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School of Social Sciences

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BAEcon Economics
Learn how the social sciences can help you to understand today's world.

BAEcon Economics / Course details

Year of entry: 2018

Course unit details:
Education and Society

Unit code SOCY20052
Credit rating 20
Unit level Level 2
Teaching period(s) Semester 2
Offered by Sociology
Available as a free choice unit? Yes


Key topics will include an overview of the relationship between educational outcomes and social inequalities; different theoretical perspectives on the purpose of education, including functionalism and cultural reproduction theory; higher education, employability and the knowledge economy; schooling and the negotiation of masculinities and femininities; schooling and sexuality; and schooling, ethnicity and whiteness.


  • To introduce students to sociological perspectives on education and schooling
  • To explore how experiences of schooling are affected by variables such as social class, gender, ethnicity and sexuality
  • To consider how formal schooling systems shape individual and collective identities and reflect and reinforce dominant societal values

Learning outcomes

On successful completion of this unit students will:

(i) be able to distinguish between key sociological perspectives on educational inequalities and demonstrate how these may be applied to a range of contemporary educational concerns.

(ii) have identified a range of topics of contemporary concern to educational sociologists and evaluate the validity of different approaches to those topics, drawing upon relevant theoretical perspectives and empirical evidence.

(iii) be able to reflect on their own experiences of schooling in a theoretically-informed manner.

Teaching and learning methods

Weekly lecture and tutorial/workshop, incorporating small group discussion of key readings focussed upon questions set by the lecturer, focused small group tasks, student presentations, and whole group interactive learning.

Employability skills

Written communication

Assessment methods

Exam and essay (50/50) with  a mid-semester essay and end of semester exam.

Feedback methods


All Sociology courses include both formative feedback – which lets you know how you’re getting on and what you could do to improve – and summative feedback – which gives you a mark for your assessed work.

Recommended reading

GEWIRTZ, Sharon and CRIBB, Allan (2009) Understanding Education: A Sociological Perspective, Cambridge: Polity Press – again, particularly useful for the first half of the unit.

COFFEY, Amanda (2001) Education and Social Change, Buckingham: Open University Press (370.193/C165) – some sections are a bit dated now, but by no means all.

Gordon, T., Holland, J. & Lahelma, E (2000) Making Spaces: Citizenship and Difference in Schools, Basingstoke: Macmillan

FRANCIS, Becky and SKELTON, Christine (2002) (eds) Investigating Gender:  Contemporary Perspectives in Education, Open University Press (376/F13) – very useful for the second half of the unit.

Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Assessment written exam 2
Lectures 20
Seminars 10
Independent study hours
Independent study 168

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Suzanne Heath Unit coordinator

Additional notes

2017/18 timetable

Monday 10:00 - 12:00, plus a separate one-hour tutorial (range of times available)

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