Gunnlaugur Magnusson

Senior Lecturer/Associate Professor at Department of Education

+4618-471 1679
Visiting address:
von Kraemers allé 1 A
752 37 Uppsala
Postal address:
Box 2136
750 02 Uppsala

Short presentation

Associate professor in education. Senior lecturer in pedagogy and special education.

Research interests include education policy and reforms, marketization, inclusive education, and didactics in higher education.

Also available at

My courses


I'm an associate professor in education and a senior lecturer in pedagogy and special education. Currently on leave for a one-year research position here at Uppsala university (2020-2021).

I previously worked Mälardalen University as a senior lecturer in didactics and held a research fellowship in didactics between 2016 and 2018.

I have a teaching degree (B.Ed.) from Akureyri University, Iceland (2002) and a Master’s degree (Fil.Mag.) in International and Comparative Education from Stockholm University (2004). My teaching is mostly within special education and the teacher education on topics such as inclusive education, children in need of special support, structures and reforms of education systems, research and methodology and theories on learning and education.

I defended my Ph.D thesis,Traditions and Challenges. Special Support in Swedish Independent Compulsory Schools in october 2015.

My Ph.D. research was conducted within the projects “Independent schools’ work with children in need of special support” and “Special occupations? - a project about special teachers and special education needs coordinators (SENCOs) work and education” both financed by the Swedish Research Council.

My most recent research was conducted within my research fellowship. The project was called: Enacting Contradictory educational ideals? – Balancing marketization and social inclusion in practice.

I'm also engaged in research and writing about Didaktik as an alternative for teaching in higher education along with my colleague Johannes Rytzler at Mälardalen University

Other interests include educational philosophy. I've recently published an Icelandic translated Biesta's and Säfströms Manifesto for Education, translated in cooperation with Elsa Haraldsdóttir, Ph.D. student in philosophy in Iceland, link here: Menntaávarpið

Finally, I try to take an active part in societal discussions on education. Below are links to debate articles, popular science summaries and interviews I've done in Icelandic and Swedish on education politics, marketization, in defence of pedagogy and teacher education as well as on inclusive education.

About the necessity for an organized political action to avoid further devaluation of teachers, published April 16th 2020.

Essay (in Icelandic) about mental health, published December, 21st 2019

Summary of three scientific articles (in Swedish), published December 19th, 2019

On populism and paranoia in Swedish school debates, (in Swedish) published October 14th, 2019

Long interview on inclusion (in Icelandic), September 15th, 2019

News report on inclusion (Icelandic), September 14th, 2019

Debate article about teachers' responsibility and possibiities, (pt 2) Dagens Arena, August 27th 2019

Debate article about teachers' responsibility and prerequisites, (pt 1) Dagens Arena, August 26th 2019

Interview on inclusion with Skolvärlden, August 9th 2019

Short news-report about an open lecture I held at University of Iceland(Icelandic), June 4th, 2019

Translation of the philosophical text A Manifesto for Education, (in Icelandic) , 1 juni, 2019

Debate article about incluison, (in Icelandic), May 15th 2019

Debate article about critique of inclusive education, Skola och samhälle, May 13th 2019

About common critique of pedagogy, Pedagogiska Magasinet November 23rd 2018

Popular science summary of a scientific article about higher education (in English) The blog of för European Journal of Higher Education November 2018.

About misinformed critique of inclusion in DN, Skola och Samhälle, September 27th 2018

Reply to a debate article about teacher education being useless, Skola och samhälle June 14th 2018

About political suggestions on education, Skola och samhälle May 17th, 2018

About political suggestions for increased marketization in the Icelandic education system (in Icelandic), March 21st, 2018

Popular science summary of my Ph.D. thesis April 21st 2016.


During this past year (2017-2018), I’ve been involved in more theoretical work along with prior colleagues at Mälardalen University, primarily aimed at the field of higher education as well as didactics and pedagogy as general fields of research and knowledge. This work has led to three publications already (see publications Magnússon & Rytzler, 2018 (x2) and Magnússon, Nordmark & Rytzler, 2018) and further developments of articles (of which one is currently submitted for review) and potential books. This work emphasizes the importance of theoretical refinement and rigor within the fields of pedagogy and didactics, in particular as regards higher education, and a critical perspective on pre-packaged solutions and a naïve empiricist view on teaching and teacher education. We combine insights and tools from curriculum theory (viewing education as a social system dependent upon complex, national and international sociological and political processes) with theoretical and philosophical readings that can inform a radical (albeit not necessarily new) understanding of the role of – and practice of – education and teaching.


Research Fellowship at Mälardalen University 2016-2018:

Enacting Contradictory educational ideals? – Balancing marketization and social inclusion in practice

The project’s main objective is to develop a theoretical understanding of how these educational ideologies influence school’s work and organisation via policy and the enactment of policy. Using interviews with head teachers, the research questions are:

  • How do head teachers address, define and reflect around the challenges of social inclusion and market oriented policies in their work and in their schools?
  • To what extent do they believe pupils in general, and vulnerable pupils in particular are affected by market mechanisms in education? What are the challenges and/or benefits?


Prior projects:

I participated in the project: Work with children in need of special support in charter schools. that was coordinated by professor Claes Nilholm.

The aim was to gain both general and specific knowledge about what the introduction of independent schools in the Swedish school system has had meant for pupils in need of special support. We pose questions about resources, organisation of support, explanations of difficulties and proportions of pupils assumed to be in need of support, receiving support etc. It contains three projects, Project 1) is a total ppoulation survey study of the independent schools. Project 2) contains case studies of eight schools and project 3) is a deeper study of two schools deemed to have a new approach to the work with pupils in need of support

I was active as a Ph. D. student within project 1) Independent schools work tith pupils in need of support - a survey study.

I also participated in the project Special occupations? - a project about special teachers and special education needs coordinators (SENCOs) work and education. run by professor Kerstin Göransson.

The overall aim was to construct knowledge about special teachers' and SENCOs' education and work. More specifically 1) gather basic empirical material about thei education and work and 2) develop concepts and theories that will give both a general and representative image of both occupational groups work and education as well as variation within the groups. We used survey studies, observations and interviews.

I participated as a Ph.D. student within the project's survey studies "SENCOs and special teachers on their education and its relevance" (total population) and "SENCOs and special teachers work within the scool".

Both projects were financed by the Swedish Research council.


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