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Unit information: Education and International Development in 2021/22

Unit name Education and International Development
Unit code EDUCM0095
Credit points 20
Level of study M/7
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 1 (weeks 1 - 12)
Unit director Dr. Mitchell
Open unit status Not open




School/department School of Education
Faculty Faculty of Social Sciences and Law


This unit explores the role of education in international development. It highlights the key theoretical ideas, debates, and international actors that have driven international development agendas as well important critiques of these. Students will have the opportunity to explore the history of international development, considering its colonial legacies and tracing key moments from the founding of the United Nations after the second World War, through the Cold War era, the global recession, and into the contemporary period. This includes critical engagement with human capital and modernisation theories, human rights, social justice and capabilities based approaches to development, sustainable development, and post-development and post-colonial perspectives.

The unit considers key debates and focuses on current, important issues in comparative and international education and will give students an overview of research in this field. The unit also explores different approaches to generating comparative knowledge about education, with a focus on research in the Global South, highlighting the diversity of approaches to comparative research. Students will have an opportunity to explore contemporary issues of their own interest and to share these at a collaboratively organised conference.


  • To critically explore and draw out implications of the history of international development, including its colonial legacies and current power dynamics;
  • To introduce and critically reflect upon key development theories and their deployment within international, national and local policy agendas in education;
  • To develop and deepen knowledge of comparative and international education, including by developing an understanding of comparative approaches to conducting educational research;
  • To critically and creatively apply this learning individually and working with peers to explore contemporary issues in international development.
  • To develop research, presentation, and convening skills individually and collaboratively.

Intended learning outcomes

By the end of the unit, students will be able to:

  1. Critically connect current practice and debates in international development to historical processes, events and legacies;
  2. Critically and creatively apply relevant development theories to critique and understand current, practice and debate, including to propose promising alternatives;
  3. Independently source and manage comparative and international education research, demonstrating an understanding of research approaches and their implications;
  4. Develop coherent and convincing oral and written arguments and presentations that draw on theory, personal and professional interest, and independent research around education and international development;
  5. To develop individual and collaborative research, organisation and presentation skills.

Teaching details

This unit will be taught using a blended approach consisting of a mixture of synchronous and asynchronous activities including seminars, lectures, reading and discussions

Assessment Details

Formative assessment

  • Regular contributions to a unit reading group
  • Pre-conference workshop

Summative assessment

  1. Contribution to a digital glossary and timeline that provide a history of international development (minimum 1,000 words over 2 contributions) (25%) (ILOs 1-3)
  2. Participation in a student organised unit conference, including contributing to conference organisation and to conference content on the day. For example, a student might contribute to organisation by convening a conference sub-theme or peer reviewing conference submissions, and might contribute to the conference on the day by presenting a poster or being part of a group presentation (25%) (ILOs 4-5)
  3. Conference report (2,000 words) summarising own contribution and on the key themes from the conference and their implications for education and international development (50%) (ILOs 1-5)

Reading and References

  • Crossley, M. & Watson, K. (2003). Comparative and International Research in Education: Globalisation, Context and Difference. London: Routledge Falmer.
  • Escobar, A. (1995). Encountering Development: The Making and Unmaking of the Third World. Princeton: Princeton University Press.
  • McCowan, T. & Unterhalter, E. (2015) (Eds.). Education and International Development: An Introduction. London: Bloomsbury.
  • Phillips, D. and Schweisfurth, M. (2014). Comparative and International Education: An Introduction to Theory, Method and Practice. London: Bloomsbury.
  • Sen, A. (1999). Development as Freedom. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • Takayama, K., Sriprakash, A. and Connell R. (2016). Toward a postcolonial comparative and international education. Comparative Education Review. 61(S1): S1-S24.
  • Verger, A., Altinyelken, H.K., Novelli, M. (Eds.) (2012). Global Education Policy and International Development: New Agendas, Issues and Policies. London: Bloomsbury.