Assessment for Improvement, Accountability and Social Justice EDUC5947

  • Academic Session: 2019-20
  • School: School of Education
  • Credits: 20
  • Level: Level 5 (SCQF level 11)
  • Typically Offered: Summer
  • Available to Visiting Students: No
  • Available to Erasmus Students: No
  • Taught Wholly by Distance Learning: Yes

Short Description

This is a core compulsory course in the MSc in Assessment in Education. This course promotes critical engagement with current discourses on uses of assessment for improvement and accountability. Participants critically review relevant contested theories and research evidence and apply this learning to evaluate policy and practice, particularly in their own context. Participants share their experience, reflection, thinking and skills with others as members of a distance learning community. They are supported by the use of self-, peer- and tutor formative assessment; a final assignment assesses course attainment.


This course is taught entirely through distance learning. The course runs through the summer semester. It is taught over 12 weeks followed by 3 weeks assignment preparation. There are 4 milestone activities during the 12 week teaching period. Students are expected to be online at least once every week in this course, to work online and with the online resources for some 90 notional learning hours, to undertake guided independent and groupwork activity for some 68 notional learning hours and to deploy some 42 notional learning hours to assignment preparation with peer and tutor support.

Requirements of Entry

Excluded Courses





This course is summatively assessed by a report (equivalent to 4000-4500 words). Each participant identifies a key issue arising from the course for exploration through a collaborative research enquiry with two or three of their colleagues. Each group presents the findings to their peers who offer feedback. The final assessment comprises the group presentation accompanied by an individual commentary which provides reflective, evaluative reference to the key ideas and issues covered in the ILOs.

Course Aims

1. To enable participants to develop the knowledge and understanding, skills and attributes needed to evaluate critically competing theories of the role of assessment in improvement and accountability systems and practices, including the role of state and non-state actors in these processes.

2. To enable participants to evaluate critically policy and practice in assessment, recognising the importance of values, social justice and international perspectives in deepening their understanding of improvement and accountability.

Intended Learning Outcomes of Course

By the end of this course, participants, drawing on their reading of theory and research and on critical analysis of their own experience, will be able to:

1. engage with and reflect critically on current competing discourses on the role of assessment in evaluation, improvement and accountability

2. engage with and reflect critically on current theory, research, policy and practice in relation to the development of socially just assessment policies and practices at a range of system levels

3. reflect critically on uses of different models of assessment and evaluation in policy and practice and on common misconceptions relating to uses of data

4. reflect critically on ethical and social justice implications of different approaches to the use of assessment data for purposes of accountability.

Minimum Requirement for Award of Credits

Students must submit at least 75% by weight of the components (including examinations) of the course's summative assessment.