Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Undergraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2012-2013 (archived)


Department: Education


Type Tied Level 3 Credits 20 Availability Available in 2012/13 Module Cap None. Location Durham
Tied to X1C1
Tied to X1F8
Tied to X1G1
Tied to X1Q3
Tied to X1V1
Tied to X1C8
Tied to XV36
Tied to XL33
Tied to XV35
Tied to X1W3


  • None.


  • None.

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None.


  • To give the student an informed and critical understanding of the purposes, strengths and limitations of educational assessment and evaluation, especially in respect of its accountability role.
  • An informed and critical understanding of the nature and value of knowledge, and of the implications of this for decisions about curriculum content, organisation and delivery.


  • Types of knowledge and understanding.
  • Skills and abilities.
  • Holism, constructivism and relativism.
  • Critical examination of justifications for curriculum content: school learning and workplace learning.
  • The impact of ICT on conceptions of knowledge and learning in the curriculum.
  • Types and purposes of assessment.
  • Base line testing and added value.
  • Target-setting.
  • What learning can be measured? Testing for 'potential'.
  • Can individuals possess general cognitive abilities? To what extent are cognitive abilities 'social'? Transfer and the situated cognition research programme.
  • Teaching to the test.
  • Issues of fairness and bias in assessment: selecting Higher Education students 'fairly'.
  • Continuous assessment, performance assessment, group assessment.
  • The meaning of 'standards'.
  • Standards over time: theoretical questions.
  • Political agendas and international comparisons.
  • Assessment and Accountability.
  • Evaluating effective teaching.
  • The effective schools and effective teaching research paradigm.

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • Knowledge and critical understanding of key concepts in educational assessment, the role of educational assessment in accountability, the problems associated with the idea of 'standards'.
  • Knowledge and critical understanding of key philosophical aspects of knowledge and the relationships to curriculum decision-making.
  • The ability to critique the validity of curriculum decisions based on the nature and value of knowledge, and the application of this to current policies in the UK.
  • The ability to formulate a personal position in relation to the themes of this module, and to apply philosophical skills to the scrutiny of relevant arguments.
Subject-specific Skills:
  • the analysis of complex situations concerning human learning and development in particular contexts, including their own learning;
  • the use of examples of the implementation of education policies in practice;
  • provision of well argued conclusions relating to significant educational issues; Students should be able to demonstrate an ability:
  • to reflect on their own value systems and development;
  • to question concepts and theories encountered in their studies of education;
  • to interrogate the assumptions underpinning theory and research.
Key Skills:
  • think critically and independently;
  • acquire complex information of diverse kinds in a structured and systematic way;
  • construct and sustain a reasoned argument;
  • communicate effectively with appropriate use of specialist vocabulary;
  • interpret and present relevant numerical information;
  • use ICT and a variety of library and IT resources;
  • improve their own learning and performance, including the development of study and research skills, information retrieval, and a capacity to plan and manage learning, and to reflect on their own learning;
  • collaborate and plan as part of a team;
  • work to deadlines.

Modes of Teaching, Learning and Assessment and how these contribute to the learning outcomes of the module

  • Variety of lectures and seminars in which students are strongly encouraged to debate and to critique positions developed in the literature, together with their own views and those of their peers.

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Lectures 22 1 per week 1 hour 22
Seminars 11 1 per fortnight 1 hour 11
Preparation and Reading 167
Total 200

Summative Assessment

Component: Assignment Component Weighting: 50%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Assignment 2000 words 100%
Component: Examination Component Weighting: 50%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Examination Two hours 100%

Formative Assessment:

Essay plan for relevant topic, though this will differ from those which students select for their summative assignment.

Attendance at all activities marked with this symbol will be monitored. Students who fail to attend these activities, or to complete the summative or formative assessment specified above, will be subject to the procedures defined in the University's General Regulation V, and may be required to leave the University