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Professor Paul Black

Emeritus Professor of Science Education


Contact information:

Tel: +44 (0)20 7848 3166
Fax: + 44 (0)20 7848 3182



About me

I took my first degree in physics, and subsequently obtained my PhD in crystallography at the Cavendish Laboratory in Cambridge in l954. Between 1956 and 1976 I was a faculty member in the Department of Physics in the University of Birmingham (England), but my interests gradually moved from research in physics to research and development in science education. I left Birmingham in 1976 to become professor of science education and director of the Centre for Science and Mathematics Education, at Chelsea College in London, and when Chelsea College merged with King's in 1985 I became the head of the King's Centre for Educational Studies, King's College London (KQC). I retired in 1995, but am still active in research and development work.

I have been a visiting Professor of Education at Stanford University, California. For many years I was involved closely with curriculum development work with the Nuffield Foundation in science and in design and technology, at primary, secondary and tertiary levels. I was chair of the government's Task Group on Assessment and Testing in 1987-88, and deputy chairman of the National Curriculum Council from 1989 to 1991. I have served on three committees on the USA National Research Council. I am a member of the Policy Advisory Group and of the Technical Advisory Group of the UK Examination and Qualifications Regulator, OFQUAL. I am currently engaged in research and development work to improve classroom practices in both formative and summative assessment.

For further details please see my Research Staff Profile

I am a member of the following ECS research group:
Centre for Research In Education in Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics with a specialism in science education.


Academic qualifications, honours and citations

  • British Educational Research Association : John Nisbet  Fellowship Award 2014 for “An outstanding  contribution to educational research over his career”.

  • Elected member of the US National Academy of Education, 2010

  • Prize for excellence in design for education in science. International Society for Design and Development in Education, 2009.

  • Lifetime Achievement Award for Outstanding Contribution to Science Education, Association for Science Education, 2005

    Honorary life member and former president of the Association for Science Education

  • Recipient of the Distinguished Contribution to Science Education Through Research Award from the US National Association for Research in Science Teaching, 2004

  • Honorary doctor of Education Kingston University, 2003

  • Honorary doctor of the University Open University, 2002

  • Medal of the International Commission on Physics Education, 2000

  • Vice-president of the International Union of Pure and Applied Physics, 1996-98

  • Chair of the International Commission on Physics Education, 1992-98

  • Honorary doctor of the University Surrey, 1991

  • Fellow of King’s College London, 1989

  • Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE), 1983

  • Bragg medal and prize of the UK Institute of Physics, 1973 (with J.M. Ogborn)


  • Black,P. (2014)Classroom Practice in a Faith-Based School: A Tale of Two Levels. Chapter 29 pp.501- 514 in Chapman, J.D., McNamara, S., Reiss, M. J. and Wahid, Y. (eds) in The International Handbook of Learning, Teaching and Leadership in Faith Based Schools Dordrecht, Netherlands: Springer

  • Black, P. and Atkin, M. (2014) The Central Role of Assessment in Pedagogy Ch.38 pp.775-790 in Lederman, N.  (ed.) Handbook of Research on Science Education 2nd edition. Mahwah, N.J.: Lawrence Erlbaum.  PB was also editor for Section V: Curriculum and Assessment in Science, of this Handbook.

  • Black, P., and Wiliam, D. (2014) Assessment and the Design of Educational Materials. Educational Designer, 2(7). Retrieved from:

  • Black, P. (2014) Assessment and the aims of the curriculum: An explorer’s journey. Prospects. 44 (4) pp.487-501         DOI: 10.1007/s11125-014-9329-7. 

  • Black, P. (2015) The role of assessment in pedagogy – and why validity matters. In press -The SAGE Handbook of Curriculum, Pedagogy and Assessment.

  • Black, P. (2015) Formative Assessment – an optimistic but incomplete vision. In press Assessment in Education

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