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 was 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. Currently, the centre is evaluating the schools' use of the IRIS-Connect video system for reflecting on lessons.

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.  

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 funded a two-year project on Race, Racism and Education: inequality, resilience and reform in policy & practice which looked at how race equality issues have featured in the policy and practice of education in the twenty years since the murder of Stephen Lawrence.

Recently, Professor David Gillborn was admitted to the Laureate Chapter of Kappa Delta Pi (KDP), the US-based International Honor Society in Education which acknowledges people who have made ‘a significant and lasting impact on the profession of education’ and Dr Nicola Rollock was selected as a 2015 Woman of achievement by the Women of the Year Council which celebrates ‘truly extraordinary and inspirational women who have made a significant achievement’.


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 as illustrated by the current AHRC funded research Translation and Translanguaging: Investigating Linguistic and Cultural Transformations in Superdiverse Wards in Four UK Cities (TLANG). Their ESRC Researching multilingualism, multilingualism in research practice project was rated as 'outstanding' by ESRC and the Investigating discourses of inheritance and identity in four multilingual European Settings project rated as 'Excellent' by AHRC.

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.