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Unit information: Education Policy in 2020/21

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Unit name Education Policy
Unit code EDUCD0068
Credit points 20
Level of study D/8
Teaching block(s) Academic Year (weeks 1 - 52)
Unit director Professor. Watermeyer
Open unit status Not open




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

Description including Unit Aims

This unit is aimed at helping students develop an understanding of policy, governance and implementation in the education sector. The course focuses on the nature of policy and governance and their relationships, of the assumptions underpinning theories of policy and governance, theories on the nature of policy actors such as the state and community and market stakeholders, the changing regional and global contexts for states and their impact on states’ policy making capacity, the changing nature of policy in educational states in transition, and the implementation and management of policy in educational institutions. It will address the roles of professionals in governance and policy at all levels of education systems. Critical discourse analysis will be elaborated as a key analytical tool for policy text analysis, while models of implementation that can be used in empirical settings for evaluation-based research will be reviewed. Selected examples and case studies will be used as a basis for closer analysis of policy formation and implementation throughout the unit. Students will be invited to present case studies based on their experience and critically reflect on the usefulness of the theoretical and conceptual ideas discussed.


To critically consider recent theory, practice and research in educational governance, policy formation and implementation in education settings at the global, national and local levels.

Intended Learning Outcomes

At the end of the unit participants should be able to:

  1. Identify different conceptualizations of educational policy, governance and implementation and describe the basis of those differences.
  2. Analyze the structure of policy systems including global political economy, policy cultures, policy institutions and policy actors.
  3. Examine the relationship between how the state is conceptualized, policy formation and how policy is implemented and managed in local settings.
  4. Reflect upon the changing roles of professionals and other stakeholders in education systems around issues such as quality, effectiveness, accountability and evidence based policy.
  5. Undertake a critical analysis of policy discourses and their implementation in an organizational setting.
  6. Consider how the ideas, evidence and methods raised in the unit might be applied in your own institutional context; and reflect critically on your own experience as a practitioner in relation to the issues discussed in the unit.

Teaching Information

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

Assessment Information

Presentation linked to a 4,000 word essay which will assess students’ critical understanding of the literature on policy, governance and implementation and ability to discuss the implications of the theories, concepts and methods of analysis in relation to their own professional practice and current educational policy.

Reading and References

  • A. Halsey, P. Brown, H. Lauder, and A. Stuart Wells (eds) (1997). Education, Culture, Economy and Society, Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • Dale, R. (1999). Specifying globalisation effects on national policy: a focus on the mechanisms, J. of Education Policy, 14 (1), pp. 1-17.
  • Barrett, S. (2004) Implementation Studies: Time for Revival? Personal Reflections on 20 Years of Implementation Studies, Public Administration, 82 (2), pp. 249-62.
  • Fairclough, N. (2003) Analyzing Discourse, London and New York: Routledge
  • Newman, J. (2001). Modernising Governance: New Labour, Policy and Society, Sage: London
  • Olssen, M, Codd, J and O’Neill, A-M (2004) Education Policy: Globalization, Citizenship and Democracy London: Sage