MA International Education (Curriculum and Pedagogy)

Year of entry: 2024

Course unit details:
Education Policy

Course unit fact file
Unit code EDUC70531
Credit rating 15
Unit level FHEQ level 7 – master's degree or fourth year of an integrated master's degree
Teaching period(s) Semester 1
Available as a free choice unit? Yes


 This is a core unit in the MA Educational Leadership and optional in the MA Education (International) and others. In this course unit, students will explore understandings of and practices in education policy. By the end of the unit, students will be asking (and beginning to address) critical questions about what policy is; how it becomes practice (or not); and what its purposes and effects may be.  The course unit will be delivered in an alternate lecture/seminar format.



This unit aims to:

  • To explore conceptualisations of policy
  • To interrogate the ways in which it is supposed to be ‘done’, including enactment.
  • To examine critically the role of policy architecture in enabling or hindering certain policies, including the role of policy travel and policy networks.

Learning outcomes


On successful completion of the unit, students should be able to:

  • Demonstrate an understanding of education policy and its relationship to wider changes at both national and international levels.
  • Be able to reflect critically on the key ideas underpinning education policy changes and developments.
  • Demonstrate awareness of educational practices and institutional arrangements as they have developed in the context of policy change.
  • Critically examine theoretical perspectives on education policy as a field of contest.
  • Demonstrate a sophisticated and critical engagement with national and international education policy networks and architecture.
  • Be able to synthesise effectively to develop coherent and compelling arguments in the area of study.
  • Demonstrate an ability to analyse critically and interpret research and conceptual papers in education policy.




Teaching and learning methods

  • Teacher-led, research-based lectures.
  • Teacher-facilitated seminars.
  • Student/teacher-led whole-class discussions.

Learning Hours:



Hours Allocated

Staff/Student Contact




Private Study


Directed Reading


Assignment Preparation


Total Hours



Knowledge and understanding

 Curriculum Content:

  • Conceptualisations of policy: how it is ‘done’; and how it may travel and become re-contextualised.
  • Policy architecture: how overarching, and often international discourses variously enable or hinder certain policies and reform agendas.
  • Policy actors and consultants: the range of people and businesses involved in generating and using ideas.
  • Policy reforms to supply: education provision and diversification as a policy case study.
  • Policy reforms to demand: education choices and consumerism.

Transferable skills and personal qualities

    • Analytical skills: critically examine the work of others in the field and policy positions; identify the discourses underpinning policy positions.
    • Social skills: engage in and facilitate group learning.
    • Oral skills: construct and defend an argument.
    • Written skills: describe, explain and synthesise sophisticated arguments; construct own argument.
    • Information Technology: use ICT to search databases and other internet resources for literature and to produce documents using word-processing and presentation programmes.
    • Problem-solving skills: identify problems, research or create a range of options to resolve them and carry out the most appropriate. Also; problematise taken-for-granted social phenomena and recommend the most appropriate solution following research.

Assessment methods

One essay assignment 3,000 word.

Feedback methods

Feedback will be available to view on Blackboard

Recommended reading

Adamson, F., Åstrand, B. and Darling-Hammond, L.  (eds) (2016) Global Education Reform. New York, NY: Routledge.

Au, W. and Ferrare, J.J. (eds) (2015) Mapping Corporate Education Reform. New York, NY: Routledge.

Ball, S.J. (2012) Global Education Inc. New Policy Networks and the Neo-Liberal Imaginary. Abingdon: Routledge.

Ball, S.J., Maguire, M. and Braun, A. (2012) How Schools Do Policy. Abingdon: Routledge.

Ball. S.J. (2017) The Education Debate. Bristol: Policy Press.

Gunter, H.M. (2018) The Politics of Public Education. Bristol: Policy Press.

Gunter, H.M., Grimaldi, E., Hall, D. and Serpieri, R. (eds) (2016) New Public Management and the Reform of Education: European Lessons for Policy and Practice. London: Routledge.

Gunter, H.M., Hall, D. and Apple, M. (eds) (2017) Corporate Elites and the Reform of Public Education. Bristol: Policy Press.

Mundy, K., Green, A., Lingard, B. and Verger, A. (Eds) Handbook of Global Education Policy. Chichester: John Wiley and Sons Limited.

Rizvi, F. and Lingard, B. (2010) Globalizing Education Policy. London: Routledge.

Ravitch, D. (2010) The Death and Life of the Great American School System. New York: Basic Books.

Ravtich, D. (2014) Reign of Error. The hoax of the privatization movement and the danger to America’s public schools. New York, NY: Vintage Books.

Sahlberg, P. (2015) Finnish Lessons 2.0. New York, NY: Teachers College Press.

Saltman, K. J. and Means, A.J. (eds) (2019)  The Wiley Handbook of Global Educational Reform. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley and Sons Inc.

Seppänen, P., Carrasco, A., Kalalahti, M., Rinne, R. and Simola, H. (eds)  (2015). Contrasting Dynamics in Education Politics of Extremes. Rotterdam: Sense Publishers.

Verger, A., Fontdevila, C. and Zancajo, A. (2016) The Privatisation of Education. New York, NY: Teachers’ College Press.

Wilkinson, J., Niesche, R., and Eacott, S. (eds) (2019) Challenges for Public Education. Abingdon: Routledge.


Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Lectures 20
Tutorials 2
Independent study hours
Independent study 128

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Amanda Heffernan Unit coordinator

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