Skip to main content

Unit information: Genetics, society and education in 2020/21

Please note: you are viewing unit and programme information for a past academic year. Please see the current academic year for up to date information.

Unit name Genetics, society and education
Unit code EDUCM0081
Credit points 20
Level of study M/7
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 2 (weeks 13 - 24)
Unit director Dr. Ingram
Open unit status Not open




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

Description including Unit Aims

The science of Genetics has always had significant implications for how individuals think about themselves and society. Genetics has indirectly influenced education policy in the past and might to do so more overtly in the future, as the social impacts of contemporary genetics become more pervasive. This is controversial issue, in terms of both the science as well as its sociocultural impacts.

The debate about whether and how genetics should be considered in the planning and practice of education is vigorous and is influenced by ideological and political viewpoints. The debate is equally vigorous in the fields of healthcare and social policy making.

The debate is partly being conducted in popular media, including social media, which use particular lenses to focus the debate to particular ideological positions. This adds to the intensity and importance of the debate.

This unit aims to
• provide sufficient knowledge and understanding of genetics to students to be able to appraise contemporary research papers in genomics as well as their recontextualisations in popular media.
• empower students to make constructive contributions to the debates in education, healthcare and social policy making.

Intended Learning Outcomes

1. Gain confidence in thinking about principles of genomics and behavioural genetics.

2. Understand the historical and political antecedents of the current debate about genetics and education.

3. To understand the ideological drivers of popular discussion of genetics in the popular media and social media.

4. Gain confidence in understanding research papers and their representations in the popular media.

5. Critically evaluate the reliability, validity and relevance of these sources.

6. Assimilate information from a variety of to develop an informed personal perspective on the controversy.

7. Communicate effectively a reasoned argument, and the evidence underpinning it, in both written, poster and oral form.

Teaching Information

This unit will be taught using a blended approach consisting of a mixture of synchronous and asynchronous activities including seminars, lectures, tutorials, reading and discussions

Assessment Information

Oral presentation and powerpoint of the topic chosen for the assignment (30% of the marks, ILOs 1-7). The presentation will be a maximum of ten minutes.

Assignment 3000 words. The assignment will develop one biological, socio-cultural or historical aspect of the unit. It will present the issue and critically evaluate the evidence for the topic, (70% marks, ILOs 1-6)

Reading and References

Essential reading:

G is for Genes: The Impact of Genetics on Education and Achievement (Understanding Children′s Worlds), Asbury, K., Plomin, R. (2014) John Wiley. West Sussex.

Blueprint: How DNA Makes Us Who We Are (2018), Plomin, R. Penguin. Random House. London.

Further reading:

National Human Genome Research Institute (2018) Ethical, Legal and Social Issues in Genomic Medicine (Accessed 6/02/18)

The Genome Incorporated: Constructing Biodigital Identity (Theory, Technology and Society) , O'Riordan, K. (2016). Routledge

Contemporary research papers in genomics and social policy making