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Research Profile

Prof David James 


Career Profile

I studied for a degree in social sciences at Bristol University as a ‘mature’ student (though I was only 24 when I went there!). This was after a series of short-term jobs in factories on farms and a few years in clerical and administrative work in local government in London.  I was also attempting to make a living as a rock musician, and it was a fellow musician that introduced me to sociology.  I completed a Further Education teaching qualification before teaching in FE colleges in London, Bath and Gloucester.  In 1989 I took up a teaching post in the (then) Bristol Polytechnic and completed a part-time PhD (entitled Mature Studentship in Higher Education) by 1996. I continued to work at the University of the West of England, Bristol, setting up and co-directing a research centre, and was promoted to Professor in 2004. I took up my current post at Cardiff in November 2011.

Memberships / External Activities

I am a member of the ESRC Peer Review College and BERA Council.  I am a Fellow of Higher Education Academy and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts. I sit on the Executive Editors of the British Journal of Sociology of Education and of the Board of the Journal of Education and Work, and am a member of the Consultative Board for the Higher Education Review, regularly refereeing for these and a wide range of other journals. I am Visiting Professor at the University of Latvia, and was recently appointed to chair a process on the quality of educational research in Estonia.  I am serving on the Education Sub-panel for the REF.

Teaching Profile

 I have taught a wide range of social science topics across sociology and psychology, at every level from GCSE to Doctoral.  Main areas include research methodology, learning and assessment in further and higher education, the sociology of post-compulsory education, the social theory of Bourdieu, social equality and inequality, psychological and cultural theories of learning.  I currently supervise 6 PhD students, have supervised 18 Doctoral students to successful completion, and have examined around 27 Doctoral theses.