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Unit information: Comparative Research in 2015/16

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Unit name Comparative Research
Unit code EDUCD0092
Credit points 20
Level of study D/8
Teaching block(s) Academic Year (weeks 1 - 52)
Unit director Professor. Crossley
Open unit status Not open

Understanding Educational Research


Research Methods in Learning, Leadership & Policy

School/department School of Education
Faculty Faculty of Social Sciences and Law

Description including Unit Aims

Much can be learned from the experience of other education systems, but disciplined and systematic comparative research also draws attention to the dilemmas of the transfer of educational policy and practice from one context to another. Drawing upon detailed analyses of contemporary comparative and international studies, and upon research projects carried out within the Graduate School of Education, this unit examines how we may best learn from, and apply, comparative perspectives in both our professional work and research and scholarship. The unit focuses upon the potential and pitfalls of education policy transfer, upon issues relating to the quality of education, upon the place of context and culture, and upon the importance of forging strong linkages between educational research, and policy and practice.


  • Develop critically informed expertise in the comparative analysis of education systems.
  • Deepen participants knowledge and understanding of the educational implications and challenges generated by increasingly rapid international policy transfer.
  • Demonstrate the significance of socio-cultural context in educational research and development with specific reference to the analysis of tensions between local and international agendas.
  • Demonstrate how the above issues impact upon initiatives designed to improve the quality of education in a variety of different contexts world-wide.

Intended Learning Outcomes

At the end of the unit, participants will be able to:

  • Understand and actively participate in disciplined comparative and international research in education
  • Apply comparative perspectives in the advancement of educational research and development relating especially to the educational management and policy arena.
  • Situate contemporary studies of education within an intellectual framework that deals with the forces of globalisation, while simultaneously recognising the significance of post-modern and post-colonial analyses that highlight the influence of culture and context.

Teaching Information

Participants will be expected to play an active role in the unit, and will need to read and prepare both before and during the taught element of the course. A pre-reading pack must be studied in depth before the unit, and some work in the evenings will be required between the taught sessions. Teaching and learning will be carried out through a combination of structured lectures, seminars, workshops and group discussions. Participants will also be expected to make short presentations or to lead discussion in a group debate.

Assessment Information

Completion of a 4,000 word assignment that develops themes and issues that emerges during the group debate on Dilemmas of Education Policy Transfer. All assignments will be expected to draw upon unit materials and to explore relevant examples of theory, policy or practice. Where appropriate, participants will be encouraged to relate their analysis to their own professional experience. The depth of critical analysis and originality is especially important. Specific assignments will be developed during individual consultations with the tutor.

Reading and References

  • Arnove, R F and Torres, C A (Eds) (2003) Comparative Education: The Dialectic of the Global and the Local. Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers Inc (2nd edition)
  • Bray, M, Adamson, B & Mason, M (Eds) (2007) Comparative Education Research Approaches and Methods, Hong Kong: University of Hong Kong Comparative Education Research Centre/Springer
  • Crossley, M and Watson, K (2003) Comparative and International Research in Education: Globalisation, Context and Difference, London & New York: Routledge Falmer
  • Crossley, M and Tikly, L (2004) (Eds) Postcolonialism and Comparative Education. Special Issue of Comparative Education 40(2)
  • Hayhoe, R and Pan, J (Eds) (2001) Knowledge Across Cultures: A Contribution to Dialogue Among Civilizations. Hong Kong: University of Hong Kong, Comparative Education Research Centre
  • Jones, P (Ed) (2007) Global Governance, Social Policy and Multilateral Education, Special Issue of Comparative Education 43(3)