School of Education and Social Work


Dr Simon ThompsonHead of the Department of Education: Dr Simon Thompson

Professor Gillian Hampden-ThompsonHead of the School of Education and Social Work:
Professor Gillian Hampden-Thompson

Education at Sussex

The Department of Education at Sussex is a community of researchers, learners and teachers engaged fully in every aspect of education, both in the UK and internationally. Located within the School of Education and Social Work, the Department of Education offers an extensive programme of study for all those interested in education.

You will find us to be a warm, caring community of scholars who pride ourselves on the quality of the courses we offer and of the research we undertake, and also on our commitment to - and depth of involvement with - our students, policy-makers and professionals.

Undergraduate study

The School of Education and Social Work excels in the study of childhood and youth. In 2012, the Department of Education launched the Childhood and Youth: Theory and Practice BA. This multidisciplinary degree straddles not only the Department of Education and the Department of Social Work and Social Care, but also comprises modules from the Department of Anthropology, the Department of Sociology and the School of Psychology at the University of Sussex.

A more recent addition to the UG fold is the Primary and Early Years Education BA - with or without Qualified Teacher Status depending on whether you want your studies to lead you to a career in teaching or something else. The course focuses on the learning and wellbeing of primary and early years children and offers regular opportunities for professional placements to give you a solid understanding of significant issues in education across a range of contexts, environments and age phases.

We have also developed a selection of undergraduate electives and pathways with which you can specialise and focus your degree. See details on the Optional pathways and electives page.

The School has an impressive employment record with a high proportion of graduates entering graduate-level employment in a related field within six months of graduation.

Postgraduate study

Our postgraduate taught degrees include the well-established and internationally respected International Education and Development MA, the Education MA - often taken as their next academic step by Newly Qualified Teachers, the Early Years Education MA - free for Home/EU students, and the International Teacher Education Postgraduate Diploma for international colleagues with a focus on teaching and teacher education.

The School of Education and Social Work also excels in the study of childhood and youth. In 2011, the Department of Social Work and Social Care launched the Childhood and Youth Studies MA. This multidisciplinary degree straddles the Department of Education and the Department of Social Work and Social Care.

Initial teacher education

Those wanting to train to become new teachers are likely to study one of our postgraduate initial teacher education (ITE) courses.

Those studying our 'Outstanding' Ofsted rated Primary PGCE course will cover a broad general curriculum, developing strengths in SEN and behaviour. Through assignments, they will also have the opportunity to develop a subject specialism. They will undertake a long placement that enables them to focus on pupil progress and build strong relationships with schools. We also run an Early Years 3-7 PGCE and a general Primary with Mathematics course.

Those wanting to teach at Secondary School level can choose to specialise in any of the following Secondary PGCE course subjects:
Pedagogy and Practice
Modern Foreign Languages

The Department of Education also offers subject knowledge enhancement courses in mathematics, science and MFL for anyone needing a boost to their subject knowledge before – and in preparation for – undertaking an initial teacher education course. These courses are generally free to those who have been accepted on to an initial teacher education course with a condition  that they take a subject knowledge enhancement course. They are also subject to bursaries for participants.


Research is well established in the Department of Education and is carried out individually by faculty, research students and teams associated with externally funded projects.

The Department of Education hosts a number of research projects funded by agencies such as the ESRC and DFID.

Within our interdisciplinary group, staff work within research traditions that range from ethnographic and case study methods to survey and experimental design. Quantitative and qualitative data collection methods are taught and supported.

Expertise exists within most of the major social science disciplines and in mid-career staff development and professional practice in a range of fields. Our research community encourages openness and debate between traditions, enabling students to make informed choices on the approaches that they adopt.

Research is closely linked with teaching and many of our courses and programmes have a strong research component.

Those studying at doctoral level within the Department of Education can undertake the PhD in Education on a full- or part-time basis

The Department hosts three research centres:
- The Centre for International Education (CIE)
- The Centre for Higher Education and Equity Research (CHEER)
- The Centre for Teaching and Learning Research (CTLR)

... and co-hosts a fourth (with the Department of Social Work and Social Care):
The Centre for Innovation and Research in Childhood and Youth (CIRCY)

The Department also has a research network with local schools focused on the creation and sharing of useful educational knowledge in partnership.

Most members of faculty within the Department of Education are affiliated with one or more research centres and view their role as much research oriented as teaching. Their research interests are listed in one place on the page with details about applying for a PhD.

The School of Education and Social Work hosts 'open research seminars' every Monday in term time. These events are generally accessible to remote participants (all that is needed is the unique url for the relevant event) and recorded for retrospective viewing. Each event is presented by one of the School's research centres. Details of all events running during the current academic year - including links to the recordings of those that have already taken place - can be found at 'Seminars: current term'.

Childhood and youth

The School of Education and Social Work prides itself on its academic staff's expertise in the study of childhood and youth in both the Department of Education and the Department of Social Work and Social Care.

The School currently hosts  two courses in this area:
- Childhood and Youth: Theory and Practice BA
- Childhood and Youth Studies MA

We welcome applications from candidates who are keen to pursue a broad, challenging and rewarding degree. Local and international students are welcomed and the participatory nature of both courses provides opportunities to share and develop interests in working with children and young people in a broad range of environments and contents. Both degrees prepare graduates for a diverse range of careers, or for further study.