MSc Ethics of Education: philosophy, history and law


Program Description

How do we establish what is the best practice or policy? How do we assess and attune conflicting interests or claims? How do we decide in the case of strong differences of opinion and perception?

In education, upbringing and youth care there are a number of different interests to consider. These interests, of the children, their parents, the groups to which they belong (e.g. religious or ethnic minorities), and the interests of society are often difficult to define and they can often be at odds with each other.

Educational professionals need to have the competences to analyze and discuss moral, legal and policy-related issues. Some of them need to be extra-proficient in this area in order to be able to advise other professionals, managers, policymakers, politicians, and governments. The Ethics of Education Master's course provides the right learning environment to enable you to develop this extra expertise. You will acquire the relevant competencies and learn to apply these in the professional contexts of research, policymaking, and consultancy.

In the Master track Ethics of Education, you learn to analyze moral issues and discussions in order to design policies and procedures and to take decisions. Three examples:

  • Homosexuality and education
  • Circumcision
  • Rather be Deaf

Why study this program in Groningen?

According to our students: "Different disciplines are crossed in the lectures, internship and/or master's thesis: history, children's rights and philosophy." "You will learn to understand complex ethical issues in upbringing, education and youth care and to write concrete advice for professional practices."

  • Our master is provided by experts from Educational Sciences sections 'Philosophy and History' and 'Children's Rights';
  • Courses, subjects of the research projects and the internships are closely related to the research and expertise of our teaching staff.

Grant information: students from certain countries are eligible for the Orange Knowledge Programme grant.


Year 1

The program consists of three lines:

1) In the thematic line, you explore four domains in the courses:

  • Ethics - introduces you to theories on ethics and moral issues.
  • Children's rights - the best interests of the child must be paramount. But how do we determine what is in the best interest of the child?
  • Development of citizenship - There is much controversy over the nature of good citizenship and how education and training can contribute to its development.
  • Professionalization - scientification and professionalization influence working methods in education, in child and youth care, and impact how children and youth are perceived and treated.

2) In the professionalization line, you practice your professional skills and get acquainted with the practice.

  • Domain-Specific Skills - prepares you to work successfully as an academic professional in a wide range of educational institutions, in youth care and organizations.
  • Internship - familiarises you with the demands placed on professionals, introduces you to the professional field to which they apply their knowledge and understanding.

3) In the Research line you do research:

  • Master thesis - During your master thesis you learn to do research. Types of research besides empirical research are for instance: analysis of documents, case studies or video material, literature review, theoretical research (ethical, legal, philosophical), discourse analysis, historical research.


  • Introduction into Ethics (5 EC)
  • In the best interest of the child (1&2) (10 EC)
  • Domain-specific professional skills (workshops) (5 EC)
  • Research Thesis (20 EC)
  • Traineeship (5 EC)
  • Professionalization (5 EC)
  • Citizenship development and education (1&2) (10 EC)

Study abroad

  • Study abroad is optional

Admission requirements

Dutch diploma

Specific requirements More information
Previous education

Direct admission for students with a completed pre-master SPO (Stichting Pedagogisch Onderwijs).

Written request

Students with a

  • Related university degree (e.g. Psychology, Sociology, Philosophy, Law, Theology, Religious Sciences)
  • Bachelor's degree in Educational Sciences at a university other than the University of Groningen.

should submit an application for admission (with CV and certified copy of diploma and marks lists).

International diploma

Specific requirements More information
Knowledge minimum If you have any deficiencies in connection with Statistics and Research Methodology then we offer the possibility to take pre-master courses. The Admissions Committee will inform you if you would qualify for this.
Language test The official language of the program is English. Non-native English speakers must provide evidence of satisfactory results for one of the standard tests mentioned below. Official test results must be supplied. Please note, we do not accept Institutional TOEFL results as evidence of English proficiency.
Previous education Bachelor Pedagogical Sciences, Educational Sciences, Social Sciences or a similar relevant Bachelor's degree (for example, Youth Studies, Special Needs Education) and sufficient knowledge of methodology.
Written request

Write (type) a letter (no larger than one A4 sheet) explaining your motivation to follow this program. You should consider at least the following topics:

  • Your motivation to study at a Master's level;
  • Relevant study and/or work experience;
  • Areas of particular interest in this Master's program;
  • Career perspectives and in what way completing this Master's program would contribute to accomplish them.
Other admission requirements

Admission requirements: a completed University Bachelor's degree in Educational Sciences. A completed (related) degree from a University of Applied Sciences (HBO) plus a completed one-year transition program (SPO).

The Master is also particularly suitable for students with a Bachelor's degree in Sociology, Psychology, History, Law, Religious Sciences/Theology or Philosophy. These students are asked to apply to the admission board.

Language requirements

Exam Minimum score
C1 Advanced (Formerly CAE) C1
IELTS overall band 6.5
TOEFL paper-based 580
TOEFL computer-based 237
TOEFL internet-based 92

Registration procedure

To apply for this program, first, go to Studielink. After you have submitted your details in Studielink, you will receive an e-mail with the information necessary to activate your user account for OAS (the Online Application System).

Then, please upload the following documents in OAS:

  • A copy of the (Bachelor) diploma on the basis of which you ask admission to our program (both original language and translated in English);
  • A copy of your transcript of records (both original language and translated in English);
  • A copy of your results for one of the mentioned English tests (except for native speakers);
  • A copy of your passport or ID card;
  • A letter of motivation (see ' written request').

Application deadlines

Type of student Deadline Start course
Dutch students

01 December 2020

01 June 2021

01 December 2021

01 February 2021

01 September 2021

01 February 2022

EU/EEA students

01 December 2020

01 June 2021

01 December 2021

01 February 2021

01 September 2021

01 February 2022

non-EU/EEA students

01 November 2020

01 June 2021

01 November 2021

01 February 2021

01 September 2021

01 February 2022

Tuition fees

Nationality Year Fee Program form
EU/EEA 2020-2021 € 2143 full-time
non-EU/EEA 2020-2021 € 15000 full-time

Job prospects

The master track will prepare you for jobs at institutions and media in the field of education, training, childcare and child and youth welfare work. Two domains of jobs can be distinguished: Teaching & Training and Policy and Consultancy. Teaching & Training includes, for example, teaching at schools for higher professional education (HBO), but also schooling and training at institutions and companies. Policy & Consultancy includes consultative jobs, policy-making and communication and the theoretical underpinning and support of educational responsibilities both from private and governmental organizations.

Of course, the master track also prepares you to do academic research. You will be trained in academic reading, designing research, assessing scientific publications and academic writing.

Students will be familiarized with the educational field, career options, and career perspectives. They will practice professional skills, such as writing consultancy reports and policy decisions, teaching and training. The internship and the course Professional Skills are important parts of the master track.

Kinds of institutions where jobs can be found:

  • Public education associations
  • Advisory councils for education
  • Associations of universities
  • Governmental/state organizations
  • Child Welfare Council
  • Schools advisory services
  • Schools for higher professional education
  • Trades unions for education
  • EU
  • OECD
  • Educational organizations
  • Research institutions (such as the SCP)
  • Youth policy organizations (such as the NJI)
  • Centers for social development
  • Youth welfare councils
  • Scientific councils for government policy
  • Childcare organizations
  • Knowledge centers about education


Staff members

S. (Sanne) Parlevliet

Expertise: cultural transmission, (the history of) children’s literature, children’s literature, and national identification

Courses: In the interest of Child 1 and 2

Current research: I am interested in the history of children’s literature, literature in culture, cultural transmission and representation. My current research focuses on identity and identification in historical fiction for children and the reciprocity between the history of children’s literature and the history of education. I am also starting up research on the influence of reading fiction on attitudes and behavior towards minority groups.

L. (Linda) Greveling

Expertise: Educational innovation in the 20th century (i.e. Middenschoolproject), imaging of education in media sources, debate (political, educational and academic) on educational innovation

Courses: In the interest of Child 1 and 2

Current research: I am interested in educational innovation. My research focuses on the history of the experimental Dutch comprehensive schools (Middenscholen) and the imaging of these schools in media and politics.

P.C.M. (Nelleke) Bakker

Expertise: History of child-rearing and education, especially in the 20th century.

Courses: Professionalization-1

Current research: My research interests concern mainly processes of medicalization, pedagogization, and psychologization of child-rearing and education in the 20th century. It focuses particularly on the influence of the child sciences (child psychiatry, child psychology, and special education science) on child-rearing and education. Current research concerns the conceptualization of childhood behavioral problems in these child sciences (1950-1990), the history of adoption, of fostering, and of children’s care. Other special interests concern the history of early childhood education and of girls’ (co)education.

Recent publications cover all these fields.

C.J. (Josje) van der Linden

Expertise: a few keywords

Courses: Professional skills

Current research: My Ph.D. thesis was on 'ensuring meaningful lifelong learning opportunities for groups at risk'. My research includes the specific educational needs of groups at risk, such as women and youth in (post-)conflict areas, and the ways in which these needs can be met.

P.A. (Piet) van der Ploeg

Expertise: Citizenship Education (philosophy, history), Progressive Education (philosophy, history), Philosophy of Education (incl. ethics, and history).

Courses: Introduction Ethics, Citizenship Education 1 and 2

Current research: Currently working on different projects:

  • Teaching critical thinking (curriculum and didactics). An important aspect of 21st-century skills, citizenship education, and Bildung. One of the foci is the relationship between critical thinking and arts education (in co-operation with some musea in Rotterdam and Amsterdam).
  • The early 20th-century history of (thinking about and practicing) citizenship education in the US, Japan, and China. The very interesting background of recent policies and practices; helping us to reflect on contemporary theories, research, and discussions. *Ethics of parental involvement in education. Parental involvement is a “hot” issue in educational policy and school practice. Moral questions (f.i. regarding equality, privacy, parental autonomy, professional autonomy) are not always considered.
  • The early 20th-century history of reform and progressive education (Montessori, Dalton Plan, Project plan in the US, Japan, and China). The international history of educational innovations is not only interesting for its own sake, but also instructive for new attempts to reform education.
  • The history of the reception and interpretation of important philosophers of education (Dewey, Ballauff, and Ts’ai Yüan-p’ei). Thinking about education has always been a part of mainstream philosophy (since Plato). The same goes for 20th-century philosophy, in all traditions.

P.D. (Pieter) van Rees

Expertise: Citizenship Education, History of education and policy, Science and technology studies, Political and continental philosophy, Historical epistemology

Courses: Citizenship 1 and 2

Current research: I am currently working on a Ph.D. thesis on the development of scientific knowledge on citizenship education in the Netherlands and the United States. I analyze historical changes in scientific publications, educational policy, and schoolbooks, looking at the 20th and 21st centuries. Citizenship education involves contested concepts like citizenship and democracy. This makes citizenship education morally, educationally and politically complex, but also interesting. What kind of citizenship should we teach? Who should decide on this: parliament, schools, parents, children? Should we have a national curriculum or should we leave room for different forms of citizenship education? And what role should the educational sciences have in these debates? I trace how ‘citizenship’ was understood in different research traditions and how the knowledge developed in science related to broader societal and political conceptions of citizenship and education. By looking at the interaction between educational science, educational policy and educational practice in the past, my research provides a historical perspective on current debates on citizenship education.

A. (Anouk) Zuurmond

Expertise: Philosophy of Education

Courses: I teach Ethics and coordinate Citizenship and coordinate the traineeship and the research thesis.

Current research: I am currently researching the concept of ‘bildung’ in recent policy documents in the Netherlands and practical approaches in vocational education, focusing on the different notions of ‘bildung’ in education, and the inherent tensions that this concept brings about. I am also interested in the moral dimensions of education: dilemmas in the classroom, and issues of values and beliefs in the practice of teaching. Furthermore, I am fascinated by the role of philosophy of education in current educational debates and the reception of important philosophers of education in recent issues on teaching and schooling.

Last updated Nov 2019

About the School

The University of Groningen has a rich academic tradition dating back to 1614. From this tradition arose the first female student and the first female lecturer in the Netherlands, the first Dutch astr ... Read More

The University of Groningen has a rich academic tradition dating back to 1614. From this tradition arose the first female student and the first female lecturer in the Netherlands, the first Dutch astronaut and the first president of the European Central Bank. Geographically, the University is rooted in the Northern part of the Netherlands, a region very close to its heart. Read less
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