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Critical issues in equity, diversity and educational practice

This module explores theories, policy developments and practices relating to equity, diversity and inclusion. It is relevant for practitioners working with learners of all ages in a range of settings and situations. The module supports the development of a critical understanding of the factors contributing to social and educational exclusion. It explores the development of approaches and pedagogies for inclusive learning environments, which take account of diversity. The module will encourage you to think critically about the impact on the personal, social and educational opportunities, expectations and aspirations of learners in the twenty-first century and on your practice in supporting learning.


Start End England fee Register
10 Oct 2015 Oct 2016 £1416.00

Registration closes 17/09/15 (places subject to availability)

Click to register
This module is expected to start for the last time in October 2016.

What you will study

The key aim of the module is to support practitioners in developing a critical understanding of the factors contributing to social, educational exclusion and challenging behaviour. It explores approaches to creating inclusive learning environments, which take account of diversity and have the potential to transform the learning experience for socially disadvantaged groups. This will include learners who speak other languages, experience difficulties in learning, have disabilities which affect their learning or exhibit behaviours which are perceived as impeding their learning. Through case studies, readings and audio and video resources you will explore the relationships between teacher, learner and societal expectations, attitudinal factors, and approaches and contexts, which have supported effective participation and learning. This module will support practitioners in developing their understanding of the diversity, complexity and changing nature of learning to support transformations in learning and inclusive learning environments.

In order to develop these concepts, issues and the ‘lived experience’ of practice, the module will be divided into four main areas of content:

  • investigating educational issues in relation to practice
  • contemporary examples of innovative, critical, transformative practice and pedagogy
  • conceptualising and taking a stance on issues and practice to transform learning and foster inclusion
  • educational issues for twenty-first century practice: policy and practice in changing national and international contexts.

Online study and activities are an integral part of the module, closely linked to the assignments, enabling you to learn interactively, working with other students and your tutor. The audio-visual material is designed to extend your understanding of practice beyond your own personal setting, to help you draw on alternative contexts and perspectives to reflect on and develop your own practice. All of the resources will draw on the perspectives of practitioners, academics, researchers and a range of educational stakeholders, in the UK and elsewhere, to explore current issues, policies and debates in related to equity, diversity and supporting inclusion.

The assignments will enable you to understand and engage in practitioner research to apply what you learn to your own professional context. You will also be expected to demonstrate a critical, reflective understanding of this research evidence to critique curriculum, policy and pedagogical issues. The end-of-module assignment is a small scale practitioner based research project that will both develop your understandings of equity and diversity issues in relation to your own practice and develop pedagogies and approaches to support inclusive practices and transform learning environments.

Vocational relevance

In studying this module you will be encouraged to develop an understanding and knowledge of specific examples of critical and transformative pedagogical approaches. You will apply this knowledge and understanding to your own professional context through engagement in practice-based research to develop specific plans and approaches for the learners you are working with.


This module can only be studied as part of a qualification (see below for the relevant qualifications).

This module is primarily for professionals with some experience of working with individuals or groups of learners in a range of settings and circumstances. Access to learners or other colleagues working with learners is essential to undertake the assignments for this module.

You must hold a bachelors degree from a UK university or other recognised degree-awarding body, or a qualification at equivalent level.

The module is taught in English. Your spoken and written English must be of an adequate standard for postgraduate study. If English is not your first language, we recommend that you will need a minimum score of 7 under the International English Language Testing System (IELTS). Please see their website for details.

If you have any doubt about the suitability of the module, please speak to an adviser.

Outside the UK

This module has been designed with a global audience in mind. Since it is tutored online, you can study this module no matter where you are in the world except for residents of South Africa, who may be restricted to studying through the Open University (OU) affiliate in their country.


E805 is an optional module in our:

E805 is one of the modules you can select if you want to name your degree MA in Education (Equality and Diversity) or Master of Education (Equality and Diversity).

Some postgraduate qualifications allow study to be chosen from other subject areas. We advise you to refer to the relevant qualification descriptions for information on the circumstances in which this module can count towards these qualifications because from time to time the structure and requirements may change.

Excluded combinations

Sometimes you will not be able to count a module towards a qualification if you have already taken another module with similar content. To check any excluded combinations relating to this module, visit our excluded combination finder or check with an adviser before registering.


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

If you have a disability

In this module you are expected to use a wide range of resources. Most of the study materials will be delivered as web pages, pdf files and web-based tools. Many tutorial and student-led discussions and activities will be carried out in text-based discussion forums online. To complement this interaction, some discussions and collaborative activities will take place as live events in our audio-conferencing environment, which combines voice, text and images.

We have tried to avoid using inaccessible resources, but some material that is core for the module may not be easily accessible if you use assistive technology. Some students may find the amount of reading from different sources challenging. In most cases there will be sufficient alternative activities and materials to enable you to complete assignments successfully. Where this is not the case, you will be given individual support by your tutor in collaboration with other University staff. Support for access to Library resources is available from the Library Helpdesk.

Written transcripts of any audio components and Adobe Portable Document Format (PDF) versions of printed material are available. Some Adobe PDF components may not be available or fully accessible using a screen reader. Alternative formats of the study materials may be available in the future.

If you have particular study requirements please tell us as soon as possible, as some of our support services may take several weeks to arrange. Find out more about our services for disabled students.

Study materials

What's included

A dedicated website with online only study material and activities, audio/video material and access to a range of electronic tools, including real time conferencing and online forums. You will be expected to search for other materials relevant to your assignments, and the module will provide you with help and guidance for your literature searching.

You will also be provided with access to Masters degree in Education qualification website, where additional guidance materials will be found.

Computing requirements

You will need a computer with internet access to study this module as the study materials and activities are accessible via a web browser. Any other computer-based activities you will need to carry out, such as word processing, using spreadsheets, taking part in online forums, and submitting files to the university for assessment, are specified in the module materials. If any additional software is needed for these tasks it will either be provided or is freely available.

We recommend either of the following:

  • Windows desktop or laptop computer running Windows 7 or later operating system
  • Macintosh desktop or laptop computer running OS X 10.7 or later operating system.

A netbook, tablet, smartphone or Linux computer that supports one of the browsers listed below may be suitable. The screen size should be at least 1024 (H) x 768 (W) pixels. If you intend to use one of these devices please ensure you have access to a suitable desktop or laptop computer in case you are unable to carry out all the module activities on your mobile device.

We recommend a minimum 1 Mbps internet connection and any of the following browsers:

  • Internet Explorer 9 and above
  • Apple Safari 7 and above
  • Google Chrome 31 and above
  • Mozilla Firefox 31 and above.

Note: using the latest version for your browser will maximise security when accessing the internet. Using company or library computers may prevent you accessing some internet materials or installing additional software.

See our Skills for OU study website for further information about computing skills for study and educational deals for buying Microsoft Office software.

Materials to buy

Set books

  • Costley C., Elliott G. & Gibbs P. Doing Work Based Research: Approaches to Enquiry for Insider-Researchers SAGE Publications £25.99 - ISBN 9781848606784

Note: This book is also a set book on EE815 Understanding literacy: social justice and inclusive practice.

Teaching and assessment

Support from your tutor

Your tutor will be responsible for assessing your assignments and providing detailed feedback on them. The module will be taught by means of real time online tutorials and online forums.

Contact us if you want to know more about study with The Open University before you register.


The assessment details can be found in the facts box above.

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

Students also studied

Students who studied this course also studied at some time:

Future availability

The details given here are for the module that starts in October 2015. We expect it to be available once a year.

How to register

To register a place on this course return to the top of the page and use the Click to register button.

Distance learning

The Open University is the world's leading provider of flexible, high quality distance learning. Unlike other universities we are not campus based. You will study in a flexible way that works for you whether you're at home, at work or on the move. As an OU student you'll be supported throughout your studies - your tutor or study adviser will guide and advise you, offer detailed feedback on your assignments, and help with any study issues. Tuition might be in face-to-face groups, via online tutorials, or by phone.

For more information about distance learning at the OU read Study explained.

Course facts
About this course:
Course code E805
Credits 60
OU Level Postgraduate
SCQF level 11
FHEQ level 7
Course work includes:
4 Tutor-marked assignments (TMAs)
End-of-module assessment
No residential school

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