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Knowledge, Power and Politics in Education

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Key Facts
Route Co-ordinator: Liz Maber
Open to: MPhil only
Written task
Full-time deadline: 27/02/2020
Knowledge, power and politics rest at the heart of education. Recognising that education takes a wide variety of forms and is subject to different, often competing agendas across the globe, this MPhil in Knowledge, Power and Politics explores fundamental questions relating to: the roles of education in societies; transnational debates about the nature of knowledge formation and its circulation; and the consequences for social justice. The course takes an interdisciplinary approach, supporting students to develop critical skills in examining:
  • how education systems are governed, through what means and with what consequences;
  • how education can contribute to social conflict, social inequalities and the reproduction of global orders, and how it might address social injustices, transform conflicts, and support social change;
  • how social and spatial mobility, movements and borders, as well as bodies and socially-embodied knowledges, interact with education policies and practices in formal, non-formal and informal settings across the globe.

Why choose us?

  • Benefit from the teaching and research of internationally renowned Faculty staff who are actively involved in cutting-edge research and policy advice
  • Closely engage with the work and activities of the Culture, Politics and Global Justice research group and others in the Faculty of Education
  • Experience a teaching approach that promotes innovative, participatory, inclusive and research-oriented pedagogy
  • Enjoy personalised support and mentoring through one-to-one supervision
  • Join a select group of approximately 25 students per year
  • Connect with a friendly and vibrant community of students and staff from across the world
  • Benefit from access to research groups, networks and activities across the University of Cambridge
  • Develop skills for employability across a range of institutions and organisations concerned with research, policy and practice
  • Gain knowledge and develop research skills to continue to a PhD, if desired

What does this course offer?

The Knowledge, Power and Politics in Education course draws on an interdisciplinary approach to examine the dynamics shaping knowledge formation in formal, nonformal and informal education settings around the globe – from governmental structures to social movements – and their interaction with major global issues including urbanisation, migration and conflict, amongst others.

During the course you will:

  • draw on varied theoretical resources and empirical studies to explore different understandings of the education/knowledge/power nexus, and its implications for societies;
  • develop critical skills to examine the politics and consequences of official and unofficial knowledge production and circulation in diverse education settings;
  • examine the challenges and priorities facing diverse learners and teachers in societies around the globe, including social conflict, social mobility, new forms of inequality, mass migration, sustainability, and securitisation;
  • explore varied approaches, including decolonial and feminist perspectives, to addressing social injustice and building sustainable peace through education;
  • explore the implications of intersecting inequalities, identities and representation relating to gender, race, ethnicity, religion, class and disability as they are mediated through formal, nonformal and informal education settings;
  • engage with the latest theoretically-grounded and empirical research so as to develop capacity for criticality and leadership.

coloured pensHow is the course organised?

The course runs over three terms and consists of two strands: Research Methods Strand (see below) and Knowledge, Power and Politics in Education (KPPE). KPPE has four modules:

  • Module 1: Official Knowledge, Governing and Education
  • Module 2: Knowledge, Place and Communities
  • Module 3: Knowledge, Movements and Borders
  • Module 4: Knowledge, Peace and Justice

Further programme details.

The modules are taught in Michaelmas and Lent terms. In addition, you have regular meetings with your supervisor during Michaelmas, Lent and Easter terms.
The course is assessed through two essays, submitted in Michaelmas and Lent Term and a thesis, submitted in July.


teachingResearch Method Strand

Alongside these modules, you will benefit from 32 hours of Research Methods teaching. This is taught across all Masters courses within the Faculty of Education, allowing you to interact with others on different routes. It covers a broad range of social science research methods and is essential for Masters level understanding and critical engagement with the research literature in many specialist areas and in education more generally. Through this strand you will acquire the skills necessary for designing, conducting, analysing, interpreting and reporting a research study for thesis.

Detailed information on Research Methods Strand.


paper cut peopleWho are the course team?

The course is staffed by a team of established faculty members who provide teaching and supervision. Other colleagues also contribute one-off lectures:


road signWhere do our students go?

Our graduates are the future leaders in their fields. They have a wide choice of career options, including further doctoral study, civil service, work with government departments, multilateral agencies, think tanks, universities and the private sector.