BSc Education / Course details

Year of entry: 2024

Course unit details:
International Education Systems and Policy

Course unit fact file
Unit code EDUC24072
Credit rating 20
Unit level Level 2
Teaching period(s) Semester 2
Available as a free choice unit? Yes


The course will compare different education systems from around the world in relation to schooling and higher education. It will consider  why education and skills have assumed such importance within national and international policy discourses, and what influence a range of social factors (such as the economy and labour market, plus divisions of gender, social class, religion, ethnicity) play in shaping the education and skills systems in different national contexts. In doing this it will examine a range of issues, such as: modes of educational management, the role of politics in the policy process, international comparisons and policy borrowing.


This course unit aims to deepen students’ understandings of the various forms that education systems take around the world and how these are shaped by politics and evidence. It will introduce students to research themes of educational management, policy discourse, and the economic, social and cultural factors that have an influence on the formation and transformation of educational systems. The unit also aims to develop students’ understandings of a range of educational systems, which include: schooling, higher education, but also broader educational contexts such as vocational education, the workplace and community organisations.

Teaching and learning methods

  • Interactive teaching sessions which include both taught content (lectures) and seminar type discussions.
  • Group work to prepare and present on case studies of education systems and/or comparisons.
  • Blackboard discussion boards to collate and synthesise information regarding case studies/key readings.

Knowledge and understanding

  • identify the influence of history, worldview and politics on national educational systems and educational policy.
  • list the influences, principles and practices of various governmental and non-governmental agencies concerned with education management, planning, research and development.
  • analyse the distinctive contribution of policy and ideology in the development of different education systems

Intellectual skills

  • Use empirical evidence to analyse and evaluate claims regarding current structures and future reforms of education (e.g. higher education) in different national contexts.
  • Use theoretical frameworks and concepts to unpack key problems relating to policy and practice and appreciate how different interpretations of the same issue can be made. 

Practical skills

  • utilise digital research skills to access and synthesise relevant evidence in order to write  a case study a.
  • evaluate the validity and trustworthiness of claims made using both quantitative and qualitative evidence.
  • reflect on a range of careers relating to educational management, policy making and other forms of educational organisation (e.g. NGO). 

Transferable skills and personal qualities

  • work in a team to prepare collaborative analyses of key international challenges facing educational systems.
  • Employ self regulatory techniques in approaching learning tasks and assessment.
  • Reflect on career management strategies utilizing knowledge and understanding acquired on the course unit.

Assessment methods

Summative Assessment task Word Length or Equivalent Weighting within unit
Presentation which reports a case study of an educational system & key challenges which arise in this context           15 minutes 30%
Written assignment which unpacks the case indepth explaining why such challlenges arise, the strategies used to address such challenges and their affordances/limitations.   4000 words 75%


Recommended reading

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

Arnove, R. F. (1980). Comparative education and world-systems analysis. Comparative Education Review, 24(1), 48-62.

Babaci-Wilhite, Z., & Geo-JaJa, M. A. (2018). A critique and rethink of modern education in Africa’s development in the 21st century. Papers in education and development, (30).

Brock, C., & Alexiadou, N. (2013). Education around the world: a comparative introduction. A&C Black

Carter, S. C. (2000). No Excuses: Lessons from 21 High-Performing, High-Poverty Schools. Heritage Foundation, 214 Massachusetts Avenue, NE, Washington, DC 20002.

Halpin, D., & Troyna, B. (1995). The politics of education policy borrowing. Comparative Education, 31(3), 303-310.

Phillips, D., & Ochs, K. (2003). Processes of policy borrowing in education: Some explanatory and analy

Steiner-Khamsi, G., & Waldow, F. (Eds.). (2011). Policy borrowing and lending in education. Routledge.*

Verger, Antoni, Clara Fontdevila, and Adrian Zancajo. The privatization of education: A political economy of global education reform. Teachers College Press, 2016.

Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Lectures 24
Independent study hours
Independent study 176

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Heather Cockayne Unit coordinator

Additional notes

Activity Hours Allocated
12 taught sessions 24
Presentation preparation 6
Private study/assignment preparation 100
Directed reading 60
Individual/group tutorials 10
Total hours 200


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