Genetics & Education - EDU00038H

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  • Department: Education
  • Module co-ordinator: Dr. Kathryn Asbury
  • Credit value: 20 credits
  • Credit level: H
  • Academic year of delivery: 2017-18

Module will run

Occurrence Teaching cycle
A Spring Term 2017-18 to Summer Term 2017-18

Module aims

  • Introduce students to debate about whether and how genetics should be taken into account in the planning and practice of education.
  • Provide sufficient background in the behavioural genetics of learning abilities and disabilities for students to develop an informed perspective.
  • Enable students to independently analyse a range of sources from behavioural genetics, psychology, politics and education, and to critically engage with the overlaps between these disciplines.
  • Enable students to engage with different forms of evidence and argument, reviewing their reliability, validity and significance to psychology in education.

Module learning outcomes

Subject content

  • Knowledge and understanding of behavioural genetic principles and practices e.g. twin studies.
  • Knowledge and understanding of the heritability of learning abilities and disabilities.
  • Knowledge and understanding of the historical and political background to debates about genetics and education.
  • Critical examination of the strengths, weaknesses and limitations of behavioural genetics with regard to education.
  • Students will develop a personal and evidence-based perspective on the genetics of education debate through close examination of behavioural genetic evidence regarding reading, maths, science, PE and home and classroom environments.

Academic and graduate skills

  • Developing an informed personal opinion on a controversial topic.
  • Effectively communicating a personal view, and the evidence underpinning it, in both written and oral form.
  • Identifying and engaging with a range of sources e.g. academic papers, media reports, policy documents and social media discussions, and critically evaluating their reliability, validity and relevance.
  • Analysing and critically evaluating the ways in which theories and data from differing disciplines can inform each other and enhance understanding.
  • Working proactively and autonomously to select and manage information and using this to engage effectively in debate.


Task Length % of module mark
5,000 word essay
N/A 100

Special assessment rules



Task Length % of module mark
5,000 word essay
N/A 100

Module feedback

Information currently unavailable

Indicative reading

Asbury, K. & Plomin, R. (2013). G is for Genes: The Impact of Genetics on Education and Achievement. Chichester: Wiley Blackwell.

Asbury, K., Almeida, D., Hibel, J., Harlaar, N. & Plomin, R. (2008). Clones in the Classroom: A daily diary study of the nonshared environmental relationship between monozygotic twin differences in school experience and achievement. Twin Research and Human Genetics, 11 (6) 586.

Harris, J.R. (1999). The Nurture Assumption: Why Children Turn Out the Way they Do. New York: Touchstone.

Pinker, S. (2002). The Blank Slate: The Modern Denial of Human Nature. New York: Penguin Putnam Inc.

Walker, S.O. & Plomin, R. (2005). The Nature-Nurture Question: Teachers perceptions of how genes and the environment influence educationally relevant behaviour. Educational Psychology, 25, 509 - 516.

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.