Search site

School of Geography

Maxim Samson Maxim Samson

Contact details

School of Geography
University of Leeds
University Road
Leeds LS2 9JT   UK



Project title

The Geographies of Jewish Education: Jewish Schools, Synagogues, and the Construction of Young People's Jewish Identities


Faith schools represent a significant and controversial aspect of England's Education politics, with critics suggesting that they indoctrinate, increase segregation and foster intolerance in wider society.  In the case of Jewish day schools, contestation also exists regarding the selection of pupils based on contrasting definitions of 'Jewishness,' and following a high-profile Supreme Court ruling, synagogues have become central to admissions practices.  The main aim of my research is to explore Jewish schools' role in developing social identities, and the complex interactions between these schools and synagogue communities.  In so doing, the research contributes to internationally significant debates over faith schooling and ethnoreligious identity in contemporary society.


Dr Nichola Wood

Dr Robert Vanderbeck

Research Affiliation

Social Justice, Cities, Citizenship Cluster


Full-time ESRC White Rose DTC +3 Discipline Postgraduate Studentship.


  • IPS Fellowship at the Kluge Center, Library of Congress, awarded by the AHRC/ESRC, worth £4,300 (2016/17);
  • Christine Leigh Prize for Best Transfer Performance in Human Geography, awarded by the School of Geography, University of Leeds, worth £100 (2015).


  • Samson, M.G.M., Vanderbeck, R.M., and Wood, N. (2017, in press) 'Fixity and Flux: A Critique of Competing Approaches to Researching Contemporary Jewish Identities.' Social Compass.

Conference Presentations

  • American Association of Geographers (AAG), Boston (2017) - 'Competition or Cooperation? Jewish Day Schools, Synagogues, and the (Re)construction of Young People's Jewish Identities in England.'
  • Kluge Center, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C. (2016) - 'The Dynamic Interplay between Jewish Faith Schools and Synagogue Communities.

Teaching Experience

  • GEOG2040 Inside European Cities: Belgrade fieldtrip assistant (2017);
  • GEOG1065 Nature, Society and Environment (2017);
  • GEOG1310/15 People, Place and Politics: Global Populations (2017);
  • GEOG1310/15 People, Place and Politics: Justice and Difference (2015, 2017).

Other Experience

  • Human Geography Pathway Ambassador for the ESRC White Rose DTC Pathway partnership with the Universities of Sheffield and York. 

Short Curriculum Vitae



PGCE in Secondary Geography, Open University (2011)

  • Small-scale study: ‘The Use of Audio-Visual Technology in Classroom Teaching.’

MSc Sustainable Cities (Distinction), King’s College London (2010)

  • Dissertation title: 'Walking from A to B: Walking Buses, Children and the City.'

BA Geography (Hons, Dunelm) (1:1), Durham University (2009)

  • Dissertation title: Vexillatry or Vexation? Investigating Attitudes of Hispanic Americans Towards the US Flag.'
  • Awarded W.A. Moyes Prize for Proficiency in Fieldwork for achieving the highest undergraduate dissertation mark in the Department of Geography (2009);
  • Won award for highest first year mark in Department of Geography (2007).

Selected Employment and Work Experience

Conyers School, Yarm

Sept 2012 – Aug 2014

  • Teacher of Geography (Key Stages 3-5) with consequent responsibility for an A-Level and two GCSE classes. I achieved full NQT status after my induction year at Conyers.
  • Research and conference experience: I undertook research into the potential of iPads to benefit teaching and learning, and subsequently presented my findings at a Stockton TeachMeet conference.  The school has since extended an iPad programme to all pupils.  I also attained primary data on pupil premium students before producing and disseminating a report to senior members of staff. 
  • Experience of organising events: a World War One-themed Activities Week (2014); Archaeology excavation in collaboration with Newcastle University (2014). I also co-established Conyers Debating Society and chaired debates; led fieldwork in the North York Moors (GCSE) and Richmond (Year 7); developed schemes of work.

Francis Bacon Maths & Computing College, St Albans

Feb 2012 – Aug 2012

  • Teacher of Geography (Key Stages 3-5) with consequent responsibility for an A-Level and two GCSE classes.

Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment, London         

Dec 2009 – May 2010

  • Sustainable Cities Intern, undertaken alongside MSc at King's College London. I contributed to CABE’s ‘Sustainable Cities’ programme and website through conducting interview-led research into sustainable waste management, before communicating a written report and presentation to senior employees.