MA International Education

Year of entry: 2024

Course unit details:
Teacher Professional Learning

Course unit fact file
Unit code EDUC70892
Credit rating 15
Unit level FHEQ level 7 – master's degree or fourth year of an integrated master's degree
Teaching period(s) Semester 2
Available as a free choice unit? Yes


This unit aims to explore teacher professional learning in a range of global contexts through scholarship, research and reflection upon your own professional practice and educational experiences. In doing so, a key outcome of this unit is for you to begin to develop, and critically explore, what it means to be a teacher.

To achieve this, we will spend time examining key concepts, particularly the role of professional learning and learning communities in forming these. In doing so, you will make links between your own previous experiences of teaching and learning, current research, and your future aspirations as an educator. We will examine various case studies from around the world that facilitate engagement with both local and international teachers, and professional learning communities.

Although it would be useful to have some experience of working with learners within a teaching, tutoring, or training context, this is not essential.


This unit aims to:

  • Introduce students to key concepts, theories, and practices in teacher professional learning in comparative international and intercultural contexts
  • Develop students’ understanding of the role of individual, collective and collaborative forms of professional learning in international and intercultural education
  • Enable students to develop as reflective, proactive, internationally minded future teachers
  • Equip students with  international skills and mindset, as well as  theoretical and ethical understandings of these, that will enable them to plan and take ownership of their own professional learning as future teachers.

Teaching and learning methods

A variety of approaches to teaching and learning will be used that bring together theory and practice. These will include, but not be limited to, inquiry-led learning, learning through social media, and case study analysis. Learning tasks might include one or more of the following: researching and joining (or creating) an interesting online teacher community; interviewing local and international teachers about their own professional learning practices; exploring their own learning and/or teaching processes through practitioner research.

To foster the students’ development as reflective teachers, a reflective journal entry using prompts will be made after each week’s session, encouraging students to reflect on their previous experiences of teaching and learning in the light of their developing thinking. The assignment will build on this reflective journal as students use the entries in the journal in order to critically analyse and evaluate their teaching and learning practices to theorise those practices in the light of the literature.

12 x weeks of lectures and workshops

Knowledge and understanding

  • Understand a variety of forms of professional learning and professional learning communities and explore how they function in a variety of international and intercultural contexts
  • Identify and consider the key factors associated with teacher resilience in relation to professional learning

Intellectual skills

  • Critically reflect on their own teaching and learning practices and experiences
  • Evaluate different forms of professional learning in relation to their own developing professional aspirations and context

Practical skills

  • Proactively engage with other international teachers through interviews, blog posts and online communities
  • Develop exploratory enquiry skills to support professional practice and practitioner research
  • Write reflectively

Transferable skills and personal qualities

  • Evaluate, synthesise, and present information in written and oral form
  • Develop research and enquiry skills
  • Engage in group work
  • Develop lifelong learning strategies and skills

Further develop an international mindset and intercultural skills, underpinned by an understanding of the ethical responsibilities within these.

Assessment methods

Method Weight
Written assignment (inc essay) 100%

Feedback methods

Peer review and feedback will be given on case study 1

Summative feedback will be given via Turnitin

Recommended reading

  • Harris A, Jones M. (2010). Professional learning communities and system improvement. Improving Schools. 2010; 13(2):172-181.
  • Kruse SD, Johnson BL. (2017). Tempering the normative demands of professional learning communities with the organizational realities of life in schools: Exploring the cognitive dilemmas faced by educational leaders. Educational Management Administration & Leadership. 45(4):588-604. doi:10.1177/1741143216636111
  • Mansfield, C. F., Beltman, S., Broadley, T., & Weatherby-Fell, N. (2016). Building resilience in teacher education: An evidenced informed framework. Teaching and Teacher Education, 54, 77–87.
  • Schön, D. (1983). The reflective practitioner: How professionals think in action. Aldershot: Ashgate Publishing.
  • Schutz, P.A., Hong, J., & Francis, D.C. (Eds.) (2018) Research on Teacher Identity. Mapping Challenges and Innovations. New York: Springer.
  • Tripp, D. (1993). Critical incidents in teaching: Developing professional judgement. Abingdon: Routledge.

Stoll, L., Bolam, R., McMahon, A., Thomas, S., Wallace, M., Greenwood, A., & Hawkey, K. (2018). Professional Learning Communities: source materials for school leaders and other leaders of professional learning. London, UK: National College for Teaching and Leadership

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Claire Forbes Unit coordinator

Additional notes





Staff/student contact






Private study



Directed reading



Other activities 

eg Practical/laboratory work


Total hours



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