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Finnish Education System from the Perspective of Comparative Education Research - Course full


Faculty of Educational Sciences, University of Helsinki




900-1490 EUR Learn more




Mari Simola

Target students

Master’s and doctoral students interested in education, educational systems, educational politics, comparative education, comparative educational politics, organisation of schooling in different cultural contexts, and willing to learn theoretical and methodological perspectives for comparative education research.

N.B. The course is full!

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The course has two main interlinked objectives: to give a comprehensive introduction to the Finnish education system and to deepen the understanding of comparative education research.

The course gives tools to deal with the increasing number and different kinds of international comparisons, large-scale assessments, rankings and best practices in education.

While special focus is placed on the Finnish education system, some of the theories, methods and emerging issues are discussed through examples from other education systems. Students are also encouraged to present or reflect upon their own education systems.

This course offers lectures, workshops and a field trip to a school in the Helsinki area to examine the Finnish education system from the perspective of comparative education research.

The course is divided into three parts:

Part I – Introduction to the Finnish education system
This part discusses the origins and development of Finnish education, focusing on education policy, management and legislation, and educational reform in Finland.

Part II – Theory and methods for comparing education systems
The focus will be on theories and methods of comparative research especially suited for education studies.

Part III – Futures of education and schooling
This part highlights new developments or emerging issues currently debated in the field of education, and future challenges in the Finnish education system.

Learning objectives

The course aims at a comprehensive understanding of the Finnish education system, its basic values, principles and organisation. The Finnish education model is also discussed in a comparative frame of global education policies. Students will thus become familiar with different theoretical and methodological approaches in the field of comparative education.

Finland has done well in international education league tables. The course seeks to analyse what is behind the Finnish success story. As such, the course provides tools to review, apply, and critically reflect on relevant theories and methods for understanding different educational systems from a comparative perspective.

The course approaches education from two perspectives: academic and pragmatic. In addition to academic lectures, students will visit a Finnish school, apply in workshops what they learn, and interact with educational experts outside the academic world. The course also examines the popularisation of the Finnish education model from the perspectives of benchmarking, projection and branding.

Means and criteria of assessment


Course format and teaching methods

The course contains lectures, workshops and discussions, individual and group assignments, and field trips.

Course Schedule

Location: City Centre Campus

Monday 6.8.2018 Registration begins
Tuesday 7.8.2018 Registration continues, HSS Opening Ceremony
Wednesday 8.8.2018 course begins

Preliminary Course Schedule: Finnish Education System from the Perspective of Comparative Education Research (pdf)