Professor Emma Smith

Professor of Education

BSc (Manchester)
PGCE (Manchester)
MEd (Wales)
PhD (Wales)

Tel: +44 (0)116 252 5747


Personal details


I joined the School of Education in August 2012 from the University of Birmingham where I was Professor of Education and Social Justice. Following a career as a Chemistry teacher and Head of Special Educational Needs in the South Wales valleys, I left teaching and joined academia upon completion of my PhD in late 2002. I have held academic and research posts at Cardiff University, and the Universities of York and Birmingham.


Undergraduate teaching: SY3091 Education and Social Justice module convenor

Postgraduate teaching: College doctoral training programme Quantitative Research Methods, module convenor

Using quantitative secondary data in qualitative research, Advanced doctoral training module, module convenor.

Supervision of doctoral and masters level students

I am also keen to supervise doctoral students who wish to research national and international issues of education policy and social justice in both compulsory and post-compulsory education.


Selected books

  • Wyse, D., Selwyn, N., Smith, E., Suter, L.E., (2016), The BERA/SAGE Handbook of Educational Research, Eds., London: Sage.
  • Smith, E., (2012), Key Issues in Education and Social Justice, London: Sage.

Selected journal articles


  • Smith, E., White, P., (2016): A ‘great way to get on’? The early career destinations of science, technology, engineering and mathematics graduates, Research Papers in Education, DOI: 10.1080/02671522.2016.1167236
  • Douglas, G., Travers, J., McLinden, M., Robertson, C., Smith, E., (2016), Including pupils with special educational needs and disability in national assessment: Comparison of three country case studies through an inclusive assessment framework’, International Journal of Disability, Development and Education,63(1).
  • Smith, E., (2015), Can higher education compensate for society? Modelling the determinants of academic success at university, British Journal of Sociology of Education, DOI 10.1080/01425692.2014.987728
  • Smith, E., White, P., (2015), What makes a successful undergraduate?The relationship between student characteristics, degree subject and academic success at university, British Educational Research Journal, 41(4), pp686-708, DOI:10.1002/berj.3158
  • Smith, E., (2015), What happened to the Beacon schools? Policy reform and educational equity, Oxford Review of Education, 41(3), pp367-386, DOI: 10.1080/03054985.2015.1031649
  • Smith, E., Nelson, J., (2015), Using the Opinions and Lifestyle Survey to examine the prevalence and characteristics of families who home educate in the UK, Educational Studies, 41(3), pp312-325, DOI:10.1080/03055698.2015.1005577
  • Smith, E., Douglas, D., (2013), Special educational needs, disability and school  accountability: an international perspective, International Journal of Inclusive Education, 18(5), pp443-458
  • Smith, E., Gorard, S., (2012), ‘Teachers are kind to those who have good marks’: a  study of Japanese young people’s views of fairness and equity in school,  Compare, 42(1).
  • Smith, E., (2011), Women into Science and Engineering? Gendered patterns of participation in UK STEM subjects, British Educational Research Journal,  37(6), pp993-1014.


View a full list of publications.


I am interested in equity issues in the field of education and in the role that educational policy can play in reducing inequalities and closing achievement gaps, in both the national and international context. Recent and ongoing work has been in the following areas:

  • Boys’ underachievement
  • Participation in post-compulsory science courses
  • Shortages in the STEM workforce
  • Pupils’ views of fairness
  • Special education and school accountability
  • Home schooling and education policy in the USA.

Research projects

  • The career trajectories of STEM graduates, Nuffield Foundation
  • The prevalence of home educated young people in the UK, British Academy.
  • The relationship between students' performance in PISA and GCSE attainment: a critique, NAS/UWT.
  • Measuring Educational Engagement, Progress and Outcomes for Children with Special Educational Needs: A Review, National Centre for Special  Education.
  • Who is studying Science? Patterns of participation in Science and Science related programmes, ESRC.


I welcome Doctoral students within my areas of specialist interest. These areas include:

  • Education policy
  • Education and social justice
  • Participation in STEM programmes
  • Teacher quality and supply
  • Pupils’ views of fairness in school
  • Home education

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