This chapter aims to posit theory as a central component to the study of education and education policy. Providing clear, introductory entries into contemporary critical theories and their take up in education policy studies, the chapter offers a generative invitation to further reading, thought and exploration. Education Policy and Contemporary Theory explores examples of how theoretical approaches generate a variety of questions for policy analysis, demonstrating the importance of theory as a necessary and inevitable resource for exploring and contesting various policy realms and dominant discourses. This chapter examines the theory in qualitative research by Derrida and also the connection between theory and methodology in relation to education policy research. An awareness and consideration of the influence of absent presence can make a valuable contribution to education policy analysis, particularly in terms of how one go about constructing representations of the work undertaken.