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Unit information: Education Policy in a Global Context in 2015/16

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Unit name Education Policy in a Global Context
Unit code EDUCM5202
Credit points 20
Level of study M/7
Teaching block(s) Academic Year (weeks 1 - 52)
Unit director Professor. Robertson
Open unit status Not open




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

Description including Unit Aims

The making and analysis of education policy has become more complex in the 21st Century as a result of political, economic and cultural changes to education. The rise of new levels (global and regional) from which the governing now takes place, the redistribution of the various activities that now constitute ‘education’ (including formal and informal provision), along with the rise of new tools and technologies for governing it, are now reshaping the education sector across the world. This unit examines these changes, and examines the theoretical and methodological approaches to be considered in studying education policy in a global context. We explore the role that critical policy analysis can play in opening up bigger social justice questions regarding the relation between education, power and the societal good.


  • To consider the changing relationship between education policies and practice and how these are shaped by global economic, political, social and cultural processes.
  • To consider different theoretical and methodological approaches to explaining the relationship between global processes and education policy formulation and implementation;
  • To consider the social justice implications of changing scales of governing of education; and
  • To source a range of academic and other resources through the use of on-line databases and search engines.

Intended Learning Outcomes

By end of unit students will demonstrate:

  • a secure foundational understanding of the relationship between education policies and practices and how these are shaped by economic, political, social and cultural processes at global, regional, national and sub-national levels;
  • engagement in critical reading of global education policies and studies of education policy processes and identify key explanatory concepts including policy networks, policy frames, policy entrepreneurs, competitive comparison and denationalisation
  • independently sourcing, managing and critically engaging with different sources of information on policy, including through the use of digital and web-based tools and search engines;
  • development of a distinctive personal voice in relation to the critical study of education policy; and
  • building and sustaining the development of a coherent and convincing argument regarding the relationship between global processes and players in shaping education policy in oral presentations and a written assignment.

Teaching Information

The course will be delivered using a combination of teaching strategies, such as whole group lectures and seminars, case studies, critical analysis of key readings, group discussions and student presentations.

Contact hours

20 hours

Assessment Information

Assessment will be in two parts:

Formative assessment:

Students will receive formative assessment on the quality and content of a 15 minute presentation to critique an education policy initiative that has been influenced by global processes, drawing on the theoretical and methodological concepts addressed in the course.

Summative assessment:

Students will be asked to choose an education policy or issue area concerning education and, using the conceptual resources presented in the course, develop a critical analysis of that policy or issue area in the form of a 4,000 word report.

Reading and References

  • Ball, S. (2008) New philanthropy, new networks and new governance in education, Political Studies, 56, pp. 747-65.
  • Dale and Robertson 2014, Global education policy, Chapter 9, in N. Yeates (ed) Global Social Policy, Bristol: Policy Press.
  • Grek, S. 2012 Governing by numbers: the PISA effect in Europe, Journal of Education Policy, 24 (1), pp. 23-37.
  • Robertson, S. (2012) Placing teachers in global governance agendas, Comparative Education Review, 56 (4), pp. 584-607.
  • Rizvi, F. and Lingard, R. (2010) Globalising education policy, London and New York: Routledge.
  • Robertson, S. & Dale, R. (2013) The social justice implications of privatisation in education governance frameworks: a relational account, Oxford Review of Education, 39 (4), 426-445.
  • Simons, M. et al. (2009) Re-reading education policy, Rotterdam: Sense.
  • Verger, A (2012) Framing and selling global education policy: the promotion of public private partnerships for education in low-income countries, Journal of Education Policy, 27 (1), pp. 109-130