Department of Social & Policy Sciences

Research student insight

Tim Williams


Tim Williams

  • Department of Social & Policy Science
  • First supervisor: Dr Jason Hart
  • Second supervisor: Professor Tess Ridge
  • Research title: Great expectations: aspiration, uncertainty, and schooling in Rwanda (working title)

Tim has started his research in our Department of Social & Policy Sciences investigating children's experiences of schooling in Rwanda.

Developing an interest in international schooling

Before moving to Bath in the autumn of 2010 to begin his research Tim had worked extensively in the field of global health as a researcher principally focused on the social determinants of health in developing country contexts.

His professional experience included several years at Harvard University’s FXB Center for Health and Human Rights. He started first as a volunteer working under Jim Yong Kim - now President of the World Bank. He later coordinated a multi-country research project which examined child protection in a construction worksite in urban Delhi, investigated hospital referral mechanisms for separated children following the Haiti’s 2010 earthquake, and examined community-based child protection systems in rural Rwanda.

Informed by this experience, Tim’s doctoral research investigates children’s experiences of formal schooling in a rural Rwandan context undergoing rapid social and economic transformation.

I wanted to get a better sense of how children were experiencing this push toward education for themselves, the types of challenges they face, and the ways education leads young people to think about the possibilities for their future.

His work included ten months of fieldwork. During this time, he also collaborated with a collaborative of education-focused NGOs working in Rwanda to carry out a piece of research that examined different types of school-related costs facing children in Rwanda. In June 2013 the report he wrote was presented to Rwanda’s Minister of Education. In July, study findings were used in advocacy efforts at the UN Committee of Experts on the Convention of the Rights of the Child in Geneva.

It was really exciting to be a part of research that hopefully made a meaningful contribution to policy debates and discussion around how schooling operates in the lives of young people.

Research supervision at the University of Bath

Tim has worked closely with Dr Jason Hart at the University, who has helped to shape his thinking and writing.

I came to Bath in large part because of the solid reputation he has for excellent supervision and I haven’t been disappointed.

Whilst undertaking his research, Tim has been fortunate to receive a knowledge transfer grant from the University of Bath Innovation Fund. This allowed him to present research to key education stakeholders in Rwanda.

I was also the recipient of a Santander Research Grant, which enabled me to be a short term visiting scholar at Harvard in January 2013. I was able to meet with a series of key scholars with expertise in Rwanda, to share my initial impressions from my fieldwork, and to hear their recommendations going forward.

The PhD experience

After the completion of his doctorate later in 2014, Tim hopes to secure a postdoctoral position that will enable him to continue his writing and research.

I hope to make meaningful scholarly contributions in the areas of global childhood studies, comparative international education, and development studies. Ideally this would take the form of a multi-year postdoc or research fellowship position.

Further information