Widening Participation: Linking Theory and Practice (X5400E)

15 credits, Level 4

Spring teaching

This module aims to critically explore the links between theory and practice in current approaches to widening participation. This is important given that this is a growing and complex site of professional practice, requiring high levels of knowledge but as yet largely unaddressed as a bespoke area in Higher Education.

The module provides a structured overview of key approaches and debates, linking these throughout to the established academic literature. The module has been structured to provide an exploration of key issues in widening participation policy and practice, encouraging the integration of theory and practice throughout.

It moves from an introduction to the terrain, through a questioning and unpicking of dominant assumptions and culminating in an opportunity to evaluate key strengths and limitations with a view to informing final reflections on what else might be done to advance this agenda.

Each session will include opportunities to discuss and critique a key reading, thus further embedding opportunities to develop key skills of critical reflection and the ability to express views informed by knowledge and understanding of both theory and practice. The focus within the module on the capacity to draw research-informed inferences will also support the development of important, transferable academic skills.

While the module will be of particular interest to students working as student ambassadors and/or interested in going on to work in a widening participation role in the future, it is also pertinent to those with broader interests in education, inequalities, inclusion etc. The university includes a substantial number of students from widening participation backgrounds and the module will also provide a space within which to acknowledge and explore these experiences.


100%: Seminar


100%: Practical (Portfolio)

Contact hours and workload

This module is approximately 150 hours of work. This breaks down into about 22 hours of contact time and about 128 hours of independent study. The University may make minor variations to the contact hours for operational reasons, including timetabling requirements.

We regularly review our modules to incorporate student feedback, staff expertise, as well as the latest research and teaching methodology. We’re planning to run these modules in the academic year 2023/24. However, there may be changes to these modules in response to COVID-19, staff availability, student demand or updates to our curriculum. We’ll make sure to let our applicants know of material changes to modules at the earliest opportunity.