module specification

ED7130 - Curriculum Leadership (2017/18)

Module specification Module approved to run in 2017/18
Module title Curriculum Leadership
Module level Masters (07)
Credit rating for module 20
School School of Social Professions
Total study hours 198
5 hours Placement / study abroad
157 hours Guided independent study
36 hours Scheduled learning & teaching activities
Assessment components
Type Weighting Qualifying mark Description
Other 100%   4,000-5,000 word essay
Running in 2017/18
Period Campus Day Time Module Leader
Spring semester North Wednesday Evening

Module summary

The module will develop critical knowledge and understanding of curriculum leadership in contemporary schools in the context of theoretical frameworks, ideological debates and empirical study.  The module is designed to equip students with the knowledge, understanding and skills to critically analyse how the way in which the curriculum is led and managed influences the processes of learning and teaching as well as educational outcomes.  Students will engage with a wide body of scholarship together with qualitative research data to explore the following questions.

 What is a school curriculum?
 What are the purposes of the school curriculum?
 How are different curriculum models linked with these purposes?
 How does leadership shape the way the curriculum is constructed and delivered?
 What influence does curriculum leadership have on pupil learning?

The module will be delivered in tandem with the Curriculum, Pedagogy and Assessment module, which will provide a rich theoretical context for exploring debates around the purposes, nature and scope of the school curriculum in contemporary society.  Students will also draw on knowledge, understanding and skills developed in the other core modules, particularly Foundations of Learning and Research Methods. 

The module will use the English education system as a point of reference for gaining an in-depth insight into key issues, debates and discourses surrounding curriculum leadership in general.  However, students’ experience of different UK and international contexts will be used to enrich and extend the scope of the module. 

Students will be required to take part in a school visit during the day, in week 7, and are expected to make personal arrangements to enable this.

Prior learning requirements


Module aims

 To critically analyse how decisions on the content, organisation, delivery and assessment of the curriculum are located within historical, social, cultural, economic, political and ideological contexts.
 To develop a critical understanding of what characterises and enables effective learning and teaching in a school setting.
 To develop a critical understanding of the way different approaches to leadership influence curriculum planning, delivery, development and pupil learning.
 To develop an insight into the relationship between theory and practice through conducting a small-scale qualitative research study.
 To reflect on the strengths and limitations of the research methodology used in the context of designing and conducting a dissertation.
 To further develop academic study and enquiry skills.


The interface between the fields of curriculum and leadership will be explored through both theoretical study and a small-scale, practical, qualitative research project.

Students will be introduced to different theories of leadership in the context of contemporary schooling and will be encouraged to critically analyse how these may be applied in different contexts and critiqued according to a range of ideological perspectives.  Different ideas about human knowledge and learning will be considered in terms of how leadership of the curriculum is transacted in contemporary schools.  Current ‘orthodoxies’ will be challenged.  In particular, the dominant ideological and political position of the National College will be explored as an exemplar of official policy, linked to current national accountability policies and mechanisms.

Students will consider the roles and responsibilities of curriculum leaders in contemporary schools in different phases of education, exploring how different dimensions of the curriculum are led and managed in the context of school-located historical, political, social and ideological circumstances.

The leadership of curriculum change and innovation will be examined through scrutiny of case study research.  This will introduce the design of a piece of qualitative research in a school setting, demonstrating the centrality of context.  Data gathered from the visit will be used to develop emerging ‘grounded theory’, enabling students to develop skills in the analysis and interpretation of practical evidence.

Learning and teaching

The module is distinctive in its research-based, reflective, collaborative pedagogy.  Students will work together to prepare resources, review articles, discuss issues, co-design and evaluate research tools, and interpret research findings.

2 hour lecture/ workshop sessions in the evening will be complemented by a 5 hour site visit, small group tutorials and 5 hours’ directed learning, including a reflective learning journal, within the online learning space for the module. 

The module leader will design a range of workshop opportunities and guided independent study resources, to support students in explicitly applying their learning from other core MA in Education modules.

Opportunities for team teaching with the leader of the Curriculum, Pedagogy and Assessment module will be built into the delivery schedule.

Learning outcomes

Students successfully completing this module will be able to:

 demonstrate appreciation and critical understanding of a range of perspectives relating to the leadership of curriculum design, organisation, delivery, assessment and development;
 demonstrate awareness of the dynamic and contingent nature of educational policies, school curricula and learning provisions and how these might be affected by a range of social, historical, cultural and political processes;
 locate the analysis and evaluation of both policy and practice within explicit theoretical and conceptual frameworks;
 use empirical study to illuminate key issues underpinning effective curriculum leadership;
 consider the efficacy and implications of different leadership approaches, styles and structures and processes;
 evaluate possible links between curriculum leadership and the quality of educational provision;
 articulate an emerging personal theory of curriculum leadership.

Assessment strategy

Formative Assessment
Assessment criteria will be shared at the outset of the module and used to focus and guide reflection throughout.

Students will make a short presentation or lead a discussion during the course of the module on an aspect of curriculum leadership.  This will be followed by peer and tutor feedback.

The tutor and peers will provide feedback on directed learning activities undertaken in the online learning space for the module.

Students will be encouraged to submit drafts of their final assignment for formative comment.

Summative Assessment
100% by coursework: one 4000-5000 word essay/ research report to be submitted during week 15.


Brown E., Day C., Gu Q., Harris A., Hopkins D., Leithwood K., Sammons P. (2010) ‘Ten Strong Claims about Successful School Leadership’, available from [URL:].
Brundett, M & Duncan, D, 2010, Leading curriculum innovation in primary schools, Nottingham, National College for School Leadership. Available at primary-schools.pdf
Busher H, Harris A, Wise C (2000) Subject Leadership and School Improvement, PCP, London
Fullan, M. (2006) 8 forces for leaders of change.  Available from: [ 06/8ForcesforLeaders.pdf].
James M, Pollard A, ed. (2011) Principles for Effective Pedagogy, International Responses to Evidence from the UK Teaching & Learning Research Programme, Routledge
Hargreaves, A. (2007) the Long and Short of Educational Change, Education Canada Vol. 47 (3)
Hargreaves, D, 2010, Creating a self-improving school system, Nottingham, National College for Leadership of Schools and Children’s Services. Available at
Harris, A., Leithwood, K., Day, C., Sammons, P. and Hopkins, D. (2007) ‘Distributed leadership and organizational change: Reviewing the evidence’ in Journal of Educational Change. 8 (4), 337-347
HM Government, 2010, The importance of teaching, CM 7980, London, The Stationery Office
McCombs, B and Whisler, J S, 1997, The learner-centred classroom and school: Strategies for increasing student motivation and achievement, San Francisco, Jossey-Bass
McCombs, B and Whisler, J S, 1997, The learner-centred classroom and school: Strategies for increasing student motivation and achievement, San Francisco, Jossey-Bass
Ofsted, 2008, Curriculum innovation in schools, HMI 070097, London, Ofsted. Available at type/Thematic-reports/Curriculum-Innovation-in-schools
Ofsted 2011, Excellence in English: what we can learn from 12 outstanding schools (100229), available from: [].
Ofsted, 2010, Supplementary subject-specific guidance for inspectors on making judgements during subject survey visits to schools (20100015), available from:
Perkins, D, 2009, Making Learning Whole: How seven principles of teaching can transform education, San Francisco, Jossey-Bass
Robinson, K. New Educational Paradigms, RSA, You Tube, available from:
Watkins, C, 2010, Learning, performance and improvement, London, International Network for School Improvement no. 34

The EPPI site ( includes summaries of published research on a range of topics
Teaching and Learning Research Programme site ( has downloadable publications and research digests.