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[SI0234] - Sociology of Education

Module Code: SI0234
Module Leader: Peter Hemming
Year: 2
Semester: Both
Number of Credits: 20
Recommended 1st Year Modules: One, or more, of the following: SI0005, SI0173, SI0169

Teaching Method: Lectures and seminars. Seminars will involve group work, critical reading and discussion, student presentation and debates. Students are also expected to engage in private study
Assessment: Coursework (essays) 3000 words (40%) - Autumn Semester; Written examination 2 hours (60%) - Spring Semester
Degree Schemes: Education, Social Science, Sociology, BPS Pathways


Module Aims

This module aims to provide students with a good understanding of sociological approaches to the study of education, drawing on a range of scales and contexts.  It explores ‘big ideas’ in the sociology of
education, such as inequality, power, and identity and helps students to apply them to contemporary educational issues and debates.


Learning Outcomes

Knowledge and Comprehension

  • Describe and outline  key findings from a range of different sociological studies of education.
  • Identify key theories and concepts used in contemporary sociological analysis of education.

Skills (Application and Analysis)

  • Explain and summarise key theoretical approaches and concepts utilised in sociological analyses of education.
  • Explain and summarise key findings from sociological research in relation to contemporary educational policy and practice.
  • Apply theoretical sociological understandings and concepts to wider educational situations, policies and settings.

Understanding (Synthesis and Evaluation)

  • Critically assess and evaluate key issues in contemporary policy and practice in education in the light of findings from sociological research.
  • Critically assess and evaluate key issues in contemporary policy and practice in education in the light of different theoretical interpretations.

Transferable Skills

The module will contribute to the development of the following transferable skills:

  • Critical analysis and evaluation
  • Written and verbal communication
  • Construction of argument
  • Independent and team working
  • ICT and presentation skills

Synopsis of Module Content

  • Approaches to Sociology of Education - Definitions of education and theoretical approaches to studying its relationship with society.
  • Education and Inequality – Perspectives on the concept of (in)equality and methodological approaches to analysing educational inequalities.
  • Education, Society and the Economy – Making sense of the relationships between educational, economic and political structures and practices.
  • Formal Education and Marginalisation - Approaches to understanding the relationship of marginalised groups to formal institutions of schooling.
  • Schools, Curriculum and Power - The social dynamics of schools and classrooms and the role of power in making sense of the curriculum.
  • Identity in the Classroom - The ways in which pupils experience class, gender, ethnicity and learning disabilities in the school context.

Arrangements for Feedback on Work

Feedback on students’ progress is provided on a regular basis through discussion and commentary on work prepared for seminars. Students are also encouraged to discuss their work on an individual basis with the Module Convenor, lecturers and seminar tutors.

Formal, written feedback is provided on students’coursework assignments individually and for the group as a whole (the latter via Learning Central). 

Written feedback on examinations is provided to the group as a whole via Learning Central.


Indicative Reading

Ball, S.J. (2004) (ed.) The Routledge Falmer Reader in Sociology of Education, Oxon: Routledge Falmer.

Gewirtz, S. & Cribb, A. (2009) Understanding Education: A Sociological Perspective, Cambridge: Polity Press.

Lauder, H., Brown, P., Dillabough, J-A. & Halsey, A.H. (2006) (ed.) Education, Globalization and Social Change, Oxford: Oxford University.

Meighan, R. & Harber, C. (2007) A Sociology of Educating (5th edition), London: Continuum.

Moore, R. (2004)  Education and Society: Issues and Explanations in the Sociology of Education, Cambridge: Polity Press.

Sadovnik, A.R. (2011) (ed.)  Sociology of Education: A Critical Reader (2nd edition), Oxon: Routledge