UCL Summer School


What is Education?

Key Information

Module code
Taught during
Session Two
Module leader
Alison Brady
None. Standard UCL Summer entry criteria apply.
Assessment method
Presentation (30%), Essay (70%)
Download syllabus (PDF)
What is Education?

Module overview

This module will provide an introduction to what it means to study education at a higher level.

The module will provide students with the opportunity to explore key ideas underpinning education with some of the world’s leading experts in education. Students will attend sessions at the UCL Institute of Education, where a range of experts will present their responses to the question: what is education? These responses will be underpinned by the critical consideration of the following questions: What is education for, what is its purpose, both here and now and looking to the future?; What should be its fundamental values and ethics?; What do we mean by knowledge and learning (including formal and informal learning)?; What is our concept of education?; What is our image of the learners, educators, learner contexts, and of community/society?; Who is responsible for education, and what does it mean to be responsible? Students will be encouraged to consider and share their responses to these questions, in relation to their own contexts.

Learning outcomes

Upon successful completion of this module, students will:

  • Understand and have first-hand experience of what it means to study education at a higher level
  • Be familiar with some of the key ideas underpinning education, as well as with some of the stances taken by world leading experts in education
  • Have critically considered and reflected upon the nature and purpose of education, particularly in relation to their own contexts
  • Have critically considered and reflected upon the impact of a range of contexts on the nature and purpose of education
  • Have developed their own critical and informed responses to questions concerning the nature and purpose of education.

Module prerequisites

This is a level one module (equivalent to first year undergraduate). Students must have completed one year of undergraduate study. No prior subject knowledge is required for this module, but students are expected to have a keen interest in the area.

Module hours

Classes (usually three or four hours per day) take place on the Bloomsbury campus from Monday to Friday any time between 9am and 6pm.


  • 10-minute presentation (30%)
  • 2,000-word essay (70%)

Module leader

Alison Brady is a teaching fellow at UCL’s Institute of Education and teaches the Introduction to Education Studies module on the BA in Education Studies. She also works as the organiser for the Philosophy of Education Society of Great Britain London Branch. Her research interests are in the philosophy of education, the philosophy of recognition, and the policy of teacher inspection.

Application information

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