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Making their way through the UCAS process: how 16–18 year olds navigate the pedagogic space that supports degree choice in school

Murphy, Debra; (2019) Making their way through the UCAS process: how 16–18 year olds navigate the pedagogic space that supports degree choice in school. Doctoral thesis (Ph.D), UCL (University College London). Green open access

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Abstract

This thesis is concerned with the pedagogic relations involved in school-based UCAS practices. It documents how students experience the UCAS process at three sixth form institutions with contrasting catchments and histories and which differently signal the market value of degree subjects to 16–18 year-olds. The thesis explores how a sample of students responded to this messaging, in combination with other resources that they mobilised while deliberating their possible degree subject choices. The research has the following aims: To explore: 1. The way in which UCAS is variously practised, as a tightly bounded and recognisable process in three different school settings. / 2. The terms upon which UCAS as a pedagogic space, positions students as ‘degree choosers’ in each setting. / 3. How a sample of 16–18 year olds navigate their way through this process in these settings, and the criteria they invoke as they make their choices of the degree subjects they are considering for undergraduate study. / Drawing on insights from Basil Bernstein’s conceptual and methodological framework, the thesis argues that UCAS can be conceptualised as a distinct set of pedagogic practices with the potential to signal the market value of degree subjects and disciplinary fields to 16–18 year olds. UCAS is not a neutral process; it is shaped by the pressures and external demands made on both schools and students. Despite this, many of the students across the sample prioritised subjects that they believed would give them ways of being and acting in the world and in particular showed a preference for subjects with moral or self-enlightenment possibilities. The analysis developed throughout this thesis suggests that at a time when the policy focus emphasises economic undergraduate goals, there is a need for alternate insights about students’ priorities. The thesis argues that a narrow set of policy or institutional concerns such as employability, social mobility or social reproduction, cannot satisfy the full range of aspirations that were talked about by the students within this study.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Qualification: Ph.D
Title: Making their way through the UCAS process: how 16–18 year olds navigate the pedagogic space that supports degree choice in school
Event: UCL (University College London)
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
Additional information: Copyright © The Author 2019. Original content in this thesis is licensed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0) Licence (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/). Any third-party copyright material present remains the property of its respective owner(s) and is licensed under its existing terms. Access may initially be restricted at the author’s request.
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Education
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Education > UCL Institute of Education
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Education > UCL Institute of Education > IOE - Learning and Leadership
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10067272
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