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Durham University

Postgraduate Module Handbook 2022/2023

Archive Module Description

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

Department: Education

EDUC45730: Critical Perspectives in Education

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


  • None


  • None

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None


  • To introduce students to key theoretical concepts and their relevance to current educational debates.
  • To encourage students to read and reflect critically on educational issues.
  • To present students with a range of perspectives to better understand the social, cultural and political relations prevalent in educational settings at a macro and micro level.
  • To help students reflect critically on these issues from an international and comparative perspective: how can these key theoretical concepts help understand educational issues in different educational and national contexts? What does this mean for thinking about education internationally?


  • The course will be divided in three sections
  • Accountability, surveillance and performativity 
  • Market models in education 
  • Education and the surveillance society 
  • Performativity, audit and accountability
  • Curriculum and ideologies 
  • Curriculum theory 
  • Total curriculum/hidden curriculum 
  • Curriculum as a vehicle for cultural, social and political reproduction
  • Diversity and Othering 
  • Postcolonial interpretations and discourses 
  • Feminist and gender theories of education 
  • Multiculturalism, ‘superdiversity’, critical race theory

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • Knowledge and understanding of key social and critical theories
  • Knowledge and understanding of key sociological concepts
  • Knowledge and understanding of the specific contributions of these theories and concepts to the study of education locally and internationally
  • Knowledge and understanding of key interpretations of education as a site of social, cultural and political reproduction
Subject-specific Skills:
  • To reflect critically on concepts and theories encountered in the module
  • To build on these concepts and theories to analyse educational issues and current debates, locally and internationally
  • To read and analyse seminal theoretical texts and critically navigate different interpretations and commentaries
Key Skills:
  • To read and think critically and independently
  • To develop critical inquiry
  • To analyse, synthesise, evaluate, identify and deconstruct issues, norms and practices
  • To construct and sustain a reasoned argument
  • To develop study and research skills, information retrieval, and the capacity to plan and manage learning, and to reflect on own learning
  • To use written and spoken communication skills

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

  • An intensive programme of lectures, seminars (including group work) and, self-guided learning. Lectures will give up-to-date knowledge of social and critical theory and help structure students’ own study and learning towards the learning objectives. Seminars will facilitate a more in-depth student engagement with themes and issues raised in the lectures. The format of lectures and in particular seminar exercises will enable students to critically discuss key module concepts and engage with seminal texts, interpretations and commentaries. Assessment will take the form of one essay. This will provide the opportunity for students to demonstrate the extent to which they have understood and are able to engage critically with the theories and concepts covered under the learning outcomes.

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Lectures 16
Seminars 16
Preparation and Reading 268
Total 300

Summative Assessment

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

Formative Assessment:

Peer presentations relating to critical reading of key texts in seminars; journal reading workshops; essay planning workshops.

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