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Education and Global Development - EDU00060H

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  • Department: Education
  • Module co-ordinator: Dr. Eleanor Brown
  • Credit value: 20 credits
  • Credit level: H
  • Academic year of delivery: 2024-25
    • See module specification for other years: 2023-24

Module summary

This module engages with the complex issues related to education and development. We consider development from a number of different perspectives, including how education contributes to economic growth and modernization, the importance of capability development and education as an indicator of development, and postdevelopment and postcolonial critiques to development and alternatives emerging from indigenous worldviews. We look at a range of issues in education and development including global goals for quality education, girls’ education and gender and development, violence in education, and inequalities in education. This module asks students to consider how education might contribute to a country's development and critically analyse what we mean by that. Students will recognise that the patterns of schooling, with which they have been familiar, are culturally situated.

Module will run

Occurrence Teaching period
A Semester 1 2024-25

Module aims

The key aims of this module are to:

  • critically reflect upon the meaning and nature of global development and the role of education within it.

  • engage with some of the historical legacies that structure our assumptions about development and apply a decolonial lens to these.

  • problematize the linear notion of dominant development discourse and the idea that schooling is the only way education can take place.

  • consider how key development theories allow for the analysis of the relationship between education and development.

  • explore a range of theories and learn to look at education and development issues through different theoretical lenses.

  • analyse different aspects of education in a variety of contexts through examining case studies, particularly focusing on examples from low and middle income countries.

  • learn about international agendas such as the Global Goals and the work of international organisations.

Module learning outcomes

By the end of this module students will be able to:

  • identify a variety of approaches to development, such as human capital theory, the capability approach and postcolonial theory - which have contributed to an analysis of education in developing countries.

  • engage with discussion about what we mean by developed and developing countries and how education might be interpreted differently in different contexts.

  • challenge some of taken-for-granted assumptions about education and development and consider a range of perspectives on how education might contribute to development in the 21st century.

  • understand and apply a range of theories specifically analysing the role of education in developing countries.

Academic and graduate skills

Students will have learned how to:

  • 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.

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

  • develop skills in order to analyse issues and ideas through different theoretical lenses.

  • develop group work skills, formal and informal presentational skills,

  • identify suitable supplemental readings,

  • develop skills that allow them to critically examine issues and ideas relating to education and global development.

  • develop their IT skills by interacting with the VLE and using blended learning.

  • extend writing skills at undergraduate level.

  • participate in class discussions

  • develop their critical reflection skills through a weekly journal.

Module content

The weekly meetings take the form of small, seminar style classes, with lecturer input and participatory activities, encouraging a questioning approach to complex issues with reference to practical case studies and theoretical perspectives.

We begin with a deep consideration of what is Global Development and what is the role of education within it. We problematise some of the dominant discourses of development and the associated terminology, such as developed and developing countries.

We critically focus on the historical influences on development including the legacies of colonialism and the impact of Structural Adjustment and Debt.

We explore international Policies in Development such as the Global Goals.

We critically engage with a range of theoretical lens including:

  • Human Capital Theory

  • Gender and Development and Feminist theory

  • Human Development Theory

  • The Capability Approach

  • Modernization Theory

  • Post Development Theory

  • Postcolonial Theory

We explore lots of issues in education and global development including using the human development index, achieving universal primary education, exploring inequalities within countries through the gini coefficient, reflecting on global inequalities, violence in education, critiques to western attitude in development and we look at the case studies presented in the schooling the world documentary, and we investigate some alternatives to development such as buen vivir.

In addition there are lots of opportunities for students to research issues of interest to them and to search for information about education in different contexts around the world, particularly in so-called ‘developing’ countries. Students are encouraged to regularly research a context and the issues affecting the education system. They do this both individually and as group work. The module invites students to develop their own areas of interest and the theoretical lenses that most resonate with them in order to undertake a deep analysis of a specific country.


Task Length % of module mark
N/A 100

Special assessment rules


Additional assessment information

This module has both formative and summative assessments and students are expected to participate actively throughout the module, both in class discussions and through the reflective journal entries after the weekly class meetings.

Attendance is compulsory for the classes. In preparation for each class, students are expected to have completed the assigned readings, video clips and lecture content and supplemented those readings with others that have been searched for by the student. Students should be fully prepared to discuss the readings at each seminar.

Formative assessment:

There will be opportunities to submit learning journals for feedback.

A group presentation in which students present an aspect of education and an issue relevant to a particular country context, with a focus on a country or countries considered to be 'developing'. Expectations for this short presentation will be given during the first class.

A 500 word formative essay to be submitted in week 8 and will be marked and returned in week 9 - the idea is that this will form an abstract for the summative assignment, allowing students to get some relevant feedback for their final essay.

Summative Assessment

At the start of the module, students will receive a comprehensive overview of the expectations for the final assessment. Activities during each class will help students prepare for the final assessment. Through participation in class, contribution to the online discussion forum, submission of blog entries, group presentations and the 500 word essay student will receive feedback from the lecturer that is directly related to the final assessment.

A 3,000 word essay is the required submission. Essays should display relevant knowledge of aspects of education in one or more developing countries and also some critical understanding of relevant theoretical perspectives. There should be three key components to the essay. These are (1) a theory by which the issue is analysed (e.g. human capital theory, postcolonial theory etc.) (2) a focus on a country or countries with a demonstration of background knowledge of the context from on line research, and (3) an education related topic (universal primary education, child labour, girls' education etc.). Students negotiate an essay topic that relates to one or more key themes in the module and there is a broad choice and flexibility to allow them to select an issue of interest to them. There will be an opportunity to brainstorm titles for essays as a group.


Task Length % of module mark
N/A 100

Module feedback

Individual written feedback reports, with follow-up tutor meeting, if necessary. 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

McGrath, Simon, and Gu, Qing (eds.) (2016) Routledge handbook of international education and development. London: Routledge, Taylor & Francis Group.

Skinner, Amy, Baillie Smith, Matt, Brown, Eleanor and Troll, Tobias. (eds.) (2016) Education, learning and the transformation of development. (Rethinking Development). New York and London: Routledge.

Dasen Pierre R. Akkari Abdeljalil (eds.) (2008) Educational Theories and Practices from the Majority World. London and New York: Sage

McGrath, Simon (2018) Education and Development. London and New York: Routledge

The following are only available as hard copies, but the relevant chapters have been scanned and are available in the weekly reading lists. If you can access a hard copy they contain a number of other useful chapters noted as additional reading:

Harber, Clive (2014) Education and international development: theory, practice and issues. Oxford, United Kingdom: Symposium Books.

Unterhalter, Elaine and McCowan, Tristan (eds.) (2015) Education and international development: an introduction. London: Bloomsbury.

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.