Professor Cristina Iannelli (FBA, FAcSS)

Personal Chair of Education and Social Stratification / Leader of the Advanced Quantitative Research in Education Hub


Cristina Iannelli is Professor of Education and Social Stratification. She is a Fellow of the British Academy and the Academy of Social Sciences. She has extensive research experience as leader and co-investigator of several national and international research projects. Between 2017 and 2021, she was Co-Director of the ESRC large grant ‘Understanding Inequalities’, a multidisciplinary and international research project aimed to explore the causes, consequences and policy implications of social inequalities across different dimensions and spatial scales ( From 2013 to 2017 she was Co-Director of the ESRC-funded centre AQMeN (Applied Quantitative Methods Network; in the University of Edinburgh and led the ‘Education and Social Stratification’ research strand which involved collaborators from Scotland, Ireland, Germany and the US. The main aim of this strand was to examine the role of institutional differentiation of curriculum and status in reproducing social inequalities in education and the labour market.

After completing her PhD at the European University Institute (Florence), Cristina worked as Research Fellow at the Centre for Educational Sociology in the University of Edinburgh. During this period she was involved in two major European projects, 'A Comparative Analysis of Education to Work Transitions in Europe' (CATEWE) and 'Evaluation and Analysis of the Labour Forces Survey 2000 Ad Hoc Module on School-To-Work Transitions in Europe'.  Between 2002 and 2005, she was the principal investigator of the ESRC project 'Education and Social Mobility in Scotland in the 20th Century' which provided an up-to-date picture of social mobility patterns in Scotland. After this study she was awarded a three-year ESRC Research Fellowship on The Role of Educational Structure and Content in the Process of Social Mobility.

She was successfully involved in the creation of a Scotland-wide Advanced Quantitative Methods Network (AQMeN) (funded by the ESRC and the Scottish Funding Council) which aimed to boost capacity in quantitative methods in Scotland.  In January 2013 AQMeN became an ESRC-funded research centre. She was also involved in a further two major initiatives, Edinburgh Q-Step and the Administrative Data Research Centre in Scotland.

Responsibilities & affiliations

She is a member of the Economic and Social Research Council's (ESRC) Strategic Advisory Network, and Data and Infrastructure, Skills and Methods Expert Advisory Group

She is Research Affiliate at the Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI) in Dublin (

She is a member of the Scientific Committee of the European Research Network on Transitions in Youth (TIY).

Areas of interest for supervision

I am keen to supervise research under the topics listed in the Research tab.

Current PhD students supervised

  • Peter Barlow - 'Disentangling the importance of individual, family and neighbourhood factors on educational outcomes using sibling data' (ESRC-funded AQM studentship)
  • Jiayang Wang - 'Intergenerational income mobility and its implication to education policy: the case of China'
  • Marifatul Amalia - 'Inequalities in science education: Using PISA data to investigate the role of family and school factors' (ESRC studentship in collaboration with the Scottish Government)

Past PhD students supervised

  • Alaba Agbatogun (completed): 'Comparative effects of interactive mobiles and communicative approach on the learning outcomes of the educationally disadvantaged Nigerian pupils in ESL classrooms'
  • Gitit Satat-Kadar (completed): 'Participation in out-of-school activities and the socio-economic gap in children's academic outcomes'
  • Morag Treanor (2009-2011, completed): 'Exploring children's outcomes at the transition to primary school of children experiencing persistent poverty in Scotland'
  • Susan Whittaker (completed) 'Higher education students crossing internal UK borders: Student and country differences and their contribution to higher education inequalities'
  • Dulce Carolina Mendoza (completed) 'Analysing educational transitions in upper secondary and higher education in Mexico. An empirical application of the capability approach and sociological perspectives on inequalities in education'
  • Dafni Dima (completed) - 'Labour market transitions before and during the Great Recession in Europe'
  • Alice Dias Lopes (completed) -'International mobility in higher education: Understanding the dynamics of inequality and social stratification in the Brazilian educational system'
  • Stephanie DeMarco (completed) - 'Social class inequalities in education: Incremental differences in language and teaching practices in five Massachusetts high schools'
  • Carla Cebula (completed) – ‘The role of family and neighbourhood factors in the reproduction of inequalities in educational attainment’
  • Takuya Numajiri (completed) - ' What matters for improving basic school mathematics education in St. Lucia?'
  • Lucy Hunter Blackburn (completed) - 'The fairest of them all? Comparing the reproduction of inequality in student funding in Scotland and Wales' 

Research summary

  • Social stratification in education and the labour market
  • Social mobility
  • Youth transitions
  • Cross-country comparative analyses
  • Quantitative data analysis

Project activity

  • 2017-2021: Understanding Inequalities (co-applicant) (ESRC)
  • 2015-2016: Beyond Access to Higher Education: Widening Access Initiatives and Student Retention in Scotland (Principal Investigator), (Scottish Funding Council)
  • 2013-2016: Applied Quantitative Methods Network - Phase II (co-applicant) (ESRC)
  • 2009-2012: Applied Quantitative Methods Network (co-applicant) (ESRC)
  • 2005-2008: The Role of Educational Structure and Content in the Process of Social Mobility (ESRC Research Fellowship)
  • 2003-2006: Education and Youth Transitions in England, Wales and Scotland 1984-2002 (ESRC)
  • 2002-2005: Education and Social Mobility in Scotland in the 20th Century (principal investigator) (ESRC)
  • 2002: Special Study of the Labour Market Outcomes of Low-Achievers and Early School-Leavers Based on the Longitudinal Data from the Scottish School Leavers' Survey (Scottish Executive)
  • 2001-2002: Evaluation and Analysis of the LFS 2000 Ad Hoc Module on School-to-Work Transitions in Europe (LFS) (Eurostat)
  • 2001: Evaluation of Fast Trac (Scottish Executive)
  • 1998-2001: A Comparative Analysis of Education to Work Transitions in Europe (Catewe) (EU TSER)