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Philosophy of Education (PH355)


This module is not running in 2016-17


The module will normally cover a selection from some of the following key issues & questions:

Education and Authority in a Pluralistic Society: What justifies the state in compelling children to attend school? Is the state system rightly entitled to the power it exercises in establishing curricula that parents might find objectionable—as with the teaching of biological evolution instead of intelligent design, or the teaching of literature with themes parents find unsuitable?

Indoctrination and autonomy: Is the distinction really so obvious between education and indoctrination? Can education be non-indoctrinating, or is some element of indoctrination inevitable? What are the epistemic aims of education? What is it to be an autonomous knower?

Learning: How is learning possible? What is involved in acquiring new concepts and new skills? What role does training play in accounting for the transformation achieved on acquiring new concepts, new skills and abilities? Is learning a matter of initiation into the space of reasons, or formation of reason?

The individual, society, and autonomy: What is the place of schools in a just or democratic society? Does the aim of educating children for their own good conflict with the aim of educating them for the common good? Is the point of education to promote a thriving economy, to foster competent citizen scrutiny of those in authority, to give citizens the tools to make informed choices, to prepare them for the work force, or something else?


By the end of the module students should be able to....

  • Understand and differentiate views on central issues in the philosophy of education and on different philosophical approaches to those issues, and offer relevant support for and critical responses to those views.
  • Communicate clearly and substantively in speech and in writing on the questions addressed in the module.
  • Isolate the important claims within readings, understand the structure of arguments, test views for strengths and weaknesses, make pertinent use of examples, and compare the substance of views consistently.
  • Pursue and organize philosophical research using a range of sources (print and electronic media), documenting research carefully, and showing the ability to engage independently in philosophical debate.


Lectures for 2015-16
  • Thursday 12pm to 2pm in H1.48

There will be no lectures in reading week (week 6)

Seminars for 2015-16

Seminars start in week 2

There will be no seminars in reading week (week 6)

Please sign up for a seminar group using tabula.


This module will be assessed in the following way:

  • One 1,500-word essay, produced as a take home examination, based on questions set on a Friday with the deadline the following Monday (worth 15% of the module)
  • One 2,500-word essay (worth 85% of the module)

Essays should be submitted to Tabula in line with the essay deadlines schedule.


There are a number of very good anthologies of readings available and most of the texts studied will be drawn from these, including:

  • Randall Curren (ed.), A Companion to the philosophy of education, Blackwell, Oxford , 2005
  • Blake, n., Smeyers, P., Smith, D. & Standish, P (eds.) Blackwell Guide to the philosophy of education, Blackwell, Oxford 2003
  • Siegel, H. (ed) The Oxford Handbook in the philosophy of education, OUP, Oxford, 2009

There are also a number of single volume introductions such as:

  • D, Carr, Making Sense of Education, Routlede, London 2003
  • Bailey, R. (ed) The philosophy of educatio: an introduction, Coninuum, 2010
  • Barrow, R. & Wood R. In Introduction to the Philosophy of Education, routledge 2006
  • Noddings, N. Philosophy of Education Westview Press, 3rd edition, 2011
  • Gingell, J, Winch, C. Philosophy and Educational Policy: a critical introduction, Routledge 2004.