Department of Education

Dr Michael Donnelly

BA, MSc, PhD

1WN 4.13


Tel: +44 (0)1225 38 5458


PhD Supervision

I am interested in supervising new PhD students researching these topics:

  • Internationalisation of education
  • Schooling experiences
  • Higher education
  • Social class and education
  • Sociology of education in general

I can support prospective students with applications for funding, with a variety of sources available (see funding guidance)


Prior to joining the University of Bath, I was based at the University of Sheffield, and before that Cardiff University (where I gained my PhD). My research interests are broad and I take an interdisciplinary approach, in particular drawing on theories and ideas from education, human geography, and sociology. I am particularly interested in developing new innovative approaches to combining quantitative and qualitative methods. My work has been funded by the UK-based Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) as well as the International Baccalaureate Organisation (IBO).

I currently lead an ESRC-funded programme of research ( Spatial and Social Im/Mobilities ) which commenced in 2016 and runs until 2019 (award no. ES/N002121/1). The Spatial and Social Im/Mobilities project, funded through the ESRC's Future Research Leader scheme, is a far-reaching study of the links between spatial and social (im)mobilities in UK society, through the lens of young people's universities choices. The project explores the significance of place in young people's lives and future trajectories through a detailed spatial mapping and analysis of their higher education choices along with rich qualitative research in 10 geographical locations.

My doctoral research (also funded by the ESRC through a 1+3 scholarship) was a quantitatively framed, qualitative study, which examined the relationship between schools and the shaping of young people's university choices. This work involved developing a new approach to researching school effects, drawing on and combining insights from school effectiveness research and the sociology of education.

Research interests

  • Geographies of education
  • Place, space and identity
  • Youth transitions and (im)mobilities
  • 'home international' comparative research
  • Cultural and social dimensions of schooling
  • Education policy and social mobility

Current projects


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