Education in Virtual Worlds

Image of girl walking through virtual world

About this course

  • Entry year: 2014/15
  • Course code: X19C62
  • Applications: University
  • Level: Postgraduate
  • Department: Education
  • Duration: Two years, starts September
  • Delivery: Part time, online distance learning
  • Programme leader: Professor Liz Falconer
  • Key fact: You can shorten or lengthen the duration of study, or just take individual modules as part of your Continuing Professional Development.


This is a flexible programme of study, which will be taught entirely online in the virtual world Second Life. It enables educators to explore the potential of virtual worlds to enhance learning.

'Virtual worlds' (VWs) is the term used to describe online, 3D environments that enable users to interact with the environment and each other through the use of avatars. Virtual worlds now contain many rich and diverse environments, created by users from around the world. They allow users to explore environments and experiences in a way that would be impossible in the real world, but in a way that enhances rather than replaces real world experience. For the purposes of education and training the ability to use these virtual simulations as a teaching tool is proving to have great potential.

This course, or individual modules, will appeal to all those involved in, interested in or affected by developments in education in VWs. These include teachers, lecturers, instructional designers, research students, industry trainers and IT developers. The aspirations of potential students would range from specific needs for supporting their learners in virtual worlds, through to those with a research interest in the value of these environments for education.

This course offers access to learning and professional development opportunities in education technologies by using the online environment that's being studied. There is no need to travel to undertake the study as studying in a virtual world enables socialisation in a way that traditional paper and online distance learning courses cannot. Students will meet, collaborate, socialise and investigate in groups that can interact on a daily basis, without needing to physically attend the university.

Find out more about the Education Innovation Centre at UWE.

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The course structure consists of eight x 15 credit modules and one 60 credit dissertation or extended project. Students will be able to register for the full MA or undertake individual modules as part of their Continuing Professional Development, with or without assessment. Interim awards of a Postgraduate Certificate or Postgraduate Diploma may be awarded for completion of certain elements of the programme.

The eight core modules are:

  • Orientation in Virtual Worlds
  • Designing Curricula in Virtual Worlds
  • Simulations and Role Play
  • Scripting and Building Learning Environments
  • Research Methods in Virtual Worlds
  • The Sociology of the Metaverse
  • Artificial Intelligence, Bots and Non-player Characters
  • The Philosophy of Education in Virtual Worlds


  • Dissertation or extended project (60 credit option for completion of the MA)

Learning and teaching

Students will not be on campus for their studies, but will:

  • meet in the virtual world Second Life for tutorials, lectures, workshops, investigations, experiments, practical projects, collaboration, socialisation and research
  • explore and investigate a range of other virtual worlds
  • be supported synchronously and asynchronously through the university's Blackboard Virual Learning Environment (VLE)
  • be facilitated through the use of a range of video conferencing, virtual classroom and social networking technologies

See more details see our full glossary of learning and teaching terms.

Study time

For each 15 credit module students will spend three hours per week over 12 weeks in guided tutorials and workshops with tutors in-world.

Students will also have contact with tutors in allotted tutorials across the programme as a whole, which will amount to an average of half an hour per week.

Total staff contact hours for a module will therefore be a minimum of 42 hours. In addition there will be self-study time (66 hours) and assessment (42 hours), equating to a total of 150 hours of student effort to complete each 15 credit module.


Assessment methods will consist of a range of approaches, including:

  • Developing simulations
  • Reflective logs
  • Critical reviews
  • Literature reviews
  • Building and developing learning environments
  • "Travel" blogs
  • Presenting a paper at a virtual world conference

For more detail see our full glossary of assessment terms

Special Features

Study facilities

Student support

All students on the programme will be part of a virtual support community that will be facilitated by core programme team members. Every week of study will have half an hour set aside for support activities, including whole group sessions, break-out groups for particular issues or some one-to-one meetings with programme tutors.

Careers/further study

This course is aimed at career development and enhancement rather than provision of graduates who will enter the job market for the first time. However, the evidence of VW use strongly suggests that teachers, instructors, instructional designers and researchers will increasingly be expected to develop education and educational theory that uses immersive technologies.

This course will enable all students to be prepared for employability in relation to skills in technology.

Find out how the MA Education in Virtual worlds helped Associate Law Professor Clare to continue in her teaching career after losing her voice.

Another student success is that of Martin Biron, who tutors in the Further Education College of North West London. His vision to support vocational education through the development of a virtual beauty training salon is worth a mention.


Fee information

More information on fees can be found on our tuition fees pages.

For funding options, please see our funding and scholarships information.

New fee discounts announced for 2014/15!

Apply for the MA or any individual modules BEFORE 31st AUGUST 2014 and receive a 40% discount against the standard fees. This makes fees for the whole MA £3600 spread over 2 years. Each taught module (i.e. not the dissertation or extended project modules) is £300 with assessment or £150 without assessment. If you have any questions just email us on


Entry requirements

Entry to the MA, PG Diploma and PG Certificate will be available to candidates:

  • with a first degree in an appropriate subject, such as education, educational philosophy/sociology, instructional design, technology enhanced learning, games technology and artificial intelligence, or
  • with a first degree and experience in an appropriate area of practice, such as education, training, games technology and VW development, or
  • without a first degree, but with appropriate prior learning and/or experience (will be assessed and managed through the university's current accreditation of prior learning/experience processes, including the Shell Award Framework)

All prospective candidates will receive guidance prior to registration on the necessary proficiency in VWs to enable them to take part in the programme.

How to apply

To apply for the MA please use the online application form in the 'next steps' box in the right hand column.

For all other enquiries, including any questions about undertaking individual modules as Continuing Professional Development or interim awards, please contact

Or visit our website for more details.

For further information

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