Dr Tom Harrison

Dr Tom Harrison

School of Education
Reader and Programme Director – MA Character Education
Director of Education - Jubilee Centre for Character and Virtues

Contact details

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

Tom Harrison’s specialist interests are character education and virtue ethics, character, wisdom and the Internet, youth social action and citizenship education. He has published extensively in these areas as well as developing resources and training programmes for schools, voluntary sector and other organisations. He has recently authored the following books;  ‘Educating Character Through Stories’; ‘Teaching Character in Primary Schools’; ‘Teaching Character and Virtue in Schools’; and ‘The Theory and Practice of Virtue Education (eds)’.  His next book Thrive – Character, Cyber-wisdom and How Children can Flourish Online will be published in 2020.

Tom is the Programme Director for the MA in Character Education – a three year distance learning degree. His also the Director of Education in the Jubilee Centre for Character and Virtues and leads on all the applied educational research projects. Tom is a senior HEA fellow and has recently been awarded a Birmingham Education Fellowship and a National Teaching Fellowship.  He is also books editor for the BJES, Trustee and Secretary for the Society for Educational Studies (SES) and Secretary and Trustee for the Association for Character Education (ACE).


  • PhD, School of Education, University of Birmingham
  • PGCert in Academic Practice 
  • Senior Fellow, HEA
  • BA, Sociology, University of York
  • National Teaching Fellow


Dr Tom Harrison has spent most of his career working in higher education and the not for profit sectors running educational programmes. Most recently Tom has managed projects on behalf of the Jubilee Centre for Character and Virtues, School of Education and the University of Birmingham that have had both a national and international impact. He is currently Programme Director of the MA in Character Education and Director of Education for the Jubilee Centre.

Previously, Tom worked for a number of charities and ran programmes that sought to enhance character and citizenship in children and young people. 


Programme Director - MA Character Education 

Postgraduate supervision

Tom supervises a number of students and his research interests include:

  • Character
  • Virtue
  • Citizenship
  • Cyber-phronesis
  • Youth social action

Doctoral research

PhD title
The Influence of the Internet on the character virtues of 11-14 year olds in England. 


Current Research

Principle Investigator – Parents and Teachers as Partners in Character Education

Principle Investigator – Character Education Platform for the TWCF

Principle Investigator – Cultivating Cyber-wisdom in Children and Young People

Previous Research

Principle Investigator – Teaching Videos in Distance Learning

Principle Investigator – Teaching Character, University of Birmingham. (Funded by the department of Education) http://www.jubileecentre.ac.uk/userfiles/jubileecentre/1604/projects/current-projects/teaching-character-project

Co-Principle Investigator -  Habits of Service http://www.jubileecentre.ac.uk/userfiles/jubileecentre/pdf/projects/Summaries/Character_Service_and_Gratitude_%20Project_Summary.pdf 

Co-Principle Investigator - Character, Practical Wisdom and Professional Educationhttp://www.jubileecentre.ac.uk/userfiles/jubileecentre/pdf/projects/Summaries/Interventions_with_Trainee_and_Student_Teachers_Lawyers_and_Doctors_Project-Summary.pdf

2015 - Principle Investigator – Building Character Through Youth Social Action - University of Birmingham http://www.jubileecentre.ac.uk/1574/projects/previous-work/character-and-service

2015 - Principle Investigator – Building Character Through Youth Social Action - University of Birmingham http://www.jubileecentre.ac.uk/1574/projects/previous-work/character-and-service

2012 - Co-Principal investigator, Knightly Virtues, University of Birmingham

2011 - Co-Principal Investigator, My Character Project, University of Birmingham http://www.jubileecentre.ac.uk/1571/projects/previous-work/character-education-in-uk-schools

2009- 2011 Programme Director, Engaged Project, University of Cambridge

2009 - Co-Principal Investigator, Global Citizens, VESL 

Other activities

Secretary – Association of Character Education (ACE) 

Book editor for the British Journal for Educational Studies. (BJES) 

Director – Society for Educational Studies 

Fellow – Higher Education Futures Institute 

Academic Lead – What is Character; Virtue Ethics in Education MOOC


Recent publications


Harrison, T 2021, THRIVE: How to cultivate character so your children can flourish online. Little, Brown, London.

Harrison, T & Walker, D 2018, The Theory and Practice of Virtue Education. Routledge.


Harrison, T 2020, 'How distance education students perceive the impact of teaching videos on their learning', Open Learning, vol. 35, no. 3. <https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/02680513.2019.1702518>

Harrison, T 2020, 'Response to The Northfield Experiments—a reappraisal 70 years on', Group Analysis, vol. 53, no. 2, pp. 266-271. https://doi.org/10.1177/0533316420901440

Harrison, T & Dennis, M 2020, 'Unique ethical challenges for the 21st century: online technology and virtue education', Journal of Moral Education. https://doi.org/10.1080/03057240.2020.1781071

Gierczyk, M & Harrison, T 2019, 'The effects of gender on the ethical decision-making of teachers, doctors and lawyers', New Educational Review, vol. 55, pp. 147-159. https://doi.org/10.15804/tner.2019.55.1.12

Taylor-Collins, E, Harrison, T, Thoma, S & Moller, F 2018, 'A habit of social action: Understanding the factors associated with adolescents who have made a habit of helping others', Voluntas, pp. 1-17. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11266-018-00070-8

Hamnett, N, Patel, N, Nelson, K, Harrison, T & White, N 2018, 'How do explicitly stated hospital trust values relate to their CQC ratings?', BMJ Leader, vol. 2, pp. 68-70. https://doi.org/10.1136/leader-2017-000062

Harrison, T, Burn, E & Moller, F 2018, 'Teaching character: Cultivating virtue perception and virtue reasoning through the curriculum ', Educational Review. https://doi.org/10.1080/00131911.2018.1538937

Chapter (peer-reviewed)

Harrison, T 2019, Virtue Ethics in Teacher Education. in Encyclopedia of Teacher Education. Springer. <https://link.springer.com/referenceworkentry/10.1007/978-981-13-1179-6_182-1>


Carr, D & Harrison, T 2017, Teaching Gratitude Through Literature. in Developing Gratitude in Children and Adolescents. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge. https://doi.org/10.1017/9781316863121

Commissioned report

Harrison, T, Hunter, R, Miller, B & Metcalfe, J 2020, An Evaluation of a Workshop for Parents and Teachers on Character Education. Jubilee Centre for Character and Virtues, University of Birmingham.

Arthur, J, Harrison, T & Taylor-Collins, E 2017, A Habit of Service: The factors that sustain service in young people. University of Birmingham. <http://www.jubileecentre.ac.uk/userfiles/jubileecentre/pdf/Research%20Reports/A_Habit_of_Service.pdf>

Arthur, J, Harrison, T & Burn, E 2017, Schools of Virtue: Character education on three Birmingham schools. University of Birmingham. <http://www.jubileecentre.ac.uk/userfiles/jubileecentre/pdf/Research%20Reports/SchoolsOfVirtueResearchReport.pdf>


Harrison, T 2017, 'Character, Phronesis and Professional Education', Paper presented at The Jubilee Centre for Character and Virtues 5th Annual Conference, Oxford, 5/01/17 - 7/01/17.

View all publications in research portal


Character, virtue ethics, youth social action, citizenship, character and the internet

Media experience

Tom has been interviewed numerous times about character education for local and national radio programmes. He has written articles for the TES, Conversation, Huffington Post and been quoted in many national and local newspapers.  Tom was also a guest on the BBBC Radio 4 Bringing up Britain programme about character.  Listen to the episode on Character.

Policy experience

Tom has worked closely with the Department for Education on Character Education.  This includes attending Ministerial round-tables, advising on DfE events and activities, presenting to DfE staff and being an advisor on a national character education survey.  He also received funding from the DfE to conduct a programme of research looking at how character can be taught through and within subjects.  Tom was the academic advisor for the recently launched Prince William award and he has also worked with the Cabinet Office and their associated voluntary sector organisations.