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Education for development

What role can education play in international development? Education was a key focus of the 2015 Millennium Development Goals and maintains great importance for the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals. In addition to such specific education targets, education is crucial to achieving other goals. This online module explores the relationship between education and development, and helps you analyse and act on education practices and processes in developing and transition countries. The study materials centre around case files focused on different topic areas including teachers, use of new technologies and gender equality in education, in educational settings (both formal and non-formal) at local, national and international level across the globe.


Start End England fee Register
01 Nov 2015 Apr 2016 £1333.00

Registration closes 30/09/15 (places subject to availability)

This module is expected to start for the last time in November 2016.

What you will study

How can education support development? Does increased educational participation and achievement ensure that knowledge and skills can be harnessed to improve health, raise incomes, sustain economic growth and promote equity? Access to high-quality education is a widely recognised human right. But in many low-income countries, participation in even a full course of basic education is not universal. The module considers how these issues and questions are addressed by a variety of international organisations and governments.

This module explores contemporary perspectives, polices and debates, linking education to development, and examines the relevant actions of agencies and governments in a number of economically developing countries. The aim of this module is to support you in developing the skills, knowledge and terminology to understand and act on the relationship between education and development.

This module has a distinctive approach; a series of case files, focused on different topic areas, are used to introduce you to concepts and principles, together with empirical examples that assist in understanding and exploring critically key issues. Readings and audio-visual material in each case file are drawn from a wide variety of academic and other sources, reflecting a variety of geopolitical and historical contexts and development pathways. Through close examination of this material you are encouraged to critically examine the ideas, concepts, values, policies and practices that shape access to, and outcomes of, education in development contexts. The case files will tackle questions such as:

  • How can development strategies address the challenges of teacher supply? To what extent can new technologies promote access to education?
  • How successful is non-formal education in meeting the literacy needs of women in rural areas?

This module is a wholly online integrated learning experience; the spine of the module will be an interactive online study guide built in the University’s virtual learning environment (VLE). The module employs a range of media tools and resources including use of the Open Library and wider web. Materials are drawn from a range of settings, including non-formal education, post-compulsory education and tertiary education in the ‘global south’.

Through engaging in practical activities, including some in collaboration with fellow students, you will develop a range of investigative skills, particularly locating, analysing and evaluating information from a range of sources and different forms of data.

You will be expected to contribute to and perhaps lead activities and discussions, drawing on aspects of your own experiences, jointly constructing knowledge, and engaging in a reflective learning loop with your own practice and experiences.

Towards the end of the module you will have the opportunity to use the analytical tools, knowledge and strategies you have acquired from the module in assembling your own mini-case file in an area of interest to you.

Vocational relevance

This module is designed for professionals who have responsibilities in the broad field of international development initiatives or management in a developing world context; you may be linked to a national or local humanitarian or development organisation, or government body, or an international institution. It is also aimed at people with an interest in working in the field of education and international development.


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

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

You will need to have access to an appropriate setting so that you can plan, analyse or evaluate practice in an educational initiative. (The setting may be at national, regional or local level and in the formal education sector or a non-formal setting such as a community group.) You will be encouraged to relate the content of the module to your own experiences and to develop skills of independent study. 

The module is taught in English and 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 seek assessment under the International English Language Testing System (IELTS). To assess your English Language skills in relation to your proposed studies, you can visit the IELTS website.

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


ET821 is an optional module in our:

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.


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. The materials will be delivered as web pages, pdf files and web-based tools. 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. Recordings of these events can be accessed after the event by all students.

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 technically different sources challenging. In many 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.

Study materials

What's included

This module provides you with specially written web-based materials, learning activities for you to undertake individually and for small groups of fellow students, voice and text-based forums, the module website, and other internet resources.

As an Open University student, you can use the Open University Library website. This provides access via the Internet to a wide range of online resources such as databases, full text ejournals, reference sources, ebooks, newspaper, images and more to support your studies. You can use these to do a literature search, keep up to date with your subject or read around a topic. Support for developing and improving your information-searching skills is available on the Library websites, and the Library Helpdesk is there seven days a week to provide help and advice on finding and using information.

You will need

You will need a headset with a microphone and earphones to record speech on some of the module activites.

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.

Teaching and assessment

Support from your tutor

You will have a tutor who will help you with the study material and mark and comment on your written work and whom you can ask for advice and guidance. You and your tutor will communicate with each other using online tools. There are no face-to-face meeting with your tutor or other students as all tutorials will take place online. Each tutor group has a lively student online forum.

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.

In consultation with your tutor you will choose an area of special interest for more detailed study; analysis of this case file takes the place of an examination.

Future availability

The details given here are for the module that starts in November 2015. We expect it to be available for the final time in November 2016.

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 ET821
Credits 30
OU Level Postgraduate
SCQF level 11
FHEQ level 7
Course work includes:
3 Tutor-marked assignments (TMAs)
End-of-module assessment
No residential school

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