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MA Youth & Community Practice - Research and Leadership

An innovative and inspiring course for experienced and qualified youth and community workers who want to develop their expertise and chart a course to leadership roles.

Five youth workers in discussion at a team meeting

Flexible so you can study around your job

Apply now for this course


Entry requirements

A relevant degree and practice experience are required

International students will be expected to meet the English language requirements of IELTS 6.0 or equivalent

UCAS code Apply to Marjon

UCAS institution code P63

Duration One year full-time or two years part-time

Any questions about postgraduate study at Marjon?

Contact Rachel Bailey-Lewis, our Student Recruitment Officer (Postgraduate).

Course Summary

This exciting MA provides the perfect learning platform for experienced and qualified youth and community work practitioners to develop expertise in their chosen area. You will be encouraged to critically analyse historical and contemporary evidence and theory to develop a sophisticated understanding of contemporary youth & community work practice and to actively develop new and innovative forms of practice. The programme offers a rich and culturally diverse teaching and learning environment informed by, and contributing to, international, national, and local perspective of youth and community work. You will undertake two projects where you will be able to develop and apply specialist knowledge in practice.

The teaching is delivered in four blocks, supported by e-learning. You will critically engage with the tensions and challenges of current practice, develop an enhanced knowledge of effective leadership approaches, critically evaluate responses to the changing policy context and develop enhanced skills in practitioner research. You will develop expertise in your chosen area through research in practice. Throughout, you will be encouraged to reflect on your role as a practitioner and question and critically evaluate your professional role.  You will develop the skills and knowledge needed to work alongside people in communities to initiate sustainable social change.

Why this course at Marjon?

Our teaching team are at the forefront of research in youth and community practice

Explore youth and community practice from both British and International perspectives

Specifically designed to support CPD for those qualified and experienced practitioners

Research focus enabling the development of expertise enhancing employability

Flexible delivery enabling study and work to be combined

Collaborative learning environment with Master Classes from British and International practitioners and academics

Modules for this course

1st Year

Theory & practice
You’ll explore the origins and histories of youth & community work practice, the contested aims and purposes and the key theoretical approaches. You will develop a critical understanding of the ideological and political determinants that have shaped practice.
Leadership & organisational contexts
You’ll explore leadership in youth & community practice; examine the implications of managerialism, the implications of integrated working, the limits of leadership and the role of entrepreneurship and social enterprise. You’ll gain an enhanced appreciation of community management practices and develop creative and participatory practice for leading change.
Research in practice
You’ll critically examine the key concepts associated with Practitioner Research; its purpose, the various approaches & methods and the role of values & reflexivity. You will develop a critical and contextual understanding of the inter-relationship between research and practice and an appreciation of how techniques of research are used to create and interpret knowledge in youth & community practice.
Professional project
In this practice-based module you’ll explore approaches to critical enquiry in practice, and select, justify and conduct an independent investigation into an aspect relevant to your context. You’ll be encouraged to show innovation and creativity in your methodology. You will develop expertise in an area relevant to contemporary youth & community practice and the confidence to engage with academic and professional communities in the dissemination of outcomes.
Specialist subject study
In this independent study module you’ll engage in practitioner research to develop and extend professional youth work practice. You will develop an in-depth knowledge in a specific subject relevant to your context through critical enquiry. You’ll be encouraged to show innovation and creativity in your methodology. You’ll develop a n enhanced ability to articulate a critical appreciation of the key conceptual debates which inform your area of study and extend these.
Research project
Supported by your supervisor, you’ll conduct a piece of original research using a practitioner research approach in in your chosen topic relevant to youth & community work practice. You will design, complete and present your research culminating with a presentation at the end of programme conference.

This course is perfect if you’re curious about

Is youth and community practice fit for purpose in the 21st century?

Is the outcomes agenda the death knell for youth and community practice?

Should youth and community practice be state-governed or community-driven?

Is participatory practice a thing of the past?

Has the individualisation agenda destroyed any hope of associational practice?

What forms of youth and community work practice can support social justice in today’s context?

What might you become?

The MA Youth & Community Practice - Research & Leadership offers an in-depth look at the profession in its current state, encouraging you to identify new strategies which can bring about change in the future.

This MA is the pathway to exciting, meaningful, and challenging professional development for professional youth and community workers and enhances employability through the development of expertise.

How you’ll be taught and assessed?

How will you be taught?

A combination of on-campus teaching (lectures / seminar work), twilight group tutorials (including virtual attendance for those at distance) and tutor-supported independent study. On campus teaching will be delivered via 4 weekend blocks (Fri day pm to Sunday lunchtime). 

How will you be assessed?

Via essays, presentations, project reports, self-assessment, dissertation and visual media such as posters and websites.

Tracy Hayes, lecturer at Plymouth Marjon University

Dr Tracy Ann Hayes

Course leader

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Tracy is excited to be leading this innovative and collaborative programme that supports the development of youth and community professionals across the south-west region.

Fees and funding

Fees UK students: £8,000 per annum

Fees for International students: £14,500 per annum

This fee covers your tuition and access to course-specific equipment and facilities, as well associated services including access to the library, study skills support, IT support, student support and wellbeing services and membership of the Student Union. There may be additional costs by course.

Funding available for this course

Our Student Funding Advisors offer confidential and impartial advice about your funding options.

Learn more


Dr Tracy Ann Hayes

Senior Lecturer & Post Graduate Research Coordinator for the School of Education, Programme Lead for Youth & Community

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Tracy joined Plymouth Marjon University in September 2022, from the University of Cumbria, where she lived and worked for 10 years. Prior to this, she was based in the Midlands, where she was employed as training manager for an association of youth clubs. Her doctoral research creatively explored the relationship that young people have with the natural environment. She has published for public, practitioner and academic audiences, including BERA (British Educational Research Association) and IOL (Institute of Outdoor Learning). Tracy has a diverse range of practical and professional experiences through working in and researching with the voluntary and statutory sectors. She loves walking, gardening, reading – and playing outdoors. 

Professor Jon Ord


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Jon worked for 20 years as a youth worker before joining Marjon in 2003. He brings his knowledge and commitment to youth work to his teaching and research. He is particularly interested in the impact of policy on practice as well as theory and practice of youth and community work, as well as outdoor education. In 2018 Jon led a major research project into the value and impact of Youth Work on the lives of young people in Europe.

Robert Reynolds

Associate Lecturer

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I have been a practicing youth and community worker for 25 years. I started my youth work career as a volunteer and over the years worked my way up to full professional practice and management. 

I spent most of my time working in the Voluntary/Community Sector where I developed a deep understanding of the challenges and opportunities that the sector, successfully navigating the continually changing professional landscape.

My various roles required me to develop skills in project management, staff management and development, professional supervision, funding management, and partnership working.

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