This course is discontinued

UV9919V3 – The reform of education and leadership: issues for research design and practice

Schedule, syllabus and examination date

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Course content

The course is offered in collaboration with the CLEG research group.

Responsible: Jorunn Møller, University of Oslo, Helen Gunter, Manchester University

Public services education is undergoing rapid and radical reform to supply and demand: supply is increasingly privatized (e.g. academies, charters, free schools) and demand is increasingly private (e.g. decision-making is based on individual and family choice). Such reforms require educational professionals to shift from a focus on pedagogy, the curriculum and assessment towards the production of marketized services, and hence identity and practice are increasingly located in leader, leading and leadership. The rapid and pervasive demand for educational professionals to be ‘school’ and ‘entrepreneurial’ leaders, who lead an efficient, effective and excellent organization, and who exercise ‘relentless’ leadership in order to secure success in the market has become normalized. It seems that there is no alternative, where researchers need to ask questions about how and why this has happened and is continuing to happen Studies have demonstrated how particular types of knowledge and know-how have been globalized, with the same words, strategies and people being sold to policy makers and professionals in an international market. It is argued that particular individuals and organizations that might be labelled ‘policy actors’, have gained strong influence on educational policy-making. Such policy actors include: professors and their new improvement and effectiveness models (e.g. Barber; Hopkins); international consultancy firms (e.g. McKinsey) and supra-national organisations (e.g. World Bank, OECD) who provide solutions for ‘educational problems’; and philanthropic families and foundations (e.g. Broad Foundation) that fund particular types of research. This is a complex, emerging and important area of knowledge codification and policy influence. In the seminar, we will bring new perspectives to how and why this situation has become extraordinarily commonplace, and some key questions regarding what is taking place (and why counter-narratives are difficult but not impossible to construct) will be raised.

Learning outcome

The main aim of this PhD course is to provide opportunities for doctoral students to acquire a deeper understanding of how public services education is undergoing rapid and radical reform with pervasive implications for educational leadership and knowledge codification.

The overarching question that this workshop addresses is: 

  • Who are the policy actors who generate, use, and promote these ideas, and how and why are they influential in public policy?

We will confront and engage with this question by working with you at two interconnected levels: 

Level 1: we will identify and critically examine: 

(a)    The main globalizing reform trends in education policy over the past thirty years. 
(b)    The knowledge production processes underpinning these reform trends. 
(c)    The types and organizational location of policy actors and their exchange relation practices. 

Level 2: we will examine methodological implications for research design and practice regarding: 

(a)    The identification of policy actors and the research that is making their work and influence visible. 
(b)    The implications of policy actor activity for your project, and in particular the contribution your research will make to the field. 
(c)    The methodological issues regarding project design, data collection and theorizing. 


PhD candidates at the Faculty of Educational Sciences will be given priority, but it is also possible for others to apply for the course. Applicants must have at least a Master's degree.

Candidates admitted to the PhD programme at the Faculty of Educational Sciences should apply through Studentweb 

Other applicants may apply using this application form

Registration deadline: April 10, 2019.

Please be advised that the course may be cancelled should the number of participants be too low.


The course is based on lectures and seminars. We will use a combination of tutor-led session with practical hands-on activity. We advise that you bring a lap top with you so that you can use the Internet to undertake workshop tasks.

This is an intensive course over two days, comprising a total of 14 hours.

Dates: May 7-8, 2019

Place: University of Oslo, Georg Sverdrups hus, Grupperom 1


You will find the timetable and literature on the semester webpage for this course.


Course participants are expected to write a paper. They are also suggested to give an oral presentation of their paper. 

3 credit points for course participation (80% attendance is required) and an approved paper (2500 – 4000 words). 

1 credit point for participation without paper (80% attendance is required).

Papers are to be submitted electronically in Canvas.

The deadline for paper submission is May 31, 2019.

Student presentations
We encourage students to prepare a 15 minutes paper presentation for the course. This paper should build on the student's own work and be relevant for the course topic in a broad sense. The teachers will be giving prepared feedback on papers submitted no later than April 30, 2019.

Language of examination


Grading scale

Grades are awarded on a pass/fail scale. Read more about the grading system.

Facts about this course






Spring 2019


Spring 2019

Teaching language