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Education Policy and Its Impacts - EDU00065I

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  • Department: Education
  • Module co-ordinator: Dr. Chelsea Sellers
  • Credit value: 20 credits
  • Credit level: I
  • Academic year of delivery: 2023-24

Module summary

This module will allow students to explore the evolution, implementation and impacts of education policy. This will involve examining what policy is, how it is made, why certain policies are introduced, and how policy impacts on stakeholders.

Module will run

Occurrence Teaching period
A Semester 2 2023-24

Module aims

This module will allow students to explore the evolution, implementation and impacts of education policy. This will involve examining what policy is, how it is made, why certain policies are introduced, and how policy impacts on stakeholders. The impacts of policy will be explored thematically, and may/ will include: educational expansion; the family and the state; education and the economy; and, equality, diversity and inclusion. Students will analyse education policies from a range of national, historical and contemporary contexts. Expert guest speakers from the world of education policy will illuminate current developments in practice. Students will apply their knowledge of political and social theory in order to connect policy rationale with divergent values, ideologies and worldviews. Students will also be challenged to consider the evaluation and reform of education policy.

Module learning outcomes

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

  • Make connections between educational issues and ideas across different times and places;

  • Become familiar with different concepts of policy and methods of policy analysis, and be able to critically analyse the role of various drivers of policy, including ideology and evidence;

  • Be familiar with instances of policy borrowing and be able to critically examine the utility and effectiveness of such an approach;

  • Be able to critically analyse how and why educational reforms evolve, the use of the crisis account in framing policy, the limitations of educational policies and the role of various policy actors;

  • Recognise social influences on education, educators and learners in different settings and in different historical periods;

  • Be able to make links between broader trends in society and individual lives in the context of education

Academic and graduate skills

Students will have learned how to:

  • Formulate academic arguments in written and oral form

  • Be able to work effectively with others in a group and meet obligations to group members, as well as tutors

  • Analyse and critically evaluate research, policy and media literature on key issues within education policy

  • Prepare and present an evidence-based policy pitch

  • Engage with guest speakers

  • Use the VLE and Internet effectively

Module content

Introduction to education policy: what is policy?

To consider: policy borrowing and learning - the importance of context; education as a social policy

How is policy made?

To include: Political views of policy development (ideology and power); sociological views of policy development (actors, receivers, structure and agency); evidence based policy

Educational expansion

To cover: the rise of mass education from the late 19th century; cross country comparison of approaches to initiating and organising mass education; analysis of the drivers and implications of expansion (historiography)

The family and the state

To cover: social policy on early years and the family; changing relations between the family and the state; reform to the governance of education (including the devolved state and the role of local authorities); rise of marketisation, competition and choice in education policy.

Education and the economy

To cover: human capital theory and the knowledge economy; the expansion of higher education; the changing role of the university; cross country comparison of the financing of mass higher education systems.

Equality, diversity and inclusion

To cover: the case for equality, diversity and inclusion; cross country comparison of policy approaches (e.g. positive discrimination, contextual admissions); representation of minoritised groups in policy formulation and educational progression.

The module will conclude with student group presentations focused on pitching an education policy in response to a current issue.


Task Length % of module mark
Essay : 3 x Short Essay Questions (2 x specific topics and 1 x synoptic)
N/A 100

Special assessment rules



Task Length % of module mark
Essay : 3 x short essay questions
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

Ball, S. (2008). The Education Debate. Bristol: Policy Press.

Abbott, I. (2013). Education Policy. London: Sage.

Lupton, R. & Hayes, D. (2021). Great Mistakes in Education Policy: And How to Avoid Them in the Future. Bristol: Bristol University Press.

Olssen, M., O’Neill, Codd, J. (2004). Education policy: globalization, citizenship and democracy. London: Sage.

Reay, D., David, M, & Ball, S. (2005) Degrees of choice: class, race, gender and higher education. Stoke on Trent: Trentham Books.

Whitty, G. (2002) Making sense of education policy: studies in the sociology and politics of education. London: Paul Chapman Publishing.

Woods, P. (2011). Transforming Educational Policy: Shaping a democratic future. Bristol: Policy Press.

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.