken into account as far as possible when identifying your placement.

The identification of each placement begins with a one-to-one meeting between you and a programme tutor. While on placement you will work closely alongside, and be supported by, a placement supervisor who is a professionally qualified and experienced practitioner. Supervisors have also undertaken a placement supervisor training programme provided by the University.

Whilst a University tutor will offer support on placement, the crucial element of each placement is the relationship developed between you and your placement supervisor.