Practice research theme in Education and Social Work

The broad theme of practice captures convergent directions of travel across the different discipline areas within the School. All disciplines are concerned with professional practice.

On this page

This theme considers the nature of contemporary professionalism and the need to educate new professionals to be comfortable in working with complexity and strangeness. This, in turn, asks questions of whether our current teaching practices, with an emphasis on applying ‘theory’ to ‘practice’ within a tightly regulated, codified and (ostensibly) evidence-based context may in fact be inadequate preparing students for an increasingly fluid world.  

Other features of practice involve deeply ontological and value-based dimensions, which would accommodate interests around professional identity and personal/professional ethics within such a theme.  

Crucially, a theme of practice would also, by its nature, involve a dynamic interplay and exchange of knowledge between academic and agency partners, possibly made concrete by a university/community hub. It addresses, fundamentally, the University’s transformation agenda, which is concerned to ‘transform lives using an interdisciplinary thematic approach, transform knowledge and practices through excellent research and engaged scholarship and education …’.

Current projects

  • Social pedagogy
  • Socio-educational research
  • Criminal and community justice
  • Social work education
  • Professional becoming
  • Professional learning: philosophy and pedagogy
  • Professional identity
  • Practical wisdom
  • Knowledge mobilisation
  • Health and Social Care Integration

Academic lead

Research supervisors

Portrait photo of Keith Topping
View Professor Keith Topping


Professor (Research) in Education Studies

Professor Topping’s research centres on peer learning (especially peer tutoring and peer assessment), parents as educators, problematic behaviour and social competence, computer assisted learning and assessment, and inclusion. Professor Topping has extensive media experience, and researches and speaks all over the world. He has about 450 publications in 19 languages.