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SOC3096 : Educational Inequalities in a Global Age

  • Offered for Year: 2019/20
  • Module Leader(s): Dr Adél Pásztor
  • Owning School: Geography, Politics & Sociology
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus
Semester 2 Credit Value: 20
ECTS Credits: 10.0


The aim of the course is to introduce students to some of the key issues, debates and perspectives in the sociology of education field. The sociological perspective is applied to address the widespread concerns about differential patterns of educational outcomes of students coming from different ethnic, gender and social class backgrounds. The module aims to examine patterns of stratification in students’ access to and preparedness for higher education, the choice of institutions and degree courses, the student experience through higher education, as well as the postgraduate/school-to-work transition. Throughout the module, inequalities are addressed at the level of individuals, schools, educational systems and its interactions, while particular attention is being paid to the role that (higher) education plays in promoting social mobility and/or social reproduction in the age of globalisation.

The module aims:
- To demonstrate an understanding of key concepts, theoretical approaches and contemporary debates in the sociology of education/higher education field
- To address how social inequalities with regards to race/ethnicity, class and gender affect access to, and the experience of, different levels of education
- To explain the relationship between educational and social structures and individual decision-making at key educational junctures
- To demonstrate a clear understanding of how schooling and higher education is implicated in the wider process of social and cultural reproduction and transformation

Outline Of Syllabus

- Sociology of education: a critical history and prospects for the future (Lauder, Brown & Halsey; 2009)
- Educational expansion, credential inflation and the internationalisation of HE (Brown, 2011; Bathmaker, 2003; Collins, 1979)

- Class inequality and meritocracy: The social mobility myth (e.g. Shavit and Blossfeld, 1993; Breen and Goldthorpe, 1999)
- The debate on inequality: Maximally Maintained Inequality (Raftery and Hout, 1993) vs. Effectively Maintained Inequality (Lucas, 2001)
- Cultural explanations of educational inequality (e.g. Bourdieu, 1986; Bernstein, 2003; Coleman, 1988; Lareau, 2002; Ogbu, 2004)
- Rational action theory (Boudon, 1974; Mare, 1979; Breen, 1999)
- The role of schools (Turner, 1960)
- The A-to-C economy (Gillborn & Youdell, 2001).
- Tracking and ability groupings in schools (Hallinnan, 1994)
- Private schooling and inequality (Coleman et al. 1982; Sullivan and Heath, 2002; Swift, 2004)
- Gap years and elitism (Heath, 2007)

- HE and social justice: Class, gender & ethnic inequalities (Archer, Hutchings and Ross, 2003; Furlong & Cartmel, 2009)
- The widening participation agenda (Sutton Trust, 2010; Arum, Gamoran, and Shavit, 2011;)
- Admissions (Karabel, 2005; Stevens, 2007; Boliver, 2011; 2013)
- The HE choice (Ball and Vincent, 1998; Reay et al. 2002; Ball et al. 2002; Mullen, 2009)
- The higher education experience: social and academic integration (Reay et al. 2009; Lehmann, 2014; Granfield, 1991; Bathmaker at al. 2013; Bradley and Ingram, 2012)
- Non-traditional students in higher education (Connor et al. 2001, 2003 and 2004)
- International students in higher education (Brown, 2000; King, 2011; Waters, 2009; Brooks and Waters, 2009)

- Transition to work/further study (Tomlinson, 2008; Abrahams, 2016)
- Graduate Employability. Returns at the labour market (Sutton Trust, 2014)
- Inequalities in access to postgraduate education (Pasztor and Wakeling, 2017)

- Academic life in the neoliberal university (Gumport, 2007; Jacobs, 2004; Levin, 2006)
- The Mcdonaldization of Higher Education (Hayes & Wynyard, 2006; Garland, 2008)
- The student as consumer (Mollesworth, Scullion and Nixon, 2010)

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion1100:00100:00Reading around lectures plus preparation for and completion of assignment 1 and 2
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture122:0024:00N/A
Guided Independent StudyDirected research and reading88:0064:008 hours preparation for each seminar
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching81:008:00Seminars, assumes 2 groups of 15 students
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesWorkshops22:004:00Media programmes on key themes
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

Lectures are utilised to introduce students to the concepts, theoretical perspectives and substantive topics. They provide the narrative thread around which students’ own reading should take place. Each week students are required to read a selection of articles and book chapters containing theoretical arguments and empirical evidence in relation to particular themes in the sociology of education which we will then discuss critically in the seminar. Seminars are organised to encourage students to explore - via small group discussion, prior reading and research - their developing understanding of the educational field. Case studies, debates and exercises will also be used during the seminars while two workshops will ask students to view visual material and then work together to analyse it sociologically.

Assessment Methods

The format of resits will be determined by the Board of Examiners

Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Essay2M502000 words
Essay2M502000 words
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

The essays will examine students’ knowledge and understanding of the subject matter while at the same time demonstrating their ability to synthesise arguments and think and write critically and creatively. Each essay will permit students to explore one topic in some depth: the combined assessments will provide evidence that the learning outcomes have been met.

Reading Lists