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Unit information: Education and Social Change in 2020/21

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Unit name Education and Social Change
Unit code EDUC10002
Credit points 20
Level of study C/4
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 1 (weeks 1 - 12)
Unit director Dr. Julia Paulson
Open unit status Not open




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

Description including Unit Aims

This unit introduces students to:

  • the main disciplines which shape education, including sociology, philosophy, economics, history and psychology, and the accounts they give of the relationships between education and social change;
  • the structures of formal education in the UK and the different conceptions of the value and purposes of education they represent;
  • how key stakeholders, such as policymakers, professional associations, teacher unions and employer bodies, have influenced the ways in which education is organised, for example, by raising the school leaving age, the introduction of a National Curriculum, or Academies;
  • the potential of education to create a more just and socially cohesive society, and what structural, organisational, and individual barriers help or hinder the realisation of this vision;
  • the role of educational theory and research in identifying and analysing critical educational changes, using concepts such as, marketisation, widening participation, social justice, social inclusion.

Using education in the UK and its regions as the critical case, the aims of the unit are to enable students to:

  • describe the institutional arrangements that make up a formal education system;
  • recognise how and why such arrangements vary over time and with what consequences for whom?;
  • develop a critical understanding of how the different disciplines of education account for educational challenges and social change;
  • understand some of the key theoretical perspectives that have shaped education as a multi-disciplinary and applied field, identifying salient differences in how they conceptualise values, purposes and outcomes in education.

Intended Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of this unit students will be able to:

  1. describe the main ways in which formal education in the UK is organised and explain key factors that have shaped current arrangements;
  2. recognise why and how education systems adjust in the light of wider social change and the different ways in which disciplinary traditions understand these processes;
  3. review a range of research studies on a given theme, drawing them into a coherent argument.

Teaching Information

Classes will involve a combination of lectures, class discussion, investigative activities and group presentations. Students will be expected to engage with readings and participate on a weekly basis.

Assessment Information

Formative assessment : a short presentation jointly researched topic

Summative assessment: a 2,000 word essay (ILO 1-3)

Reading and References

Allen, R. and Burgess, S. (2010) The Future of Competition and Accountability in Education. London 2020 Public Services Trust.

Ball, S. (2013) The Education Debate (2nd Edition). Bristol: Policy Press.

Benn, C. and Chitty, C. (1996) Thirty Years On: Is Comprehensive Education Alive and Well or Struggling to Survive? London: David Fulton.

Biesta, G. (2009) Good Education in An Age of Measurement: On the Need to Reconnect with the Question of Purpose in Education. Educational Assessment, Evaluation and Accountability, 21:1, pp. 33-46.

Dufour, B. and Curtis, W. (Eds) (2011) Studying Education: An Introduction To The Key Disciplines In Education Studies. Maidenhead: Open University Press.

Jones, K. (2016) Education in Britain. 1944 to the present (2nd Edition). Cambridge: Polity Press.

Lowe, R. (2007) The Death of Progressive Education: How Teachers Lost Control of the Classroom. London: Routledge.

Marples, R. (2010) What is Education For? In Bailey, R. (ed.) The Philosophy of Education: An Introduction (pp. 435-446). London: Continuum.