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Sociology of Education (SO123)

You are already something of an expert in education. You are right in the middle of it now, investing time, energy and probably money in getting an education. It may seem as though education is something that has just happened to you, and up to this point you may not have had much say in your educational journey; or you may have already had to make difficult educational choices, to deal with ideas of ‘success’ and ‘failure’, or to negotiate the educational system within or across different national systems.

When we take a closer look at the educational system we are working in, we see that it is shaped in significant ways by social, economic and political forces. Investment in education is a contentious political subject. So is the curriculum: who gets to decide what children and young people should be taught, how, and when? What is the main purpose of educating a population? What should the purpose be? How is the education system organised, and in whose interests? Should schooling be free, and available for everyone? Does it have to be competitive? Not everyone gets the same educational opportunities or has the same experiences: is that OK?

If these kinds of questions and problems interest you, you will be excited to look back through recent history to investigate how and why the educational system in the UK came to be the way it is. Together we will explore policy decisions and the critical responses to them, looking at research evidence to back up our arguments. We range from the beginning of the formal education system through to the contemporary issues that you are likely to read or hear about in this week’s news. We will look at compulsory schooling as well as universities, and compare the UK’s system with other national systems that might have very different values or organisational principles.

soc of education

Module Director

Dr. Cath Lambert

Timing and CATS

This module will be running in the Spring term and be worth 15 CATS