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Professional Development and Enquiry

This award provides an opportunity for practitioners and managers in a diversity of social professional settings to engage in substantial continuing professional development at Masters level, and in relation to complex and changing practice environments.

In a context of significant shifts in education, health and welfare services, professional enquiry is based on the idea that questions about direction and purpose ‘come with the territory’ of practice. Developing knowledge and understanding, using judgement in reflective, responsive and responsible ways, and an orientation to values of social justice, are all part of being an engaged and active(ist) professional at a time of great change and as we all, in different ways, think about how best we might proceed.

MA Professional Development and Enquiry challenges students to think deeply about their own professional contexts and settings, their place and role within this, and the possibilities for development, change, and generating practice knowledge and innovations. The award draws widely on (inter)disciplinary perspectives to think, and think forward, for practice.

We encourage applications from practitioners, professionals and leaders who might be working (or volunteering) in a diverse range of roles in education, health, social welfare/care, community, and other settings, and in the public, private, and voluntary or social enterprise sectors. We aim for an inter- and multi-professional student group on the award for the cross-fertilisation of knowledge, experience and expertise that can be brought to bear, and as it reflects complex challenges in practice and collaborative imperatives.   

This award is part of the Manchester Met Faculty of Education postgraduate Professional Development Programme.

Entry requirements

Manchester Met standard entry requirements for taught postgraduate programmes apply:

You also need to have experience relevant to the award area (or taking up employment or similar related to the award area)

Course modules

Dissertation: Professional Development and Enquiry

This unit is designed to support and facilitate students in planning, conducting and evaluating a significant, practical and coherent (practitioner) research project. Participants finalise a research proposal for approval and for ethical clearance, and will then undertake the research project. Whilst undertaking the project students are offered tutorial support, this constitutes a blend of group tutorials as well as individual supervision. The entire process is supported by a suite of online resources as well as on-site activities that are aimed at enriching the students’ experience and improving the quality of the final dissertation. 

Mapping the Territory: critical concepts and issues

This unit enables a critical exploration of theory and practice and the ways these inter-relate and extend each other, for practice. There is an emphasis on participants exploring the contexts in which they work and locating themselves within these contexts.  Workshops, discussions and wider academic reading provide conceptual and theoretical lenses through which to reflect on practice and to develop, and critically evaluate, relevant skills and approaches.   Typical content might include: current practice in coaching and mentoring and policy developments at local and national level; coaching and mentoring frameworks and skills; coaching and mentoring relationships and diversity; critical evaluation of theoretical models and approaches in practice; progression in coaching and mentoring and impact on practitioners and organisations.  However, content will also be shaped by participants’ own interests, practice and contexts.    

Research and Practice

The unit aims to develop a greater understanding of the relevance of research to professional practice. Students examine different approaches to conducting research, and their limitations and possibilities for generating knowledge in their own practice area. The unit also explores the ethical tensions and dilemma inherent in the research process, especially those particular to practitioner research. As part of the assessment of the unit, students produce a research proposal (that can be taken forward to final dissertation) to demonstrate understanding and capacity to carry out a coherent and credible small research project. 

Shaping the Future

This unit asks students to address critical challenges, tensions or contradictions, and professional dilemmas within their own practice, to think forward and develop possible ways of re-framing, re-imagining, or innovating for future practice. This provides opportunities to work at the leading edge (of thinking/practice) to rethink services or approaches/interventions, to plan forward and/or to consider specific changes and new innovations. 

Specialist Support Project: Leadership in Early Years

This unit supports students to undertake an project that has particular relevance to their professional practice.  Students identify and explore significant themes, issues or challenges, select a relevant focus for their project, and appropriate approach/tools/methods. Projects might be desk, practice, or enquiry-based, but in all cases enable students to develop and demonstrate specialist knowledge through the use of evidence, analysis, reflection and evaluation, as appropriate to their project. The unit provides an introduction to the nature of knowledge, knowledge generation for practice and enquiry/investigation approaches and underpinning inter/disciplinary footprint. 

Assessment methods

Assessment is by coursework for each unit and a full assignment brief is available for each unit. Assessment tasks always allow you to pursue your own thinking and interests within the parameters of the unit and award. Formative feedback is available and built in for every unit. 

For taught units (30 credits) the assessment is 5000 words equivalent. The final (60 credit) dissertation is 12-14,000 words.


All of the books required for the course are available from the library. The University also has PC labs and a laptop loan service. However, many students choose to buy some of the core textbooks for the course and/or a laptop. Students may also need to print their assignments and other documents. Campus printing costs start from 5p per page. Estimated costs are £300 for a laptop up to £100 for books and printing. Total optional cost: £400


Qualification Study mode Start month Fee Fee locale Course duration
MA Part-time £ 6,300 (Whole course) Home/EU 2 6 Years
MA Part-time £ 13,050 (Whole course) International 2 6 Years

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