School of Education and Sociology


The School of Education and Sociology runs research seminars on key issues in the field, drawing expertise from within the School, University and beyond.  These research seminars are open to staff and postgraduate students (from any school or department).

Details and booking information are below; please click on the relevant link to register. Events are held in St George's Building 1.12 except where stated. Tea, coffee and biscuits will be provided.

If you require any further information please contact 

Programme 2018-2019

What should students gain through university?: Exploring students', parents', and employers' perceptions of learning gain

3rd October 2018, 1:00pm - 2:30pm, SG 1.11

Dr Emily Mason-Apps, Senior Research Fellow, School of Psychology and Dr Jessica Gagnon, Senior Research Fellow, School of Education and Sociology

The Higher Education Forum presents a School of Education and Sociology research seminar. The 14 HEFCE-funded Learning Gain projects currently underway across the UK are intended “to measure the improvement in knowledge, skills, work-readiness and personal development made by students during their time spent in higher education” (HEFCE, 2017). We will be presenting initial qualitative findings from the University of Portsmouth led HEFCE Learning Gain project titled “Education as transformation: Developing measures of non-cognitive development”. It is a multi-university partnership that includes the University of Southampton; Royal Holloway, the University of London; and the University of the Arts London. We will explore students’ perceptions of learning gain through qualitative data collected from focus groups; parents’ perceptions through hand-written responses to questions posed on postcards; and employers’ perceptions through interviews. The data allows for an in-depth understanding of different stakeholders’ conceptions of learning gain, as well as exploring the similarities and differences between them. Findings from the project are intended to inform policy and practice, especially through identification of where expectations are and are not being met.

REF Overview

3rd October 2018, 2:30pm - 4:00pm, SG 1.11

Dr Andy Dixon, Deputy Director (Environment and Strategy), Research and Innovation Services

Dr Andy Dixon has been invited, as part of the School's Wednesday's Research Seminars, to give a talk about the REF. At this event we will share and discuss the early findings from the research, as a group of Academic and Practitioner colleagues. For further information please contact Emma Maynard:

Further Beyond the School Gates: Training former students and their parents as qualitative researchers and mentors to re-engage current excluded students with education

Wednesday, 6th February 2019, 1:00pm – 2:30pm, Room SG 0.20, St George’s Building

Dr Simon Edwards MBE, Senior Lecturer Youth Studies, School of Education and Sociology, University of Portsmouth

Abstract:  Despite attempts by successive UK to engage some students with their learning in the last 20 years, there has been a substantial increase in formal and informal exclusions from secondary schools; particularly of underperforming students, most of whom come from low income families (DCSF 2009; DfE 2015). Consequently, there is growing concern about a persisting and growing gap in performance between disadvantaged pupils and their peers. Furthermore, disengagement with secondary education is linked to mental health issues, poor educational outcomes, and an increased likelihood of not being in employment, further education or training (DfE 2014; The Children’s Society 2014). There is an urgent need for interventions that help educationally disengaged students in secondary schools re-engage with their education and, with government targets of 75% of students in FE by 2020, FE and HE placements. Yet, current provision and interventions for excluded students (at least in West Sussex) favours target and organisation led approaches to education re-engagement that primarily views excluded students and their parents through a deficit model (Burke 2016) assuming they have little motivation or capability to succeed.

This paper presents the research processes and findings from the initial stages of an SLN: COP funded project currently being developed in West Sussex, UK called Beyond the School Gates that addresses this issue of exclusion but views excluded students and their parents more positively. It was carried out in partnership with former students and their parents, West Sussex Parent Carer Forum, University of Sussex, University of Portsmouth, RecoverED WARM Wales and West Sussex Children’s Mental Health and Wellbeing Project and Commissioning Manager.

'Corpus Quod' - discussion regarding the analysis of immersive performance data

Wednesday, 6th February 2019, 2:30pm – 4:00pm, Room SG 0.20, St George’s Building

Dr Charles Leddy-Owen, Senior Lecturer, School of Education and Sociology, University of Portsmouth

I will discuss a project I worked on last year which saw the creation of an immersive performance aiming to simulate the experience of seeking asylum in the UK. During two pilot performances in London and Birmingham an enormous amount of data were produced, some quantitative but mostly qualitative. In the presentation and subsequent discussion I will be considering, and requesting feedback from the audience on, the best use of said data. A link to the project page can be found here -

The Happy Academic? Emotional Wellbeing of Staff in UK Universities

Wednesday, 6th March 2019, 1:00pm – 2:30pm, Room SG 1.11, St George’s Building

Dr Laura Hyman, Senior Lecturer in Sociology, School of Education and Sociology, University of Portsmouth

In recent years, emotional wellbeing and mental health have become noticeably more significant on university campuses in the UK and beyond. An increasing number of students are reported to be experiencing poor wellbeing, and demand for student counselling and support services has risen substantially. As a result, student mental health has become an area of increasing concern for educational policymakers. 

Although members of academic staff who provide pastoral support to students are having to confront these issues more frequently during their working weeks, what is missing from public debate and university structures is an acknowledgement and recognition of (as well as provision for, in many cases) the wellbeing of academic staff themselves. At a time of considerable change and instability within higher education (concerning issues including, but not limited to, research audits, funding availability, precarious contracts, rising tuition fees and expectations of students, the Teaching Excellence Framework and students’ pastoral needs), there is growing evidence to suggest that all may not be well for many academics.

This paper thus presents the foundations of a new qualitative research project in which interviews have been undertaken with a small sample of academics from a range of disciplines and universities in the UK. It considers their understandings and experiences of the challenges of their everyday working lives as well as their emotional wellbeing.

“Me without the mask”: Women’s Experiences of Early Sobriety

Wednesday, 6th March 2019, 2:30pm – 4:00pm, Room SG 1.11, St George’s Building

Dr Emily Nicholls, Senior Lecturer in Sociology, School of Education and Sociology

This paper presents emerging findings from my ongoing research project ‘Sobriety Stories’, exploring the experiences of women who stop drinking and highlighting the ways in which they tell the ‘stories’ of their own journeys to sobriety. In particular, I will focus on how the participants frame their ‘drinking pasts’ and ‘sober presents’, and the ways in which sobriety is felt to facilitate the emergence of a more authentic, likeable and capable self. In this way, I will begin to unpick some of the links between alcohol, sobriety and identity emerging across my findings.

Recent seminars

30th July 2018 - The Lived Experience of Teenage Drug Use​; Through the eyes of Practitioners and Parents

Seminar and Networking Lunch

6th June 2018 - The Higher Education Forum presents What should students gain through university?: Exploring students', parents', and employers' perceptions of learning gain

A School of Education and Sociology research seminar. Presenters: Dr Emily Mason-Apps, Senior Research Fellow, School of Psychology and Dr Jessica Gagnon, Senior Research Fellow, School of Education and Sociology

2nd May 2018 - Very early adolescent motherhood in low- and middle-income countries

Dr Sarah Neal, Lecturer in Global Health, Centre for Global Health, Poverty, Population and Policy (GHP3)

28 March 2018: How Writing Works

Professor Dom Wyse, UCL Institute of Education

7th March 2018 I’m petrified of being found to be lacking: exploring the issues of teacher mental health

Prof Jonathan Glazzard, Professor of Teacher Education, Carnegie School of Education, Leeds Beckett University

7th February 2018 Research Learning Communities: exploring the context for and the benefits of teachers using research to improve their practice

Prof Chris Brown, School of Education and Sociology

31 January 2018 A Systematic Review Of The Evidence-Base For Professional Learning In Early Years Education (The Pleye Review)

Professor Sue Rogers, UCL Institute of Education

1 st November 2017 Youth aspiration and wellbeing in Zambia: The rising importance of vocational skills training

Dr Caroline Day, Lecturer, Department of Geography, University of Portsmouth

4th October 2017, The Value of Multi-sited Ethnography for Researching and Informing Effective Adoption Education in the United States

Dr Rachael Stryker, Associate Professor, Dept of Human Development & Women's Studies, California State University, East Bay

29th March 2017 - Youth sexuality in Senegal: the right to silence?

Speaker: Dr Barbara Crossouard

30th November 2016 - Hidden Bellies: The Power of Silence and Invisibility in Managing Pregnancies in Mozambique

Speaker: Dr Francesca Salvi

5th October 2016 - Reforming Further Education Teacher Preparation: A policy analysis using a Punctuated Equilibrium framework

Speaker: Dr David Holloway

14 October 2015 - Evaluating School-Based Mental Health Literacy Programmes

Speaker: Dr Paul Gorcynski

18 November 2015 - Implementing the Pyramid Socio-Emotional Intervention in Schools: Bridging Research to Practice

Speaker: Michelle Jayman and Bronach Hughes, University of West London, Department of Psychology

13 January 2016 - Understanding Why Children Differ in Number Skills and How Games Can Help

Prof Richard Cowan, Institute of Education

24 February 2016 - Faculty Research Strategy and REF 2020

Speaker: Prof David Andress, Associate Dean (Research) Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences

6 July 2016 – Informed consent with children and young people in social research: is there scope for innovation?

Speaker: Dr Gina Sherwood, Lecturer, School of Education and Childhood Studies

29 April 2015 - Creative processes with focus groups

Speaker: Chris Neanon, Principal Lecturer (QA/Curriculum), School of Education and Childhood Studies, University of Portsmouth

25 February 2015 - Holistic Silhouette Analysis: Making meaning from narrative research

Speaker: Joy Chalke, Principal Lecturer, School of Education and Childhood Studies, University of Portsmouth

14 January 2015 - "It's not just about voting." What turns young people on to civic participation - and off: and why it matters.

Speaker: Professor Helen Haste, Visiting Professor, Harvard (Postgraduate School of Education) and Emeritus Professor of Psychology, University of Bath.

19 November 2014 - 'Whassup m8??' Co-opting young people as co-researchers in the light of Giddens' reflexive-self

Speaker: Dr Simon Edwards, Lecturer, School of Education and Childhood Studies, University of Portsmouth

15 October 2014 - Developing Critical Reflection as Research Methodology?

Speaker: Professor Jan Fook, Professor in Education (Critical Reflection), Kingston University

30 April 2014 - EdD versus PhD

Dr Jane Creaton & others lead a discussion regarding the differences (and similarities) between a Professional Doctorate in Education and a PhD.

13 March 2014 - Issues relating to promoting emotional health and wellbeing amongst children and young people. Peer support, and common emotional and behavioural difficulties.

A Collaborative event with the Japanese Peer Support Association.

8 January 2014 - Some good and bad reasons to be politically correct in higher education

This will be led by Dr John Lea, from the Learning and Teaching Enhancement Unit, Canterbury Christ Church University.

20 November 2013 - The Moral and other Educational Significance of the Arts in Philosophy and Recent Scottish Educational Policy

Led by Dr Melita Sidiropoulou, who will be talking about how she has combined research in different fields e.g. philosophy of education, education policy, arts education, ethics and moral education.

9 October 2013 - Inclusion in HE

This will be led by Michelle Cowen, Principal Teaching Fellow / Faculty Lead for Inclusivity, Faculty of Health Sciences University of Southampton.

24 April 2013 – Consequences of Violence in Childhood - Bullying, Victimisation and Child Maltreatment. Social and Biological Measures.

Dr Louise Arseneault
Institute of Psychiatry, King’s College, University of London. 

13 February 2013 - Some good and bad reasons to be politically correct in higher education.

Dr John Lea
Learning and Teaching Enhancement Unit, Canterbury Christ Church University

9 January 2013 - Change - the elusive butterfly?

Chris Neanon
University of Portsmouth.