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SO123-15 Sociology of Education

Undergraduate Level 1
Module leader
Anthony Ruck
Credit value
Module duration
10 weeks
100% coursework
Study location
University of Warwick main campus, Coventry
Introductory description

Sociology of Education is a sub-discipline of Sociology that takes a critical and analytical look at the design, development, experience and outcomes of the education system. Over the course of the module we will take the UK education system as a case study for helping us to understand the ways in which political, social, moral and economic agendas have shaped (and continue to shape) schools and universities. Paying close attention to key policy-making, we will ask critical questions about the role and purpose of education in relation to wider society.

Module web page

Module aims

To provide students with an introduction to the Sociology of Education as a sub-discipline, examining its development in relation to educational policy, theory and method.

Outline syllabus

This is an indicative module outline only to give an indication of the sort of topics that may be covered. Actual sessions held may differ.

Week I : What is (the sociology of) education?
Week 2: What counts as education? Constructing knowledges and ways of knowing
Week 3: (Re)producing inequalities 1 ? Education and social class
Week 4: (Re)producing inequalities2 - thinking intersectionally
Week 5: Politics and moral panics
Week 7: Teachers and teaching: changing practices, roles and identities
Week 8: The forces of privatisation: from 'New Labour' ...
Week 9: The making and shaping of Higher Education
Week 10: Education Otherwise

Learning outcomes

By the end of the module, students should be able to:

  • By the end of the module students should understand:- the socially constructed nature of educational systems and the shaping of educational in relation to political and economic agendas;
  • the policy landscape in relation to the education system in England and its historical development;
  • the role of social theory and method in constructing and shaping Sociology of Education as a sub-discipline.
Indicative reading list

Apple, M. (1995) Education and Power (2nd Edition), New York, Routledge.
Ball, S.J. (1990), Politics and Policy Making in Education: explorations in policy sociology, London, Routledge
Burgess, ROG. and Parker, A. (1999) 'Education', in S. Taylor (ed.), Sociology: Issues and Debates, London, Macmillan, pp. 180-207.
Byner, J. and Joshi, H. (2002) 'Equality and Opportunity in Education: evidence from the 1958 and 1970 birth cohort studies}, Oxford Review of Education, 28, 4: 405425.
Dale, R. (2001), 'Shaping the Sociology of Education over Half+Century's in J. Demaine, (ed.), Sociology of Education Today, London, Palgrave, pp. 509.
Durkheimy E. (2006) 'Education: Its nature and its role', in Hn Lauder et. al. (eds.),
Education, Globalisation and Social Change, Oxford, Oxford University Press, pp. 91-10
Gerwitz, S,. Ball, S.J., and Bowe, R (1995) Markets, Choice and Equity in Education, Buckingham, Open University Press.
Ozga, J. (2000) Policy Research in Educational Settings: contested terrain, Buckingham, Open University Press
Parsons, T. (1961) 'The School Class as a social system: some of its functions in American Society,' A Halsey, R, Broadfoot., P. Cross, M. Osborn., D.Abbott (eds.) Education, Economy and Society London, Collier/Macmillan pp 434455.
Reay, D. David, M. et al. (2005) Degrees of Choice: social class, race and gender in higher education, Stoke on Trent, Trentham
Tomlinson, S. (2005) Education in a posÁuelfare society, (second edition) Buckingham, Open University Press.
Thompson, E. P. (1970) Wawick University Limited, London, Penguin
Willis, P.E. (1977). Learning to Labour, Farnborough, Saxon House
Wyness, (2008) 'Schooling and Social Class', in D. Matherson, An Introduction to the Study of Education (3rd Edition), London, Routledge, ppg
Young, M.ED. (ed.) (1971). Knowledge and Control, London, Macmillan.

View reading list on Talis Aspire

Subject specific skills

Applying appropriate sociological theories to education
Using sociological analysis in understanding education.

Transferable skills

Critical thinking
Oral communication skills
Research using both acacdemic and ‘grey literature’
Self-direction / motivation
Achieving deadlines

Study time

Type Required
Lectures 9 sessions of 1 hour (6%)
Seminars 9 sessions of 1 hour (6%)
Private study 132 hours (88%)
Total 150 hours
Private study description

Written online feedback.


No further costs have been identified for this module.

You must pass all assessment components to pass the module.

Students can register for this module without taking any assessment.

Assessment group A1
Weighting Study time
Assessed Essay 100%

Students will select one from a number of titles, eachl reflecting a different aspects of the module.
All essays will enable students to demonstrate module's principle learning outcomes.

Feedback on assessment

Written online feedback.


This module is Optional for:

  • Year 1 of USOA-L314 Undergraduate Sociology and Criminology

This module is Option list A for:

  • USOA-L301 BA in Sociology
    • Year 1 of L301 Sociology
    • Year 1 of L301 Sociology
    • Year 1 of L301 Sociology

This module is Option list G for:

  • UPHA-V7ML Undergraduate Philosophy, Politics and Economics
    • Year 1 of V7ML Philosophy, Politics and Economics (Tripartite)
    • Year 1 of V7ML Philosophy, Politics and Economics (Tripartite)
    • Year 1 of V7ML Philosophy, Politics and Economics (Tripartite)