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Durham University

Postgraduate Module Handbook 2021/2022

Archive Module Description

This page is for the academic year 2021-22. The current handbook year is 2022-23

Department: Education

EDUC40630: Education Policy and Evaluation

Type Open Level 4 Credits 30 Availability Available in 2021/22


  • None


  • None

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None.


  • To develop critical understanding of ways in which educational policy relates to the organisation of education.
  • To develop critical thinking skills in quality appraising the design, conduct and reporting of education policy evaluations.


  • The Policy Studies module is concerned with the analysis of the process of education policy-making, and a critical reflection on education policy reform, evaluation and research.
  • In the twentieth century, a series of crises including a breakdown of a consensus on education and its purposes, the challenge of unemployment, the continued stratification of society and a credentialist spiral provoked a number of responses. These included the marketisation of education, state-mandated reforms and standardisation, inspection, accountability and consumer satisfaction, re-emphasis on standards and competitiveness for a world economy and the need for lifelong learning. The Policy Studies module offers an analytical study of these and other major policy issues.
  • We will look closely at attempts made to evaluate education policy in general and specific policies in particular. There will be a focus on the range of research designs which are amenable to education policy evaluation. A number of case studies will be explored in depth (for example: evaluation of higher education (HE) widening participation policy initiatives; monitoring performance; equity and inequity, curriculum reform; access to opportunities; teacher supply and retention issues and the poverty gradient and other gaps). There will be an opportunity to develop skills in critically appraising the ways in which policy innovation has been evaluated in the UK and elsewhere. The relationship between policy, practice and research will also be critically examined.

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • Education policy reform at home and abroad: critical understanding of research to evaluate policy.
Subject-specific Skills:
  • By the end of the module, students will be able to:
  • critique and evaluate education policy drawing upon policy studies literature
  • critique education policy
Key Skills:
  • Demonstrate the ability to research literature, including for example: searching, synthesising, summarising and critiquing literatures;
  • Demonstrate the ability to evaluate educational research;
  • Use ICT when presenting assignments;
  • Organise and plan;
  • Formulate, analyse and solve problems;
  • Learn independently.

Modes of Teaching, Learning and Assessment and how these contribute to the learning outcomes of the module

  • Through lectures and seminar teaching supported by Study Guide resources. The Study Guide includes preparation for and follow up to teaching activities. This directed independent work is an important part of the module. Lectures enable the ideas of the module to be considered. Seminar work enables students to develop their understanding of the ideas and consider them in a range of professionally relevant contexts. Activities in seminars include a variety of active learning approaches including discussion, group work, presentations, question and answer sessions, individual tasks. Preparation for the assignment involves students in wide reading and critical reflection on education policy and its evaluation.

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Lectures 7 1.5 hours 10.5
Seminars 7 2.5 hours 17.5
Preparation & Reading 272
Total 300

Summative Assessment

Component: Assignment Component Weighting: 100%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Assignment 5,000 words 100%

Formative Assessment:

Presentation (individually or as part of group) of readings on one of the seminar themes. Verbal feedback is given to students' contribution during class teaching sessions. Staff can be contacted for individual help. Written formative feedback is provided for the academic outline of the assignment.

Attendance at all activities marked with this symbol will be monitored. Students who fail to attend these activities, or to complete the summative or formative assessment specified above, will be subject to the procedures defined in the University's General Regulation V, and may be required to leave the University