BSc Education / Course details

Year of entry: 2024

Course unit details:
Democratising Education

Course unit fact file
Unit code EDUC34701
Credit rating 20
Unit level Level 6
Teaching period(s) Semester 1
Available as a free choice unit? No


The way in which we think about education is deeply influenced by the way we assume the world to be. Many of our beliefs about the nature of human beings and our world, the way we generate knowledge, and what is desirable and ‘good’, determine our understandings and practices of education. The meaning and purpose of education, the identities and agency attributed to teachers and learners, the relationship between power and knowledge, the notion of educational progress, and the possibility of independent thinking, just to name a few, are political. They are based on viewpoints and can be openly disputed. 


The unit aims to:

• Examine the concepts of politics and hegemony in relation to education.  

• Interrogate the political assumptions underpinning dominant theories, practices, and policies in education.

• Explore a range of theoretical concepts in contemporary political and philosophical thought.  

• Identify and analyse a selection of political education policies and practices.  

• Open possibilities to imagine non-dominant approaches to educational policy and practice. 

Learning outcomes

During sessions, participation in e-learning resources, and the poster exhibition, students will have an opportunity to provide/receive peer-feedback. Tutors will encourage students to respect the work of others and provide constructive criticisms.  

Through engagement with the course unit’s content, students will be able to further strengthen their reflective, critical thinking and creative skills. The course unit aims to facilitate that students interrogate their normalities and consider alternatives.  


Syllabus (indicative curriculum content):

• The concepts of politics and hegemony.  

• A selection of relevant concepts from a range of contemporary political and philosophical theories (e.g. feminist; decolonial; radical; posthumanist).    

• Key concepts in educational theory, practice, policy (e.g. independent thinking, teachers’ agency, reason, learners’ autonomy, educational progress) and their underpinning assumptions (e.g. rationalism, individualism, objectivity, universalism, anthropocentrism).

• A selection of national and international policies and practices in political education (e.g. the teaching of controversial issues; the Council of Europe’s Reference Framework of Competences for Democratic Culture; the Department of Education’s  Promotion of Fundamental British Values).   

Teaching and learning methods

Lectures (20h) will introduce concepts, theories, and political education case studies (policies and practices). In each session, we will engage with media resources (films, videos, audios from BOB) to facilitate conceptual understanding.

Seminars (10h) will consolidate understanding through direct engagement with readings. Seminar will also facilitate scaffolding of students’ assignment, by carefully examining the course unit’s case studies.  

An online poster exhibition (2h) will take place in which students will exhibit their posters (assessment task 1). Feedback will be provided by tutors and peers, through encouragement of peer-review activities.  

This will be supported by e-learning resources in Blackboard, including a discussion forum to clarify concepts, quizzes, and links to further resources. 

Knowledge and understanding

  • To discuss how the concepts of politics and hegemony might be applied to education.
  • To explain a selection of theoretical concepts in contemporary political and philosophical thought. 

Intellectual skills

  • To identify dominant understandings of education and their political and philosophical assumptions underpinning a political education policy or practice.
  • To critique assumptions underpinning a political education policy or practice using a selection of concepts in contemporary political and philosophical thought.
  • To imagine and recommend alternatives to dominant approaches to education policy and practice using theoretical resources from contemporary political and philosophical thought.  

Practical skills

  • Use evidence to analyse educational policy and practice
  • Develop presentation skills to deliver complex policy and educational current issues to a target audience 

Transferable skills and personal qualities

  • To collate, critically evaluate, synthesise, and integrate a range of sources.
  • To creatively organise a range of resources and present in an accessible way in a poster. 
  • To express ideas in a structured, clear, and aesthetic manner.  

Assessment methods

Method Weight
Other 75%
Oral assessment/presentation 25%

Individual Poster:

Students will be requested to exhibit a poster in front of classmates and provide a brief 500 words commentary on how the poster identifies the political and philosophical assumptions underpinning a dominant political education policy or practice.  

Individual Case study:

Students will be requested to study a dominant political education policy or practice (case) and examine its political and philosophical assumptions, drawing from selected concepts from political and philosophical thought. The case study will conclude in a consideration of how the practice/police could change if these assumptions were different. Students will be requested to present their case study through a 2,000 words essay or a PechaKucha presentation. 

Feedback methods

Poster: Peer feedback and initial tutor feedback will be provided in the poster exhibition. Lecturer’s feedback will be provided through Turnitin. 

Individual Case study: Lecturer’s feedback will be provided through Turnitin.  

Recommended reading

Ahenakew, C., Andreotti, V. D. O., Cooper, G., & Hireme, H. (2014). Beyond epistemic provincialism: De-provincializing Indigenous resistance. AlterNative: An International Journal of Indigenous Peoples, 10(3), 216-231.

Ahmed, S. (2004). Collective feelings: Or, the impressions left by others. Theory, culture & society, 21(2), 25-42.

Biesta, G. (2010). On the weakness of education/Biesta, Gert. Philosophy of Education Yearbook, 354-362.

Biesta, G. (2015). What is education for? On good education, teacher judgement, and educational professionalism. European Journal of education, 50(1), 75-87.

Benwell, B., & Stokoe, E. (2006). Discourse and identity. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.

Burman, E. (2016). Deconstructing developmental psychology. Taylor & Francis.

Chong, E. K., Sant, E., & Davies, I. (2020). Civic education guidelines in Hong Kong 1985–2012: Striving for normative stability in turbulent social and political contexts. Theory & Research in Social Education, 48(2), 285-306.

Elliott, A. (2013). Concepts of the self. Cambridge: Polity

Grosfoguel, R. (2013). The structure of knowledge in westernised universities: Epistemic racism/sexism and the four genocides/epistemicides. Human Architecture: Journal of the sociology of self-knowledge, 1(1), 73-90.

Ho, L. C., & Barton, K. C. (2022). Critical harmony: A goal for deliberative civic education. Journal of Moral Education, 51(2), 276-291.

Odora Hoppers, C. A. (2000). The centre-periphery in knowledge production in the twenty-first century. Compare: A Journal of Comparative and International Education, 30(3), 283-291.

Sant, E. (2021). Political Education in times of populism. Springer.  

Sant, E., González-Valencia, G., Shaikh, G., Santisteban, A., da Costa, M., Hanley, C., & Davies, I. (2022). Characterising citizenship education in terms of its emancipatory potential: reflections from Catalonia, Colombia, England, and Pakistan. Compare: A Journal of Comparative and International Education, 1-20. 

Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Demonstration 2
Lectures 20
Seminars 10
Independent study hours
Independent study 168

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Edda Sant Obiols Unit coordinator

Return to course details