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DRPS : Course Catalogue : Moray House School of Education and Sport : Education

Postgraduate Course: Social Inequalities in Education Worldwide (EDUA11416)

Course Outline
SchoolMoray House School of Education and Sport CollegeCollege of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 11 (Postgraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryThe social circumstances in which children/young people are born and brought up have a strong influence on their educational outcomes and in turn affect their later life opportunities. This course aims to provide students with an understanding of the sources and mechanisms of the reproduction of social inequalities in education. It will cover issues of conceptualisation and measurement of social inequality, theoretical explanations and empirical evidence from various countries across the globe.
Course description Education is one of the most important factors for improving individuals' life chances. However, educational opportunities are not equally distributed among different social groups and are highly dependent on the context in which people are born. The aim of the course is to introduce students to key issues, theoretical perspectives and empirical evidence on social stratification in education for a wide variety of countries across the globe. The course will start with an introduction to the basic concepts and central theoretical perspectives and themes in social stratification research in education. In particular, the session will focus on the role of family, institutions (such as the education system and the labour market) and place (i.e. where people live) in shaping social inequalities in education as well as on the intersectionality of different dimensions of inequalities. The course will then critically engage with the recent empirical evidence from Africa, America, Asia and Europe.

Students will be required to read a selection of articles, book chapters and working papers containing theoretical arguments and empirical evidence in relation to specific themes (e.g. the nature of social inequalities, measures of inequality, the mechanisms behind the reproduction of inequalities, the role of institutions, etc.), reflect on these themes and then critically discuss them during class.

Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Information for Visiting Students
High Demand Course? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2023/24, Available to all students (SV1) Quota:  31
Course Start Semester 2
Course Start Date 15/01/2024
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 200 ( Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 196 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 0 %, Coursework 100 %, Practical Exam 0 %
Additional Information (Assessment) Course assessments will include:
1) a blog about their experience and/or their understanding of the issue of social inequalities in education in their own country (400 words; 10%)
2) a group presentation based on the weekly readings (20%)
3) a final 2,800-word essay (70%).
The final assignment is on a topic chosen among a list of essay topics which are handed out towards the end of the course. Before the submission of the final assignment, students are expected to submit an essay outline on which they receive formative feed-forward comments.
Feedback Students will receive feedback on each piece of written work as well as formative feed-forward comments on their final assignment's outline.
No Exam Information
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Understand the nature of social inequalities in different societies and their link with educational inequalities
  2. Critically review the different theoretical perspectives explaining the processes leading to social inequalities in educational outcomes
  3. Understand the purposes and potential limitations of different measures of inequalities
  4. Critically assess the role of educational institutions in reducing or maintaining social inequalities
  5. Understand the relationship between education and social mobility
Reading List
Indicative Reading List

Key readings
Bruckauf, Z. and Y. Chzhen (2016) 'Education for All? Measuring inequality of educational outcomes among 15-year-olds across 39 industrialized nations', Innocenti Working Paper No.2016-08, UNICEF Office of Research, Florence.

Buchmann, Claudia & Emily Hannum (2001) 'Education and stratification in developing countries: Review of theories and empirical research'. Annual Review of Sociology, 27: 77-102.

Erikson, R. and J. O. Jonsson (1996) 'Explaining Class Inequality in Education: The Swedish Test Case' in Erikson, R. and Jonsson, J. O. (eds) Can Education Be Equalized? The Swedish Case in Comparative Perspective. Westview Press.

Hadjar, A. and Gross, C. (eds.) (2016) Education systems and inequalities: International comparisons. Bristol, UK: Policy Press.

Other recommended readings
Bol, T. and van de Werfhorst, H. G. (2013) 'Educational Systems and the Trade-Off between Labor Market Allocation and Equality of Educational Opportunity', Comparative Education Review, 57 (2): 285-308.

Brown, P. (2013) 'Education, opportunity and the prospects for social mobility'. British Journal of Sociology of Education 34 (5-6): 678-700

Codiroli McMaster, N. and Cook, R. (2019) 'The contribution of intersectionality to quantitative research into educational inequalities', Review of Education, 7(2): 271-292.

Iannelli, C. (2011) 'Educational Expansion and Social Mobility: The Scottish Case', Social Policy and Society 10(02): 251-64.

Kerckhoff, A. C. (2001) 'Education and social stratification processes in comparative perspective'. Sociology of Education, 74: 3-18

Lareau, A. (2006) 'Unequal Childhoods: Class, Race and Family Life', Chapter 68 in D. B. Grusky and S. Syelenyi (eds) (2007), The Inequality Reader: Contemporary and Foundational Readings in Race, Class, and Gender, Boulder: Westview Press.

Van de Werfhorst, H.G. and Hofstede, S. (2007) 'Cultural capital or relative risk aversion? Two mechanisms for educational inequality compared', The British Journal of Sociology 58(3): 391-415.

The course will also provide a list of country-specific readings.
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills The course will help students to develop the following skills:

Research and enquiry skills
Analytical thinking: analyse, synthesise, critically and methodically appraise thoughts to break down complex problems into manageable components.
Critical thinking: capability to evaluate information thoroughly; identifying assumptions, detecting false logic or reasoning and defining terms accurately in order to make an informed judgement.
Knowledge integration and application: use information and knowledge effectively in order to abstract meaning from information and to share knowledge across fields, including the use of quantitative skills

Personal and Intellectual Autonomy
Ethics and social responsibility: develop reflective awareness of ethical dimensions, and responsibilities to others, in work and everyday life
Independent learning and development: to think independently, exercise personal judgement and take initiatives
Creativity and inventive thinking: developing higher-order thinking and sound reasoning
Decision making: collaborating and debating effectively to test, modify and strengthen one's own views

Personal effectiveness
Leadership: have an ability to work with people from a range of cultures and backgrounds
Planning, organising and time management: have an ability to plan and effectively use resources to achieve goals
Team working: effectively perform within team environments including the ability to recognise and capitalise on individuals' different thinking, experience and skills; have an ability to work with people from a range of cultures and backgrounds

Interpersonal skills: effective communicators who are able to read and write, present, listen, influence and network
Verbal communication and presentation: communicate and persuade┬┐both orally and in writing; articulate and effectively explain information
Cross-cultural communication: have multicultural and global awareness
Written communications: have the ability to produce clear, structured written work; articulating and effectively explaining information
KeywordsEducation,social inequalities,developed and developing countries,family,education institutions
Course organiserProf Cristina Iannelli
Tel: (0131 6)51 6281
Course secretaryMiss Mariana Duarte
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