Dr Cora Lingling Xu joined Keele as Lecturer in Education in September 2016. She received her PhD in Sociology of Education from the University of Cambridge in July 2016, as a Cambridge Trust scholar. She obtained her MA from King’s College London as a British Chevening scholar and her Bachelor’s from the Education University of Hong Kong as an Outstanding Mainland scholar. A qualified teacher, she taught English as a second language for five years in two Hong Kong secondary schools. 
She is on the editorial boards and editorial advisory boards of five journals, including British Journal of Sociology of Education; Cambridge Journal of Education; Beijing International Review of Education; on_education: Journal for Research and Debate and Polish Journal of Educational Studies. 
Cora has researched in the areas of educational mobilities, including student, academic and ethnic minority mobilities. She has published in British Journal of Sociology of Education, The Sociological Review, International Studies in Sociology of Education, Review of Education, European Educational Research Journal and Journal of Current Chinese Affairs. Her research has been funded by The Cambridge International Trust, the Sociological Review Foundation, the British Sociological Association, the National Social Science Fund of China, Keele Institute for Social Inclusion and Keele Research Strategy Fund. In 2017 Cora founded the Network for Research into Chinese Education Mobilities (NRCEM), a research platform that attracts more than 300 scholars from across the world.  Cora has served as an external PhD examiner at the University of Edinburgh. Between 2019 and 2023, Cora will act as an external examiner for the MA Education programme at the University of Northampton. 
At Keele University Cora supervises PhD and EdD dissertations and leads modules at doctoral, MA Ed, PGCE and Bachelor levels. 
Professional and academic memberships and affiliations:
  • British Sociological Association (BSA)
  • British Sociological Association Bourdieu Study Group
  • Comparative and International Education Society (CIES)
  • Royal Commonwealth Society (RCS)
  • British Chevening Scholars (Hong Kong) Association

Research and scholarship

Cora’s research focuses on the sociology of education mobilities. She is particularly interested in how inequalities and differences are negotiated and contested in relation to mobilities of, in, and through education. This has been reflected in her sociological work on cross-border student mobilities and on socio-geographic mobilities of rural academics in China. She is interested in exploring the intersectionality of ethnicity, rural-urban divide, class, age and political positioning. Her research has engaged with Bourdieu’s theory of practice, sociology of time and temporality, and the notions of diaspora and diaspora at home. She is interested in mixed-method research approaches, particularly creative digital and visual methods, as well as ethnographic and auto-ethnographic methods.

In 2017, Cora founded the Network for Research into Chinese Education Mobilities (NRCEM). It is an interdisciplinary platform for scholars interested in the broad areas of education mobilities in, across and of China and Chinese people. Its Research Highlights section introduces the latest and cutting-edge research in the field through easily approachable prose and its Capacity Building and Job Opportunities sections highlight conference information and career development opportunities.

Cora has given keynote lectures and invited papers in Manchester University, Durham University, University of Central Lancashire, University of Northampton, Nanyang Technological University, National University of Singapore, University of Hong Kong, Guangzhou University, among others. Cora has served as an external PhD examiner at the University of Edinburgh. She has been invited to conduct workshops on academic publications for early career researchers at the University of Bath, British Education Research Association and Chinese Education Research Association.



Since 2016, I have led following modules:

Master’s / Postgraduate Certificate / Doctoral Levels
* Edu 40100 Global Education Issues
* Edu 40113 Subject Identity and Pedagogy
* Edu 40104 Critical Theories and Analytical Perspectives in Education

Undergraduate Level
* Edu 20023 Play, Power & Pedagogy
* Edu 20022 Comparative Education
* Edu 30074 Higher Education: Policy and the Student Experience

Further information

Cora welcomes research students interested in areas of Bourdieu’s theory of practice, educational mobilities, ethnography / autoethnography, social justice, transnational higher education and educational issues in Asia to get in touch and discuss potential research projects.

Current Doctoral Supervision:

  • Ms Patricia Parrott (EdD): Bourdieu and Brand Me: An investigation with Higher Education students preparing for placement and career management (as Lead Supervisor)
  • Ms Helen Machin (PhD): Undocumented Chinese families and social work (as Lead Supervisor)
  • Ms Tammie McGee (EdD): The Impacts of International Schooling on the Identity of Mainland Chinese Students (as Second Supervisor)
  • Ms Jo Etherton (EdD): A Critical History of Physiotherapy Practice Education (as Second Supervisor)

Completed Doctoral Supervision:

  • Ms Verity Aiken (EdD, completed): What do they want? Revisiting Academic Literacies in a Consumer-Led Higher Education Sector (as Second Supervisor)


School of Social Sciences
Chancellor's Building CBA1.039
Keele University
Staffordshire, ST5 5BG
Tel: +44 (0) 1782 734346

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