Tom-Clark.jpgDr Tom Clark

Lecturer in Research Methods


Telephone: 0114 222 6446 (external), 26446 (internal)
Room: Elmfield, G42


Tom has spent his entire academic life at The University of Sheffield and has been a part of the Department of Sociological Studies since 2002.

After graduating with a BA (hons) in Psychology, Tom was awarded an MA in Sociological Research from the Department, and completed his PhD thesis in 2008. He also qualified for a Post-Graduate Certificate of Higher Education (PGCHE) in 2006. After spending two years as a University Teacher, he was appointed as a lecturer in 2010. Between 2013 and 2017, he was seconded to the Sheffield Methods Institute to design and deliver the innovative Applied Social Sciences degree programme. Tom is a Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (SFHEA), a Faculty TESS Award Fellow, and a Senate Award Fellow.


Tom is interested in all aspects of research methods and methodology, particularly with respect to learning and teaching. He has authored the book ‘the Sociology of Evil’(to be published in September, 2019), and is popularly known for his work on, amongst others, Myra Hindley’s ‘Prison Files’. This material has appeared regularly in the national media. He has also written extensively about various aspects of learning and teaching in higher education, and, to a lesser extent football fandom. His textbook, 'How to do your social science dissertation or research project', will be published by Oxford University Press in the summer of 2019.

Funded Research Projects
Date Sponsor Details
2017 Inside Knowledge Fellowship, TUoS

Developing digital literacies: Enhancing the expectations, experiences, and capabilities of Sociological Studies students.


2016 Wellcome Trust Society and Ethics Doctoral Studentship

‘From Victim to Survivor: What actions do survivors take to redefine their identity when recovering from child sexual abuse?’ (with Claire Cunnington).


2013 HEA Teaching Research Methods

Communicating statistics: Developing a narrative approach to teaching and learning introductory quantitative social science (with Liam Foster).


2011 British Academy: Small Grants

Why was Myra Hindley evil?: Toward a sociological understanding of a folk devil.


2009 CILASS (Centre for Inquiry-based Learning in the Arts and Social Sciences)

Quantitative research methods in Sociological Studies (with Liam Foster).



The guiding purpose of Tom's teaching is to use his experience of the research process to help students to develop a range of abilities, capacities, and identities that will help them in future environments, whatever these may be. Rather than relying on the passive consumption of textbooks and lectures, Tom’s teaching emphasises active and inquiry-based learning that is constructively aligned at both modular and programme level. He designs immersive digital environments to enhance the student experience of learning, and also has much experience of delivering student partnership projects. This good practice has been shared widely across the university and beyond.

During his time with the Department of Sociological Studies, Tom has convened or delivered over 30 different modules at undergraduate and post-graduate levels. His current teaching portfolio includes:

  • SMI103: Social Research Practice
  • SCS2020: Doing Sociological Qualitative Research
  • SCS3025: The Sociology of Evil

Between 2013 and 2017, Tom was seconded to the Faculty of Social Sciences to help establish the Sheffield Methods Institute, with direct responsibility for designing and delivering the innovative programme in Applied Social Science. Tom has also helped to deliver other university infrastructure projects that have had significant impact on policy and practice. This includes the ‘Student Tracking Project: 2013’, and the BME Attainment Gap Project’ . He has acted as the advisor to ‘the Widening Participation Research and Evaluation Unit’ since it was established in 2012, and also worked closely with internationally-renowned publishers on the development of digital content relating to research methods.

Postgraduate supervision

Tom has supervised a number of PhD’s in a diverse range of areas. This includes: the ‘escape attempts’ of cosplayers; experiences of social identity and community with respect to the MOBA game ‘League of Legends’; narratives of the Catholic self in Northern Ireland; and, an exploration of how people who experienced Child Sexual Abuse go on to understand their identity in adulthood.

Tom welcomes applications to study full-time or part-time with him for MPhil or PhD research degrees that are related to his activities and experience.



Clark, T., Foster, L., & Bryman, A. (forthcoming) How To Do Your Dissertation or Social Science Research Project. Oxford: Oxford University Press (publication date, August 2019)

Clark, T. (forthcoming) The Sociology of Evil. Oxford: Routledge.

Clark, T. & Hordosy, R. (2019). Undergraduate experiences of the research / teaching nexus across the whole student lifecycle. Teaching in Higher Education, 24:3, 412-427, DOI: 10.1080/13562517.2018.1544123

Clark, T. & Hordosy, R. (2018) Social identification, widening participation and higher education: Experiencing similarity and difference in an English Red Brick University. Sociological Research Online (online first).

Hordosy, R & Clark, T. (2018) Beyond the compulsory: a critical exploration of the experiences of extracurricular activity and employability in a Northern Red Brick University. Research in Post-Compulsory Education (online first).

Hordosy, R & Clark, T. (2018) ‘It’s scary and it’s big, and there’s no job security’: Undergraduate experiences of career planning and stratification in an English Red Brick University. Social Sciences, 7, 10, 173.

Hordosy, R., Clark, T., & Vickers, D. (2018) Lower income students and the ‘double deficit’ of part-time work?: Undergraduate experiences of finance, studying, and employability. Journal of Education and Work (online first).

Hordosy, R. & Clark, T. (2018) Student budgets and widening participation: Comparative experiences of finance in low and higher income undergraduates at a Northern Red Brick University. Social Policy and Administration (online first).

Simpson, C. & Clark, T. (2018) Reflections on the development of a model of partnership designed to enhance the ‘digital curriculum’ of Sociological Studies programmes. Student Engagement in Higher Education Journal, 2, 1, pp 61-69.

Clark, T., Hordosy, R. & Vickers, D. (2017) ‘We will never escape these debts’: Undergraduate experiences of indebtedness, income-contingent loans, and the tuition fees rises. Journal of Further and Higher Education (online first).

Foster, L. & Clark, T. (2017) ‘I’m not a natural mathematician’: Inquiry-based learning, constructive alignment, and introductory quantitative social science’, Teaching Policy Administration, 35, 3, pp 260-279.

Clark, T. (2014). Using archival documents as data: Working with Myra Hindley’s ‘prison files’. Cases in Methodology Series. Sage: London.

Clark, T., Foster, L., Warren, L. & Farnsworth, K. (2013) ‘Research methods teaching in the social sciences: An integrated approach to inquiry-based learning and curriculum development in Sociological Studies’, in, R. Clark, J. Andrews, Thomas, L., & R. Aggarwal (eds), Compendium of Effective Practice in Higher Education: Volume 2. The Higher Education Academy: York, pp 45-47.

Foster, L. & Clark, T. 2013. ‘An inquiry-based approach to teaching quantitative secondary survey methods in Sociological Studies’, in, R. Clark, J. Andrews, Thomas, L., & R. Aggarwal (eds), Compendium of Effective Practice in Higher Education: Volume 2. The Higher Education Academy: York, pp 55-57.

Clark, T. & Mainwaring, E. (2012) ‘We’re shit and we know we are’: Identity, place, and ontological security in lower league football. Soccer and Society, 13, 1, pp 107-123.

Clark, T. (2011) Gaining and maintaining access: Exploring the mechanisms that support and challenge the relationship between gatekeepers and researchers. Qualitative Social Work, 10, 4, pp 485-502.

Clark, T. (2010) On being ‘researched’: Why do people engage with qualitative research? Qualitative Research, 10, 4, pp 399-413.

Clark, T. (2008) ‘We’re over-researched here!’: Exploring accounts of research fatigue within qualitative research engagements. Sociology, 42, 5, pp 953-970.

Clark, T., & Sinclair, R. (2008) The costs and benefits of being a research site. Evidence and Policy: A Journal of Research, Debate and Practice, 4, 1, pp 105-119.

Molyneux-Hodgson, S., & Clark, T. (2007) Sociological engagements with computing: The advent of E-Science and some implications for the qualitative research community. Sociological Research Online, 12, 3.

Clark, T. (2006) “I’m Scunthorpe ‘til I die”: Constructing and negotiating identity through the terrace chant. Soccer and Society, 7, 4, pp 494-507.

Norman, P., Clark, T., & Walker, G. (2005) The theory of planned behaviour: Descriptive norms and the moderating role of group identification. The Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 35, 5, pp 1009-1029.

Other Outputs

Clark, T. & Hordosy, R. (2019) Undergraduate experiences of the research/teaching nexus across the whole student lifecycle. Society for Research into Higher Education (SRHE) Blog.

Clark, T. (2018) ‘What works’ and WPREU: Reflections on method, in Baker, Z. Brown, G., Crockford, J., Hordosy, R. & Millar, M. 2018. Five Years of Widening Participation Research and Evaluation. Sheffield: WPREU, University of Sheffield.

Hordosy, R. & Clark, T. (2017) “Frugality” won’t solve systemic student finance problems. WONKHE Blog.

Hordosy, R., Clark, T. & Vickers, D. 2015. Academic Transitions into Higher Education and Negotiating Change. British Education Research Association (BERA) Blog.

Clark, T., Ansell, E., David, P., & Hordosy, R. (2014) What Matters to Undergraduate Students in the Post-2012 Era of Full Tuition Fees at a British University? WPREU Working Papers: University of Sheffield.

Foster, L. and Clark, T. (2014) Communicating statistics: Developing a narrative approach to teaching and learning introductory quantitative social sciences: Final project report presented to the HEA. The Higher Education Academy: York.

Clark, T. (2012) The Beautiful Beast: Why was Irma Grese Evil? Unpublished working paper for the Department of Sociological Studies, University of Sheffield. Available

Clark, T. (2012) Why was Myra Hindley evil? Unpublished working paper for the Department of Sociological Studies, University of Sheffield. Available

Clark, T. (2012) Why do serial killers have nicknames? Unpublished working paper for the Department of Sociological Studies, University of Sheffield. Available

Clark, T. (2011) Integration of a research methods spine in the Department of Sociological Studies. Toolkit for Learning and Teaching. Learning and Teaching Services (LeTS): University of Sheffield.