Scottish Framework for Masters in Education

The Scottish Framework for Masters in Education is an agreed set of principles that are the result of a unique collaboration across the universities who provide teacher education in Scotland. This Framework is designed to enable educators to make informed decisions about accredited Masters provision related to career-long professional learning. The Framework recognises and builds on existing learning opportunities developed through partnerships between universities, schools and local authorities.

The Framework enables educators to:

  • Access information about accredited Masters-level learning opportunities;
  • Identify a range of Masters pathways;
  • Explore learning opportunities which may be accessed through different modes of delivery, for example, campus based, online learning, work-based learning activities, etc;
  • Create a coherent professional learning experience.

The Framework is embedded within the distinctive portfolio of Masters programmes in each university. The Framework includes SCQF Level 11 Common Descriptors to enable portability of learning between institutions.


The Scottish Framework for Masters in Education recognises the common and distinctive provision across universities in Scotland. The Framework is underpinned by the following principles:

  • Progressing a national aspiration that teachers in Scotland engage in Masters-level learning;
  • Ensuring Masters-level learning for educators is accessible;
  • Enhancing access through making explicit the distinctive features of Masters-level learning;
  • Facilitating continuity in Masters-level learning through transfer of credits between universities; and
  • Enabling enhanced co-operation and communication across universities in Scotland providing Masters-level learning for educators throughout their careers.

Engagement in Masters-level learning is intended to support critically-informed practice, responsive to the evolving needs of Scottish society.

Common descriptors

In order to facilitate transfer of credit between universities that recognise the Scottish Framework for Masters in Education a set of common descriptors has been agreed. The common descriptors draw on SCQF Level 11 and recognise key features of practice-focused Masters-level learning:

Knowledge and Understanding

  • A critical understanding of the principal theories, principles and concepts.
  • A critical awareness of current issues in a subject/ discipline and one or more specialisms.

Practice: applied knowledge and understanding

  • Use a range of specialised skills, techniques, practice and/ or materials which are at the forefront of, or informed by forefront developments.
  • Demonstrate originality or creativity in the application of knowledge, understanding and/ or practices.

Generic cognitive skills

  • Apply critical analysis, evaluation and synthesis to issues which are at the forefront of, or informed by developments in a subject/ discipline.
  • Deal with complex issues and make informed judgements in situations in the absence of complete or consistent data.

Communication, ICT and numeracy skills

  • Communicate using appropriate methods, to a range of audiences with different levels of knowledge/expertise.
  • Communicate with peers, more senior colleagues and specialists.

Autonomy, accountability and working with others

  • Take responsibility for own work and/ or significant responsibility for the work of others.
Masters-level learning: Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework (Level 11)

The Scottish Framework for Masters in Education progresses the national aspiration that teachers in Scotland engage in Masters-level learning. Masters-level learning is informed by the Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework (SCQF) descriptors at Level 11. These ensure that learning:

  • Is practice relevant;
  • Is research informed;
  • Is personally and professionally transformative;
  • Is collaborative in nature;
  • Challenges assumptions and widens perspectives; and
  • Aspires to make a positive impact on Scottish Education.

The SCQF is structured around the following characteristics:

  • Knowledge and understanding;
  • Practice: applied knowledge and understanding;
  • Generic cognitive skills;
  • Communication, ICT and numeracy skills; and
  • Autonomy, accountability and working with others.

Useful Links

Scottish Credit and Qualifications Interactive Framework

About the SCQF Framework


These FAQs provide general information. Each university has its own regulations so it is important to contact individual universities for further details.

What is the Framework?

The Framework is a portal for educators interested in Masters-level learning. It is a tool to support educators to make informed decisions about the focus of their professional learning. The Framework is also designed to enable educators to build on previous Masters-level learning. It provides a common set of Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework (Level 11) descriptors for the transfer of credit between universities.

How will Masters-level learning inform my practice?

Masters level learning is designed to develop the ability to critically analyse practice and consider underpinning research in areas of particular interest. It is possible to focus on areas which are of direct relevance to professional practice.

How do I engage with Masters-level learning?

There are different ways to engage with Masters-level learning. First, it is worth taking some time to reflect on the following:

  • What has interested you in Masters-level learning?
  • Is your interest directly linked to something you are working on in school?
  • Is there a specific topic you would like to know more about?
  • Do you have a particular area you want to focus on?

If you want to work towards a Masters-level qualification as part of your career-long professional learning you might want to start with where, when and how you could study. Begin with a note of some of your interests and investigate what the universities have to offer.

I am not currently working in Scotland, how might I use the Framework?

The framework allows access to information about the range of Masters-level learning opportunities available in Scotland many of these opportunities can be accessed online from anywhere in the world.

Where and how can I access university-based Masters-level learning?

Can I start at any time or is there a set start time?

Starting times vary from one point per year to open enrolment when you can start at any point.

Can I study online or do I need to travel to a University?

You can study online for all of a Masters degree or for part of it.

How many hours a week will I need to study?

If you are studying for a 20 credit module at Level 11, then you are expected to do 200 hours of studying while you are working on the module. If it is a 30 credit module at Level 11, then you are expected to do 300 hours of study. Most modules run over a 3 to 4 month period, so you will need to study for between 12 and 18 hours per week.

Do I have to be in work to study at Masters-level?

No you do not have to be in work but some degrees expect you to be in work to carry out action research or a professional enquiry as part of the degree.

Do I have to be in a Scottish school?

No, some degrees are suitable for educators who are not working in a Scottish school.

How long does it take to gain a Masters?

It usually takes between 3 and 5 years to complete a part-time Masters degree.

Do I need to sign up for a full Masters degree at the beginning?

Not always. Universities offer a range of postgraduate certificates, diplomas and degrees. In some universities you can sign up for a certificate or diploma, other universities ask you to sign up for a Masters but you can leave with a certificate or diploma if you don’t want to complete the whole degree.

Can I take time off from studying?

Yes. You can choose to ‘suspend your studies’ or take ‘leave of absence’. This usually involves writing an email to explain why you want to have a break. Each university has rules about how much time you can take off.

What happens if I don’t finish the whole Masters Degree?

You will be given a postgraduate certificate or diploma, depending on the number of credits you have passed. To get a postgraduate certificate you must have passed 60 credits, 120 credits for a diploma and 180 for a degree.

I started studying for a Masters but had to stop, can I use that learning now to continue my Masters?

Yes if it is recent learning. If you were working on a Masters programme in the last 5 years then that work can count towards a Masters degree. Once you have decided where you would like to continue on a Masters degree you should contact the university to talk about the best way to do that.

Can Masters credits from my PGDE or ITE programme contribute to a Masters?

Yes the credits at Level 11 from your PGDE or ITE degree can be used as a starting point for a Masters degree. The university that awarded your PGDE or degree usually links those credits into one their Masters programmes. If you want to study elsewhere then you can ask to transfer the credits into a programme in a different university.

Can I get credit for work I have done in school?

You can make a claim for prior learning about research and development you have undertaken in your classroom in the last five years. This is something you should ask about once you have decided which university you would like to study with.

Can I get credit for work I hold professional recognition for?

You can use the work you put forward for professional recognition to make a claim for prior learning.

I already have a Masters, what routes are available to me?

You can to develop your studies at doctoral level, or do further courses or modules at Masters level.

How much does Masters-level study cost?

Fees are usually charged per module or course and vary between universities. Each university provides information for students about how to fund further study. Some schools and local authorities offer some support towards fees.

What happens if I want to change universities?

Each university in the Scottish Framework for Masters in Education partnership recognises a set of common SCQF descriptors at Level 11 for 20 or 30 credits which you can transfer between programmes.

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