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What is Education? - EDU00003C

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  • Department: Education
  • Module co-ordinator: Dr. Jeremy Airey
  • Credit value: 30 credits
  • Credit level: C
  • Academic year of delivery: 2021-22

Module will run

Occurrence Teaching cycle
A Autumn Term 2021-22 to Summer Term 2021-22

Module aims

This module aims to give students a broad introduction to different contexts of education and to get them to think deeply about the meaning of education and what it means to be educated.


Broadly the module aims to:

  • draw on students’ own experiences of education and also challenge their prior assumptions through thinking about how we understand education and how the meaning of education may differ in different contexts.

  • incorporate the study of the organisation of schools, cross-national and cross-cultural studies of education, and alternative and informal contexts of education.

  • facilitate an understanding that education is culturally situated and that levels of schooling vary in their organisation both in this country and abroad.

  • develop skills of reading and note taking, class discussion and presentation, critical thinking and dialogue, writing that will help them in further undergraduate study.

Module learning outcomes

Subject content

  • Students will gain an overview of the different contexts of education and think about the meaning of education in these different contexts.

  • They will get a background understanding of international contexts of education and understand the Education for All goals and think about ways that Globalisation affects education.

  • They will begin to think about education for the future and how education is shaped by society and also how education can prepare young people for life in the future.

  • They will understand about the school context and the organisation of schools and formal settings of education.

  • Students will discuss alternative forms of education to conventional schooling, considering whether schooling fulfils its aims.

  • Students will become familiar with accepted alternatives to conventional schooling and discuss their merits.

  • They will focus on homeschooling, Steiner and Montessori education.

  • Students will learn about education in countries other than the UK and think about the different realities in which education takes place and how education has developed in different settings and why.

  • Students will learning about comparative education, the uses and limitations of the field and discuss international measurements such as PISA in setting international standards for education.

  • Students will learn about informal settings for education and consider how learning can and does take place out of the context of formal schooling.


Academic and graduate skills

  • Students will develop critical thinking skills, developing their abilities to draw on their own experiences and also challenge some of their prior assumptions by bringing those into dialogue with the perspectives of their peers and readings on diverse contexts of education.

  • Students will develop their skills of communication, note taking, and searching for sources, at the undergraduate level

  • They will develop skills in order to analyse issues and ideas.

  • Students will develop group work skills, formal and informal presentational skills, be able to identify suitable supplemental readings, and develop skills that allow them to critically examine issues and ideas relating to Contexts of Education.

  • Students will develop their IT skills by interacting with the VLE.

  • Students will develop writing skills at undergraduate level.

They will develop the skills of presenting an academic blog post on an educational issue, helping them to focus on key information and communicate their ideas with their peers.

Module content

There are five units in the module, as follows.

Autumn weeks 2 - 5: The context and meaning of education

Autumn weeks 7 - 10: Organisation of schools

Spring weeks 2 - 5: Alternative forms of education

Spring weeks 7 -10: International and comparative education

Summer weeks 1 - 4: Learning beyond school.

More detail on each unit is made available of the VLE.


Task Length % of module mark
Open Examination (3 day paper over 4 days)
What is Education?
8 hours 67
University - project
Academic blog post (750 words)
N/A 33

Special assessment rules



Task Length % of module mark
Open Examination (3 day paper over 4 days)
What is Education?
8 hours 67
University - project
Academic blog post (750 words)
N/A 33

Module feedback

Written feedback will be received on all assessments and reassessments. The feedback is returned to students in line with university policy. Please check the Guide to Assessment, Standards, Marking and Feedback for more information.

Indicative reading

Each section has a number of key readings for each topic. These are posted on the VLE within the folders for each unit.

The information on this page is indicative of the module that is currently on offer. The University is constantly exploring ways to enhance and improve its degree programmes and therefore reserves the right to make variations to the content and method of delivery of modules, and to discontinue modules, if such action is reasonably considered to be necessary by the University. Where appropriate, the University will notify and consult with affected students in advance about any changes that are required in line with the University's policy on the Approval of Modifications to Existing Taught Programmes of Study.