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ED20495: Psychology and educational policy: a critical perspective

[Page last updated: 05 August 2021]

Academic Year: 2021/2
Owning Department/School: Department of Education
Credits: 6 [equivalent to 12 CATS credits]
Notional Study Hours: 120
Level: Intermediate (FHEQ level 5)
Semester 1
Assessment Summary: CW 100%
Assessment Detail:
  • Online web-essay (3000 word) (CW 100%)
Supplementary Assessment:
Like-for-like reassessment (where allowed by programme regulations)
Aims: The intention of this unit is to:
* Enable students to develop a critical appreciation of the relationship between educational policy and psychology.
* Develop students' awareness of the ways in which educational policy can be seen to shape both people's lives and what happens in the field of psychology.
* Recognise and critique how what happens in the field of psychology shapes educational policy.
* Explore the need for psychology to develop a critical appreciation of the ways in which it interacts with and considers educational policy.

Learning Outcomes: In completing this unit students would be expected to:
* Critically evaluate the nature of the educational policy landscape in the contemporary western world (e.g., understanding the neoliberal educational turn and the ways in which this has shaped educational policy).
* Be critically aware of key policy movements that form the cornerstones of contemporary western education (e.g. high stakes testing, accountability measures, league tables, quality assurance, the rise of metrics-based concerns, teacher accountability, centralisation, managerialism)
* Utilise psychological knowledge and theory to explore the ways in which contemporary educational policy shapes (and has shaped) people in a psychological sense.
* Critically evaluate psychology's contribution to current trends in educational policy.
* Understand the need for a critical psychological approach to educational policy and the implications of this for future research and practice in educational psychology and policy.

* Accommodate new ideas, question concepts and provide conclusions relating to the relationship between psychology and educational policy (T/F/A)
* Use psychological knowledge, theory, and ideas to explore the ways in which particular features of contemporary educational policies are implicitly connected to psychology (T/F/A)
* Construct and communicate arguments to specialist and non-specialist audiences (T/F/A)
* Make effective use of technology (T/F/A)

Content: The following topics will be included:
* Introduction to contemporary educational policies
* The neoliberal educational landscape
* An introduction to critical psychology
* Taking a critical approach in order to explore contemporary educational policy in relation to psychological knowledge, theory, and research (in key areas such as human motivation, psychological wellbeing, human attachment, and autonomy)
* Critiquing psychological research in these key areas - in relation to its contribution to educational policy.
* Key conclusions.

Programme availability:

ED20495 is Compulsory on the following programmes:

Department of Education
  • UHED-AFB12 : BA(Hons) Education with Psychology (Year 2)
  • UHED-AKB12 : BA(Hons) Education with Psychology with Professional Placement (Year 2)


  • This unit catalogue is applicable for the 2021/22 academic year only. Students continuing their studies into 2022/23 and beyond should not assume that this unit will be available in future years in the format displayed here for 2021/22.
  • Programmes and units are subject to change in accordance with normal University procedures.
  • Availability of units will be subject to constraints such as staff availability, minimum and maximum group sizes, and timetabling factors as well as a student's ability to meet any pre-requisite rules.
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