Skip to main content


Photo of Dr Chris Playford

Dr Chris Playford

Senior Lecturer (Sociology)

Clayden 1.07

Office Hours (Clayden 1.07)

2023/24 Term 2

Tuesdays   2pm - 3pm

Thursdays  2.30pm - 3.30pm



Research Interests

I am a quantitative sociologist working in the fields of social stratification and the sociology of education. My work has focused on modelling the role of family background on educational attainment with a substantive interest in inequality and disadvantage. I specialise in the secondary analysis of large-scale survey and administrative data. I have methodological interests in a range of statistical techniques including generalised linear and mixed models, latent class analysis and multiple imputation of missing data. In a previous role I researched child development and emotional well-being. I have also published work on research reproducibility.


Previous Research Projects

Co-investigator. "Parental Social Class and Filial School Level Educational Outcomes in Contemporary Britain: Analysis of Understanding Society and Administrative Data." [with Dr Roxanne Connelly and Prof Vernon Gayle]. Economic & Social Research Council Secondary Data Analysis Initiative (SDAI). £174,000. Oct 2018 - Jul 2021.


Modules taught in previous academic years

SSI1005        Introduction to Social Data

SSI2002       Data Analysis in the Workplace

SOCM029   Data Visualisation

SOCM034   Social Data Science and Policy Analytics

Research group links

Research interests

Working Papers

Burton, J., Connelly, R., Couper, M.P., Crossley, T.F., De Vries, C., Gayle, V., Hanson, T., Jäckle, A., Lynn, P., Martin, N., McGee, A., Playford, C., Pudney, S., Sobolewska, M., Taylor, L., Walzenbach, S. and Wenz, A. (2019) Understanding Society Innovation Panel Wave 11: Results from methodological experiments, Understanding Society Working Paper 2019-03, Colchester: University of Essex.

Playford, C.J., Dibben, C. & Williamson, L. (2017) The relationship between educational outcomes and family socioeconomic position in Scotland: the role of low birthweight and child development. SLS Research Working Paper 12. Longitudinal Studies Centre Scotland: Edinburgh/St Andrews.

Gayle, V., Playford, C.J., Connelly, R. and Murray, S. (2016) Between the NEET and the tidy - Exploring 'middle' outcomes in Scottish school qualifications. CPC Working Paper 76, ESRC Centre for Population Change, UK.

Gayle. V. and Playford, C.J. (2014) The concealed middle? An exploration of ordinary young people and school GCSE subject area attainment. CPC Working Paper 51, ESRC Centre for Population Change, UK.

Ralston, K. Connelly, R. Murray, S. Playford, C. (2010) Methods in Survey Design to Improve Response Rates: A Review of the Empirical Evidence, School of Applied Social Science Working Paper.

Research supervision

I currently supervise work involved quantitative modelling of educational and occupational inequalities in the UK. This includes studies of social stratification, occupational origins and destinations, and educational attainment. I am particularly interested in studies which attempt to better understand the pathways and routes young people take from education into the labour market and the influence their family background has had on the skills they develop and the decisions they make.

My main field of expertise is in using British survey and administrative data to investigate inequalities in the educational outcomes of young people in UK. I am developing an interest in the routes taken by young people at the end of school, particularly those who do not continue to university.

Research students

Yiyang Gao: "An Investigation of Ethnic Segregation in English Secondary Schools"

Amanda Rigg: Current PhD Student



Prior to coming to Exeter I was a Research Fellow at the University of Edinburgh working in the Administrative Data Research Centre - Scotland (2014-17). I gained my PhD in Sociology (2011) and MSc Applied Social Research (2007) from the University of Stirling. My undergraduate degree was MA (Hons) Management (2003) at the University of St Andrews. I have also worked for a number of organisations in the private sector.

 Edit profile