We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. You can change your cookie settings at any time. Otherwise, we'll assume you're OK to continue.

Durham University

Research & business

View Profile

Dr Sol Gamsu, BA, MPhil, PhD

Assistant Professor in the Department of Sociology

(email at


I am a sociologist and a geographer of education with a strong commitment to the politics of education and envisaging alternative futures for education and society more broadly. My interests lie at the intersection of sociology, geography and history and the central theme running through my work is how structures and experiences of power and inequality in education are reproduced over time and through different local and regional geographies.

Before joining Durham sociology in January 2019, I was a postdoc at the University of Bath on the ESRC-funded project, the Geographies of Higher Education: spatial and social mobilities. With Mike Donnelly (PI), we developed an exciting programme of research on spatial inequalities of race and class in the transition to higher education and on inequalities in graduate recruitment. I was awarded my PhD in Geography from King’s College London in April 2017. It focussed on the geography of elite and middle-class schooling in England. Both my masters and undergraduate degrees were interdisciplinary, drawing on sociology, history, geography and languages (French and German) and this background plays out in my work which continues to span different disciplines.

I am keen to supervise PhD students with an interest in any aspect of educational inequality sociological, spatial or historical. I have particular expertise in secondary schooling, post-16 and higher education but I am also interested in lifelong learning and working-class education. I know the British systems of education best, though I have some knowledge of education in France, the US and Chile and am keen to work with students and colleagues internationally. Theoretically my background is Bourdieusian with a good dose of Doreen Massey, Antonio Gramsci and Stuart Hall but I try to be theoretically open and heterodox.

I am also keen for my work to be politically engaged and engaging and to make my work publicly accessible. I regularly blog, tweet and write policy briefs around educational inequality.

If I'm not doing that, then in normal times you might find me walking in the hills (preferably the Pennines), reading sci fi (preferably utopian) or travelling somewhere to keep up with my own diaspora of friends and family. These days I'm probably on zoom though.

Research Groups

School of Education

Research Interests

  • Access to higher education
  • Elite education
  • GIS and social network analysis, LCA and other interesting statistical methods (especially in R)
  • History of education
  • Mixed methods research
  • Politics of higher education
  • Regional and local geographies of education and how these combine with race, class and gender
  • Secondary schooling, post-16 education and lifelong learning

Indicators of Esteem

  • Editorial Board, The Sociological Review: Reviewer of papers, bursary awards for early career staff, seminar funding competitions.
  • Invited speaker:

    Invitations to speak at various conferences and research seminars. An indicative recent list:

    February 2020. Place, inequality and undergraduate mobilities in college-based and university-based higher education. Seminar organised by Holly Henderson, Society for Research and Higher Education, London.
    September 2019. Various speaking engagements at Labour Party Conference with the Centre for Labour and Social Studies and Comprehensive Future.
    September 2019. Widening Participation Research Seminar, UCL, London.
    May 2019. Research seminar at Uppsala University, Sociology of Education Research Group.


Book review

Chapter in book

Journal Article

Newspaper/Magazine Article


Media Contacts

Available for media contact about:

  • Education:
  • General policy:
  • Geography:
  • Social and ethical inequality:
  • Social sciences:
  • Sociology: