Professor Michael Hand

Professor Michael Hand

School of Education
Professor of Philosophy of Education
Deputy Director of the Midlands Graduate School ESRC Doctoral Training Partnership

Contact details

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

Michael Hand is Professor of Philosophy of Education in the School of Education and Deputy Director of the Midlands Graduate School ESRC Doctoral Training Partnership. He is editor of the IMPACT pamphlet series and the Bloomsbury Philosophy of Education book series. Michael's research interests are in the areas of moral, political, religious and philosophical education. He has published books and articles on education for patriotism, the nature and aims of religious education, the justifiability of faith schools, autonomy as an educational aim, philosophy in schools, teaching about sexuality, and controversial issues in the classroom. His latest book is A Theory of Moral Education published by Routledge in 2018.

Michael coordinates the School’s philosophy of education seminar series.


  • DPhil in Philosophy of Education, University of Oxford
  • MSc in Educational Research Methodology, University of Manchester
  • PGCE in Primary Education, Open University
  • BA Hons in Theology and Religious Studies, University of Cambridge


Postgraduate supervision

Michael supervises doctoral students working in the field of philosophy of education. The substantive topics on which his past and present doctoral students have worked include the ethics of teaching, philosophy in schools, religious education, faith-based education, spiritual education, education for patriotism, academic freedom in higher education, and the interface between science and religion.

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


Michael is currently working on three topics. 

  • In his recent book A Theory of Moral Education, Michael addresses the problem for moral education posed by reasonable disagreement about morality. He sets out to show that cultivating children’s commitment to moral standards need not be indoctrinatory. It is true that many moral standards and justificatory theories are controversial, and educators have an obligation to teach these nondirectively, with the aim of enabling children to form their own considered views. But reasonable moral disagreement does not go all the way down: some basic moral standards are robustly justified, and these should be taught directively, with the aim of bringing children to recognise and understand their authority. 
  • Michael is also working on a case for teaching philosophy in schools. In his article ‘On the distinctive educational value of philosophy’, he argues that there are philosophical problems that feature prominently and pressingly in ordinary human lives and that all children should be equipped by their education to tackle. Among these are the problems of justifying subscription to moral, political and religious standards. The significance of these problems for everyone is sufficient to warrant the inclusion of philosophy in the school curriculum. 
  • Finally, Michael is collaborating with Laura D’Olimpio at the University of Notre Dame Australia on a project on education against extremism. The project will explore what exactly extremism is, whether and why it is objectionable, and whether and how schools should equip children to resist it.


Selected publications

Hand, M. (2018) A Theory of Moral Education, London: Routledge.

Hand, M. (2018) ‘On the distinctive educational value of philosophy’, in Journal of Philosophy in Schools 5 (1), pp.4-19. DOI:10.21913/JPS.v5i1.1481

Hand, M. (2016) Education for moral seriousness, in Hand, M. and Davies, R. (eds) Education, Ethics and Experience: Essays in Honour of Richard Pring, London: Routledge, pp.48-61. 

Hand, M. (2015) Religious education and religious choice, in Journal of Beliefs and Values 36 (1), pp.31-39. DOI:10.1080/13617672.2015.1013817

Hand, M. (2014) Beyond moral education? in Suissa, J., Winstanley, C. and Marples, R. (eds) Education, Philosophy and Wellbeing: New Perspectives on the Work of John White, London: Routledge, pp.99-111. 

Hand, M. (2014) Towards a theory of moral education, in Journal of Philosophy of Education 48 (4), pp.519-532. DOI: 10.1111/1467-9752.12116

Hand, M. (2014) On the idea of non-confessional faith-based education, in Chapman, J.D., McNamara, S., Reiss, M.J. and Waghid, Y. (eds) International Handbook of Learning, Teaching and Leading in Faith-Based Schools, Dordrecht: Springer, pp.193-205.

Hand, M. (2013) ‘Framing classroom discussion of same-sex marriage’, in Educational Theory 63 (5), pp.497-510.

Hand, M. (2012) A new dawn for faith-based education? Opportunities for religious organisations in the UK's new school system', Journal of Philosophy of Education 46 (4), p.546-559. DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-9752.2012.00878.x

Hand, M. (2012) ‘What’s in a worldview? On Trevor Cooling’s Doing God in Education’, in Oxford Review of Education 38 (5), pp.527-537. DOI: DOI: 10.1080/03054985.2012.722862

Hand, M. (2011) Patriotism in Schools (IMPACT 19). Philosophy of Education Society of Great Britain. DOI: 10.1111/j.2048-416X.2011.00001.x

Hand, M. (2011) Should we promote patriotism in schools?, Political Studies 59 (2), 328-347. DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-9248.2010.00855.x

Hand, M. (2009) On the worthwhileness of theoretical activities, Journal of Philosophy of Education 43 (s2), 109-121. (Reprinted in Cuypers, S.E. & Martin, C. (eds) Reading R.S. Peters Today: analysis, ethics and the aims of education, Chichester: Wiley-Blackwell, pp.106-118.) DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-9752.2009.00732.x

Hand, M. (2009) What should go on the curriculum? in Bailey, R. (ed), Philosophy of Education: An Introduction. London: Continuum, pp.48-59.

Hand, M. (2008) What should we teach as controversial? A defence of the epistemic criterion, Educational Theory 58 (2), pp.213-228. DOI: 10.1111/j.1741-5446.2008.00285.x

Hand, M. (2008) Can children be taught philosophy?  in Hand, M. & Winstanley, C. (eds), Philosophy in Schools. London: Continuum, pp.3-17.

Hand, M. (2007) ‘Should we teach homosexuality as a controversial issue?’, in Theory and Research in Education 5 (1), pp.69-86. DOI10.1177/1477878507073614

Hand, M. (2006) Is Religious Education Possible? A philosophical investigation, London: Continuum.

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philosophy of education; moral education; political education; religious education; sex and relationships education; teaching controversial issues; education for patriotism; faith schools; philosophy in schools


Philosophy of education; moral, political, religious and philosophical education; education for patriotism, teaching sexuality; the aims of religious education; faith schools; philosophy for children; teaching of controversial issues.