IOE - Faculty of Education and Society


Subject Specialism Research Group

Conducting and promoting research into subject-specialist teaching. We are interested in all areas of curriculum, pedagogy and assessment, and the role of knowledge in school teaching.


The Subject Specialism Research Group (SSRG) was established in January 2017. It is seed funded by IOE.

The SSRG has two key, mutually dependent aims:

  • to conduct and promote research into subject-specialist teaching, across the areas of curriculum, pedagogy and assessment
  • to investigate the leading role of knowledge within our schools.

Leadership group

  • Dr Arthur Chapman (History Education) - leading on Publications
  • Dr Cosette Crisan (Maths Education) - leading on KOSS networking
  • Alexis Stones (Religious Education) - leading on Reading and Research Seminar
  • Dr Mark Hardman (Science Education) - leading on School networking



Our members’ research is currently focused in one or more of the following areas:

  • the investigation of ‘recontextualisation’ issues that arise and the relations between school subjects and the disciplines
  • the relationship between knowledge-led curriculum and appropriate pedagogies
  • the realisation/enactment of progressive school curricula based on subject specialisms
  • the design, creation and use of ‘textbooks’ within the resource ecologies of specialist subject teaching
  • instructional and task design
  • how we conceptualise ‘progress’ in different specialist domains
  • the design, creation and use of assessment strategies in different specialist domains
  • issues around teacher identity and teacher preparation in relation to subject specialism.

ROSE group, Karlstad University, Sweden

The research group ROSE (Research On Subject-specific Education) is rooted in several academic disciplines specialising in different school subjects. ROSE researchers share a focus on subject-specific education in relation to teaching and learning. 

The Research Council has awarded the ROSE research group SEK 1.2 million to develop an interdisciplinary network of internationally prominent researchers with focus on school subjects and teacher education. The goal is to produce new knowledge with the potential to advance teacher training in Sweden and abroad.

More info: ROSE news

HuSoEd group, University of Helsinki, Finland

The main foci of the Research Community for Humanities and Social Sciences Education, HuSoEd Group (pronounced who said), are the learning and teaching of subjects related to humanities and social sciences in early childhood education, comprehensive education and adult education.

The subjects that are mainly linked to humanities and social sciences are mother tongue and literature, Finnish as a second language, foreign languages, history, social sciences, religious education, secular ethics, philosophy, and geography.

Book Series

Knowledge and the Curriculum

Series Editors: Arthur Chapman, Cosette Crisan, Jennie Golding and Alex Standish, all at IOE. 

The series explores the nature of knowledge in contemporary societies, academic disciplines, school subjects and other fields of knowledge production. In doing so, it aims to foster inquiry into the relationships between knowledge disciplines in schools and elsewhere. Promoting equity in access to knowledge is a key driver.

This series emerged from the Subject Specialism Research Group in IOE and a major international network of curriculum theorists (KOSS) centred around a research group in Karlstad (ROSE) and in Helsinki (HuSoEd). 


Call for book proposals

  • Monographs and edited collections welcome. We aim to publish two volumes a year. Open access. Peer reviewed publications.
  • Email us on ssrg@ucl.ac.uk if interested.

Related events


Knowledge and Quality in School Subjects and Teacher Education, KOSS

The SSRG members were key in developing the Knowledge and Quality across School Subjects and Teacher Education (KOSS) Network with colleagues in the ROSE research group at the University of Karlstad and the HuSoEd research group at the University of Helsinki.

KOSS colleagues draw upon the concepts ‘powerful knowledge’ and ‘epistemic quality’ to help us understand the qualities that knowledge building has when it is effective and empowering at all levels: individual students and teachers, classroom, school, and educational systems.

The KOSS research questions are:

  • How can the nature of powerful knowledge and epistemic quality in different school subjects be characterized? • How can the transformation processes related to powerful knowledge and epistemic quality be described? 
  • How can the nature of teachers’ powerful professional knowledge be characterized and what are the implications for teacher education policy and practice? 

The KOSS network has brought together international researchers in London (January 2019 and March 2020), Stockholm (May 2019) and Helsinki (October 2019) and Karlstad, Helsinki and London in 2020. 

Follow KOSS Network on twitter

GeoCapabilities 3: Teachers as Curriculum Leaders

The project will strengthen the profile of the teaching profession by helping geography teachers take on a leadership role as curriculum makers using powerful disciplinary knowledge (PDK).

We aim to help teachers make powerful knowledge available for less privileged young people, through such curriculum leadership.

We are viewing Geocapabilities as an educational conceptual tool for social justice and seek to examine ways in which this approach can serve to counter the undermining of teachers’ curriculum making in schools situated specifically in areas of socio-economic deprivation.
In the project we are asking:

  • Is there a social justice dimension to Geocapabilities?
  • How can a Geocapabilities approach benefit schools (teachers/ pupils) in challenging (socio-economic) circumstances toward the goal of ‘powerful knowledge for all’? 

PI and other contributors

  • Dr David Mitchell (PI)
  • Nottingham University (UK)
  • Charles University (Czech Republic)
  • University Paris 7/ Andre Revuz didactic laboratory (France)
  • Sint-Lodewijkscollege (Belgium)
  • Eurogeo (Belgium)

Length of project: 2 year project (start 1 October 2018)

Related projects: GeoCapabilities 2