Study-Unit Description

Study-Unit Description


TITLE Key Debates in Comparative Education

LEVEL 05 - Postgraduate Modular Diploma or Degree Course


DEPARTMENT Euro-Mediterranean Centre for Educational Research

DESCRIPTION This study-unit sets out to introduce students to the field of comparative education studies, its origins in the early 19th century, and the variety of orientations, trends and schools that have developed since then. The developments in comparative education approaches and paradigms will be linked to parallel debates in epistemology, research methods, and the social sciences more broadly. Students will in particular be required to focus on such areas as:
- Defining comparison;
- Paradigm shifts in comparative education;
- The use and abuse of comparative education;
- Ideology in comparative education;
- Methodological and philosophical considerations in comparative education.

Study-unit Aims:

The main aim of this study-unit is to help students understand education as a social practice and as a world-wide phenomenon, while focusing on education in Malta from an international perspective. Examples, comparisons and cases are selected from a broad range of countries, with special attention being given to the Mediterranean and European regions.

Learning Outcomes:

1. Knowledge & Understanding:
By the end of the study-unit the student will be able to:

- Critically consider the purpose of comparison;
- Outline the origins and development of education studies;
- Identify the key debates and issues in comparative education over time;
- Show knowledge and understanding of the contributions of the leading figures in comparative education;
- Identify the main paradigm shifts in the field, and why these took place;
- Discuss the the main pitfalls in comparative education.

2. Skills:
By the end of the study-unit the student will be able to:

- Apply comparative methodologies to other fields (e.g. sociology, politics, religion, literature, philosophy, economy, social history, cultural studies, cross-cultural psychology).
- Draw on a range of disciplinary skills in order to make sense of complex social realities;
- Identify units of comparison (i.e. comparing places, systems, times, cultures, values, innovations);
- Critically consider the types of question and evidence provide a legitimate basis for comparison.

Main Text/s and any supplementary readings:


- Bray, M., Adamson, B. & Mason, M. (eds)(2014) Comparative education research: approaches and methods. Hong Kong: CERC & Springer [2nd edition]
- Meighan, R. & Sirja-Blatchford, I. (1997) A sociology of educating. London: Cassell [3rd edition] or Halsey, A.H., Lauder, H., Brown, P. & Wells, A.S. (eds)(1997) Education: culture, economy and society, Oxford: Oxford University Press, and
- Sultana, R.G. (ed.)(1997) Inside/outside schools: towards a critical sociology of education in Malta. Malta: PEG [available at]
- Sultana, R.G. (ed.)(2001) Yesterday’s schools: readings in Maltese educational history. Malta: PEG, and
- Wain, K. (2004) The learning society in a postmodern world: the education crisis. New York: Peter Lang.

Supplementary (a selection):

- Altbach, P., Arnove, R. & Kelly, G. (eds)(1992) Emergent issues in education: comparative perspectives. Albany: State University of New York Press.
- Altbach, P.G. & Kelly, G.P. (eds)(1986) New approaches to comparative education. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
- Arnove, R. & Torres, C.A (eds)(2003) Comparative education: the dialectic of the global and the local. Lanham, Boulder, New York and Oxford: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers Inc.
- Bray, M. (ed.)(2003) Comparative education: continuing traditions, new challenges and new paradigms. Dordrecht, London, Boston: Kluwer Publishers.
- Bray, M. & Packer, S. (1993) Education in small states: concepts, challenges and strategies. Oxford: Pergamon Press.
- Burns, R. & Welch, A. (eds)(1992) Contemporary perspectives in comparative education. New York: Garland Press.
- Crossley, M. & Watson, K. (2003) Globalisation, context and difference. London & New York: RoutledgeFalmer.
- Halls, W.D. (ed.)(1990) Comparative education: contemporary issues and trends. London: Jessica Kingsley Publishers.
- Lê Thành Khôi (1995) Education et civilisations. Paris: Unesco.
- Murray Thomas, R. (ed.)(1990) International comparative education: practices, issues and prospects. Oxford: Butterworth-Heinemann Ltd.
- Noah, A. & Eckstein, M. (1998) Doing comparative education: three decades of collaboration. Hong Kong: Comparative Education Research Centre [N.B. Free download from]
- Schriewer, J. & Holmes, B. (1988) Theories and methods in comparative education. Frankfurt am Main, Bern, New York, Paris: Peter Lang.
- Sultana, R.G. (ed.)(2001) Challenge and change in the Euro-Mediterranean: case studies in educational innovation. New York: Peter Lang.


Assessment Component/s Assessment Due Resit Availability Weighting
Research Paper SEM1 Yes 100%

LECTURER/S Ronald Sultana

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It should be noted that all the information in the description above applies to study-units available during the academic year 2020/1. It may be subject to change in subsequent years.