Student Affairs in Higher Education MA

Postgraduate (12 months full-time, part-time)



Intermediate awards: PG Cert, PG Dip

Course duration: 1 year full-time, 2 years part-time.

Teaching times


Weekend workshops, limited residency and blended learning are offered when studying part-time.


Designed for those already working in student-facing services, or graduates who are interested in this career path, our innovative Master’s degree will develop your expertise, knowledge, skills and experience in this rapidly emerging area of higher education. It includes the opportunity to undertake an internship in the USA.

Full description


Our MA programme will help your personal and continuing professional development. You’ll advance your knowledge and application of leadership and management in the different areas covered by student-facing services, such as student engagement, advising, student development and support.

This course will benefit you if you want to work in a student affairs-related area, or if you're already a professional in a student-facing service and want to progress to higher levels of management. It's intended for professionals from areas such as:

  • Student services
  • Careers and employability
  • Students' Union
  • Sports and activities
  • Student engagement
  • Library
  • Registry or academic office
  • Accommodation or residential service
  • Registration
  • Finance.

With a strong focus on the skills and knowledge needed for a successful career in student affairs – where there's a skills gap at present – our course will boost your prospects.

Modules & assessment

  • Educational and Social Research Methods
    This module provides you with the opportunity to consider the aims and intentions of educational research, critique published journal articles, and examine the role of evidence from research as a basis for improving education and social care. You will gain grounding in educational research issues, methods and strategies together with knowledge of how to match intended outcomes with specific educational questions and methods of investigation.
  • Key Issues and Themes in Student Affairs - Higher Education
    This module introduces the participants to broad range of issues and themes pertinent to the theory and practice of supporting students in higher education. The module considers the role and function of Student Affairs within higher education and offers participants the opportunity to explore the theory and policy of Student Affairs while critically reflecting on their own professional practice and experience in the field. The module will engage with national strategies, frameworks and international dimensions and participants will be encouraged to explore the processes and complexities of higher education. The module will cover the following broad themes and will prepare participants for the other designate modules and the postgraduate major project: Higher Education Institutions; Historical and Social Perspectives in Higher Education and Student Affairs; What is a Student?; Advising and Supporting Students; Equality, Inclusion and Diversity; Assessment of Students; Funding in Higher Education; Career Development and Employability. The module assessment will comprise a 5000 word written assignment in which participants will develop a critical analysis of literature related to three of the themes listed above.
  • National and International Perspectives in Higher Education Student Affairs
    In this module participants explore how different countries approach Student Affairs in higher education. They consider the approaches of different countries to important debates in the field including the purpose and nature of universities, funding, internationalisation, professionalism, new technologies and modes of learning, partnerships and formations, access and widening participation, management, quality, and teaching and learning. Utilising comparative methods as well as key concepts and theoretical frameworks used by comparativists, participants will critically examine comparative evidence to enhance their knowledge and understanding of higher education principles, processes and practices in the United Kingdom, the USA and other countries. Participants will compare and critique the development of various ideologies, approaches and policies affecting higher education and analyse their impact on Student Affairs in the UK and internationally. Participants will be asked to identify, justify and challenge their own evaluative presuppositions and judgements regarding a range of higher education ideologies, policies and approaches. Throughout the module, participants will draw on different theoretical explanations and ideological perspectives in higher education and utilise comparative methods to analyse the approach to Student Affairs in different countries. They will evaluate a range of theoretical explanations and ideological perspectives relating to higher education including, the role of the state, capital and educational change, its impact on those working in Student Affairs and most crucially, the student experience. Participants will consider key ideologies, approaches and policies of relevance to their professional practice and assess, evaluate and compare the impact of these in at least two different countries. Drawing on theory and practice, participants will then focus in more depth on the impact of a specific higher education Student Affairs initiative. In doing so, they will be required to identify and critique the impact of the initiative on an area of higher education and it’s implication for the student experience. The assessment comprises of two parts. In part one participants present a poster to their group that explores and evaluates a range of theoretical explanations and ideological perspectives relating to higher education Student Affairs in two countries. In part two, they undertake a written report comparing an aspect of Student Affairs in their home country and in another country of their choice. Participants wishing to go on the study visit to a university in the USA will be required to select the USA as a country for comparison.
  • Specialist Studies in Student Affairs in Higher Education
    This module is designed to enable participants to explore a topic that is relevant to their role or intended future role in higher education Student Affairs. The module is informed by a sociocultural view of higher education which emphasises the dynamic process of knowledge construction in which tutors and participants collaborate and share new knowledge. The module requires the participant to maintain the important connections between theory and practice, in that practice is understood as dynamic and emergent. The module provides the participant with the tools to develop a critical understanding of the perspective which can be applied to analyse and evaluate their own and others’ professional practice in any kind of higher education institution or situation. The learning experiences take place through guided study where tutors will support the participants to explore and analyse conflicting evidence, approaches and theoretical viewpoints in their chosen area. They also explore and analyse the nature of conflicting evidence, and ways in which that evidence is communicated to the higher education workforce and community. Participants are expected to work collaboratively with their peers to meet the learning outcomes and will be expected to demonstrate a high level of theoretical and applied knowledge and skills. In the assessment, participants present a multimedia presentation (equivalent to 3000 words) and reflective commentary (2000 words) in which they show evidence of an in-depth knowledge of their chosen field informed by current scholarship and research, including a critical awareness of current issues and developments in higher education Student Affairs.
  • Postgraduate Major Project
    This module supports students in the preparation and submission of their Master's Major project and involves a dissertation of 14,000 words or the equivalent. The Major Project enables students to demonstrate the ability to raise significant and meaningful questions in relation to their specialism which may involve working at the current limits of theoretical and/or research understanding. It will involve the ability to develop solutions to ethical dilemmas likely to arise in their research or professional practice. It will involve an understanding of an appropriate methodology, appropriate methods and an ability to draw meaningful and justifiable conclusions from information that may be complex or contradictory. The project enables students to expand or redefine existing knowledge, to develop new approaches to changing workplace situations and/or to contribute to the development of best practice. It asks the student to communicate these processes in a clear and elegant fashion and to evaluate their work from the perspective of an autonomous reflective learner. Students' research topics must be negotiated with their appointed supervisor. An application for ethical approval and ethics discussion paper must then be submitted. The project may take the form of a written dissertation, a formal presentation and full research paper, an exhibition, a performance, an artefact or the development of software, or other written, aural or visual material. The project may be formed from a combination of these modes but will normally include a written component.

Please note that you will need to complete all of the above core modules. This course does not have any optional modules. Modules are subject to change.


We'll assess you in a number of ways, from literature reviews to reflective commentaries on your professional practice, to make sure you're learning effectively.
Other forms of assessment include visual presentations, comparative studies, critical analyses of existing research, research pilots and a research project.

Where you'll study

Your faculty

The Faculty of Health, Education, Medicine and Social Care is the largest in ARU, with over 7,000 students. Our Faculty is teeming with expertise and primed to meet the demand for creating health professionals, teachers, doctors, scientists and educators for the three districts we serve: Chelmsford, Cambridge and Peterborough.

We have been training undergraduates for professional roles for over 25 years, with a reputation for quality, dedication and ambition balanced with student satisfaction.

We know that to give our students the very best experiential learning, prior to getting into the workplace, simulation is second to none, for safe, realistic, learning environments. We have invested heavily in purpose built simulated wards, science labs and skills space, to support or students through their learning.

Where can I study?

Lord Ashcroft Building on our Cambridge campus

Our campus is close to the centre of Cambridge, often described as the perfect student city.

Explore our Cambridge campus

Fees & funding

Course fees

UK & EU students, 2018/19 (per year)


UK & EU students, 2018/19 (per year, part-time)


International students, 2018/19 (per year)


International students, 2018/19 (per year, part-time)


UK & EU students, 2019/20 (per year)


UK & EU students, 2019/20 (part-time, per year)


International students starting 2019/20 (per year)


International students starting 2019/20 (part-time, per year)


How do I pay my fees?

Paying upfront

You won't need to pay fees until you've accepted an offer to attend, but you must pay your fees up-front, in full or in instalments.

How to pay your fees directly

International students

You must pay your fees up-front, in full or in instalments. You will also be asked for a deposit or sponsorship letter/financial guarantee. Details will be in your offer letter.

Paying your fees

Funding for UK & EU students

It’s important to decide how to fund your course before applying. Use our finance guide for postgraduate students to learn more about postgraduate loans and other funding options.

We offer a fantastic range of ARU scholarships, which provide extra financial support while you're at university. Find out more about eligibility and how to apply.

Funding for international students

We offer a number of scholarships, as well as an early payment discount. Explore your options:

Entry requirements

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Important additional notes

Our published entry requirements are a guide only and our decision will be based on your overall suitability for the course as well as whether you meet the minimum entry requirements. Other equivalent qualifications may be accepted for entry to this course, please email for further information.

International students

We welcome applications from international and EU students, and accept a range of international qualifications.

English language requirements

If English is not your first language, you'll need to make sure you meet our English language requirements for postgraduate courses.

Improving your English language skills

If you don't meet our English language requirements, we offer a range of courses which could help you achieve the level required for entry.

We also provide our own English Language Proficiency Test (ELPT) in the UK and overseas. To find out if we are planning to hold an ELPT in your country, contact our country managers.

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Get more information

UK & EU applicants

01245 68 68 68

Enquire online

International applicants

+44 1245 68 68 68

Enquire online