Dr Nigel Fancourt

Nigel has worked at Oxford since 2010. He is currently (until December 2017) Director of the PGCE and usually the director of the Masters in Learning and Teaching

He specialises in research on ways of learning at the intersections of different epistemological and ethical domains, particularly in relation to:

  • Research and schools, for instance how and why teachers engage with research;
  • Religions and schools, for instance around policy, pedagogy, and assessment;
  • Conflicting epistemological and ethical demands across professional practices.

He studied Theology, and then Social Anthropology at the University of Oxford; he later completed a PGCE at Westminster College, and then a part-time PhD in educational studies at Warwick.  Previously he worked as a researcher at Warwick, and was a RE teacher for fourteen years in a local state secondary school.

Teaching & Supervising 

Nigel teaches across the professional and research programmes. Apart from leading the MLT, he is a tutor in religious education on the PGCE, and lectures on philosophical and ethical issues for the research degrees.

He welcomes full- and part-time doctoral students in educational topics related to religions & secularities, ethics in education, research use, and professional ethics.  He usually supervises qualitative and mixed-methods approaches, including practitioner and action research studies.  

Recent doctoral students’ studies include: religious pupils’ experiences of schooling in England; adult Muslim learners in USA; teachers’ perceptions of bullying in England and USA; RE in England and Turkey; citizenship education in Indonesia; school leadership & teacher flourishing; shifting professional practices in Post Office management.   

Recent Research

  • 2017-2018: Evaluation of Attachment-Aware CPD – Birmingham (Co-PI, with Professor Judy Sebba). The evaluation of the impact of research-led courses for teachers, on addressing the demands of Looked-After Children. Funded by Birmingham City Council.
  • 2017: Evaluation of WISERDEducation (With Alis Oancea (lead) and others). Report on value and effectiveness of an initiative on developing research capacity in educational research in Wales. Funded by Higher Education Funding Council for Wales.  
  • 2016-2017: Research Use in Schools: teachers’ views of methodology, status and implementation (Co-PI, with Dr Katharine Burn). John Fell funded study of teachers and school leaders in four schools.
  • 2016-2017: Evaluation of Attachment-Aware CPD – Leicestershire (Co-PI, with Professor Judy Sebba (lead)). The evaluation of the impact of research-led courses for teachers, on addressing the demands of Looked-After Children. Funded by Leicestershire County Council.
  • 2015-2017: Ethical quandaries in practice-based research (Co-PI, with Professor Alis Oancea). Departmentally funded project on tensions between professional and research ethics. 
  • 2013-2015: Test and Learn: Closing the Gap. Department for Education sponsored research and development project, with CfBT, CUREE & University of Durham. 7 different randomised controlled trials across 700 schools over two years. Research training leader and research ethics advisor.  
  • 2012-2014: Raising and Sustaining Aspiration in City Schools. A study of Oxford school pupils’ aspirations to higher education. Funded by CitiFoundation.
  • 2012-2014: Leadership for Learning: research and development project (with Oxford Brookes University) on school leaders in Oxford City primary schools.  Funded by Oxford City Council.


Editorial board: British Journal of Religious Education

Reviewer for: Journal of Beliefs and Values, Journal of Contemporary Religion, Journal of International Migration and Integration, Oxford Review of Education, Teachers and Teaching, and Religious Education Journal of Australia.

Current professional associations: Association of University Lecturers in Religion and Education; British Education Research Association; European Network for Religious Education through Contextual Approaches; International Seminar for Religious Education and Values; Philosophy of Education (Great Britain) Society.


Nigel welcomes consultancy work for schools, educational organisations e.g. Education Development Trust, and governments, having carried out projects for organisations around the world – and notably Great Britain, India, Indonesia and Bhutan.  


  • Department staff

College affiliation

  • St Stephen's House


  • Associate Professor

Subject area

  • D.Phil
  • MSc Learning and Teaching
  • PGCE Religious Education

Research groups

  • OSAT
  • Philosophy, Religion and Education
  • Teacher Education and Professional Learning

01865 274259