Thomas Smith

Thomas Smith


I am a first year PhD student in the School of Sociology and Social Policy. I began my academic journey at Durham University studying towards a BA in Criminology. During this time, I came to be interested in themes of power, marginalisation, and inequality.

Following completion of my degree, I worked in a secondary school in North West London for two years. This experience encouraged me to embark on a career as a teacher and I subsequently began a PGCE in Social Science at the Institute of Education in London in 2016. I went on to work as a teacher for a further three years in my hometown (Stevenage). Working as the Head of Sociology, I enjoyed enthusing students about social sciences and encouraging uptake of the subject at both GCSE and A-level. My experiences deepened interests in inequality and social justice, particularly in relation to social mobility and educational inequalities.

I left my teaching role in pursuit of research opportunities, beginning my MA Social Research qualification at the University of Sheffield in 2020. I became very interested in the application of quantitative methods, and will be developing these skills through my doctoral research. My MA thesis involved using regression modelling to explore the factors affecting the conversion of aspirations (the things I want for myself) into probable futures/expectations. The research implicated a range of factors which enable or inhibit the perception of desired futures as probable, and further problematises the discourse around ‘raising aspirations’ central to educational policy since the 1990s.

Whilst undertaking my MA qualification, I successfully applied to a funded studentship opportunity at the University of Leeds. The project will use quantitative methods and secondary data to explore the changing dynamics and social outcomes of deep poverty in the UK.

Research interests

My current PhD research will explore the changing dynamics and social outcomes of deep poverty in the UK. Since 2010, poverty in the UK has deepened but little is known about the causes and effects of deep poverty. Drawing on secondary data sources, such as household income surveys and panel surveys, the project hopes to uncover the differences in the lives and wellbeing of households in deep poverty compared to those closer to the poverty line. The project fits well with my research interests, which are predominantly related to power, inequality, marginalisation, and social mobility.


  • MA Social Research
  • PGCE Social Science
  • BA Criminology