Study-Unit Description

Study-Unit Description


TITLE Policy-making in Education

LEVEL 05 - Postgraduate Modular Diploma or Degree Course


DEPARTMENT Euro-Mediterranean Centre for Educational Research

DESCRIPTION Course Outline:

The unit explores educational policy making in a global environment. In particular it raises questions as to how educational policy is generated, where it comes from, and the extent to which it addresses educational problems. The unit provides the students with the opportunity to learn about different approaches to educational policymaking, to identify the role of the social actors that participate in policymaking processes, and the contexts which frame them at national and international levels. Students in particular will be required to become familiar with theoretical and conceptual frameworks which implicitly and explicitly influence educational policy and the influence of personalities, institutions, international organizations, supra-national agencies such as the OECD and the EU Commission and foreign assistance on such processes. Similarly, they need to explore the impact of international research such as PISA and TIMSS in establishing international benchmarks that define educational goals and practices. With this knowledge, students will gain understanding of the complexities of policy making in a rapidly changing world. Are there trends of convergence or divergence in policy making in different countries? Case studies using local personalities from the major political parties, the Union of Teachers and the Policy Unit within the Ministry of Education will be integrated in the unit. In these sessions, students will be given the opportunity to obtain valuable first hand information regarding policy making strategies and procedures and develop skills in obtaining such information from the social actors. These sessions will enable the students to analyze the policy-making process at work, the different agendas that may be present, the way such agendas are articulated, the way they are perceived by different actors, how policies are implemented, and how they are subject to processes of acceptance, accommodation, resistance and/or rejection.

Course Learning Outcomes:

By the end of the course, students will be in a position to:
1. identify appropriate theories and models to comprehend and explain substantive, administrative and political implications of educational problems.
2. understand the complementarities between theory and practice in educational inquiry for policy.
3. conceptualize and frame educational problems that can be subject to policy interventions.
4. plan and execute inquiries into educational problems.
5. use effective strategies for presenting the results of analysis in a persuasive, well organized and concise written form.


The course will be conducted as seminar discussions in which the students and the lecturer will examine the pertinent literature and, via these readings will analyse various aspects of policy making in a comparative perspective. Students are required to read session specific material in advance, and be able to critique them in class discussions. Student sub-groups will be assigned preparatory tasks for the sessions with the guest speakers but all students are required to actively participate by providing thoughtful, critical and constructive comments in the sessions. Students are also required to submit reflective write-ups on the guest sessions in which they combine the insights of the processes identified with the theoretical models and theories presented in the unit.

Reading Assignments

- Ball, S. (1998) 'Big Policies/Small World: an introduction to international perspectives in education policy' Comparative Education, v34, 2, 119-130
- Biraimah, K. (2003) 'Transforming Education, transforming ourselves: contributions and lessons learned' Comparative Education Review, v47, 4, 423-443
- Bouzakis, S. and Koustourakis, G. (2002) 'The Comparative Argument in the case of the Greek Educational Reform in 1997-1998 Comparative Education, v38, 2, 155-169
- Broadfoot, P. (2006) 'Editorial: Educational Policy in Comparative Perspective' Comparative Education, v38, 2, 133-135
- Cheng, K. (1999) 'Education and Market: how could it be different and what is new? Current issues in Comparative Education, v1, 2, 15 November, 1-8
- Cookson, P. (1999) 'Privatization and Educational Equity: can markets create a just school system?' Current issues in Comparative Education, v1, 2, 30 April, 1-8
- Cowen, R. (2006) 'Acting comparatively upon the educational world: puzzles and possibilities' Oxford Review of Education, v32, 5, 561-574
- Dyer, C. (1999) 'Researching the Implementation of Educational Policy: a backward mapping approach' Comparative Education, v35, 1, 45-61
- Ertl, H. (2006) 'Educational standards and the changing discourse on education: the reception and consequences of the PISA study in Germany' Oxford Review of Education, v32, 5, 619-634
- Fitz, J. and Beers, B (2002) 'Educational Management Organisations and the Privatisation of Public Education: a cross-national comparison of the USA and Britain' Comparative Education, v38, 2, 137-154
- Ginsburg, M and Gorostiaga, J. (2001) 'Relationships between Theorists/Researchers and Policy Makers/Practictioners: rethinking the two cultures thesis and the possibility of dialogue' Comparative - Education Review, v45, 2, 173-196
- Johnson, D. (2006) 'Comparing the trajectories of educational change and policy transfer in developing countries.' Oxford Review of Education, v32, 5, 679-696
- Jones, P. (1998) 'Globalisation and Internationalism: democratic prospects for world education' Comparative Education, v34, 2, 143-155
- Klees, S (1999) 'Privatization and Neo-liberalism: ideology and evidence in rhetorical reforms' Current issues in Comparative Education, v1, 2, 30 April, 1-7
- Ochs, K. (2006) 'Cross-national policy borrowing and educational innovation: improving achievement in the London Borough of Barking and Dagenham' Oxford Review of Education, v32, 5, 599-618
- Persianis, P. (1998) 'Compensatory Legitimation' in Greek Educational Policy: an explanation for the abortive educational reforms in Greece in comparison with those in France'. Comparative Education, v34, 1, 71-84.
- Phillips, D. (2006) 'Investigating policy attraction in education' Oxford Review of Education, v32, 5, 551-560
- Phillips, D. and Ochs, K. (2003) 'Processes of Policy Borrowing in Education: some explanatory and analytical devices' Comparative Education, v39, 4, 451-461
- Sayer, J (2006) 'Comparative research as an instrument for EU aid and development programmes' Oxford Review of Education, v32, 5, 635-648
- Shibata, M (2006) 'Assumptions and implications of cross-national attraction in education: the case of 'learning from Japan' Comparative Education, v32, 5, 649-664
- Smith G. and Exley, S. (2006) 'The influence of overseas examples on DES policy-making for the school system in England, 1985-1995' Oxford Review of Education, v32, 5, 575-598
- Steiner-Khamsi, G. (2006) 'The economics of policy borrowing and lending: a study of late adopters' Oxford Review of Education, v32, 5, 665-678
- Stone, D. (2002) Using Knowledge: the dilemma of 'bridging research and policy' Compare, v32, 3, 285-296
- Thrupp, M. (1998) 'Exploring the Politics of Blame: school inspection an its contestation in New Zealand and England' Comparative Education, v34, 2, 195-208
- Whitty, G and Edwards, T. (1998) 'School Choice Policies in England and the United States: an exploration of their origins and significance' Comparative Education, v34, 2, 211-227


Assessment Component/s Assessment Due Resit Availability Weighting
Assignment SEM2 Yes 100%

LECTURER/S Ronald Sultana

The University makes every effort to ensure that the published Courses Plans, Programmes of Study and Study-Unit information are complete and up-to-date at the time of publication. The University reserves the right to make changes in case errors are detected after publication.
The availability of optional units may be subject to timetabling constraints.
Units not attracting a sufficient number of registrations may be withdrawn without notice.
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.