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Unit information: International Development, Comparative Research and Education in 2015/16

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Unit name International Development, Comparative Research and Education
Unit code EDUCM0050
Credit points 20
Level of study M/7
Teaching block(s) Academic Year (weeks 1 - 52)
Unit director Professor. Crossley
Open unit status Not open




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

Description including Unit Aims

This unit examines the role of education in international development and the influence of development agendas on education in diverse low and middle income contexts. It will look at the theoretical ideas and main international actors that have driven international development agendas from the emergence of the UN following the second World War up to contemporary global developments. This will include critical engagement with human capital theory and related economics-based concepts of development, the Rights-based approach, the Capabilities Approach and the notion of ‘sustainable development’. Specific attention will be given to ongoing research projects, to illustrative case studies and to participants’ own professional experience worldwide. In the light of this, the unit focuses upon ways in which comparative and international research in education can contribute to both the critique and improvement of educational policies – and to enhanced processes of international development cooperation. In doing this, a case is made for greater contextual and cultural sensitivity in both educational research and educational development world-wide.

The units aims are to:

  • introduce key development theories and their deployment within international and national policy agendas in education;
  • critically analyse the cross-national transfer of educational ideas, research methodologies, policies and practices;
  • identify the main international actors influencing education policy in low and middle income countries;
  • conduct critical in-depth case study reviews of selected examples of international and comparative research and development interventions in education; and
  • reflect critically on the implications of development theories and the sensibilities of comparative research for participants’ own professional roles and contexts.

Intended Learning Outcomes

By end of unit students will demonstrate:

  • a firm foundation of knowledge and understanding of development theories and their implications for education, on which to build further knowledge and professional practice;
  • independent sourcing and management of different sources of information concerned with education and development, including through the use of digital and web-based tools and search engines;
  • critical engagement with international and comparative research on education;
  • development of a personal voice for critically analysing education policy, practice and research; and
  • the ability to develop a coherent and convincing oral and written arguments relating education to development.

Teaching Information

The unit will be taught through a combination of methods, including whole group lectures, seminars, visiting speakers, case studies, crtical reviews of key readings, video analysis, role play and group presentations. Participants will be encouraged to draw upon, share and reflect their own professional and personal expertise and experience of education and development.

Contact hours

20 hours

Assessment Information

Formative assessment:

  • 1,000 word overview of one development theory and its influence within a specific educational setting or context.
  • Small group collaborative presentation, analyzing an international development initiative related to education.

Summative assessment:

A 4,000 word assignment which will assess students’ critical understanding of the literature and their ability to apply the concepts and theories explored to their own professional practice, a specific educational initiative or setting.

Reading and References

  • Crossley, M & Watson, K (2003) Comparative and International Research in Education: Globalisation, Context and Difference, London & New York: Routledge Falmer.
  • King, K., McGrath, S. & Palmer, R. (ed.s) (2014) Special Section on Education, skills and the post-2015 development landscapes, International Journal of Educational Development 39:1-77.
  • McCowan, T. & Unterhalter, E. (ed.s) (2014) Education and International Development: An Introduction, London: Bloomsbury.
  • Robertson, S. Novelli, M., Dale, R., Tikly, L., Dachi, H. & Alphonce, N. (2007) Globalisation, Education and Development: Ideas, Actors and Dynamics, London: DFID.
  • Tikly, L. & Barrett. A.M. (ed.s) (2013) Education Quality and Social Justice in the Global South: Challenges for policy, practice and research, London: Routledge.