Institute of Education


Philosophy at the Institute of Education

Drawing together research and collaboration to examine philosophical approaches in education.

Head of centre: Professor Paul Standish
Operational Director: Dr Jan Derry

Our centre is committed to rigorous exploitation of a variety of philosophical approaches, encompassing such topics as the aims of education, teaching, learning, and the curriculum, democracy, citizenship, philosophy with children, new technology, and the environment.


Philosophy has been essential to the work of the UCL Institute of Education (IOE) since its inception.

When practical questions in education are pursued rigorously, they typically lead to philosophical enquiry, into the nature of knowledge, the characteristics of the just society, and the nature of the good life. But such questions involve not only ethics, epistemology, and politics, but also metaphysical matters, to do with subjectivity, objectivity, and truth.

Philosophy is at the heart of judgment and justification in education

The Institute has, through the decades, been in the vanguard of the development and dissemination of work in the field. Its Centre for Philosophy draws together research across the range of the IOE as well as showcasing our extensive connections in the field.

Members of the Centre are active in leading international organisations in the field, including:

Our staff

Core Philosophy staff

From Humanities and Social Sciences (HSS)
David Bakhurst, Visiting Professor
Jan Derry
John White
Judith Suissa
Patricia White
Paul Standish
Ruth Cigman

Invited members from across the Institute

Ronald Barnett, Dept International and Lifelong Education
Michael Fielding, Dept Humanities and Social Sciences
Lesley Gourlay, Centre for Academic and Professional Literacies
Gerald Grace, Centre for Research and Development in Catholic Education
Lucy Green, Dept Arts and Humanities
David Guile, Dept International and Lifelong Education
John Hardcastle, Dept Learning, Curriculum and Communication
Jeremy Hayward, Dept Arts and Humanities
Ruth Heilbronn, Dept Learning, Curriculum and Communication
Claudia Lapping, Dept Learning, Curriculum and Communication
Tristan McCowan, Dept International and Lifelong Education
Martin Oliver, UCL Knowledge Lab
Caroline Pelletier, Dept Learning, Curriculum and Communication
Michael Reiss, Dept Geography, Enterprise, Mathematics and Science
Yvonne Reynolds, Dept Psychology and Human Development
David Scott, Dept Learning, Curriculum and Communication
Elaine Unterhalter, Dept Humanities and Social Sciences
John Vorhaus, National Research & Development Centre for Adult Literacy and Numeracy
Michael Young, UCL Knowledge Lab

Associate members

Leading members of philosophy and related departments in other universities:

Larry Blum, University of Massachusetts
Stanley Cavell, Harvard University
Vincent Colapietro, Pennsylvania State University
David Cooper, Durham University
Andrew Feenberg, Simon Fraser University
Professor Larry Hickman, Center for Dewey Studies and Southern Illinois University Carbondale
Michael Luntley, Warwick University
Susan Mendus, York University
Adrian Moore, Oxford University
Daniele Moyal-Sharrock, President, British Wittgenstein Society
Hilary Putnam, Harvard University
Adam Swift, Oxford University
Ken Westphal, University of East Anglia
Meredith Williams, Johns Hopkins University
Jonathan Wolff, UCL

Find more about our researchers, publications, activities, groups and themes: UCL Research Portal, IRIS

Study with us

We support research students and training through:

  • The Doctoral School - Research Training Programme, the EdD programme and postdoctoral fellowship
  • Research Days for doctoral students in philosophy of education which are held on a termly basis. These include reading sessions and opportunities for students to present their work.
    For more info contact Jan Derry



Examples of research carried out at the centre include:

  • "An evaluation of the use of Philosophy for Children in Southwark primary schools" for Southwark Local Education Authority - Jan Derry, Karen Spence-Thomas and Carol Taylor.
  • "The Morality of School choice; An Exploration of British Social Attitudes" - Sonia Exley and Judith Suissa.
  • "Changing Discourses of the Parent-Child Relationship" - an AHRC funded interdisciplinary seminar series - Judith Suissa and Stefan Ramaekers.
  • "Should patriotism be promoted, tolerated or discouraged in British schools?" - Michael Hand, Director of the Nuffield Foundation project.
  • Philosophy of Technology Enhanced Learning special interest group - Jan Derry.

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