Assessment is an important topic in education and career opportunities exist for students to develop expertise in the technical and policy implications of testing and standards-setting.

Research at OUCEA looks at new approaches to educational assessment and the challenge presented by the increasing requirement for global qualifications and standards. The research programme is intended to cover general schools-based learning, as well as vocational, professional and higher education and support the move to lifelong learning, the needs of multinational employers and an increasingly global workforce.

Students wishing to pursue a DPhil at OUCEA can apply to the Department of Education.

Some of our past DPhil Students

OUCEA has taken on several DPhil students who are carrying out research in a range of different areas in educational assessment. OUCEA offers the opportunity for students to develop understanding of contemporary psychometric approaches to testing and to interact with agencies involved in testing and assessment programmes in both national and international contexts. Please see the left-hand menu for information about our current students’ research.

OUCEA’s first graduate was Dr Victoria Elliott. Victoria’s thesis focussed on the decision-making processes of examiners of History and English A level. She successfully defended the thesis in November 2011. After the DPhil, Victoria taught at Warwick University Institute of Education, becoming Course Leader for the PGCE Drama with English. She was subsequently a Lecturer in English in Education at the University of York, and has now returned to the Oxford University Department of Education as Associate Professor in English and Literacy Education. Victoria continues to be interested in researching assessment, the ways in which summative judgements are made, and what statements about values we make in the process.


María Teresa Flórez successfully completed her D.Phil, Assessment Reform in Chile: a Contested Discursive Space, in January 2014, examined by Professor Richard Daugherty and Professor Gemma Moss. Teresa has worked at the Programme for Continuous Teacher Training and the Centre for Advanced Research in Education, both at the University of Chile, mainly coordinating programmes and as an academic. She has also worked as a consultant for different units of the Chilean Ministry of Education, including a pilot programme for the implementation of the Assessment for Learning approach with Chilean teachers. In the UK Teresa has worked as a research officer with Professor Pam Sammons on an international literature review on research evidence on the role of Assessment for Learning, and with Dr Therese Hopfenbeck on the project ‘Governing Complex Education Systems’, funded by the OECD. Additionally, she was funded by the National Council for Education in Chile to carry out a critical analysis of the validity of the national system of curriculum assessment (SIMCE). Teresa now has an academic position in the University of Chile.

Yasmine El Masri feb215

Yasmine El Masri defended her thesis in January 2015, examined by Dr Therese N. Hopfenbeck and Dr Anton Beguin. Her doctoral research investigated the impact of translation on item difficulty in large-scale international assessments. She used various quantitative techniques, namely Rasch modelling and differential item functioning (DIF) to compare three language versions (English, French and Arabic) of the same PISA science test. Yasmine is currently employed as a post-doctoral research fellow at OUCEA, working mainly on a project on predicting task difficulty in educational assessments.


Carol Brown was awarded the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in September 2017 for her research on What Motivates A-level Students to Achieve? The Role of Expectations and Values. Her examiners were Professor Robert Klassen, University of York and Professor Steve Strand, University of Oxford. A mixed methods design, employing questionnaires and interviews, was used to explore the relationships between expectations, values and A-level achievement in 930 students based on Eccles’ expectancy-value model of achievement motivation.   It was found that A-levels confirmed aspects of students’ identity but also facilitated changes to their goals and academic skills. Expectations and values were related to A-level achievement. The findings are useful for explaining the motivational patterns underlying A-level qualifications and the findings have implications for enhancing outcomes and narrowing educational gaps in this student population. Carol is a Senior Lecturer in Psychology and Education at Oxford Brookes University.

New course: MSc Educational Assessment

New two-year part-time MSc programme available at the Department of Education