Introduction to Education and Social Research Design
This unit aims to provide you with an understanding of the research design process. It will start with framing the issue and reviewing literature. You will learn how to formulate research questions and hypotheses, and how in turn decisions made at this stage shape the research design. You will be presented with a selection of common research designs and a wide range of research data collection approaches and analytical tools. The focus of this unit is on the decision making process researchers need to go through, underpinned by political, methodological and ethical issues which need to be taken into account.
The dissertation is an extended piece of writing reporting on research undertaken independently by the student, guided by a supervisor.
Identification and definition of an appropriate research topic. Identification, location and critical review of relevant textual resources: literature reviews, documentary analysis, policy/professional documents, official statistics. Discussion and selection of an appropriate research strategy; developing a research proposal. Developing meaningful research questions from initial concepts, ontological/epistemological considerations, methodology/approach, ethical issues, (data) analysis, dissemination. Ethical clearance for research undertaken. Implementation of the research and writing a research report and presenting research findings.
Leadership and Management in Educational Settings
The unit will explore theories of leadership and management and the complex ways in which they relate to practice/application in a learning environment.
The unit will provide an overview of current leadership and management theories with particular reference to those that are viewed as having particular relevance to educational settings. Leadership and management discourses will be critically assessed and located within global contexts. In particular, the relationship between organisational effectiveness, accountability and leadership will be analysed. Additionally, students will have the opportunity to critically evaluate concepts relating to: leadership / management styles, organisational design, organisational structure, organisational culture, managing people and resources, and leading change. Through this students will gain a knowledge and understanding of the complexities of leading and managing in educational settings.
Likely Optional Units
Identity, Equality and Empowerment in Childhood
By focusing on issues of personal agency and identity, the unit helps the student to establish their own critical positioning as a practitioner/professional in a childhood/youth setting. It enables students to identify and articulate effective methods of investigating the experiences of different individuals to inform the critical development of structures and practices that support children. The unit will reflect on a range of philosophies, disciplines and ideas that can inform ways of enhancing equality, empowering individuals and communities. This unit complements the studies carried out in the unit ‘International comparisons of childhoods’ but can also be taken as an option unit by other programme award students.
The unit will draw on critical philosophical accounts of identity and inequality to consider how these accounts can inform research and practice. The unit will explore studies of personal learning and professional relationships to consider how individual agency can be nurtured and how tensions between individuals can be reduced. Students will be encouraged to consider the relevance of engaging in research to support their own areas of interest.
Transformative and Ethical Leadership in Educational Settings
This unit focuses on the developing understandings of transformative and ethical leadership in educational contexts. The unit will explore the contribution of educational leadership in delivering social change and equality. Additionally democratic leadership approaches will be analysed in educational organisations. Educational values in an age of performativity will be critically analysed and the notion of educational leadership as an ethical endeavour will be explored.
Globalisation, Social Justice and Social Change
This unit will explore the relationship between education, social justice and the state within a global context. It will provide theoretical frameworks to enable students to develop critical understanding of educational inequalities in national, international and global contexts. The unit will also consider strategies adopted to address these inequalities.
Students will be introduced to the key concepts of social justice, globalization and identity. Students will be engaged in critical thought and discussion about the social, political, and economic mechanisms that perpetuate educational inequalities globally. Students will apply appropriate theoretical perspectives to case studies or their own professional contexts to explore implications for the development of more equitable practice and global citizens.
Key Issues in Managing Diversity, Disability and Special Educational Needs (SEN)
This unit examines issues of exclusion and marginalisation, disability and difference, race and culture. It focuses on critical issues for equity and diversity rather than on particular categories of special educational need. An emphasis is placed on understanding different perspectives (sociological, psychological, medical, educational, rights-based etc), on locating oneself in the debates and on implications for policy and practice. Students are introduced to a variety of issues for analysis and exploration from a range of contexts as well as drawing on specialist/discrete fields of knowledge such as autism, specific learning difficulties, social emotional mental health. In this way, the unit enables students to articulate and explore wider questions pertinent to theory, policy and/or practice in the field of inclusion, disability and SEN: how can education promote greater equity in an increasingly diverse society? What does inclusion mean in an age of austerity and Globalization? How should we understand the complexities of inclusive education in a rapidly changing world? Drawing from such fields as critical pedagogy, disability studies and multicultural education, the unit explores critical theory and research and examines a range of alternative approaches to promoting social justice in education. Students are encouraged to pursue their own areas of interest using analysis, reflection and evaluation, students will undertake a presentation and report on an issue of their choice.
This unit allows students to articulate, plan, and pursue a topic of special/individual interest related to the student’s award area, and under the guidance of a tutor.
Participants will negotiate an appropriate area of study and demonstrate how this will enable them to meet unit learning outcomes and the ways in which it fits with the award area and their own learning.
The student will carefully consider and agree with the unit leader the approach to be adopted, carry out the agreed programme of work to support the agreed output, and reflect on the process of independent study.
The main teaching input will take the form of a set up tutorial, further guidance (including via email etc), and a point for formative assessment. Participants may, and are encouraged to, integrate other activities, such as conferences or courses in other programmes of study where possible and that support learning in the area under consideration.
This unit involves a significant (practice-based) independent study which critically addresses current knowledge in the field as defined by the students’ award and developed within the context of engagement with a practice setting and/or practitioners.
Introduction; reflective practice in education and approaches to reflective writing. Identifying an area of focus/setting(s) context, aims and objectives; ethical issues, preparation, negotiating access and planning for a practice engagement; dealing with difficulties and using IT for tutor support and research.
The unit will enable students to undertake an independent study based on involvement in a practice setting(s) and/or with practitioners, which is related to their Masters study focus and future employment and/or practice interests. This will take the form of a practice-based project plan, and related critically reflective journal and evaluation. Students will be supported to choose a relevant and appropriate topic area, potential practice setting(s), and to negotiate access, but this will be led by the student with guidance, and access to particular settings cannot be guaranteed. Students will locate their topic within their setting context/practice engagement remit, relevant education/related policy and research, and discuss implications for own understanding and professional development. The form of practice engagement will vary depending on student focus of interest and practical constraints but might include observations/shadowing, professional conversations with practitioners/stakeholders/managers, visits to settings/organisations, participation in a professional network or meetings, online and library-based research, and other activities related to an educational or related setting/organisation. The practice engagement will normally always include agreed activities in the practice setting/s. The form(s) of engagement will be negotiated and agreed with the supporting tutor and relevant setting(s) but normally comprises 15 days (or equivalent) directly in practice-related activities.
Students should note that access to particular practice settings cannot be guaranteed and that access to settings for most activities normally also requires DBS clearance. Students should plan well ahead of the unit and with the supporting tutor to ensure that DBS clearance can be achieved in time and where this is needed.
Collaborative Research Project
This unit aims to provide students with the practical and analytical skills needed to embark upon collaborative research. It is assumed that students will already have a grounding in theory and methodology and in the process of research design. This unit will thus allow students to apply it to a real-world research context. Students will work in small groups of 3-4 students through the process of research on a ‘real-life’ issue/problem, clarifying research questions and perspectives, deciding on a methodological approach, selecting data collection and data analysis methods, carrying out the project, writing up and dissemination. Throughout the unit, students will be expected to critically engage with the political and ethical implications of generating research knowledge (as well as practical challenges and constraints including word limits, and research issues arising from working together) and the ways in which theory informs practice as students develop research literacy.
Theory and Philosophy in Educational and Social Research
This unit will introduce students to some of the challenges of social science and educational inquiry, including a consideration of the key philosophical positions in Western thought that have informed existing research traditions, and to scholars and thinkers associated with them. These will include positivism, interpretivism, critical theory and postmodernism. Students will have opportunities to investigate the different ontological and epistemological assumptions that inform these traditions, and to engage with some of the associated historical, political, and ethical debates through individual and shared reading, discussion, and presentations. The unit will also consider theoretical and methodological links between different philosophical positions, and the development of different fields of enquiry and research frameworks. This unit will underpin much of the thinking in the rest of the course.
The unit will coalesce around a number of current themes that permeate major philosophical approaches, emphasising the theoretical and political model of society that they advocate. These ongoing epistemological and ontological discussions will consider the methodological implications of different philosophical positions for research in education and the social sciences.
Shaping the Future: Working in International Education Environments
This unit will prepare you to move between different communities and to develop research and reflective practice techniques that support cultural exchange and innovation in pursuit of strategic policy goals. You will explores case studies of leadership at different levels within organisations, communities and institutions to reflect on how educational perspectives can support innovation and change. The unit is underpinned by a range of theoretical and empirically based literature that expand the understanding of sustainable development established in the core unit.