SA4B9      Half Unit
Education Policy, Reform and Financing

This information is for the 2017/18 session.

Teacher responsible

Prof Anne West OLD.2.30


This course is available on the MPA in European Policy-Making, MPA in International Development, MPA in Public Policy and Management, MPA in Public and Economic Policy, MPA in Public and Social Policy, MPA in Social Impact, MSc in Social Policy (European and Comparative Social Policy), MSc in Social Policy (Research), MSc in Social Policy (Social Policy and Planning) and Master of Public Administration. This course is available with permission as an outside option to students on other programmes where regulations permit.

Priority will be given to social policy students with a specific interest in education policies in developed countries. 

Course content

The course considers education policy, reforms and financing across developed countries. It uses concepts and tools from a range of academic fields - economics, politics, social policy, philosophy and sociology - to scrutinise education, with a particular focus on equity, social justice and the distribution of resources.

Issues to be addressed include: the aims of education; the impact of social characteristics on educational outcomes (e.g. class, 'race'/ ethnicity and gender) and related policy reforms; accountability and market-oriented reforms in education; privatisation and the changing role of the state; power and the global politics of educational policy making; early years education; school-based education; and tertiary education.



25 hours of seminars in the LT. 1 hour and 30 minutes of seminars in the ST.

This course is different from a ‘standard’ postgraduate course.  Instead of lectures and seminars there are weekly seminars. These involve a short introduction one week; the next week there is a discussion of key questions and issues arising from students' reading followed by joint student presentations and a group activity. This format provides an opportunity for students to gain experience of carrying out focused research on a particular topic; working in a team; presenting their work to others in the group; and facilitating discussion amongst the student group.

Formative coursework

One formative essay in LT.

Indicative reading

Specialist lists for each topic will be provided. The following introductory books are recommended:

  • Arthur, J., Peterson, A. (2011) The Routledge Companion to Education. London: Routledge;
  • Glennerster, H. (2009) Understanding the Finance of Welfare (2nd edition). Bristol: Policy Press;
  • Lauder, H., Brown, P., Dillabough, J., Halsey, A.H. (eds) (2006) Education, Globalization and Social Change. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • Feintuck, M., Stevens, R. (2013) School Admissions and Accountability: Planning, Choice or Chance? Bristol: Policy Press.


Exam (75%, duration: 2 hours) in the main exam period.
Essay (25%, 2000 words) in the ST.

Student performance results

(2013/14 - 2015/16 combined)

Classification % of students
Distinction 14.1
Merit 59.4
Pass 26.6
Fail 0

Key facts

Department: Social Policy

Total students 2016/17: Unavailable

Average class size 2016/17: Unavailable

Controlled access 2016/17: No

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Course survey results

(2014/15 - 2015/16 combined)

1 = "best" score, 5 = "worst" score

The scores below are average responses.

Response rate: 79%



Reading list (Q2.1)


Materials (Q2.3)


Course satisfied (Q2.4)


Lectures (Q2.5)


Integration (Q2.6)


Contact (Q2.7)


Feedback (Q2.8)


Recommend (Q2.9)