National and international, with interests extending from early childhood education through to adult learning, and spanning the historic to the most contemporary issues, ESJ works to understand the role that education can play in promoting social justice.

Our staff and research students are at the forefront of debates taking place within the university and policy sectors over key issues and fundamental questions that affect education and society. ESJ have an active research culture and promote regular engagement through seminars, conferences, research projects, and consultancy.

The Department is home to a number of research centres and groups

Centre for Higher Education, Equity and Access (CHEEA)

The Centre for Higher Education, Equity and Access (CHEEA) is led by Professor Peter Davies and it is committed to policy and practice which promotes equity, opportunity and achievement in higher education. 

Examples of their work includes Labour market expectations, relative performance and subject choice. This research is funded by the Nuffield Foundation to evaluate the effects of providing 15-16 year-old students with information about the differences between earnings of graduates from different subjects. CHEEA member Ann-Marie Bathmaker was awarded a British Academy small grant for a study entitled: ‘Who wants to be an engineer?’ exploring the effects of vocational diversification in English 14-19 secondary schooling on the decision-making and experience of girls and boys from different social class backgrounds.

The Jubilee Centre for Character and Virtues

The Jubilee Centre is a pioneering interdisciplinary research centre focussing on character, virtues and values in the interest of human flourishing. The Centre promotes a moral concept of character in order to explore the importance of virtue for public and professional life. The Centre is a leading informant on policy and practice in this area and through its extensive range of projects contributes to a renewal of character and values in both individuals and societies. - See more at:

Centre for Research into Race and Education (CRRE)

The core staff of the Centre for Research into Race and Education (CRRE) are members of ESJ (David Gillborn, Nicola Rollock and Paul Warmington). These colleagues got the Centre off to a great start by winning the Society for Educational Studies (SES) 2013 National Award which is funding a two-year project on Race, Racism and Education: inequality, resilience and reform in policy & practice which will look at how race equality issues have featured in the policy and practice of education in the twenty years since the murder of Stephen Lawrence.

The research on Educational Strategies of the Black Middle Class, is in partnership with colleagues at the London Institute of Education and funded by the Economic and Social Research Council, is the largest study to date of the educational experiences, aspirations and strategies of the Black middle class.


MOSAIC, led by Professor Adrian Blackledge, is a forum for the development of new, interdisciplinary lines of enquiry related to bilingualism/multilingualism, multilingual literacy, bilingual education, second language learning and contemporary discourses about linguistic and cultural diversity. The recognition of the importance of the work carried out by MOSAIC is illustrated by the AHRC funded research Translation and Translanguaging: Investigating Linguistic and Cultural Transformations in Superdiverse Wards in Four UK Cities (TLANG) and the ESRC-funded Researcher Development Initiative project Researching multilingualism, multilingualism in research practice

Interdisciplinary Research in Histories of Education and Childhood (DOMUS)

DOMUS are a group of academics meet regularly in seminars and business meetings, publish and present together (as independent scholars and as group representatives), organise journal editing and network convening, make national and international project applications. In 2012, Birmingham City Museum and Art Gallery hosted the first ever major exhibition in the city on childhood. The exhibition, entitled Children's lives in Birmingham, focused on the history of childhood in the 18th-21st centuries and was led by the Professor Ian Grosvenor.  

The Caroline Benn Society

The Caroline Benn Society has been set up to promote research into the modern history of a common education so as to foster greater awareness of what we can learn and take forward from Caroline’s scholarship and social action to promote a more fair education system. The Society will concentrate on the varied forms of comprehensive education without losing sight of the democratic and communitarian implications of a system intended to develop everyone across the full age and ability range.

Visiting Scholars programme and International research

The Department of Education and Social Justice also hosts a Visiting Fellows and Scholars programme and participates in international links and research, expanding its reach beyond the scope of the University. We are currently undertaking research in the UK, USA, South Africa, New Zealand, South Korea, and Europe. Our results and research have received international attention and resulted in submissions to the UK Houses of Parliament, the New Zealand Government’s Tertiary Education Commission, the UNESCO Global Monitoring Review as well as being featured in outlets such as the BBC, the Guardian, the Times Educational Supplement, China Daily, and the Korea Herald.