Sophina Choudry


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Personal profile


Doctoral Supervision: I am interested in new doctoral students given their research interests align closely to mine starting from September 2024. You will find more information under the tab 'Research and Projects'.

Current Leadership Role

I am the current Programme Director for BSc Education in Manchester Institute of Education.


Coming from an ethnic minority background, a female born to parents who worked in factories for most of their lives, I have always been interested in students from marginalised (ethnic, gender and social class) communities and their educational experiences. Though born in Bolton, I have been brought up in Germany and spent 4 years in Pakistan at the age of 15 before returning to England to resume my studies. My childhood experience of three very different education systems has underpinned my interest in teaching and learning. 

I have studied a BSc (hons) Mathematics degree at the Manchester Metropolitan University from 2006-2009, before studying for a PGCE in Secondary Mathematics, a MSc Educational Research and a PhD course from 2009 to 2016 at the University of Manchester.  In 2018 I was delighted to secure one of Manchester University's very prestigious presidential fellowships awarded to only the brightest early career researchers with the potential to deliver world-class research and become inspiring future leaders. As part of my fellowship I am researching the role establish innovative ways of addressing inequality in mathematics education by (i) respecting learners’ and their peer groups’ agency and their identifications with mathematics; and (ii) helping teachers see and value their learners’ peer group relationships.  The aim is to objectively map classroom peer group relationships within social networks that provide the learners’ with access to differential opportunities to learn mathematics, and to do so in ways which reveal to teachers the significance of learners’ ethnic, gender and social class backgrounds. I thereby address the role of social and (mathematics) cultural capital (e.g. dispositions) in reproducing social inequalities within classroom practices. My fellowship project builds on my PhD dissertation, which was awarded the very prestigious British Educational Research Association doctoral thesis award in 2017. 

BSc Education

My experience in education has contributed to my leadership of the BSC Education Programme. I lead a team of 30+ staff members and approximately 300 students. 

My other interest include:

I am also part of the Social Theories of Learning course and have run several reading groups including Bourdieu Reading Group and Cultural Historical Activity Theory (CHAT) Group. I am currently collaborating with international scholars in the area of CHAT hosted by the Universities of Berkeley and San Diego and funded by the Spencer Foundation as part of the agenda to re-generate CHAT to advance theory, methodology and practices in challenging times.

Recently, I have also joined the Greater Manchester Higher Committee in order to engage with local mathematics teachers and students in secondary schools for outreach projects. 

Previously, I have also pioneered as the Early Career Researcher representative at the School of Environment, Education and Development (Manchester University) Research Committee, as well as the Manchester Institute of Education Forum Chair. 

My external appointments include a non-contractual post with the Education Endowment Foundation as a Statistical Analysis Plan reviewer for the projects funded by them.

Research interests

My main area of interest include understanding how to empower students from marginalised backgrounds in educational settings, and to understand the role critical pedagogy and policy plays in mediating such teaching and learning processes. This is broadly underpinned by the following areas:

  • understanding students' dispositions towards learning, generally, as well as specifically in mathematics;
  • national and school policies and their impact on students' learning;
  • home, school and peer practices and its relation to learning;
  • and the role of ethnicity, gender and social class in all of the above.

I am very much interested in understanding the research problem of inequality in compulsory (mathematics) education from a socio-cultural theoretical lense to understand transformative practices that may afford agency to learners from a marginalised communities and with what consequences to teaching. As part of my role, I have worked with teachers, presented and published in teacher conferences and journals in not only the subject area of mathematics, but also science. Thus, I am enjoy theoretical and conceptual development, as well as have keen interest in professional development. 

In my research, I apply a mixed method approach ranging from complex statistical analysis (such as Multilevel Modelling) to map out the gaps between different groups' attainment at the end of secondary schooling years to selecting case study schools to investigate the issue further. In doing so, I have availed various quantiative (such as network analysis to map peer group relations in classrooms) and qualitative techniques (such as policy document reviews, interviews and observations)  to understand how the findings from a macro level refract into local classroom teaching and learning practices.

I am also interested in areas of local marginalised communities and how they experience racialised, gendered and class discrimination in their lived experience dealing with health, education, media portrayal as well as local/national policy issues. 

A few key projects I have worked on:

  • The PACCT Action Project: The Pakistani Call To Action project in Rochdale funded by ESRC IAA.
  • PI (role) - pilot project titled: 'MathsCaps: a study of students’ mathematics cultural and social capital to enhance access to learning opportunities in secondary schools' funded by SEED Strategic Research Fund 2017-2018
  • PhD research titled 'mathematics capital in the classroom and wider educational field: intersections of ethnicity, gender, and social class' - funded by the Manchester Institute of Education through scholarship award.
  • RA (role) - Achievement for All Effectiveness Trial (2016-2010) - funded by the Education Endowment Foundation
  • RA (role) - Teleprism - Mathematics teaching and learning in secondary schools: the impact of pedagogical practices on important learning outcomes (2010-2012) funded by ESRC.

Doctoral Supervision: I welcome inquiries from potential doctoral students who are interested in cutting-edge research driven by theoretical and conceptual frameworks. I also welcome inquiries from either propsective quantiative, qualitative or mixed method researchers. I expect applicants to have familiarised with my research interests as presented here and in the 'overview' tab, as well as my publications and other work before contacting me. As part of the inquiry email addressed to me, you will need to demonstrate briefly how your proposed area of work aligns with mine, as well as send me your CV and research proposal. Please note that I will not reply to emails that are not in my area or have not attached the relevant documentations.

My research interests are as follows (primarily in mathematics but also other subjects in compuslory schools):

  • inequality in education at national, school and classroom level
  • the role of ethnicity, gender social class in unequal access to learning opportunities
  • students' peer group relations and its role in shaping their learning experiences
  • teachers' pedagogical practices and its role in shaping students' learning experiences
  • professional development of teachers
  • parents' expectations, experiences and impact on students' learning trajectories
  • social theories (such as Bourdieu, Cultural Historical Activity Theory, Figured Worlds), but also re-generation of social theory to understand transformative practices and agency
  • school leadership and school policies
  • methodological advancement in quantiative research methods and theory


EDUC14051 - Sociology of Education (UGT)

EDUC22002 - Teaching and Learning Mathematics (UGT)

EDUC70500 - Social theories of Learning (PGT)

EDUC60491 - Theories of Teaching and Learning (PGT)

EDUC60691 - Research Issues in Psychology (PGT)

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-being
  • SDG 4 - Quality Education
  • SDG 5 - Gender Equality
  • SDG 10 - Reduced Inequalities

Education/Academic qualification

Doctor of Education, Mathematics Capital in the Classroom and Wider Educational Field: Intersections of Ethnicity, Gender and Social Class, The University of Manchester

Award Date: 1 Feb 2016

PGCE Secondary Mathematics, The University of Manchester

Award Date: 31 Aug 2014

Master of Science, Educational Research, The University of Manchester

Award Date: 31 Aug 2010

Bachelor of Science, Mathematics, Manchester Metropolitan University (MMU)

Award Date: 31 Aug 2009

Areas of expertise

  • H Social Sciences (General)
  • L Education (General)
  • LB1501 Primary Education
  • LB1603 Secondary Education. High schools
  • LB2361 Curriculum
  • HA Statistics
  • HM Sociology
  • HT Communities. Classes. Races
  • HN Social history and conditions. Social problems. Social reform

Research Beacons, Institutes and Platforms

  • Global inequalities


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