Dr Nick Peim

Dr Nick Peim

School of Education
Senior Lecturer

Contact details

School of Education
University of Birmingham
Edgbaston, Birmingham
B15 2TT, United Kingdom

Nick Peim is a senior lecturer in the school of education with interests in philosophy, social theory, language and the history and cultural politics of education. He teaches on the College of Social Science’s Introduction to Research module, on the BA Education and on the Ed D (taught doctorate) in Learning. Nick supervises several doctoral research students. 

Nick’s current focus is on ontological questions addressing education in modern times. What does it mean to live in a world and time so massively dominated by the logic of education? How did this extraordinary, historically unprecedented apparatus arise? What forces contributed to its shaping? What were and what are its effects on our possibilities for being and thinking. What if we problematize the assumption that education must dominate the social landscape and must be the principle informing our understanding of social life ('bios') itself?


  • PhD
  • MA
  • PGCE

His PhD was in the cultural politics of English teaching. It was based on a rethinking of English drawing on various aspects of theory including sociology of education, media theory, cultural studies and continental philosophies including post-structuralism / postmodernism.


Nick taught English, Media Studies, Classical Civilization, History of Art and Sociology for many years in large comprehensive schools. As a schoolteacher, Nick became interested in the cultural politics of English teaching. Theory and philosophy became interests in themselves and for the light they shed on modern and contemporary education as a dominant experience saturated with its own myths, ideas, practices and institutions. 

Increasingly Nick’s interest became focussed on series of questions: What resources can we draw on today to understand the conditions we live in?  Why has education become the dominant principle of reason in our time? How can we explain – and address – the ingrained inequalities that education enacts? What alternative ways of thinking about collective life in general are available to us and what are their implications for the currently dominant discourses of improvement in education and beyond? What is appropriate for education academics to believe about the nature of their work in relation to the contemporary state of education? How can we explain the persistence of the discourse of redemption in education against all contrary evidence?

Nick is interested in ways of thinking that challenge orthodox assumptions about the meaning of education in our time, including all those concerned with improvement, equality and democracy. He is interested in understanding how education studies has addressed education-in-modernity without benefit of any serious ontological perspective, expressing a raw faith in the theology of education as salvation and he is also interested in questions of futurity, in thinking beyond bureaucratically planned ‘future’ to a more open idea of ‘l’avenir’ – a time to come that is radically different from the present and that has gone beyond the limiting 'technological enframing' of modernity. It’s his contention that education is the field of the political in the contemporary and that deconstructing dominant understandings and conventional critiques is an essentially political project. 

His work draws on a range of theories, including modern European philosophy from Kant, especially Nietzsche, Heidegger, Derrida, Agamben and Malabou. I am also interested in classical sociological theory (Althusser, Bourdieu, Bernstein …) and philosophy of language and linguistics (Wittgenstein and others). Benjamin, Foucault and Lacan have strongly informed his understanding of what is distinctive about our times and our ways of experiencing ourselves and our being-in-the-world.

Postgraduate supervision

Nick supervise PhD and Ed D research students. He teaches research philosophy and theory on the college’s research training method programme and two short research courses on the role of thinking and an approach to discourse. 

He has supervised a wide range of doctoral theses to completion: 

  • Curriculum questions concerning Media Studies and English
  • The history and politics of English teaching
  • Teacher education in the Maltese classroom
  • IT and literacy questions in the contemporary English classroom
  • IT and the geography of contemporary secondary science teaching
  • Educational technology in the science classroom
  • Further education, pedagogy and heterotopic spaces
  • School governance and the politics of education
  • Adult education and Lyotard’s postmodern condition
  • Linguistics, philosophy and the education of the hearing impaired
  • Literacy in FE: theory and the role of identity
  • Home education and fundamental questions concerning learning to read
  • Foucault and the teacher student relation in ITE
  • National educational reform in relation to globalization
  • Education, ecology and philosophy 

His current supervision includes the following research projects:


  • The governance of education and education as governance: schooling as governmentality. The history of the school as a social technology.
  • Contemporary philosophies and education and education research: including poststructuralism – Derrida, Foucault, Lacan, Lyotard – and its antecedents in Marx, Nietzsche, Freud and Heidegger.
  • Theories of the global in the work of Said, Spivak, Appadurai, Castells, Bauman and others.
  • Language, identity and education: theories of language, culture and social class. Curriculum politics: subject identities, literacy issues and the social dimension of knowledge.

Research projects

Recently he has contributed to:

  • Governance of schools (Welsh National Assembly)
  • The National Evaluation of the Children’s Fund
  • Joseph Rowntree Foundation: State of Knowledge on Governance and Engagement


Selected publications from 2008


Book. An ontology of education in our time

Book. An exploration of the resources of theory and philosophy for the conduct of research. 

Book Chapter. Impotentiality and the ontology of the accident (2016)

Article. ‘We refugees …’: identity questions and biopolitics (2016)

Book Chapter. An introduction to the political philosophy of Catherine Malabou (2017)

Special issue. New nihilisms and education (2017)

Articles in Academic Journals

Martin, D. and Peim, N. (2009). Critical perspectives on activity theory, Educational Review, 61, 2, 131‐ 138. ISSN: 0013‐1911. DOI: 10.1080/00131910902844689

Peim, N. (Editor). (2009). Some Contemporary Currents in Research Thinking, International Journal of Research & Method in Education, 32, 3, 1743‐727X. ISSN: 1743‐727X.

Peim, N. (2009). Activity theory and ontology, Educational Review, 61, 2, 167‐180. ISSN: 0013‐1911. DOI: 10.1080/00131910902846874

Peim, N. (2009). The Elusive Object of Transformation: English, Theory and Bernstein’s Sociology of Education, Changing English, 16, 2, 149‐164. ISSN: 1358‐684X. DOI: 10.1080/13586840902863137

Peim, N. and Flink, K. (2009). Testing Times: Questions Concerning Assessment for School Improvement, Educational Philosophy and Theory, 41, 3, 342‐361. ISSN: 0013‐1857. DOI: 10.1111/j.1469‐ 5812.2008.00438.x

Peim, N. (2009). Thinking Resources for Educational Research Methods and Methodology, International Journal of Research & Method in Education, 32, 3, 235‐248. ISSN: 1743‐727X. DOI: 10.1080/17437270903259675

Peim, N. (2008). Ijrme Special Issue 32:2, International Journal of Research & Method in Education, 31, 1, 95‐95. ISSN: 1743‐727X. DOI: 10.1080/17437270802069175

Chapters in Books

Peim, N. (2009). English and the Government of Language and Culture (In Equality in the Primary School: Promoting good practice across the curriculum, Hill D, Robertson LH (Editors), Continuum International Publishing Group Limited, London, (ISBN: 9781847061010)