Dr Tom Harrison

Dr Tom Harrison

School of Education
Senior Lecturer 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, virtue and the internet, youth social action and citizenship. He has published extensively in these areas as well as developing resources and training programmes for schools 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)’. 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 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 the College of Social Sciences academic lead for digital education and the books editor for the BJES.


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


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 was the Director of Teaching and Learning for Learning for Life. He also ran an educational consultancy company called No Limits Learning. In 2003, Tom founded the educational charity VESL (see www.vesl.org). VESL sends volunteers overseas and provides grants for educational projects in Asia. Tom was also a Project Manager for CSV, and ran the national student leadership programme on behalf of the  National College for School Leadership (NCSL). In addition to the above roles Tom worked for the international volunteering organisation Project Trust for three years, and was an overseas volunteer with the organisation for a year in Jordan. He has also volunteered on numerous other programmes in the UK and aboard.


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 – 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

Previous Research

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) 


Harrison, T., Walker, D. (2018 forthcoming) The Theory and Practice of Virtue Education. London : Routledge.

Carr, D and Harrison, T (2018) Teaching Gratitude Through Literature. In Tudge, J. Freitas, L., Developing Gratitude in Children and Adolescents. Cambridge, Cambridge University Press.  

Arthur, J, Harrison, T et al (2017) Schools of Virtue. Birmingham. University of Birmingham. 

Arthur, J, Harrison, T et al (2017) A Habit of Service.  Birmingham. University of Birmingham.

Arthur, J., Kristjánsson, K., Harrison, T., Sanderse, W. and Wright, D. (2017) Teaching Character and Virtue in Schools. London: Routledge. 

Harrison, T., Arthur, J. and Burn, E. (eds.) (2016) Character Education Evaluation Handbook for Schools University of Birmingham, Jubilee Centre for Character and Virtues, [Online]. Available at http://www.jubileecentre.ac.uk/1721/character-education/resources/evaluation-handbook-for-schools

Harrison, T., Bawden, M., and Rogerson, L (2016c) Teaching Character through Subjects, University of Birmingham, Jubilee Centre for Character and Virtues [Online]. Available at http://www.jubileecentre.ac.uk/1604/projects/current-projects/teaching-character-through-subjects

Harrison, T. (2016) Cultivating Cyber-phronesis. Journal of Pastoral Care in Education. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/02643944.2016.1202307

Davison, I, Harrison, T, Hayes, D & Higgins, J. (2016) How to assess children’s virtue literacy: methodological lessons learnt from the Knightly Virtues programme Journal of Beliefs and Values. DOI: 10.1080/13617672.2016.1141526

Harrison, T., Morris, I, Ryan, J. (2016) Teaching Character in Primary Schools. London, Sage. 

Harrison, T. (2016) Virtuous reality: moral theory and research into cyber-bullying. Ethics and Information Technology, 17(4), 275-283

Carr, D, Harrison, T. (2015) Educating Character Through Stories. Exeter: Imprint Academic. 

Arthur, J. Harrison, T., Davison, I. (2015) Levels of Virtue Literacy in Catholic Church of England and Non-Faith Schools in EnglandInternational Studies in Catholic Education  DOI: 10.1080/19422539.2015.1072957

Arthur, J., Harrison, T., Taylor, E. (2015) Building Character through youth social action. Birmingham, University of Birmingham

Harrison, T and Carr, D. (2015) Teaching Character Through Stories. Exeter, Imprint Academic.

Harrison, T. (2014) The Influence of the Internet on the Character Virtues of 11-14 Year olds in England. Birmingham, University of Birmingham

Arthur, J. Harrison, T. et al (2014) Knightly Virtues – enhancing virtue literacy through stories. Birmingham, University of Birmingham

Arthur, J., Harriston, T. et al (2014) My Character a Feasibility Study, Birmingham, University of Birmingham.

Arthur, J. And Harrison, T. (2012) Exploring Good Character and Citizenship in England, Asia Pacific Journal of Education. DOI: 10.1080/02188791.2012.741097

Harrison, T (2012) Assessment of Citizenship Education: Challenges and Opportunities in Arthur, J. and Cremin, H. (eds) Debates in Citizenship Education, London: Routledge.

Mason, C., Cremin, H., Harrison, T. & Warwick, P. (2011) Learning to (Dis)Engage?: The socialising experiences of young people living in areas of socio-economic disadvantage, British Journal of Educational Studies.  DOI:10.1080/00071005.2011.615734

Warwick, P., Mason, C., Harrison, T, & Cremin, H. (2011) Citizens in a big society? The complex ecology of young people’s civic engagement. Journal of Social Science Education.

Cremin, H., Harrison, T., Warwick, P., Mason, C. (2011) Engaging Practice; Engaging Young Citizens for Disadvantaged communities, London: CSV.

Harrison, T. (2010) A Curriculum full of Character; Developing Character Education in the classroom, culture and community of a school in Arthur, J (eds) Citizens of Character, Exeter: Imprint Academic.

Harrison, T. (2010) Volunteering and Character, University of Birmingham.

Cremin, H., Harrison, T., Warwick, P. Mason, C (2009), Building Voice, Civic Action and Learning; What can we learn from young people living in socio-economically disadvantaged communities?, University of Leicester and University of Cambridge.

Harrison, T., and Hayes, A. (2009) Global Citizens; Effects on attitudes and practice of teachers undertaking voluntary projects overseas, VESL: Manchester.

Harrison, T. (2009) Working Together; schools and the voluntary sector, Canterbury: citizED.

Harrison, T. (2009) Citizenship Education and the Learning Outside the classroom manifesto, Canterbury: citizED.

Harrison, T. (2008) Citizenship Education and Community Involvement, Canterbury: citizED.


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.