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

Postgraduate supervision

Peter is interested in supervising students with the following research interests

Participation and access in higher education: the role of policy, information and schooling. Subject choice in secondary and higher education. The development of conceptual understanding in social sciences: applications of threshold concepts, alternative frameworks and Variation Theory.

Peter currently supervises a number of postgraduate research students. View some of their profiles below.

  • Judith Bruce-Golding Career trajectories of deputy and assistant headteachers and their perceptions of secondary headship
  • Gemma Collins - An exploration of the threshold concepts of geography education, and their role in effective Initial Teacher Education
  • Kristina Gruzdeva A cross-sectional study investigating relationships between students’ financial literacy, their search for information about Higher Education and decisions they make. The research aims to identify variation in these relationships by student background.      
  • Anna Murphy - School Peer Reviews, Networks and Collaborations: A Study of emerging School Peer Review models being trialled as part of the 'Birmingham Challenge'.
  • Jim Pugh University and Higher Education cultural change since the implementation of higher fees in England

For more information on research degrees, please visit the Postgraduate Research pages.


Peter talks about his recent research within CHASM

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

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.

Perry, T., Davies, P. & Qiu, T. (2017). Great grade expectations: The Role of Pupil Expectations in Target Setting. International Journal of Educational Research (published online).

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 

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

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.