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Study abroad : Subject Guides

What are education degree specialisations?

Discover what sort of specialisations are available when you study an education degree, what you're likely to study and what sort of career paths you could follow.

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When people speak about studying education, it can sometimes be fairly one-dimensional. The prevailing opinion is that studying for an education degree equips you to teach in a classroom and that’s it. Job done. However, there is so much more to studying a qualification in education than meets the eye, including a number of specialisations and related subject areas to explore. In this guide, we investigate some of the more prominent areas of specialisation in education, explore the question of why study education, what you can study and what fields you may end up working in as a result.


Why study education?


Education plays an essential role in the nurturing and development of future generations, as well as equipping people with skills that can make a material difference in their life. Studying education is often considered one of the most rewarding career paths in that the impact you can make on people’s lives is readily apparent. At its heart, education is a service-oriented field that seeks to positively contribute to individuals and society.


Studying education also provides you with a variable and diverse curriculum that will expose you to numerous academic disciplines and areas of specialisation.  When you study an education degree it is truly interdisciplinary, with the aim of enriching your general knowledge and fine-tuning your key teaching skills.


In many cases, the skills that you learn in an education degree can be transposed and transferred to a variety of settings.  You also have the option of pursuing a degree at various levels from a bachelor’s to a PhD degree.


See how you can best prepare for undergraduate and postgraduate study, as well as why you should consider studying education at university. Let’s now take a look at some of the specialisations in education.


Studying primary and secondary education


One of the more well-known areas of specialisation in education is that of primary and secondary education. Primary education generally focuses on the educational and learning needs of children from a pre-school to primary school level.  You will focus on areas such as:


  • Curriculum studies and development
  • Classroom practice
  • Childcare and well-being
  • Pedagogy
  • Foundational subjects
  • Teaching with technology
  • Learning styles
  • Language


It is likely that if you choose to pursue a degree in primary education there will be a significant practical element to your course. You will be involved in both observing classes and actively teaching, which may be examined. Remember that being a primary educator requires that you can communicate and interact effectively with young children.


Specialising in secondary education will see you looking after the learning needs of students in a high school setting. Although you may be fearful of walking into a room full of teenagers, teaching at this level can be exciting as well as demanding. You will become a subject matter expert and develop teaching practice and techniques that can adequately prepare students for examinations and possibly entering the world of higher education themselves. In a secondary education specialisation, you’ll learn topics such as:


  • Behaviour management
  • Learner assessments
  • Advanced pedagogy
  • Project management
  • Digital literacy
  • Educational technology
  • Subject specialisation (e.g. maths)
  • Teaching strategy


Explore some of the top universities for degrees in education in the UK:



Studying special education


Choosing to focus on special education sees you work with children and learners with special educational needs. You will learn how to develop, mentor and facilitate learners on their academic journey and have an intimate understanding of their requirements.


Examples of the type of needs you will deal with include autism, dyslexia, communication challenges, and physical disabilities. You will develop the skills to assess individual learners and design an education plan that suits them.


Taking up a role as a special education teacher or facilitator can make a significant difference in contributing to an inclusive and diverse society. You also learn essential skills that will stand you in good stead in various fields. Some of the topics that you may focus on during the course of your degree include:


  • Academic and professional skills
  • Special education research
  • Principles of inclusion
  • Social justice
  • Special learning needs
  • Special education policy
  • Communication and collaboration


The course will involve a number of specialised practical placements so that you can develop the necessary skills under close supervision and in collaboration with other specialists, such as occupational therapists.


Discover some of the institutions offering education degrees in Australia:



Studying vocational and career education


Vocational and career education is geared towards developing learners for particular skills-based careers.  As a vocational educator, you will need to develop or possess the practical skills required for particular fields including:


  • Construction
  • Hospitality and tourism
  • Information technology
  • Manufacturing
  • Automotive technology
  • Agriculture
  • Architecture


Having these abilities in combination with a teaching qualification is necessary in order to supervise, guide and demonstrate to students the various competencies they have to master.


You will have to design and adapt your classroom practice and teaching methods to suit the subject matter you’re teaching. This is especially true of practical demonstrations and assessments. In some cases, if you have studied or worked in a particular field, you can use this experience in combination with a degree in education to become a vocational teacher.


Don’t miss out on exploring some of the universities offering education degrees in Canada:



Studying educational technology


With the speed of technological advancement, the integration of technology into the classroom and curriculum is certainly not a surprise. The application of the technology in educational settings is both wide and varied, from mobile devices to smartboards. It is often designed in such a way as to address particular educational needs or to enhance learning while always considering teaching and learning outcomes. Studying educational technology, you’ll learn about:


  • Digital pedagogy
  • Online learning
  • Blended learning strategies
  • Instructional design
  • Technical implementation
  • Learning management systems
  • Online assessment
  • Digitally connected classroom practice
  • Data analytics
  • Learning science
  • Mobile technology for learning


As a digital education specialist, you will be expected to understand the intricacies of deploying appropriate technology and strategies at various levels of education, from primary to higher education. You could become a curriculum development expert in the field or a digital education lead in an organisation.


It could be useful to explore our guide to online learning models and the top online courses and universities in the world.


What career options will I have after studying education?


Studying education and specialising in a particular field can open up various career opportunities apart from classroom teaching. You will develop competencies that are valued by employers in a number of fields and your educational grounding can allow you to shift into different areas. Some of the sectors or fields that you may find yourself working in include:


  • Social work
  • Educational psychology
  • Tutoring
  • Academia
  • Government and civil service
  • Project management
  • Professional development
  • Training
  • Educational policy
  • Educational management


Education could also open up the doors to further travel, for example in the case of teaching overseas or staying to work in the country you have chosen to study abroad in.


As you can see education specialisations give you the chance to explore and get to grips with the various and wide-ranging facets of education. They also provide a pathway to an exciting and rewarding career.  Find out more about how you can kick off your study abroad journey on the right foot with our top application tips and our ultimate study abroad checklist.



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