Department of Education

Optional pathways and electives


The Department of Education currently offers two 'pathways' which can be taken in addition to and alongside the regular modules of your undergraduate course to enhance your studies, help you specialise in an area of particular interest to you, and make your course more targeted to your own interests. Both pathways are worth 60 academic credits and, when you graduate, will be reflected in the title of your award.

The 'Education' Pathway: 60 academic credits

This pathway is made up of four separate modules, each worth 15 credits. Two modules are taken in Year 1 and the other two in Year 2.

This pathway provides an historical, political and theoretical background to current educational policy and practice in the UK. In Year 1, the module ‘Education, Education, Education’ introduces historical and contemporary aspects of the English Education system, expanding to briefly cover the similarities and differences between the nation states. This is followed by ‘Cross-cultural Perspectives on Teaching, Learning and Assessment’ - a critical and comparative study of how curricula are constructed and how this frames teaching and assessment as well as learner identity across the Global North and South. It also examines alternative forms of educating young people in non-formal education contexts. 

In Year 2, ‘Inclusion and Diversity in Education’ explores how constructions of gender, ‘race’, social class, poverty, disability, sexuality and behavioural norms contribute to the inclusion and/or exclusion of particular groups of young people in education. Finally, ‘Knowledge and Society: education, identity and the (late) modern state’, engages at a theoretical and policy level with the development of institutionalised education in modern times with a focus on the post-welfare state.

Assessment is through coursework only and includes a concept note, learning diary, case study and critical analytical review.

What will I achieve?

This pathway provides you with knowledge and understanding of different education systems, the ability to discuss and critically assess policy and practice, to reflect on your own learning and to use research to back up your opinions. 

Career paths

The Education Pathway helps you start your career in teaching at either primary or secondary level, in counselling, youth work, educational psychology or in educational environments such as charities, Children’s Services or Children’s Rights in the UK or overseas. 

See video on Sussex Choice by Senior Lecturer in Education, Dr Jo Westbrook about this pathway.

The 'International, Education and Development' Pathway: 60 academic credits

This pathway is taught by staff across the Centre for International Education (CIE). Each module can also be taken as a free-standing elective.

The pathway explores the issues faced by governments in the Global South in getting all children to get into school, to stay there and to learn effectively, and so support children to achieve, through education, the social and economic development of the individual, their families and society. It provides an excellent introduction to the major institutions that direct aid and influence policy and practice, such as UNESCO and the World Bank.    

The first elective (Year 1: autumn), ‘Education & Development: Aid, Policy and the Global Agenda’, introduces basic ideas about the contribution that education can make to the development process, including economic development, social inequality, gender relations and citizenship.

The second elective (Year 1: spring), ‘Cross-Cultural Perspectives on Teaching, Learning and Assessment’, examines what and how children learn and how they are assessed in formal and informal education systems across the Global South and North. 

The third module (Year 2: autumn),  ‘Access, Equity and Gender’ analyses large data sets that reflect patterns of access and transition into primary and secondary schools,  while more qualitative approaches explore theories and concepts around gender, children with disability, those marginalised through ethnicity or language and the very poor and how schools and communities include or exclude them.

The fourth and final module (Year 2: spring), ‘Education, Conflict and Peace-Building’ considers the role that education, schools and teachers play in continuing or preventing conflict and in the reconstruction of society in post-conflict contexts.

These modules are assessed via a Portfolio, Learning Diary, Policy Brief and Essay.

What will I achieve?

On this pathway, you will explore the difference education can make to individuals, their families and their societies, and the national and international structures that can prevent or contribute to education. You will also gain skills in analysing and interpreting statistics, tables and figures central to education in developing countries; the ability to present, argue and collaborate with students from different disciplines; and the ability to write in forms other than essays, such as policy briefs and concept notes.

Career Paths

The International Education & Development pathway supports students who may wish to work in teaching at either primary or secondary level in the UK, perhaps with the aim of gaining productive skills that can be transferred to Global South contexts; who would like to work in educational environments, such as charities, international NGOs (e.g. Save the Children or Oxfam), Children’s Services or Children’s Rights in the UK or overseas; or who want work in politics and policy-making around education and development in the Global South.

See video on Sussex Choice by Senior Lecturer in Education, Dr Jo Westbrook about this pathway.

'Pathways' are part of Sussex Choice. See the Sussex Choice pages for more details about how pathways fit into your study schedule and are reflected in your degree.


'Electives' are the individual modules that make up 'Pathways'. In most cases, they can be taken independently, ie. you can take one or more modules from a pathway gaining only the credits each module is worth (usually 15). If you do not take the full pathway, the additional modules you take will not be reflected within the name of your final degree. The following is a list of all the 'elective' modules currently offered by the Department of Education:

Year 1 Elective Modules

Education, Education, Education: An introduction to contexts and discourses in the UK school system

Module leader: James Williams

This module explores and introduces historical and contemporary aspects of the English Education system over four sections:

Section 1: History of Education covers the establishment and development of independent and state run education systems in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland

Section 2: Education Policy considers the development and effects of the various education acts, from the 1870 act through to the latest legislative changes.

Section 3: The Philosophy of Education and Theories of Learning examines the purposes of education, how we approach education from either a traditional or progressive viewpoint. The underpinning psychological theories of teaching and will also be scrutinised.

Section 4:  The Impact of Policy, Practice and Theory on Education looks the interplay and interrelationship between policy, practice and theory, for example in academies and Free Schools and parental choice.  

Mode of assessment: Concept Note

Cross-Cultural Perspectives on Teaching, Learning and Assessment (for both Pathways)

Module leader: Dr Jo Westbrook

This module introduces key concepts around the construction of the curriculum, its relationship to official and dominant knowledge, and its translation in schools.  It looks at theories of learning that frame different pedagogies dominant in developed and developing countries, historically and currently.  There will also be discussion of how different groups of students are positioned and included/excluded within curricula.

Alternative approaches to designing and implementing the curriculum are studied in the final sessions.

Mode of assessment: Learning Diary

Education and Development: Aid, Policy and the Global Agenda

Module leader: Professor Kwame Akyeampong

This module provides a grounding in education and international development, with a particular focus on the challenges facing low income countries and those developing in conditions of fragility and conflict with resource-constraints. Students will acquire an introduction to the field of education and development and an entry point into the relevant theoretical and evidence based literature and major sources of information and advocacy.

Mode of assessment: Concept Note

Year 2 Elective Modules

Inclusion and Diversity in UK Education

Module leader: Jacqui Shepherd

This module looks at constructions of gender, ‘race’, class, poverty, ability/disability and behavioural norms in society and the ways in which education policy, systems and teachers can exclude and include particular groups of learners. 

Case studies of particular students designated as having ‘special education needs’ will be used to analyse the issues involved  in ensuring equality of access, provision and learning.

Mode of assessment: Case Study 

Knowledge and Society: Education, Identity and the (late) Modern State

Module leader: Dr Barbara Crossouard

The module introduces critical aspects of recent social change - particularly at national level - and how these are reflected in the social organisation of knowledge. Key topics on the contexts of education will include education and the modern state, politics and policy, education and social structure and education and the economy.

The recent politics of the curriculum will be further examined as an arena for political and ideological contest and how this is reflected in the culture, values and social practices of schooling. Key theorists read will be Bourdieu, Halsey, and Bernstein.

Mode of assessment: Essay 50%  / Presentation 50%

Access, Equity and Gender

Module leader: Dr Naureen Durrani

Access to education is at the heart of development and is central to the Millennium Development Goal. Lack of education reflects poverty while access to quality education is a means for poverty reduction.

This module covers Education for All and commitments to improve access; transitions and equity; gender and inclusion; access to education for marginal groups; low price privatised schooling and alternative forms of education to meet the development targets.

Some sessions will be shared with  the module on Inclusion and Diversity in UK Education within the Education Pathway.

Mode of assessment:  Policy Brief

Education, Conflict and Peace-building

Module leader: Professor Mario Novelli

In recent years, the nature of the relationship between education and conflict has emerged on the international development agenda with most development and political interventions focusing on countries in and emerging from conflict.

This module critically explores the relationship between education and conflict in low income countries and problematises the complex and multidirectional ways that education and conflict affect each other and the role that education can potentially play in both the production and prevention of violent armed conflict.

Mode of assessment: Essay

Additional Undergraduate Electives


  • Migrant and Refugee Wellbeing: Level 5 (for 2nd year students)
    Module convenor: Charles Watters
    Assessed by: 1 x 1,500 word essay in the Autumn term, 1 x 3,000 word essay in the mid-year assessment period

This module offers you the opportunity to examine the wellbeing of migrants and refugees. Wellbeing is defined as multidimensional and incorporates the political, economic, health, environment and social contexts in which migrants and refugees exist. You will examine the historical and political contexts in which different groups of migrants are placed, including the specific situations of asylum seekers and refugees - shown to have distinct impacts on the health and social care services migrants receive, and on particular issues of entitlement and access. The welfare contexts of different receiving societies are examined including the impact of current debates on welfare provision for migrants and refugees across the globe. Within these contexts, contemporary services for migrants and refugees are examined, including the roles played by central government, local authorities and NGOs. Models of good practice in health and social care are examined, as are the prospects for the transfer of good practice across countries.

  • Contemporary Social Policy: Level 5 (for 2nd year students)
    Module convenor: Tish Marrable
    Assessed by: 1 x 3,000 word essay in the mid-year assessment period

This elective explores and questions the ways in which social policy shapes and is shaped by society, taking a critical approach to investigate contemporary issues in areas such as mental health, disability, parenting, family intervention, education, employment, poverty, youth justice, ageing society, consumerism and choice. While the main focus is on UK social policy, comparisons from contrasting international social policy models provide rich discussion and debate. You will look at the struggles over equality and social inclusion which characterise contemporary social policy positions, using a research-led approach to consider the ways that policies evolve and affect the social wellbeing of a nation. Over 12 weeks, you will explore concepts of ‘social justice’, ‘need’, ‘fairness’ and ‘wellbeing’ in relation to UK social policy and policy-driven practices, taking note of the voices of recipients of social policy practices through the involvement of key contacts from those using health and other services in some of the lectures.

Learning happens through a combination of lectures, online activities and student-led seminars. Online learning includes involvement in forums and self-assessment quizzes, as well as discussion groups around case studies and key topics of interest. You will be expected to prepare work for seminars and case studies around current issues to promote active problem-based engagement with the effects of social policy practice. Your final essay will incorporate knowledge gained from research, theory and policy-in-practice.

The Role Models Project is a peer-led mentoring project training students to create and facilitate workshops for groups of young people (aged 12-15) at local secondary school, BACA (Brighton Aldridge Community Academy). The aim of the Project is to provide young people in the local community with role models, a safe space to be listened to and ask questions, and an appropriate environment in which to engage with important PSHE topics. We deliver workshops with a 1 to 1 ratio of Sussex students to young people to enable peer-mentoring, rethink traditional education models, and focus on small group work and 1 to 1 conversations.

You will be expected to bring passion, ideas, and reflections of your own experience, values and “what you wish you’d known”. You will receive training to build your skills and confidence in participatory facilitation and working with young people, as well as the project’s social pedagogic theoretical framework, topic specific training around mental health and wellbeing, and essential training around safeguarding and boundaries. This will enable you to then combine academic learning with practical application, in order to research, design and deliver workshops as a team to the young people at BACA, and become involved in a national dialogue on PSHE education.

In the Discovering Role Models elective, mental health and wellbeing is the broad focus of workshops you will create. You will also research contemporary approaches, and - most importantly - listen to the young people in order to create workshops that are relevant, interesting and useful for them. Previous workshop topics have included emotional literacy, supporting your peers and body image ideals on Instagram.

Can be taken as a stand-alone elective, or coupled with Developing Role Models: Mentoring in the Spring Term, which will enable you to develop your experience and skills. Check out the Students' Union website for more information, or contact the Role Models Project Coordinator:


See above for details of the Role Models Project.

Developing Role Models: Mentoring builds on the skills and experience gained in the Autumn Term's Discovering Role Models elective - but it can be taken as a stand-alone elective. It offers you the opportunity to create more in-depth workshops with a focus on developing young people’s agency and critical thinking. The topics and type of workshops created will be led by what you are passionate about within the broad PSHE framework, reflections and feedback received in the Autumn Term (if relevant), and what the BACA pupils feel is relevant and interesting to them. Previous workshop topics for this elective have included gender identity, sexuality, relationships and the media.

Check out the Students' Union website for more information, or contact the Role Models Project Coordinator:

  • Understanding Autism and Education: Level 5 (for 2nd year students)
    Module convenor: Jacqui Shepherd
    Assessed by: 1 x 2,000 word essay

This elective identifies the key features of autism, including the ‘triad of impairments’ (social interaction, communication and flexibility of thought) and examines the ways in which symptoms manifest across the spectrum. Different theories are explored to understand psychological, biological and sociological approaches to this condition. You will be introduced to a range of case studies that take into account educational environments, interventions, behaviours and supports. The module will appeal to those wanting to further their understanding of this complex condition and, in particular, those interested in the educational strategies used to support autistic pupils.

  • Exploring Death and Dying: Level 5 (for 2nd year students)
    Module convenor: Tish Marrable
    Assessed by: 1 x 1,500 word report and 1 x portfolio in end of year assessment period.

Dubbed by one student as her 'favourite module ever', this elective explores diverse aspects of death and dying - encompassing history; the arts; the impact of technology and anthropological perspectives, as well as social policy and key theories. Underpinning the module is permission to discuss a subject normally viewed as 'depressing' or even 'contagious' in an open - and even fun - way, challenging taboos to explore the  mundane and the bizarre! 

You will learn through discussion, course work and talks by visiting expert practitioners. Over 12 weeks, you will look at the dominant theories around death and bereavement, as well as the language and construction of death - both in contemporary times and in the past. The roles of ritual and emotion will also be explored, as will socio-cultural debates around assisted dying and good deaths. Although the perspective is mainly on the UK, you will also learn about anthropological perspectives on death, including in South East Asia, Africa, Latin America and other cultures. The impact of rapidly expanding digital technologies in transforming the experience of death is also explored.

You will attend lectures and undertake self-regulated group work, as well as participating in online activities. Your final portfolio will include your contribution to the group's Blog; a personal journal reflecting on your learning, and a report outlining one or two things you have learned about, demonstrating how they contribute to your personal, professional or academic development.