BSc Education / Course details

Year of entry: 2024

Course unit details:
Mental Health and Wellbeing in Continuing (Further, Adult and Higher) Education

Course unit fact file
Unit code EDUC34502
Credit rating 20
Unit level Level 6
Teaching period(s) Semester 2
Available as a free choice unit? No


The unit introduces students to the sociological, political and policy landscape of mental health and wellbeing support for young adults in continuing education, focusing on what many scholars have termed, the ‘Wellbeing Agenda’. The unit outlines the origins and discourse of this approach to older learners engaged in continuing education, supporting students to critically engaging with sociological theory and policy research which attends to this apparently endemic ‘policy problem’. The unit situates concerns around declining student mental health and the expansion of policies that seek to support student wellbeing within broader debates around marketization, internationalization and digitalisation of continuing education, drawing on sociologies of risk and neoliberalism, and the precariousness of young adulthood, globally to think our ways through this key issue in education.


The unit aims to:

Introduce students to the evolving Sociological, Political and Policy landscape around the mental health and wellbeing of young people engaged in continuing education beyond formal schooling (e.g., Further Education, Higher Education, Adult Education).

Familiarise students with key developments in mental health and wellbeing policy (the ‘Wellbeing Agenda’) in continuing education and provide frameworks for situating this within broader histories and debates about ‘Special Needs’ in Education.

Outline the theoretical origins this approach to older learners engaged in continuing education, in different national contexts and in the wider context of the ‘therapization’ of education and Inclusive Education (e.g., LGBTQI+, gender, social inequalities, disability and neurodiversity).

Provide frameworks for making sense of provision for mental health and wellbeing in continuing education which attend to: (a) the marketization and globalisation of continuing and adult education; (b) policy and practice developments in compulsory education for younger learners and transformations within debates about Widening Participation; and (c) the intersecting economic and ecological crises facing contemporary young adults.

Outline (inter)national and digital frameworks and interventions designed to respond to and address wellbeing and mental health challenges facing young adults engaged in education.

Learning outcomes

Students will acquire critical thinking and writing skills; techniques for effective collaborative learning; and develop an understanding of education policy, how it changes and evolves and is enacted in different contexts (especially but not limited to mental health and wellbeing in continuing education). This will equip students for further studies in the fields of: Educational Policy and Leadership, Inclusive Education, Youth Studies/Youth Work, and Organisational and Occupational Studies, or employment in EDI-related roles, the youth and education advocacy and charity sectors as well as non-government and policy roles.


Syllabus (indicative curriculum content):

  • Sociology of youth and young adult transitions
  • Sociology of individualisation, neoliberalism risk and precarity (as it relates to policy and sector regulation)
  • The ‘therapization’ of education
  • Wellbeing as an economic concept (linked to employability)
  • Theory and research around student belonging and wellbeing in FE, HE and Adult Education
  • Policy analysis and policy/advocacy writing

Teaching and learning methods

A seminar approach is adopted throughout, with a combination of tutor-led lectures, workshop-style group discussions and individual learning.

Knowledge and understanding

  • Recognise selected, significant sociological approaches and interpret the ways these situate mental health and wellbeing for young adults engaged in continuing education.
  • Critically evaluate a range of policy texts relating to young adults in continuing education.
  • Compare and contrast provisions for mental health and wellbeing in different global contexts and educational settings.

Intellectual skills

  • Critically evaluate policies that have emerged as part of a focus on mental health and wellbeing in continuing education
  • Offer a wide-ranging synthesis of theories around young adults, mental health and the ‘therapization’ of continuing education
  • Translate complex and/or incomplete data around mental health and wellbeing in education to a range of audiences

Practical skills

  • Construct a clear and persuasive argument for specialist and non-specialist audiences
  • Critically review policy documents and statements to identify possible solutions
  • Manage own learning and work autonomously

Transferable skills and personal qualities

  • Understand the validity of different sources of information
  • Demonstrate the ability to take initiative and conduct independent study on a specific topic
  • Ability to work as part of a team to produce accessible arguments. and translate this into actionable outputs.

Assessment methods

Method Weight
Other 40%
Report 60%

Students will choose one out of three cases:

1) Imagine you are running for the role of Student Wellbeing Officer and as part of the selection you must engage in a formal debate. Write a speech advocating for your own election, drawing on research and policy around young people and wellbeing in continuing education. 

2) You are advocating for a new mental health and wellbeing service for the university. Record a 10-minute presentation (oral asynchronous) to submit to faculty leadership, presenting a clear argument for what is needed and why. 

3) You have been asked to write a blog for a youth charity from a students’ perspective, entitled ‘The 5 Key Challenges to Student Wellbeing in England and Wales’. Readers represent diverse audiences.

Report/essay on the impact of one out of three topics:

a) digitalisation

b) internationalisation

c) precarious futures

on approaches to the mental health and wellbeing of students in continuing education.

Feedback methods

Written feedback on case study and report/essay

Recommended reading

Baik, C., Larcombe, W. and Brooker, A. (2019) How universities can enhance student mental wellbeing: the student perspective, Higher Education Research & Development, 38:4, 674-687, DOI: 10.1080/07294360.2019.1576596 

Brunila, K. and Siivonen, P., (2016). Preoccupied with the self: towards self-responsible, enterprising, flexible, and self-centred subjectivity in education. 

Brunila, K., (2011). The projectisation, marketisation and therapisation of education. European Educational Research Journal, 10(3), pp.421-432. 

Brunila, K. and Rossi L. (2018) Identity politics, the ethos of vulnerability, and education, Educational Philosophy and Theory, 50:3, 287-298, DOI: 10.1080/00131857.2017.1343115 

Callard, F., Kotouza, D., Garnett, P. and Rocha, L., (2022). Mental health in universities in an age of digital capitalism: The United Kingdom as exemplary case. SSM-Mental Health, 2, p.100094. 

Doharty, N., Madriaga, M. and Joseph-Salisbury, R., (2021). The university went to ‘decolonise’ and all they brought back was lousy diversity double-speak! Critical race counter-stories from faculty of colour in ‘decolonial’times. Educational Philosophy and Theory, 53(3), pp.233-244. 

Donoghue, M., and Edmiston, D. (2020). Gritty citizens? Exploring the logic and limits of resilience in UK social policy during times of socio-material insecurity. Critical Social Policy, 40(1), 7-29.

Ecclestone, K. and Brunila, K., (2015). Governing emotionally vulnerable subjects and ‘therapisation’ of social justice. Pedagogy, Culture & Society, 23(4), pp.485-506. 

Evans, D., Granson, M., Langford, D. and Hirsch, S., (2023). Autism spectrum disorder: reconceptualising support for neurodiverse students in higher education. Journal of Higher Education Policy and Management, 45(2), pp.243-257. 

Field, J., 2009. Good for your soul? Adult learning and mental well‐being. International Journal of Lifelong Education, 28(2), pp.175-191. 

Foulkes, L. and Stapley, E. (2022) Want to improve school mental health interventions? Ask young people what they actually think, Journal of Philosophy of Education, Volume 56, Issue 1, February 2022, Pages 41–50, 

Goring, J., Kelly, P., Carbajo, D. and Brown, S., 2023. Young people’s presents and futures, and the moral obligation to be enterprising and aspirational in times of crisis. Futures, 147, p.103099

Hill, M., Farrelly, N., Clarke, C. and Cannon, M., 2020. Student mental health and well-being: overview and future directions. Irish Journal of Psychological Medicine, pp.1-8.

Heinrichs, D.H., Hameed, S., Tsao, J., McLay, K., Nguyen, H. and Alhadad, S., 2023. Mundane matters: entangling moments of student wellbeing across cultures, time, space, and virtual worlds. Critical Studies in Education, pp.1-21. 

Horn, J., (2020). Decolonising emotional well-being and mental health in development: African feminist innovations. Gender & Development, 28(1), pp.85-98. 

Knight, J. (2011). Five myths about internationalization. International Higher Education, (62). Available online at: 

Lewis, L. and Smith, R., 2023. Sociological perspectives on the mental health and wellbeing agenda in education. Research Papers in Education, 38(5), pp.715-726. 

Lister, K., Riva, E., Kukulska-Hulme, A. and Fox, C., 2022, August. Participatory digital approaches to embedding student wellbeing in higher education. In Frontiers in Education (Vol. 7, p. 924868). Frontiers. 

Lynch, K., 2006. Neo-liberalism and marketisation: The implications for higher education. European educational research journal, 5(1), pp.1-17. 

Noonan, M. and Kelly, P., (2020). Young people and the gendered and aest

Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Lectures 20
Tutorials 10
Independent study hours
Independent study 130

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Kirsty Finn Unit coordinator

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