Professor Peter Davies

Professor Peter Davies

School of Education
Emeritus Professor of Education Policy Research

Contact details

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

Following experience as a head of department in a secondary school, Peter joined the School of Education at the University of Manchester where he worked in teacher education and the development of assessments for the National Curriculum. Joining the Department of Economics at Staffordshire University in 1994 he established and led the Institute for Education Policy Research. He moved to the University of Birmingham in 2010.


  • Ph.D. University of Manchester
  • M.A. (Econ) University of Manchester
  • PGCE University of Manchester
  • B.A. (Econ. first class, G.L.S. Shackle prize) University of Liverpool


Theory and empirical evidence in relation to: 

  • Multidisciplinary analysis of participation, choice and engagement in secondary and higher education.
  • Private and public finance of education.
  • Conceptual change with particular reference to understanding in economics.
  • Relationships between different theoretical perspectives on conceptual change, particularly Variation Theory and Threshold Concepts.
  • Development of teachers’ thinking and practice through ‘Learning Study’. 


2015-2016  Evaluation of IRIS/Whole Education System for use of Video in improving teaching and learning. Educational Endowment Foundation. £58,205.

2011-2013 Labour market expectations, relative performance and subject choice, The Nuffield Foundation, £142,200. Final Report

2009-2010 Private School Bursaries, The Sutton Trust, £15,700.

2009-2010 Information Needs of Undergraduate Students (with Oakleigh Consulting), Higher Education Funding Council for England, £130,070

2008-2009 Evaluation of Flexible Degree Routes, Higher Education Funding Council for England, £60,000.

2007-2009 Research Informed Teaching: The impact of enquiry modules in undergraduate programmes, Staffordshire University, £105,000

2007-2008 Continuing Professional Development to Support Subject Networks of Teachers in Secondary Schools, Teacher Development Agency, £40,000

2006-2007 ‘Knowing where to study? Fess, bursaries and fair access, The Sutton Trust, £28,500.

2004-2007 ‘Developing first year economics undergraduates’ understanding of threshold concepts’ (leading consortium including Universities of Durham, Coventry and West of England), HEFCE £249,780.

Other activities

  • Affiliated Professor: Stockholm University, Sweden.
  • Joint co-ordinator, EARLI SIG9 Phenomenography and Variation Theory.
  • Visiting Professor: Staffordshire University, UK.
  • Gambrinus Fellow, Technical University of Dortmund, Germany. (2010-11).


Selected Publications

Davies, P., Diamond, C. & Perry, T. (2019). Implications of autonomy and networks for costs and inclusion: Comparing patterns of school spending under different governance systems. Educational Management, Administration and Leadership. (online)

Ignell, C., Davies, P. and Lundholm, C. (2019). A longitudinal study of upper secondary school students’ values and beliefs regarding policy responses to climate change. Environmental Education Review 25(5), 615 – 632.  DOI: 10.1080/13504622.2018.1523369

Davies, P. and Ercolani, M. (2019). Hard and soft choices? Subject selection by schools and students. Oxford Review of Education 45(1), 1-31. doi: 10.1080/03054985.2018.1469483.

Davies, P. (2019). The construction of frameworks in learners’ thinking: conceptual change and threshold concepts in economics, International Review of Economics Education, 30, 1-9.

Mincu, M., & Davies, P. (2019). The governance of a school network and implications for initial teacher education. Journal of Education Policy, 1-18.

Jägerskog, A-S, Davies, P. & Lundholm, P. (2019). Students’ understanding of causation in pricing: a phenomenographic analysis. Journal of Social Science EducationJournal of Social Science Education. 18( 3), 89-107. doi: 10.4119/jsse-1421

Perry, T., Davies, P. and Qiu, T. (2018). Great grade expectations: The Role of Pupil Expectations in Target Setting. International Journal of Educational Research , 89, 139-152.

Ignell, C., Davies, P. & Lundholm, C. (2017). Understanding price and the environment: Exploring upper secondary students’ conceptual development, Journal of Social Science Education, 16, 1,  pp. 68-80. DOI: 10.4119/UNIBI/jsse-v16-i1-1556

Harring, N., Davies, P. & Lundholm, C. (2017). Learning economics and attitudes to market solutions to environmental problem, Education Sciences 7, 36, pp.  1-15. DOI: 10.3390/educsci7010036

Davies, P., Davies, N. & Qiu, T. (2017). Information and choice of A-Level subjects: a cluster randomized controlled trial with linked administrative data. British Educational Research Journal, 43(4), pp. 647-670.

Aprea, C., Wuttke, E., Breuer, K., Koh, N. K., Davies, P., Greimel-Fuhrmann, B. & Lopus, J. (2016). (Eds) International Handbook of Financial Literacy. Dordecht: Springer. ISBN: 978-981-10-0358-5

Davies, P. (2016). Policy Contexts for Financial Literacy. In Aprea, C., Wuttke, E., Breuer, K., Koh, N. K., Davies, P., Greimel-Fuhrmann, B. & Lopus, J. (2016). (Eds) International Handbook of Financial Literacy (pp. 127-130). Dordecht: Springer.

Aprea, C., Wuttke, E., Breuer, K., Koh, N. K., Davies, P., Greimel-Fuhrmann, B. & Lopus, J. (2016). Financial Literacy in the Twenty-First Century: An Introduction to the International Handbook of Financial Literacy. In Aprea, C., Wuttke, E., Breuer, K., Koh, N. K., Davies, P., Greimel-Fuhrmann, B. & Lopus, J. (2016). (Eds) International Handbook of Financial Literacy (pp. 1-4). Dordecht: Springer.

Davies, P., Connolly, M., Nelson, J., Hulme, M., Kirkman, J. & Greenway, C.  (2016). ’Letting the right one in’: provider contexts for recruitment to initial teacher education in the United Kingdom. Teaching and Teacher Education.  60, pp. 291-302.

Davies, P. and Qiu, T. (2016) Labour market expectations, relative performance and subject choice, CHEEA, University of Birmingham.

Bentham, J., Davies, P. & Galbraith, D. (2016). Using a ‘literacy across the curriculum’ intervention using self-regulation. Educational Review, 68, 1, pp. 71-81. DOI: 10.1080/00131911.2015.1058751 

Davies P. (2015). Towards a framework for financial literacy in the context of democracy. Journal of Curriculum Studies, 47, 2, pp. 300-316.  DOI:10.1080/00220272.2014.934717 

Davies, P., Syed, F. & Appleyard, L. (2015). Secondary school students’ understanding of the financial system. In: E. Wuttke, J. Seifried & S. Schumann (Eds.). Economic competence and financial literacy of young adults: Status and challenges. Research in vocational education (Vol. 3). Opladen: Barbara Budrich.

Collett-Scmitt, K., Guest, R. & Davies, P. (2014). Assessing Student Understanding of Price and Opportunity Cost through a Hybrid Test Instrument: An exploratory study, Journal of Economics and Economics Education, 16(1), pp.115-134

Davies, P. and Davies, N. (2014). Paying for Quality? Associations between private school fees, performance and use of resources. British Educational Research Journal, 40, 3, pp. 421-440. DOI: 10.1002/berj.3107

Davies, P., Qiu, T. and Davies, N. (2014). Cultural and Human Capital, Information and Higher Education Choices, Journal of Education Policy 29, 6, pp804-825. DOI: 10.1080/02680939.2014.891762

Davies, P. and Hughes, A. (2013). Defining and assessing enterprise capability. Journal of Education and Work. DOI:10.1080/13639080.2013.805188.

Davies, P. (2013). A response to Entwistle and Nisbet. Psychology of Education Review, 37, 1, pp. 15-17.

Ignell, C., Davies, P. and Lundholm, C. (2013). Swedish upper secondary school students’ conceptions of negative environmental impact and pricing. Sustainability, 5(3), pp. 982-996; doi:10.3390/su5030982.

Lundholm, C. and Davies, P. (2013). Conceptual Change in the Social Sciences. In S. Vosniadou (ed.) International handbook of Research in Conceptual Change 2nd. Edition. pp. 288-304. (London: Routledge). 

Davies, P., Mangan, J., Hughes, A. and Slack, K. (2013) Labour market motivation and students’ choice of degree subject. British Educational Research Journal. 32, 2. pp.361-382 DOI: 10.1080/01411926.2011.646239 

Davies, P. and Mangan, J. (2013). Conceptions of graphs and the progression of students’ understanding. Korean Journal of Economics Education, 2013, 4, pp. 189-210.

Slack, K., Mangan, J., Hughes, A. and Davies, P. (2012). ‘Hot’, ‘cold’ and ‘warm’ information and higher education decision-making. British Journal of Sociology of Education, iFirst. DOI: 10.1080/01425692.2012.741803.

Davies, P. and Lundholm, C. (2012). Students' understanding of socio-economic phenomena: conceptions about the free provision of goods and services. Journal of Economic Psychology, 33, 1, pp. 79-89. DOI:10.1016/j.joep.2011.08.003

Davies, P., Slack. K. and Howard, C. (2012). Variation in the length of an undergraduate degree: participation and outcomes, Studies in Higher Education, 37, 4, pp. 431-447. DOI: 10.1080/03075079.2010.520698

Davies, K. and Davies, P. (2012). Tensions in Commissioning: services for children’s speech, language and communication needs in one English Region, Journal of Health Service Research and Policy, 17, 2, pp. 37-44. DOI:10.1258/jhsrp.2012.011121

Davies, P. (2012). Threshold Concepts in Economics. In. G. Hoyt and K. McGoldrick, (eds)  The International Handbook on Teaching and Learning Economics.  pp. 250-256,(Aldershot: Edward Elgar Press). 

Davies, P. and Lundholm, C. (2012). Young people’s understanding of socio-economic phenomena: conceptions about the free provision of goods and services. Journal of Economic Psychology, 33, 1, pp. 79-89.

Davies, P. (2011) Students’ conceptions of price, value and opportunity cost: some implications for future research. Citizenship, Social and Economic Education, 10, 2-3, pp. 101-110.

Davies, P. and Mangan, J. (2010). Assessing Progression in Students’ Economic Understanding: The Role of Threshold Concepts. In J.H.F. Meyer, R. Land and C. Baillie (eds) Threshold concepts and transformational learning, pp. 193-206., (Rotterdam: Sense Publishers).

Davies, P. and Mangan, J. (2007). Threshold concepts and the integration of understanding in economics. Studies in Higher Education, 32, 6, pp. 711-726.

Davies, P. (2006) Educating citizens for changing economies. Journal of Curriculum Studies, 38, 1, pp. 15-30.DOI:10.1080/00220270500185122

Davies, P. (2006). Threshold concepts: how can we recognize them? In J.H.F. Meyer and R. Land (eds)Overcoming barriers to student Understanding: Threshold concepts and troublesome knowledge,  pp. 70-84, (London: Routledge).

Davies, P. (2002). Principals or Agents? Developing Citizenship through Business, Economics and Financial Education. Journal of Social Science Education, 2002/1. Available at (open access)

Davies, P. (2001). Citizenship and Economic Understanding in England. In H-J. Schlösser (ed.) Stand und Entwicklung der ökonomischen Bildun, pp. 1-20,(Bergisch Gladbach: Verlag Thomas Hobein).

Davies, P. (2000). Assessment Criteria for Learning and Teaching in Economics. In P. Davies, S. Hodkinson and P. Reynolds (eds) Innovative Approaches to Learning and Teaching in Economics and Business Higher Education, pp. 17-38, (Stoke-on-Trent: Trentham Books).

Policy experience

  • Member of Policy Discussion Group on Trends in Undergraduate Recruitment, Cabinet Office, March 2013
  • Adviser to World Bank 2014-15 on the auditing and development of education for budget literacy.
  • Invited review of submissions by the All Party Parliamentary Group on Financial Literacy, March-April 2016.