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How social science undergraduates in different universities conceptualise a good quality university education

The Pedagogic Quality and Inequality in University First Degrees is a 3-year ESRC-funded project nearing its end, which set out (1) to investigate whether educational 'quality' reflects league table positions and (2) to therorise pedagogic 'quality' in terms of social justice, using the work of Basil Bernstein. A central aspect of the research has been to evaluate the value for students of sociology-based social science degrees in different universities.

To illustrate the research approach and the emerging findings about pedagogic quality and inequality, this presentation will focus on an analysis of interviews with students from two contrasting university sites throughout the three years of their degrees. Nvivo software has been used to interrogate interview transcripts (24 from each of the universities) in terms of how students conceptualise a good quality university education. The findings discussed fall into three broad areas: (1) students' conceptions of a good university; (2) students' conceptions of a good university education; and, the (3) value students place on being educated at university.  The quality of education as seen through the students' eyes is evaluated through the lens of Bernstein's concept of 'pedagogic rights'.