Postgraduate taught 

Education MSc: Online distance learning

Education Policy and the Politics of Education EDUC5999

  • Academic Session: 2023-24
  • School: School of Education
  • Credits: 20
  • Level: Level 5 (SCQF level 11)
  • Typically Offered: Semester 1
  • Available to Visiting Students: No
  • Taught Wholly by Distance Learning: Yes

Short Description

This is a fully online distance learning course and a core course within the online MSc in educational Studies. Education professionals and scholars require a knowledge and understanding of education policy and its pervasive reach in shaping, governing and directing education systems. Education policy is an active and engaging sector of academic study. This course will help you towards a general understanding of education as a broad academic field while at the same time introducing you to policy studies. Policy scholars are aware that contemporary debates, disputes and competing ideologies and understandings of education across sectors and contexts take place in and around education policy making. Policy making is directly related to politics, political power and contestation. Where politics, policy-making and education coincide; scholarship in this area can be described in terms of the politics of education. Education policy represents forms of authoritative statement about the purposes of education, what education is or should be, how it should be organised and resourced along with significant questions such as access, social justice and social change. By the end of this course you will have developed an understanding of education policy and a range of key issues and areas that characterise contemporary education systems and reflect global trends. Policy exemplars studied within the course are typically drawn from across sectors, (for example, compulsory education, higher education, vocational education) and in relation to issues such as the purposes of education, social justice, vocational education, access to education and the organisation and resourcing of education.


None: online course.

Requirements of Entry


Excluded Courses

Contemporary Themes in Education Policy




Students are required to complete a set of tasks (Set Exercise) by posting their responses during the course (weighted at 20% of course Grade).

Written Assignment (weighted at 80% of the course Grade).

Course Aims

This distance learning course provides students with a general induction into the study of education through the critical exploration of policy related to a range of significant issues and sectors across the education field. The course aims to provide participants with an introduction to the study of education policy as a subfield of policy studies. Participants will learn about policy, the contested nature of policy making and the embeddedness of policy and policy systems within the politics of education and multi-scale governance. Students will gain an awareness of the importance of ideas, ideological commitments and forms of knowledge in understanding education, education policy and policy making.

Intended Learning Outcomes of Course

By the end of this course students will be able to:


Locate the study of education policy as a subfield of policy studies.

Demonstrate an understanding of a range of significant issues and ideas in contemporary education.

Demonstrate awareness of the goals, assumptions and values underlying education policies and their relation to wider ambitions and governmental concerns.

Understand and locate selected policies and policy problems within the context of a globalised policy space.

Recognise conceptions of social justice as a concern in driving policy reform and in the critical evaluation of policy.

Critically analyse policy concepts and narratives displaying an appreciation of contestation and politics within and around education policy. 

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.