Debating the Big Questions in Education

Module titleDebating the Big Questions in Education
Module codeEFPM913
Academic year2020/1
Module staff

Professor Justin Dillon (Lecturer)

Duration: Term123
Duration: Weeks


Number students taking module (anticipated)


Description - summary of the module content

Module description

This module gives you the opportunity to engage in critical and lively debate around the ‘big questions’ that are often asked in relation to education. Each module session will debate a different ‘big question’. This will mean that you will critically examine a number of different contemporary educational issues over the course of study. The Education Studies module (EFPM914) is a pre-requisite to this module because you will be required to bring your knowledge and understanding of the different theoretical perspectives to bear on the contemporary issues which will be critically examined in this module.

Module aims - intentions of the module

The principal aims of this module are:

  • To enable you to critically explore a range of contemporary debates in the field of education
  • To introduce you to a range of varying viewpoints which might be proffered in debates on these contemporary issues
  • To encourage you to critically assess the issues in light of your own educational experiences, research interests or relevant professional expertise
  • To allow you the opportunity to actively engage in these debates with others and to develop considered statements (drawing on relevant theoretical perspectives, empirical research, policy and practice) on these issues over the course of study

Intended Learning Outcomes (ILOs)

ILO: Module-specific skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 1. Demonstrate ability to identify, effectively explain and critically evaluate key issues in education
  • 2. Demonstrate ability to derive sound, theorized conclusions on a selected number of big issues that are debated within education

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 3. Demonstrate ability to select, integrate and present coherently and reflectively, orally and in writing, relevant theoretical arguments relating to education
  • 4. Critically reflect upon and evaluate your own (and others) understandings of current issues and debates in education

ILO: Personal and key skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 5. Communicate and engage in debate effectively and accurately, orally and in writing, in a manner appropriate to the discipline
  • 6. Undertake both directed and independent study to recognise, justify and analyse key ideas in the literature and relate these to research, theory, policy and practice

Syllabus plan

Syllabus plan

Whilst the module’s precise content may vary from year to year, it is envisaged that the syllabus will cover some or all of the following topics:

  • Intelligence and ability
  • The implications of neuroscience for education
  • Education for sustainable futures
  • Education for global citizenship
  • Technologies for teaching and learning
  • Professional learning
  • Assessment
  • Creativity
  • Alternatives to mainstream schooling
  • Educational inequality and diversity
  • Social justice
  • Inclusion
  • Religion and faith-based education

Learning and teaching

Learning activities and teaching methods (given in hours of study time)

Scheduled Learning and Teaching ActivitiesGuided independent studyPlacement / study abroad

Details of learning activities and teaching methods

CategoryHours of study timeDescription
Scheduled Learning and Teaching Activities30.510 x 3 hour taught sessions (online/campus), 1 x academic tutorial (0.5 hours)
Guided Independent Study60Set weekly readings
Guided Independent Study109.5Directed study e.g. web-based activities; preparing conclusive statements on the debates; preparing for academic tutorial; preparing for seminars; responding to seminar activities.
Guided Independent Study100Preparation for assignments and further reading


Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Essay1500 words1-5Written and oral tutor feedback (academic tutorial)

Summative assessment (% of credit)

CourseworkWritten examsPractical exams

Details of summative assessment

Form of assessment% of creditSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Literature review 805000 words1,2,3,6Written tutor feedback
Individual presentation151000 words1,2,3,5Written tutor feedback
Class participation in seminar debate activities5275 words1-5Written tutor feedback


Details of re-assessment (where required by referral or deferral)

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
Literature reviewLiterature review (5000 words)1,2,3,66 weeks
Individual presentationRecorded presentation1,2,3,56 weeks

Re-assessment notes

Class participation in seminar debate activities will not be reassessed as this activity will take place within taught session time. Presentations will be required as audio recordings owing to the main assessment session occurring within term time.


Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

Adey, P. & Dillon, J. (eds) (2012). Bad Education: Debunking Myths in Education. Milton Keynes: Open University Press.

Armstrong, A. C., Armstrong, D. and Spandagou, I. (2010) Inclusive Education, International Policy and Practice. London: Sage

Arnot, M. (2002) Reproducing Gender; Critical Essays on Educational Theory and Feminist Politics London: Routledge

Ball, S. (2017) The Education Debate. London: Policy Press.

Hayes, D. (ed.) (2004) Key Debates in Education. London: Routledge Falmer.

Reay, D. (2017) Miseducation: Inequality, Education and the Working Classes

Selwyn, N. (2016) Education and Technology: Key Issues and Debates. London: Bloomsbury.

William, D. (2017) Assessment and learning: some reflections, Assessment in Education: Principles, Policy & Practice, 24:3, 394-403.

Module has an active ELE page

Key words search

Education; Debate; Big Questions; Key Issues

Credit value30
Module ECTS


Module pre-requisites

EFPM914 Education Studies

Module co-requisites


NQF level (module)


Available as distance learning?


Origin date


Last revision date