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Comparative and international studies in primary education

In this module, you’ll explore learning and teaching around the world and some of the social, historical, political, cultural and philosophical influences on primary education in different contexts. At its heart is a discussion and comparison of the similarities and differences experienced by teachers and learners around the world. It will introduce you to theories and concepts of comparative education studies and some of the different pedagogical approaches in local, national and international contexts. You’ll examine the relationships between educational theory, policy and practice. You’ll consider different perspectives on educational issues and critically evaluate evidence to develop, synthesise and present arguments to explore different practices.

Modules count towards OU qualifications

OU qualifications are modular in structure; the credits from this undergraduate module could count towards a certificate of higher education, diploma of higher education, foundation degree or honours degree.

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Module

Module code
E309
Credits

Credits

  • Credits measure the student workload required for the successful completion of a module or qualification.
  • One credit represents about 10 hours of study over the duration of the course.
  • You are awarded credits after you have successfully completed a module.
  • For example, if you study a 60-credit module and successfully pass it, you will be awarded 60 credits.
60
Study level
Across the UK, there are two parallel frameworks for higher education qualifications, the Framework for Higher Education Qualifications in England, Northern Ireland and Wales (FHEQ) and the Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework (SCQF). These define a hierarchy of levels and describe the achievement expected at each level. The information provided shows how OU module levels correspond to these frameworks.
OU SCQF FHEQ
3 10 6
Study method
Distance Learning
Module cost
See Module registration
Entry requirements
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What you will study

This module consists of five blocks:

Block 1: Issues in comparative and international education
In this block, you’ll start with a look at classrooms around the world. It will then introduce you to some of the key concepts, theories, research methods and current topics in comparative and international education.

Block 2: Comparing through reading, watching and listening
The theme of this block is comparing and contrasting curricula for young children, how it’s taught, and the purposes of teaching it. You’ll read widely, and watch and listen to practitioners around the world, to examine how the process of teaching and learning takes different forms depending on context and participants.

Block 3: Inclusive education in different contexts
This block considers aspects of children’s lives that can have a significant influence on the development of their identity and their learning, including religion and migration experiences. You’ll also explore the way that being identified as disabled or having learning difficulties varies and may influence interactions, behaviour and educational progress in diverse contexts.

Block 4: Professionalisation, professional development and professional conversations
The theme of this study block is about teaching as a profession; how teachers continue their learning throughout their careers; and considers the many professional conversations through which different perspectives about primary education are revealed. You’ll consider the different ways teachers talk and think about teaching, and learn more about the variety of routes into teaching across the world.

Block 5: The global, the local, the national
This final block draws together key messages of the module, looking at local situations through the lens of key international initiatives including PISA (Programme for International Student Development) and the UN Sustainable Development Goals. This move to a macro and international viewpoint heightens and deepens the scope of comparisons across education systems and cultures and gives you an opportunity to review and reflect on the comparative theme implicit in all the blocks.

As appropriate for those studying at Level 3, you’ll critically and systematically analyse and evaluate concepts, theories, values, policy, curriculum and practice relating to children’s learning in a variety of primary contexts. In addition, you’ll consider your own learning and experience in the context of specific themes that take account of the local, national and global contexts for teaching and learning.

This is a practice-focused module. We advise you to arrange a placement of at least 10 days in a learning setting during your study. This experience will be essential if you wish to apply for postgraduate teacher training. As part of professional practice development, you’ll work collaboratively with other students on some assessment tasks.

You will learn

This module will provide you with knowledge and understanding of:

  • the comparative contextual factors, principles, issues, theories and research that underpin and inform national and international education policy and practices for primary children
  • the social, historical, political, cultural and philosophical influences on curricula in different contexts for learning
  • the ways in which ethnicity, religion, class, gender, and sexual orientation impact on children’s learning and development, and how structures and provision can create or challenge inequalities
  • the ways in which the diverse needs of pupils – including those with Special Educational Needs, with disabilities, of high ability, learning additional languages – influence learner identities in different contexts
  • the political, legal, ethical and rights principles that guide practice in a range of national and international contexts
  • the central importance of positioning children’s voices and perspectives, in relation to the roles and responsibilities of members of the primary education community in different contexts.

Vocational relevance

The module will be of relevance to:

  • anyone with an interest in the education of children aged between 3 and 12
  • anyone with an interest in international education and development, sustainability and globalisation
  • teaching assistants, classroom assistants, school support-staff or volunteers (or similar) who wish to develop their knowledge and academic skills in their current role
  • those aspiring to apply for teacher training to qualify as a teacher
  • anyone currently working, volunteering, or aspiring to work in the third sector, including museum education, community education, NGOs, or educational administration.

E309 strongly positions students who, on completion of the degree, will seek employment within the education sector, wish to apply for teacher training in the primary age range, or who are considering further study at Master’s level.

If you’re thinking about training to be a teacher, see our booklet Becoming a teacher.

Outside the UK

Synchronous tutorials and communications could be difficult to deliver to students outside UK due to time differences. If you can’t attend the synchronous tutorials or make synchronous communications, you’ll have to use asynchronous alternative methods, such as watching recorded tutorials and emailing your tutor with any questions.

Teaching and assessment

Support from your tutor

You’ll have a named tutor who will support your studies and mark and comment on your assignment work; you can also seek academic advice and guidance from them. Your tutor will offer support through email, telephone and online forum discussions. Additionally, there will be online tutorials. We will advertise tutorials before the module starts; E309 tutors will take them, but depending on the tutorial, not necessarily your own named tutor. We recommend you book online to attend these tutorials. There will be six module-specific online learning events and two module-wide online learning events.

Assessment

You can find the assessment details for this module in the facts box above.

You must use the online eTMA system to submit your tutor-marked assignments (TMAs) and end-of-module assessment.

Future availability

Comparative and international studies in primary education (E309) starts once a year – in October. This page describes the module that will start in October 2018. We expect it to start for the last time in October 2025.

Regulations

As a student of The Open University, you should be aware of the content of the academic regulations which are available on our Student Policies and Regulations website.

    Course work includes:

    4 Tutor-marked assignments (TMAs)
    End-of-module assessment
    No residential school


    Entry requirements

    You must be 18 or over.

    There are no formal academic or experiential requirements to study this module.

    However, we strongly advise you to arrange a placement in a learning setting1 for children aged between 3 and 12 – for example a school, outdoor learning centre or museum – for at least 10 days to observe learning and teaching and gain exposure to a practice context, specifically when you study Blocks 4 and 5 (February–April).

    If you’re not sure you’re ready, talk to an adviser.

    1Access to settings will require you to meet the ‘fit person’ criteria, in your country, to work with children. You and your setting are responsible for ensuring you meet these requirements, not the OU.

    Register

    Start End Fee
    - - -

    No current presentation - see Future availability

    This module is expected to start for the last time in October 2025.

    Additional Costs

    Study costs

    There may be extra costs on top of the tuition fee, such as a laptop, travel to tutorials, set books and internet access.

    If you're on a low income you might be eligible for help with some of these costs after your module has started.

    Ways to pay for this module

    Open University Student Budget Account

    The Open University Student Budget Accounts Ltd (OUSBA) offers a convenient 'pay as you go' option to pay your OU fees, which is a secure, quick and easy way to pay. Please note that The Open University works exclusively with OUSBA and is not able to offer you credit facilities from any other provider. All credit is subject to status and proof that you can afford the repayments.

    You pay the OU through OUSBA in one of the following ways:

    • Register now, pay later – OUSBA pays your module fee direct to the OU. You then repay OUSBA interest-free and in full just before your module starts. 0% APR representative. This option could give you the extra time you may need to secure the funding to repay OUSBA.
    • Pay by instalments – OUSBA calculates your monthly fee and number of instalments based on the cost of the module you are studying. APR 5.1% representative.

    Joint loan applications

    If you feel you would be unable to obtain an OUSBA loan on your own due to credit history or affordability issues, OUSBA offers the option to apply for a joint loan application with a third party. For example, your husband, wife, partner, parent, sibling or friend. In such cases, OUSBA will be required to carry out additional affordability checks separately and/or collectively for both joint applicants who will be jointly and severally liable for loan repayments.

    As additional affordability checks are required when processing joint loan applications, unfortunately, an instant decision cannot be given. On average the processing time for a joint loan application is five working days from receipt of the required documentation.

    Read more about Open University Student Budget Accounts (OUSBA).  

    Employer sponsorship

    Studying with The Open University can boost your employability. OU courses are recognised and respected by employers for their excellence and the commitment they take to complete. They also value the skills that students learn and can apply in the workplace.

    More than one in ten OU students are sponsored by their employer, and over 30,000 employers have used the OU to develop staff so far. If the module you’ve chosen is geared towards your job or developing your career, you could approach your employer to see if they will sponsor you by paying some or all of the fees. 

    • Your employer just needs to complete a simple form to confirm how much they will be paying and we will invoice them.
    • You won’t need to get your employer to complete the form until after you’ve chosen your module.  

    Credit/debit card

    You can pay part or all of your tuition fees upfront with a debit or credit card when you register for each module. 

    We accept American Express, Maestro (UK only), Mastercard, Visa/Delta and Visa Electron. 

    Mixed payments

    We know that sometimes you may want to combine payment options. For example, you may wish to pay part of your tuition fee with a debit card and pay the remainder in instalments through an Open University Student Budget Account (OUSBA).


    For more information about combining payment options, speak to an adviser or book a call back at a time convenient to you.


    Please note: your permanent address/domicile will affect your fee status and therefore the fees you are charged and any financial support available to you. The fees and funding information provided here is valid for modules starting before 31 July 2019. Fees normally increase annually in line with inflation and the University's strategic approach to fees. 

    This information was provided on 13/11/2018.

    What's included

    • Access to the module study materials via the module website
    • One printed reader Learning and Teaching Around the World: Comparative and International Studies in Primary Education edited by Kimberly Safford and Liz Chamberlain

    Computing requirements

    A computing device with a browser and broadband internet access is required for this module. Any modern browser will be suitable for most computer activities. Functionality may be limited on mobile devices.

    Any additional software will be provided, or is generally freely available. However, some activities may have more specific requirements. For this reason, you will need to be able to install and run additional software on a device that meets the requirements below.

    A desktop or laptop computer with either:

    • Windows 7 or higher
    • Mac OS X 10.7 or higher

    The screen of the device must have a resolution of at least 1024 pixels horizontally and 768 pixels vertically.

    To participate in our online-discussion area you will need both a microphone and speakers/headphones.

    Our Skills for OU study website has further information including computing skills for study, computer security, acquiring a computer and Microsoft software offers for students.

    If you have a disability

    The OU strives to make all aspects of study accessible to everyone and this Accessibility Statement outlines what studying E309 involves. You should use this information to inform your study preparations and any discussions with us about how we can meet your needs.

    To find out more about what kind of support and adjustments might be available, contact us or visit our Disability support website.