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Master Religious Education

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  • Objectives
    To enable professionals concerned with education to reflect on their practice and to inform such reflection by extending their knowledge. Students will be made aware of significant current developments in contemporary pedagogical policy and practice.
  • Entry requirements
    all those who teach, lecture or organise educational provision at any level.
  • Academic Title
    MA Religious Education
  • Course description
    Programme description

    - Teaching is given by internationally recognised authorities on religious education.
    - Lecturers have published widely and have initiated and contributed to a range of debates about the nature and character of religious education.
    - Participate in a thriving research culture that attracts students from different cultures and traditions of education.

    The programme focuses on current issues, themes and approaches to religious education in the context of the subject's historical development and the changing nature of schools and society in multi-faith Britain. There is one compulsory and three optional modules. In the compulsory module attention is given to the diversity of methodologies (or models) employed by British religious educators and to the legislative arrangements, national guidelines, statutory and non-statutory advice that pertain to religious education.

    Students are also introduced to the skills that will enable them to direct successful teaching and learning in religious education. A further optional module on religious education focuses on the nature and character of the emerging model of ‘critical’ religious education. There is a wide variety of other optional modules that provide for both practical and theoretical interests.

    Programme format and assessment
    In consultation with staff you will construct a portfolio which gives you a minimum of 180 credits of which 60 credits must be in the form of a dissertation. Over 20 differentmodules are available for study. Each module is assessed through coursework. There are no written examinations. Most teaching takes place during the evenings (17.30–20.00).

    Programme modules for MA Religious Education 

    Critical Religious Education
    (Core Module)
    This course provides a critical overview of the basic issues and contours of the model of Critical Religious Education developed at King’s College, which informs the pedagogy of the National Framework for Religious Education. Particular attention is given to a) the model’s philosophical roots in critical realism, b) its realistic understanding of personal identity, religious traditions, and transcendent truth claims, c) its pedagogical practices grounded in phenomenography and variation theory, and d) comparison with alternative phenomenological and constructivist religious education pedagogy.

    Religious Education: Context, Curriculum and Methodology (Core Module)
    This course provides a critical overview of the basic issues and contours of contemporary practice and debate in religious education in Britain. Particular attention is given to the issues of methodology and ideology, and to effective teaching and learning in religious education. The content centres chiefly on the modern (post-1944) history of religious education in Britain is traced through its most prominent debates, personalities and developments. Attention is given to the diversity of methodologies employed by British religious educators (confessional, implicit, phenomenological, spiritual, conceptual, ethnographic and critical); these are discussed and evaluated in the context of the legislative arrangements, national guidelines and statutory and non-statutory advice that pertain to religious education.

    Conceptual Development and Science Learning
    Major theoretical perspectives on learning and on the communication of knowledge will be considered together with empirical evidence from studies on (1) students' learning and concept development and (2) the design of learning environments. Major perspectives on learning which will be considered include Piagetian theory; information processing theory; Vygotsky and the social construction of knowledge; language and learning in science. Theoretically grounded approaches to promoting more effective learning environments will be presented. Finally, evidence relating to the progression of students' understanding of the concepts and epistemological basis of knowledge will be discussed.

    Design and Evaluation of Educational Software -

    Approaches to the selection and evaluation of educational software and online resources will be discussed and illustrated with reference to a wide range of educational software. The course will include practical evaluation sessions. The design and development of educational software and online resources will be considered with particular emphasis on issues such as user interface design, screen layout and styles of interaction. The influence of new software environments will be discussed.

    Education, Policy and the City
    Policies are developed in order to tackle what are perceived to be social issues or problems. For example, currently we have policies which aim to include children, students and all learners in society in order to improve their life chances. However, concerns about ‘problems’ in society are not new. In the nineteenth century in Britain, the movement of many people from the country-side to the newly emerging cities was accompanied by social changes and concerns about poverty, poor housing, child labour and what were viewed as the threats of the growing urban working class. It became accepted that the government (the state) would have to do something about these issues. Social policies were enacted to try to ameliorate these problems. Obviously education – the focus of this course - was one form of policy intervention. In this course we want to consider the origins of state intervention (policy) into educational provision. We will examine how and why certain policies were taken up, which ideologies have dominated at certain times and we will explore the sorts of policy outcomes which have come from all this. We want to consider how policies are developed and how they are implemented. We also want to consider how they change in the different contexts in which they are interpreted, experienced, enacted and/or resisted as well as through the actions of those charged with their implementation. Our course title includes the word city because it is in cities that we can most easily see the way in which educational and other policies do their work and are resisted/ appropriated/impact on the lives of those who ‘people policy’.

    Educational Assessment
    This course uses the concept of the validity of an educational assessment as an organising focus for a comprehensive treatment of assessment issues. The course begins with a critique of traditional 'psychometric' approaches to assessment, detailing why they are inappropriate for educational settings. In their place, a framework for validity that acknowledges the essentially social nature of assessment will be developed. Within this framework, the resolution of a number of 'tensions' in assessment will be discussed. These will include: summative assessment v formative assessment, valid assessment v reliable assessment, assessment for selection v assessment for motivation, continuous assessment v 'one-off' assessment, internal assessment v external assessment, assessment for monitoring v assessment for diagnosis, norm-referenced assessment v criterion-referenced assessment. In the second half of the course (i.e., weeks 5-10), each participant will make a presentation to the group either on one of the tensions listed above, or on some other relevant topic agreed with the course organiser. The assessment of the course will be based on both the presentation and a short essay, which can either be based on the presentation topic chosen, or some other 'tension'.

    Effective Language Practices in Multiethnic and Multilingual Classrooms
    This course is designed for those who are involved in the education of language minority students in the primary, secondary and FE sectors in the UK. Students will gain an understanding of: policy, theory and practice in the teaching and learning of ESL/EAL in school/college settings principles and practice of integrating language and content teaching assessment of ESL/EAL development.

    Enabling e-Inclusion
    This module focuses for the most part on those aspects of e-Inclusion related to learning difficulties/disabilities and digital technologies. The module will introduce students to e-Inclusion and to the theoretical frameworks in which it is grounded, and will develop participants’ knowledge, understanding and capacity to critically appraise and systematically reflect on: The history and development of the use of technology to support learning, especially by those who find learning difficult Developing theories and policies related to the use of such technology, and the eventual formulation of the concept of e-Inclusion The medical and social models of inclusion, together with the associated policies on withdrawal vs. support Differing theoretical frameworks for LDD (including dyslexia) and technological responses to these

    English & the Arts of Language
    By the end of this course students will be able to situate their own practice within an arts paradigm; apply to their thinking about teaching a knowledge of the relevant literature on writing, composition and rhetoric to issues in the teaching of English; reflect on their own practice as teachers and arts practitioners; apply to their thinking about teaching an understanding of what is involved in students’ appreciation of the language-based arts; and apply to their thinking about teaching an understanding of the relevance to English of creative work within performing arts, moving image and other modalities The course develops knowledge and understanding of aspects of psychological, philosophical and aesthetic and literary theory relevant to a theoretical foundation for an arts-oriented English and key issues in the debates about the place and relative importance of the arts in education.

    Foundations of Teaching & Learning Mathematics
    By the end of the course, participants will be able to demonstrate knowledge and understanding of theoretical frameworks, particularly sociological and psychological, and their influences on teaching and learning in mathematics education; demonstrate an ability to review critically and theoretically discourses and positions related to the teaching and learning of mathematics; demonstrate an ability to engage critically with and respond to research and scholarship within the field of mathematics education and apply their knowledge, understanding and intellectual skills to write an informed and critical review about a topic in their chosen area of study. The course develops knowledge and understanding of a range of theoretical frameworks, particularly psychological and sociological, and their influence on teaching and learning in mathematics education; research findings from psychological and sociological research paradigms and their influence on teaching and learning in mathematics education and the seminal texts and literature relating to the psychology and sociology of mathematics education.

    Foundations of Teaching & Learning Science
    By the end of this course, participants will be able to demonstrate knowledge and understanding of theoretical frameworks, particularly sociological and psychological, on teaching and learning in Science education; demonstrate an ability to critically consider research based evidence and its implications for practice and apply their knowledge, understanding and intellectual skills to write an informed and critical review about a topic in their chosen area of study. The course develops knowledge and understanding of a range of theoretical frameworks, particularly sociological and psychological influences, on teaching and learning in science education and the seminal texts and literature in these areas.

    From Theory to Practice: The Contexts of Jewish Education
    This module builds on the corpus of theory studied in the Philosophies of Jewish Education module. It examines the relationship of educational philosophies and visions to the historical, economic and sociological contexts in which Jewish education operates. Case studies form an integral part of the module, as does comparative analysis of provision in the UK and abroad.

    ICT and Literacy
    This is a cross-curricular course which has been popular with students on the Languages and ICT programmes among others. The course will examine central issues related to new and wider definitions of literacy in the light of recent developments in Information and Communication Technology (ICT), and will examine the implications of these for notions of literacy and its pedagogy. Also considered will be the various ways in which language has developed as a result of the devices, mechanisms and practices that are being used on the Internet – including email, chat and the World Wide Web. It is essential that all course participants are confident users of email and the Web, as much of the course will be delivered online through the use of a virtual learning environment.

    ICT Policy & Practice
    By the end of the course, participants will be able to discuss social and historical critical frameworks for the evaluation of policy development and strategy for ICT use in schools; apply frameworks to studies of ICT policy implementation and actual use reported in the literature; demonstrate familiarity with a range of educational change theories and use one or more to discuss aspects of policy implementation in schools; demonstrate familiarity with a range of professional development theories and use one or more to discuss aspects of ICT practice in schools; discuss and analyse the relationship between policies and realities of practice in schools; reflect upon and explain possible reasons for the successes and failures of strategies for ICT use in schools and discuss the implications of the changing nature of ICT and its impact on policy development and the reality of practice in schools.

    Issues in ICT Teaching & Learning

    By the end of this course, participants will be able to demonstrate knowledge and understanding of theoretical frameworks, particularly psychological, on teaching and learning with ICT; demonstrate an ability to critically consider research based evidence and its implications for practice and apply their knowledge, understanding and intellectual skills to write an informed and critical review about a topic in their chosen area of study.

    Issues in Teaching & Learning Modern Foreign Languages
    By the end of the course, participants will be able to articulate the key concepts in second language acquisition theory; understand how these concepts have been applied in MFL teaching practices; critique various teaching and learning approaches and the theoretical precepts which underpin them and relate this broader understanding to participants' own teaching contexts. The course develops knowledge and understanding of a range of theoretical frameworks on teaching and learning in MFL education and the seminal texts and literature in these areas.

    Language Contact, Bilingualism and Black Englishes
    This course is designed for teachers, lecturers and others who are interested in examining some of the societal and individual linguistic consequences of the encounters between peoples and languages. The course will include the analysis of concepts such as bilingualism, multilingualism and the formation and function of languages like Caribbean Creoles and the Black Englishes of the United States and the UK.

    Notions of English
    By the end of this course participants will have an understanding of key elements of an epistemological framework for the teaching of English; a knowledge of the competing philosophies of English, the history of these positions and their current manifestations; an understanding of the cognitive activities distinctively involved in English; an ability to reflect on their own assessment practices and an awareness of the assumptions underlying their own pedagogical practices and an ability to reflect on their efficacy in relation to the teaching of English The course develops knowledge and understanding of aspects of psychological, philosophical and aesthetic and literary theory relevant to a theoretical foundation for an arts-oriented English and key issues in the debates about the place and relative importance of the arts in education

    Philosophies of Jewish Education
    This course will introduce students to the key characteristics of major philosophies and theories of Jewish education, and enable them to articulate and critique different visions of Jewish education. Students will study key classical and contemporary texts on views of teaching, learning and education, and reflect critically on what it means to be an educated Jew.

    Policy, Practice & the Mathematics Curriculum
    By the end of the course, participants will be able to demonstrate critical awareness and appreciation of theoretical frameworks such as sociological, philosophical, and historical, and their influences on curriculum, practice and policy in mathematics education; demonstrate an ability to analyse critically historical developments within mathematics education policy and practice and the ideological/ values-related assumptions underlying these; demonstrate an ability to reflect on the relationship between understandings of mathematics education at theoretical levels and within policy and practice and demonstrate an ability to relate aspects of practice to public and curricular influences and to reflect on the nature and impact of such influences.

    Psychology and Learning
    This is an optional module that provides an introduction to principles and applications of Psychology to Learning in formal and informal contexts. Over the last three decades, psychological theories and explanation of learning have developed far beyond simple, mechanistic models (such as reinforcement) that are applied in formal settings (especially schools). Within this module, participants will have the opportunity to explore: individual and social circumstances that may promote or hinder learning; characteristics of learning in formal and informal contexts; and individual and social theories of learning. Further, the module will explore how theories of learning have been adapted and ignored in education policies: at pre-school, primary and secondary school levels; with regard to curriculum; and with regard to assessment. In considering explanations of learning, the module will consider issues of development, multiple intelligences, interpersonal support that underlies learning and the effect of cultural/activity on learning experience. By the end of the module, participants will have a breadth of understanding of psychological aspects of learning that can be used to analyse/explain the effects of formal and informal learning contexts. Particular attention will be paid to the role of 'social' in learning and how 'culture' affects learning. A comparative knowledge of the neurological and developmental explanations for learning will be gained. Participants should be in the position to assess applications of psychology of/for learning in formal settings (of school, curriculum and organisational structure such as setting and mixed ability) and informal settings (of attachment, play and cultural socialisation).

    Recent Developments in Education Management
    The course, taught by the School of Education and Professional Studies, will focus on theoretical perspectives, research findings and the politics of research. Sessions will cover both problem solving and critical approaches to educational management, educational reform, leadership, educational change, educational markets, managerialism, the 'Third Way', curriculum analysis, development and management. Other issues explored will include: the relationship between policy and practice; between decision making and consultation; power and authority; gender and the micropolitics of educational organisations. Although some case studies will be based on the UK context, the intention is to inform debate on education in different societies and to make students aware of the comparative dimension to the study of educational management. The content of this module is subject to regular review in order to take account of recent developments in the field.

    Recent Developments in ICT Education
    This course will introduce some of the major current issues associated with the use of computers in education. There will be consideration of how the use of computers can be related to learning, teaching and the curriculum; the nature of educational software; and the impact of new technologies such as multimedia and networking. Attention will be paid to the effects of the National Curriculum in England and Wales, though not to the exclusion of consideration of the effects on the curricula of other countries. Specific areas to be introduced will include: the use of generic software; multimedia; the Internet as an information source; communications; web-based learning, modelling and artificial intelligence. The sessions will generally divide into two. The first part of each evening will be based on a presentation/seminar on one specific area. The discussion will be supported by a pre-session reading task. Generally, the second half will involve the following types of activities: focused computer-based practical tasks; individual students sharing their plans for their essays; focussed tasks based on specific papers, reports or other documents.

    Religious Education & Psychological Understanding
    Following an introduction to key themes in educational and religious psychology the module explores issues of identity formation and developmental thinking before focusing directly on religious education

    School Effectiveness and Improvement
    School effectiveness and improvement research has become very popular in recent years but has also become increasingly criticised for being a socially and politically decontextualised body of literature which provides support for inequitable educational reforms. This course is intended to provide a critical appraisal of this literature by looking at its methodological and theoretical problems, whether school effectiveness and school improvement claims are justified and the relationship between this literature and recent education policy in the UK and elsewhere. While this is emphatically not a course on 'fixing' underperforming schools, the school effectiveness and improvement literature provides a fascinating example of the way educational research is never neutral but is coloured by the political, ideological and methodological concerns of its time.

    Science and Religion
    This course is suitable for both science teachers and RE specialists. It serves as a general introduction to the subject. Topics will include: changing views of science from Greek Antiquity to the present; conflict thesis; Galileo affair; Darwinian controversies; miracles; language in science and religion; evidence and belief; cosmology; educational issues and resources.

    Social Context of Schooling
    This course is designed to provide a framework through which to examine the conflicting aims, claims, values and beliefs which have underpinned educational provision over time. The course considers several key social science concepts or fields of study with education as the major substantive focus and processes of social change providing the major context of concern. The key concepts include: gender, 'race', class, post-fordism, the market, the politics of knowledge and micropolitics. The overall aim of the course is to introduce students to a set of concepts, theories and ideas which will enable them to place their own subject interests in relation to significant social, political and economic changes taking place in modern society.

    Social Justice in the City
    This course explores what is meant by the concept of social justice and some of the difficulties involved in trying to enact socially just practices. It will consider tensions between distributive, cultural and associational forms of justice by looking at some examples of contexts in which these tensions arise.

    Teacher Development
    In recent years, the gaze of researchers and policy makers has focused increasingly on teachers and teacher change. In this course, teacher development is considered as an area of knowledge from a range of perspectives including historical, sociological, psychological, political and philosophical. The concepts of ‘teacher’ and ‘development’ are examined separately in parallel to the concept of ‘teacher development’. The roles and representations of teachers (e.g. as ‘professionals’ or as ‘change agents’) are explored in depth. Predominantly quantitative research into teacher knowledge, behaviours and attitudes is compared and contrasted with qualitative research into teachers’ lives and careers. Models of the process of development in professionals: e.g. the reflective practitioner or the competence based model are examined as are more holistic models, e.g. models of social, personal and professional growth. The research into long-term teacher change and its management is examined. The role of appraisal, monitoring and inspection, mentoring and induction are considered in the context of education management. Participants are expected to use their knowledge and experience of their own and their colleagues’ development to interpret and inform their reading and discussions.

    Duration
    One year FT, two to four years PT, September to September.

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