SP432      Half Unit
Education Policy, Reform and Financing

This information is for the 2023/24 session.

Teacher responsible

Dr Sonia Exley


This course is compulsory on the MSc in International Social and Public Policy (Education). This course is available on the MSc in International Social and Public Policy, MSc in International Social and Public Policy (Development), MSc in International Social and Public Policy (LSE and Fudan), MSc in International Social and Public Policy (Migration), MSc in International Social and Public Policy (Non-Governmental Organisations) and MSc in International Social and Public Policy (Research). This course is available with permission as an outside option to students on other programmes where regulations permit.

All Social Policy Courses are ‘Controlled Access’. Please see the link below for further details on the allocation process:


Course content

This course considers education policy, reform and financing across a diverse range of countries. It uses concepts and tools from a number of academic disciplines – social policy, sociology, economics, politics and philosophy – to scrutinise education. Throughout the course, there is a particular focus on equity, social justice and the distribution of resources.

Issues to be addressed include: the aims of education systems; the impact of social characteristics on educational outcomes (e.g. socio-economic status, gender, race and ethnicity) and related policy reforms; accountability and market-oriented reforms in education; privatisation; power and the politics of educational policy making; global policy transfer in education; early years education; school-based education; vocational and higher education. Not all of these issues are covered as separate weekly topics – some are ‘cross-cutting’ and will be discussed throughout the course.


All teaching will be in accordance with the LSE Academic Code (https://info.lse.ac.uk/current-students/lse-academic-code) which specifies a "minimum of two hours taught contact time per week when the course is running in the Autumn Term (AT) and/or Winter Term (WT)". Social Policy courses are predominantly taught through a combination of in-person Lectures and In person classes/seminars. Further information will be provided by the Course Convenor in the first lecture of the course.

The course will be delivered in AT.

Formative coursework

One formative essay in AT.

Indicative reading

Specialist lists for each topic will be provided. The following books are recommended as a general introduction to the course content:

  • Apple, M.W., Ball, S.J., Gandin, L.A. (2010) The Routledge International Handbook of the Sociology of Education. Abingdon: Routledge. 
  • Ball, S.J. (2021) The Education Debate - Fourth Edition. Bristol: Policy Press. 
  • Grek, S., Maroy, C., Verger, A. (2021) World Yearbook of Education 2021: Accountability and Datafication in the Governance of Education. Abingdon: Routledge. 
  • Hogan, A., Thompson, G. (eds) (2021) Privatisation and Commercialisation in Public Education: How the Nature of Public Schooling is Changing. Abingdon: Routledge.
  • McGrath, S. Gu, Q. (eds) (2015) Routledge Handbook of International Education and Development. London: Routledge.
  • Mundy, K., Green, A,. Lingard, B., Verger, A. (eds) (2016) The Handbook of Global Education Policy. Oxford: Wiley Blackwell.
  • Wolf, A. (2002) Does Education Matter? Myths about Education and Economic Growth. Penguin.


Online assessment (100%) in the ST.

Student performance results

(2019/20 - 2021/22 combined)

Classification % of students
Distinction 20.9
Merit 72.1
Pass 7
Fail 0

Key facts

Department: Social Policy

Total students 2022/23: 51

Average class size 2022/23: 17

Controlled access 2022/23: Yes

Lecture capture used 2022/23: Yes (LT)

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Course selection videos

Some departments have produced short videos to introduce their courses. Please refer to the course selection videos index page for further information.

Personal development skills

  • Self-management
  • Team working
  • Problem solving
  • Application of information skills
  • Communication