Talk (or email discussion) with tutors about titles by the end of term. Students: seek your tutor’s view views on whether your title is doable and appropriate and which literature you will make the core of your essay. The title is your choice, not your tutors – but seek advice about it.

Requirements: 4000 words. Grade penalty if more than 10% above this. Word count includes subheadings and quotations but not list of references or cover sheet. Make sure your essay is anonymised and includes cover sheet.  Submission through Turnitin by deadline, or grade penalties.



Our overarching aim is to support you to begin to articulate, explain and justify your own position within the complex and diverse field of educational research.

We recognise education studies as a rich field. It encompasses a wide range of contrasting disciplinary specialisms as well as inter-disciplinary perspectives.

You must ensure that your essay discusses (i.e. critically engages with) at least one of the compulsory module readings (as well as a variety of other readings). Our very strong advice is that this should be more than a brief section in your essay: our best advice to you is to focus your essay title on an issue discussed on the course.

It is of course an academic essay. So, you should bring in other readings, both from the course, and from the literature in the area you have chosen. There should be critical engagement with the literature, proper referencing (no problem which choice of style of referencing but it needs to be consistent), and so on.

It might well be helpful to have in mind the grade criteria sheet: put yourself in the position of an examiner reading your work. They will examine according to this sheet.

We (strongly) advise you to base the essay in a chosen context which you have experience of or an interest in. For example, for someone who has experience of the Chilean primary school: What might be the value of primary school History classes in the Chile becoming aims-based? We also advise to narrow down (‘funnel’) your topic e.g. by localising the context. This is likely to make for a more manageable essay than ‘what should be the aim of primary schools’ or even ‘the aim of primary school classes in Chile’.

However, a small number of students may want to engage with ideas more generally, for example by discussing philosophical issues, with only ‘education’ as your context and that is acceptable – but please note that we advise you even then, in most cases, to think through a chosen context which you have experience of or an interest in. If you want to take such a more general approach, please do discuss with your tutor. The essay must be about education (which can be broadly conceived and not confined to schooling or university). You must also include a discussion of one of the compulsory readings of the module. Students do not have to make this reading the central focus of their topic; but it must at least be discussed (not merely indexed) at some point.

The essay should not be an empirical study, e.g. ‘does the use of whiteboards enhance student learning’, for which you would need to collect data as evidence. Nor should it be a review of empirical studies (although of course some empirical references may be appropriate as evidence for a position or for setting the scene for the description of a


Rather it should be a discussion of education in terms of you positioning yourself with respect to ideas/justifications/legitimations/critiques in the light of the literature. Themes we cover in the lectures include (but are by no means limited to): social reproduction, the dialogic imagination and education, the legitimation of different kinds of schooling, questioning social and other forms of (in)justice in education, anarchism as an approach to education, anti-school positions, values, designing education (e.g. aims-based versus powerful knowledge), questioning alternative provision, sociology perspectives on education, psycho-social readings of educational practices, the commodification of education, the state in education, and anti-humanist positions.



12th August 2020