I have worked at Keele since 2001, when I received my PhD from Cambridge University on Higher Education and National Identity in the United Arab Emirates.  Prior to this I worked and studied in Egypt, Kuwait, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates.  My research interests are in the politics of higher education policy with particular focus on higher education’s socio-political and developmental intermediary role – as reflected in various themes including gender, language use, risk, citizenship and enlightened political participation, sustainability/ecology, institutional cultures and academic capitalism.  My work combines critical policy analysis & ethnography, and reflects both my interdisciplinary background (anthropology, education, Arabic and Middle East studies) and my experience of living and working in the Middle East.  Most recently, I have been engaged in an ongoing project to bring educational research into International Relations and vice-versa, and sub-politics into policy studies.  I have published fairly widely across the cognate fields of Higher Education policy, Sociology of Education, critical studies, ecology, comparative education, and international education. 

Research and scholarship

My research consequently has several foci:

i. Critical policy sociology

ii. The emergence of ‘academic regions’

iii. Questions about higher education’s purpose, and saleable or valued higher educational knowledge: fulfilment of stakeholder expectations or critical transformation?

iv. Higher education markets in the developmental states of the Arab Gulf

v. The relationship between access to higher education, citizenship and political voice for marginalised groups 

vi. Policy, markets and student expectations in university learning 

I am committed to helping build research capacity in both Arab Gulf studies and higher education policy sociology by facilitating dialogue between these two communities - through publishing high international impact journals and conference participation.  I would welcome research inquiries from prospective research students interested in any of these areas.  I would also be very interested in collaborations bringing rigorous interdisciplinary perspectives to bear on higher educational and social problems.


Educational Studies - module leadership

  • EDU-30065 Educating for Global Citizenship
  • EDU-30074 Higher Education: policy and the student experience


MA Education 

  • EDU-40120 Global Citizenship Education 



  • EDU-40031 Introduction to theories and methods
  • EDU-40032 Critical and feminist theories and perspectives
  • EDU-40022 Research Methods and Evaluation
  • EDU-40033 Research Methods and Evaluation


Findlow, S., (2016) Local citizenship in a global arena: educating for community participation and change (Routledge)


Current doctoral students as lead supervisor:

  • Diane Swift, What makes for legitimate pedagogic knowledge in Initial Teacher Education?
  • Alison Maguire, Two years BA (Hons) accounting and finance students' experiences and expectations
  • Nicola Whitton, Critical Care Nurses: thriving or striving through workplace adversity
  • Verity Aiken, Between a rock and a hard place: exploring the accounts of undergraduate students in a consumer-led HEI system
  • Tammie McGee, Leadership and senior management in an international school setting
  • Trina Tan, Understanding the multiple [dis]connections of younger people and ‘nature’ 
  • Paul Friend, Effective Governance and Management in Corporate International Schools
  • Rebecca Somerfield, Teachers and Multi-Agency Working: a study of school-teacher engagement.

Successful completions as lead supervisor

  • Maha Mohammad A Nahshal, 'My husband knows what is better for me' an exploration of educated Saudi women's views towards domestic violence (2018)
  • Kojo Adjei-Kusi, Lifelong Learning among accountants: exploring the links with professional identity (2017)
  • Debbie Gilliland, Exploring the hopes and experiences of international business students in the United Kingdom (EdD, 2016)
  • Karen Castle, Teachers and their continuing professional development: Policy, professionalism and perceptions (EdD, 2014)
  • Jean Robson, Adding action to the blend: new possibilities for learning in cross-border management education in Bosnia-Herzegovina (MPhil)

Successful completions as co- or second supervisor, including

  • Maggie Atkinson, Complexity in policy-making: the governance of local education
  • Joanna Renc-Roe, Academics in transition - Internationalisation of academic professionals in Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union
  • Katherine Heathcote, 'We can't have men here': problematics and possibilities of the masculine in physiotherapy education
  • Tom O’Connor, Men in the  nursing profession: masculinities and gendered identities
  • Louise Taylor, Learning in later life: using life biography to investigate the inter-relationship of learning and life course capital
  • Danielle Cassell, Teachers’ Perceptions of Assessment for Learning: A situated study.

School of Social Sciences
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Keele University
Staffordshire, ST5 5BG
Tel: +44 (0) 1782 734346

Undergraduate and postgraduate enquiries
Tel: +44 (0) 1782 734346