BSc Education / Course details

Year of entry: 2023

Course unit details:
Social Justice in Education

Course unit fact file
Unit code EDUC24051
Credit rating 20
Unit level Level 2
Teaching period(s) Semester 1
Offered by School of Environment, Education and Development
Available as a free choice unit? No


The course unit will involve detailed study of the concept of social justice (including relational approaches) and explore their relevance to diverse educational contexts, locally, nationally and globally. It will consider social justice in relation to the following content areas:

•             Poverty and social class

•             Race and ethnicity

•             Gender

•             Disability


This course unit aims to develop students’ knowledge and understanding of ways in which threats to social justice and equity in education have been overcome by exploring examples of policy and practice in a range of local, national and international contexts. Key issues will be explored in sufficient detail to allow students to gain knowledge of specific historical, social and cultural contexts which give rise to educational inequalities and issues of injustice.

Teaching and learning methods

  • An interactive seminar approach accompanied by online learning activities will be used throughout
  • Group work to prepare and make presentations

Knowledge and understanding

  • Identify and explain the social and educational background to a range of key issues in education including: Poverty and social class; Race and ethnicity; Gender; Disability.
  • Identify the way in which social beliefs and values influence policy and the process of education.
  • Explain impact of the issues listed above on the experiences of individual pupils
  • Explain how schools can respond effectively through policy and practice to these and other issues.

Intellectual skills

  • Apply reasoning and analytical skills to illuminate the contributing factors to issues of social injustice in education relating to a variety of political and economic contexts.
  • Use theory and knowledge to question the legitimacy and limitations of claims made regarding inequality and education.
  • Review educational practices in the light of emerging understandings of equity and diversity.

Practical skills

  • Evaluate the issues raised and their relation to a variety of vocational and professional contexts, and consider the implications for future study and career options.
  • Contribute to debates about the equity and diversity challenges facing education systems globally;
  • Access and evaluate data regarding inequalities in education globally using digital tools and resources.

Transferable skills and personal qualities

  • use digital evidence to solve problems relating to social justice in education
  • Use digital communication tools to construct an argument regarding social justice in education

Assessment methods

Summative Assessment task Word Length or Equivalent Weighting within unit
One short summative assignment – ‘What is the nature of the (social justice/equity) problem?’ 2000 words 30%
A longer assignment which builds on the first one:  ‘Why is this issue a problem?’ 3000 words 70%


Recommended reading

Detailed lists of reading on specific issues will be provided for students.  The following is a list of some key publications.

Arnot, M. & Mac an Ghaill, M. (2006) The Routledge Falmer reader in gender and education. London: Routledge Bartlett, S. & Burton, D. (2012) Introduction to Education Studies (3rd edition). London: Sage Publications Ltd  Ball, S. (2003) Class strategies and the education market: the middle classes and social advantage. London: Routledge Falmer

Chitty, C. (2004) Education policy in Britain. 2nd Edition. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.

Gillborn, D. (2005) ‘Education policy as an act of white supremacy: whiteness, critical race theory and education reform’ Journal of Education Policy, Vol. 20, No. 4, pp 485-505

Gorski, P. C. (2012). Perceiving the problem of poverty and schooling: Deconstructing the class stereotypes that mis-shape education practice and policy. Equity & Excellence in Education, 45(2), 302-319.Kerr, K., Dyson, A. and Raffo, C. (2014) Education, Disadvantage and Place. Making the local matter. Bristol: Policy Press.

Ladson-Billings, G and Tate, W. F. (1995) ‘Towards a critical race theory of education’ Teachers College Record, Vol. 97, pp47-68

Payne, R. K. (1998/2005). A Framework for understanding poverty (4th ed.). Highlands, TX: RFT Publishing

Raffo, C., Dyson, A., Gunter, H., Hall, D., Jones, L. & Kalambouka A. (2007) Education and Poverty: A critical review of theory, policy and practice.  York: Joseph Rowntree Foundation

Raffo, C. (2014) Improving Educational Equity in Urban Contexts. London:Routledge

Raffo, C., Dyson, A., Gunter, H., Hall, D., Jones, L. & Kalambouka, A. (2010) (Eds) Education and Poverty in Affluent Countries. London: Routledge.

Reay, D. (2006) The Zombie stalking English schools: social class and educational inequality. British Journal of Educational Studies, 54 (3), September: 288-307.

Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Lectures 24
Independent study hours
Independent study 176

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Louisa Dawes Unit coordinator
Carl Emery Unit coordinator

Additional notes

Activity Hours Allocated
12 taught sessions 24
Presentation preparation 3
Private study/assignment preparation 100
Directed reading 68
Individual/group tutorials 6
Total hours 200


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