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Unit information: Education, Inequality and Social Justice in 2015/16

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Unit name Education, Inequality and Social Justice
Unit code EDUCM0022
Credit points 20
Level of study M/7
Teaching block(s) Academic Year (weeks 1 - 52)
Unit director Professor. Tikly
Open unit status Not open




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


The unit will explore the role of education in perpetuating and overcoming inequality and in promoting social justice. Topics covered will include the nature of and interaction between different kinds of inequalities in the global era including those based on social class, ethnicity and gender; theoretical perspectives on the relationship between education, inequality and social justice; evidence for the role of education in reproducing and overcoming inequalities; and, practical strategies that can be used by policy makers, leaders and practitioners for overcoming inequalities. The unit will draw on evidence and on case studies from the UK and from around the world including Europe, Africa, Asia and the Americas and from a range of organisational settings. Participants will be encouraged to apply insights gained to their own contexts. The aim of the unit is to develop critical understanding of educations role in reproducing and overcoming inequality and in promoting social justice in the UK and internationally.

The unit aims to:

  • develop critical understanding of education’s role in reproducing and overcoming inequalities in education including those based on social class, gender and ethnicity and in promoting social justice in the UK and internationally;
  • introduce relevant theoretical perspectives for understanding inequality and social justice;
  • apply these to a range of contemporary issues facing disadvantaged groups; and
  • draw out implications for policy and practice.

Intended learning outcomes

By the end of the unit students will demonstrate:

  • a conceptual understanding of different kinds of inequalities including those based on social class, ethnicity and gender, of the relationship between them;
  • an awareness of the impact of globalisation and of the historical, economic, political, social and cultural context on shaping inequalities in the UK and selected other regions and countries;
  • an understanding of social justice and other theoretical approaches towards understanding the relationship between education and inequality as a foundation on which to build further understanding;
  • awareness of different kinds of evidence that can be used to evaluate the role of education in perpetuating and overcoming inequalities based on social class, ethnicity and gender;
  • ability to independently source, manage and engage critically with a range of texts related to initiatives and practical strategies that have been used by policy makers, educational leaders and managers, the private sector, non-governmental organisations and classroom practitioners to overcome inequalities in education;
  • ability to build and clearly articulate orally and in a written assignment a critical analysis of education inequality and social justice in a specific context; and
  • ability to coherently and convincingly propose strategies for promoting social justice and reducing inequalities in education in a specific context.

Teaching details

The course will be delivered through a combination of teaching strategies, which may include whole group lectures and seminars, case studies, critical analysis of key readings, group discussions, class activities and student presentations.

Contact Hours

20 hours

Assessment Details

The Summative assessment for the unit will be on the basis of a 4,000 word assignment in which students will be required to develop the case studies used in their class presentations. This will demand that students apply key concepts and theoretical approaches to cases related (wherever possible) to their own practice with a view to developing clearer understanding of equality issues.

Reading and References

  • Fraser, N. (2008) Scales of justice: Re-imagining political space in a globalising world, (Cambridge, Polity Press).
  • Reay, D. (2006) The Zombie stalking English schools: social class and educational inequality, British Journal of Educational Studies, 54(3), 288 307.
  • Tikly, L. and Barrett, A.M. (2011) Social justice, Capabilities and the quality of education in low income countries. International Journal of Educational Development 31(1).
  • Tikly, L. and Dachi, H (2009) “Social justice in African education in the age of globalization. Handbook of Social Justice in Education.” Ayers,W. Quinn, T. and Stovall, D. (ed.s) Oxford, Routledge: 120-137.
  • Tikly, L., Haynes, J. Caballero, C. Hill, J. & Gillborn, D. (2006) Aiming High; Raising African Caribbean Achievement Project. London: DfES.
  • Unterhalter, E. (2007). Gender, Schooling and Global Social Justice. London, Routledge.