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EducationMaster's and PhD degree programmesPedagogical SciencesEthics of Education: philosophy, history and law
Header image Ethics of Education: philosophy, history and law

Ethics of Education: philosophy, history and law

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 analyse 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, policy makers, 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 competences and learn to apply these in the professional contexts of research, policy making and consultancy.

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

Facts & Figures
MSc in Pedagogical Sciences
Course type
12 months (60 ECTS)
Croho code
Language of instruction
February, September
Behavioural and Social Sciences
Why study this programme 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 - see for more information


The programme 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 reviewing, theoretical research (ethical, legal, philosophical), discourse analysis, historical research.

Find detailed descriptions of the courses mentioned above via:

CoursesCourse Catalog >1234
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)


In the course catalog, scroll down for the overview of the courses of this master, click on a course for more information about the content, the learning objective, language, teacher.

Study abroad

  • Study abroad is optional
Entry requirements

Admission requirements

Specific requirementsMore 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) via

other admission requirements

For information about the admission procedure, please contact the admission committee: toelatingscommisie.pedok

Registration procedure

For the application procedure see: or contact admission

For more information about the content of the tracks, please contact the study advisors or the coordinators of the tracks see 'More information?

Transfer options

Study programmeOrganizationTransition
All Universities of applied sciences

Via a pre-master with a maximum of 60 EC

More information:

Zie 'Toelatingseisen, vooropleiding' / see 'Admission requirements, previous education'

Study programmeOrganizationTransition
All Research universities

Via a pre-master with a maximum of 60 EC

Additional requirements:
  • written request
Academic training primary school teacherAll Research universities

Additional requirements

Additional requirements:
  • written request
Study programmeOrganizationTransition
Pedagogical SciencesUniversity of GroningenNo additional requirements

Admission requirements

Specific requirementsMore 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. For more information have a look at the SPO site about this premaster:

language test

The official language of the programme 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 (e.g. Youth Studies, Special Needs Education etc.) and sufficient knowledge of methodology.

reference letter


written request

Write (type) a letter (no larger than one A4 sheet) explaining your motivation to follow this programme. 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 programme;
  • Career perspectives and in what way completing this Master's programme would contribute to accomplish them.

Please upload the letter in OAS. (See the section 'Registration procedure' below). .

other admission requirements

Admissiong 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 programme (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

ExamMinimum score
C1 Advanced (formerly CAE)C1
IELTS overall band6.5
TOEFL paper based580
TOEFL computer based237
TOEFL internet based92

Registration procedure

To apply for this programme, 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).
See the application procedure for some guidance in OAS.

Then, please upload the following documents in OAS:

* a copy of the (Bachelor) diploma on the basis of which you ask admission to our programme (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 (exc. for native speakers)
* a copy of your passport or ID card
* a letter of motivation (see ' written request')

If you have any doubts about your application, please contact us at: bss.msc.admission

Application deadlines

Type of studentDeadlineStart course
Dutch students01 December 201901 February 2020
01 May 202001 September 2020
01 December 202001 February 2021
EU/EEA students01 December 201901 February 2020
01 May 202001 September 2020
01 December 202001 February 2021
non-EU/EEA students01 November 201901 February 2020
01 May 202001 September 2020
01 November 202001 February 2021
Tuition fees
NationalityYearFeeProgramme form
EU/EEA2019-2020€ 2083full-time
non-EU/EEA2019-2020€ 14650full-time
EU/EEA2020-2021€ 2143full-time
non-EU/EEA2020-2021€ 15000full-time

Practical information for:

After your studies

Job prospects

The master track will prepare you for jobs at institutions and media in the field of education, training, child care 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)
  • Centres for social development
  • Youth welfare councils
  • Scientific councils for government policy
  • Child care organizations
  • Knowledge centres 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 the 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 behaviour 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 the 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 key words
Courses: Professional skills
Current research: My PhD 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). 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. 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 etc. 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 (f.i. 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. Much to learn ...

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 PhD 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 century. 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
E xpertise: 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 concepts 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.

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If you want to know more about the programme Ethics of Education: philosophy, history and law, please contact:

  • Academic Advisor Pedagogical Sciences (about the programme, studying)
    Email: studyadvice.peduc
  • Student Service Desk (appointment academic advisor & more, see website (onderwijsbalie))
    Telephone: +31 (5)0 363 6301
  • Admission Office (for students with a non-Dutch diploma)
    Email: -
    Telephone: +31-(0)50 363 8976
  • Dr. Anouk Zuurmond (Coordinator master programme)
    Email: a.zuurmond
    Telephone: +31 (0)50 363 8041
						Testimonial of student Eline van der Raad

    During my internship at a primary school I found out that the communication between parents and teachers is often poor.

    – student Eline van der Raad
    Read more

    After finishing the 'Academic Pabo', I felt a little too young to start working immediately. I wanted to learn more before I would start to teach others.

						Testimonial of student Jan Jaap Zijlstra

    "Then I heard about the Master's programme Ethics of Education. In this programme, my questions are answered."

    – student Jan Jaap Zijlstra
    Read more

    Before I started this Master's degree programme, I followed the Bachelor's degree programme in Pedagogical Sciences, as well as the primary school teacher training. In those programmes, I ran into a lot of 'why' questions, which were not addressed. Then I heard about the Master's programme in Ethics of Education. In this programme, my questions are answered.

						Testimonial of student Rosa María Guttiérez

    I really like the course unit 'Citizenship of Education', which looks at how education influences our democratic societies and how or why education should be responsible or not.

    – student Rosa María Guttiérez
    Read more

    My name is Rosa María Guttiérez. I am Mexican and I am 20 years old. I am following the Master's track 'Ethics of Education: Philosophy, History and Law'. Before starting this programme, I gained a Bachelor's degree in Pedagogy in Mexico City. Before studying Pedagogy, I started a programme in International Relations and Political Science, but I didn't finish it. I was looking for a Master's programme that would enable me to combine my interest in politics with my background in education.

						Testimonial of alumnus Laura Hoogcarspel

    Laura manages and coaches pedagogical staff members at preschool and early childhood education day care centres

    – alumnus Laura Hoogcarspel
    Read more

    Since September 2017, I have worked as preschool and early childhood education (VVE) coordinator for six child daycare centres in Haarlem, where I manage and coach about twenty pedagogical staff members. Between my graduation and my current job, I gained experience as manager in an institute for homework support.


The three lines of the master's track

The programme consists of three lines:

1) a themacial line
2) a professionalisation line, and
3) a research line

What are these lines about?

1) The th ematical line

You will explore four different domains:

  • Ethics

In the introduction to ethics, you are introduced to theories on ethics and moral issues. You learn to conduct ethical analyses, moral assessments and to make and justify moral decisions. You do this based on concrete case studies, such as discussions on the right to have children, parental rights versus professional ethics and the right to privacy. You will be equipped, as a future professional, to give substantiated advice on complex situations in education, child raising or in youth care. You learn the basics, preparing you for the other subjects, the internship and the master thesis.

  • Children’s rights

The guiding principle in decision making regarding children, and in discussions on child raising, child and youth care and education, is that the best interests of the child must be paramount. But how do we determine what is in the best interest of the child when considering dilemmas such as conflictual divorce, medical care, radicalisation, youth criminality … How do we weigh advantages and disadvantages, how do we overcome impasses, how do we reach the ultimate conclusions, and do we legitimise policy and decisions?

  • Development of citizenship

A core function of child raising and education, is to bring up children to be citizens. Citizenship education has become explicitly mandatory in education and it seems that legislation will become even tighter. There is much controversy as to the nature of good citizenship and how child raising, and education may contribute to its development. What is the nature of this discussion, what is the current state of knowledge and how does this influence both policy and practice? And to what extent is it desirable for the government to interfere with the kind of citizenship schools should stimulate.

  • Professionalisation

Scientification and professionalisation influence working methods in education, in child and youth care, and impact how children and youth are perceived and treated. What are the advantages and what are the risks? What can professionals do to reduce such risks? How can policy contribute to this? In this subject you mainly learn to reason about the influence of professionalisation and scientification on education, child raising and youth care. The emphasis lies on (bio)medicine, child psychology and neuroscience.

2) The professionalisation line

You practice your professional skills and are introduced to the practice in which you will work later on as a professional.

  • Domain Specific Skills

This subject prepares you to work successfully as an academic professional in a wide range of educational institutions, in youth care and organisations.
Two aspects receive particular attention: (1) you practice your didactical skills, enabling you to work as a teacher in higher education and as a trainer in supporting organisations; (2) you practice skills that prepare you to function as a (policy) advisor, by learning to analyse policy and practices, practicing how to draw up an advisory report in an education/youth care/child raising setting and how to professionally communicate about this.

  • Internship

The internship familiarises you with the demands placed on professionals, and you are introduced to the professional field to which they apply their knowledge and understanding. The internship takes place at an institution or an organisation working in the fields of education, youth care or child raising. During the internship you perform activities that introduce you to the work activities of professionals, to working relationships between professionals, the day-to-day practice within professional organisations, such as the SLO (the national centre for curriculum development), local and provincial government, ROCs, Primary and Secondary schools, MBO Council (Dutch Vocational Education and Training Council), Defence for Children International, etcetera.

3) The research line

  • Master thesis

During your master thesis you learn to do research. You can choose among different kinds of research, relevant to future work, such as educational consultant, policy advisor, roles in youth care or education, positions in institutions such as provincial government, or academic researcher. Types of research besides empirical research are for instance: analysis of documents, case studies or video material, literature reviewing, theoretical research (ethical, legal, philosophical), discourse analysis, historical research.

Read more
Student profile


  • are looking for a 'think master' where the link with practice is strong
  • want to learn to think at a meta-level about problems and discussions in education, education and youth care
  • have an analytical slant
  • like to look at complex issues in, for example, education, youth care and education
  • dare to make decisions in complex situations
  • want to develop the ability to weigh up issues in the field of tension between the rights of children, parents, and professionals while taking these rights into account