BSc Education / Course details

Year of entry: 2023

Course unit details:
Key Issues in Education

Course unit fact file
Unit code EDUC11100
Credit rating 20
Unit level Level 1
Teaching period(s) Full year
Available as a free choice unit? Yes


Course Unit Content:
The unit will explore the relevance for contemporary education of foundational concepts in the traditional core disciplines in the field (sociology, psychology, philosophy and history) alongside insights from more recent approaches (e.g. in policy studies, international and comparative education).
  • Different curriculum models and trends in pedagogic approaches to teaching and learning will be among the topics through which educational practice will be considered.
  • Access and management of digital stimulus materials (research articles, relevant texts, reports, etc.).
  • Selection, evaluation and critical reading of academic and supporting online sources
  • Managing studies independently and accessing support (independent study, time management, group work, tutorials, research, assessments, academic advisors and tutors)
  • Academic writing (e.g. voice, interaction with stimulus material, academic conventions, avoiding plagiarism and other forms of malpractice, presenting an analytical argument)
Course Unit Delivery:
  • Weekly, within an online learning environment (e.g. Blackboard, Zoom, document sharing and collaborative tools), in an alternate lecture/seminar format, covering 10 topics (5 in each semester).


The course unit aims to:
  • Introduce students to the study of education as a field
  • Introduce students to foundational educational concepts in the theory and practice of education across the following areas of theory and research: Curriculum, Inequality, Inclusion, Teaching and Learning.
  • Encourage an awareness of contemporary issues that are being debated, researched and taught within the field of education
  • Challenge students to confront and gain a critical understanding of ethical issues in relation to the study and practice of education.
  • Prepare students for the more in-depth and specialist content offered later in the programme


  • critically evaluating theories and practices of education and considering the distinction between theories and practices grounded in research and practice, and theories and practices that reflect fads or fashion
  • encouraging self-reflection, so that students relate different issues in education to their current and future contexts
  • exploring issues of education from a local, national and international perspective through a series of interactive lectures and seminars
  • providing an insight into education that addresses critical, political and ideological questions.
  • enabling students to develop a range of skills to equip them for scholarship in the 21st Century e.g. communication, problem solving, critical analysis, cultural awareness and team working
  • providing students with an opportunity to reflect on the ethical dimension of education policy and practice and to equip them with a balanced and liberal understanding of wider issues facing a 21st century education system.

Learning outcomes

Category of outcome Upon completion of the unit, students should be able to:
Knowledge and understanding
  • Appreciate the distinctive contribution of different disciplines in deepening understanding of education systems and processes
  • Demonstrate coherent and detailed understanding of selected key theories in the field of education studies
  • Appreciate how ideologies shape different curricula and pedagogic approaches
Intellectual skills
  • Apply conceptual tools in describing and commenting on education systems and practices
  • Critically reflect on theory and research regarding education and educational reform
Practical skills
  • Search subject-specific electronic and other resources effectively to identify appropriate, relevant primary sources
  • In response to writing tasks, employ ideas and evidence from scholarly work in education to support an argument
  • In response to specific tasks, understand, reflect on and evaluate, key issues in education using a variety of tools
Transferable skills and personal qualities
  • Present ideas logically and coherently in written and oral form
  • Be flexible in their thinking – ready to think about what is familiar in new ways
  • Work effectively with others in a group and meet obligations to group members, as well as tutors
  • Analyse and critically evaluate research, policy and media literature on key issues within education
  • Use the VLE and Internet effectively

Teaching and learning methods

Tutor groups, Tutorials and Weekly Discussions in Blackboard and/or WordPress
Tutor facilitated sessions (whole group):
The sessions involve tutor presentations, seminars, discussions and group work which explore issues of education from a local, national and international perspective through a series of core content. Students are expected to be prepared for the sessions, attend all sessions except in extenuating circumstances, and take an active part in discussions and group work
Group work (online and face-to-face):
Students are assigned to random study groups and work together to identify and research a topic related to the weekly topic and required reading. Every other week, each study group meet to discuss the topic, exploring the argument in the reading related to the topic and then submit a written piece (on the Blackboard discussion board and/or the course blog page).
Seminars/Tutorials, Tutor groups, and Weekly Discussions:
  • Seminars/Tutorials: Unless otherwise stated, seminars will hold the week following each lecture. In certain weeks, tutorials will take place instead of lectures or seminars in the lecture and seminar slot.
  • Tutor groups: In the introductory session in Semester 1 students will be allocated to a specific tutorial group with a tutor, and all written/oral discussions will take place in tutor groups. In Semester 2 each tutor group will also be divided into sub-groups, which we call eReport Teams. Each student will be randomly allocated an eReport team to work on a team Project.
  • Weekly Discussions: In most weeks a discussion/blog post based on the lecture theme for the week will be created by each student.
Independent study and directed reading:
To prepare for and review the tutor facilitated sessions, students review the materials provided on BlackBoard and read from the recommended reading list for the unit and for the sessions. Students also carry out independent study to identify and read materials related to their specific topic.
Tutor facilitated workshop and office hours:
Students attend a workshop and/or office hours and/or book a tutorial to discuss their draft work.
Tutorial with Academic Advisor:
Students book a meeting with their Academic Advisor during the semester to discuss their academic progress.
Assessment preparation
Guidelines and criteria for assessment will be provided in Introductory Sessions in each semester:
  • Formative assessment tasks: Weekly discussions in Blackboard/WordPress
In most weeks, these will involve student-led individual written discussion/blog posts related to the week’s theme. Students will be expected to take a systemic analysisapproach to a selected case-study (for e.g. What is the issue? What is the goal of the analysis? What is the context of the problem? What key facts should be considered? What alternatives are available to the decision-maker? What would you recommend — and why? The blog posts have formative discussions associated with them which give students a chance to apply the key (and inter-related) educational issues explored in the modules in current, real world, practical contexts. Students will share and discuss their posts with their study group and the tutor(s) for informal feedback.
  • Summative assessment tasks: This will involve elements of individual and group work. In Semester One, students will develop an individual written portfolio based on their best five discussion/blog posts which will be submitted for formal assessment. In Semester Two, each st

Assessment methods

1 x 2000 word group report (50%)
1 x 3000 word article review (50%)

Feedback methods

Feedback via Blackboard

Recommended reading

Ambrose, S. A., Bridges, M. W., DiPietro, M., Lovett, M. C., & Norman, M. K. (2010). How Learning
Works: Seven Research-Based Principles for Smart Teaching. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.
Apple, M (2004). Ideology and Curriculum (3rd edition) London: Routledge Falmer.
Arthur, J., & Davies, I. (2009). The Routledge Education Studies Textbook. London: Routledge.
Bartlett, S and Burton, D (2012). Introduction to Education Studies (3rd edition) London: Sage.
Burton, D., & Bartlett, S. (2009). Key issues for education researchers. Sage.
Day, C., & Gu, Qing. (2010). The new lives of teachers (Teacher quality and school development
series). London: Routledge.
Evans, L. (2007). Inclusion. London: David Fulton
Hallinan, M T (2000). Handbook of the Sociology of Education New York: Kluwer/Plenum.
Hayes, D (2006) Primary Education: Key Concepts London: Routledge.
Reay, D. (2018). Miseducation: Inequality, education and the working classes. Bristol: Policy Press
Stevens, D. (2010). A Freirean critique of the competence model of teacher education, focusing
on the standards for qualified teacher status in England, Journal of Education for Teaching, 36(2), pp. 187-196.
Thompson, D.W. (2012). Widening participation from a historical perspective: increasing our
understanding of higher education and social justice. In: Basit, Tehmina N and Tomilson, Sally Widening participation from a historical perspective: increasing our understanding of higher education and social justice. Bristol: Policy Press. pp 41-64.
Ward, S (ed) (2012) A Student’s Guide to Education Studies London, Routledge.
Woolfolk Hoy, A (2007) Educational Psychology (10th edition) Boston, Mass: Pearson Allyn and Bacon.

Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Practical classes & workshops 26
Tutorials 34
Independent study hours
Independent study 140

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Loretta Anthony-Okeke Unit coordinator

Additional notes

Activity (Semesters 1 and 2) Hours Allocated
Tutor facilitated sessions (lectures and seminar groups): 28
Group work (online and face-to-face): 26
Tutor workshop / office hours / tutorial /tutorial with academic advisor: 6
Independent study: 50
Directed reading: 20
Preparation of formative and summative assessed work: 70


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