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Nicola Spurling supervises 6 postgraduate research students. If these students have produced research profiles, these are listed below:

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Dr Nicola Spurling

Senior Lecturer, Director

Nicola Spurling

Bowland North



Tel: +44 1524 510296

Office Hours:

Research overview

My current research interest is in an unprecedented 'autobiographical mobilisation' that has happened over the past 10-15 years, in which people from around the world (male, female, nonbinary, different ethnicities and cultures, LGBTQIA+) have shared their life stories and experiences of non-parenthood (whether through circumstance, infertility or choice); and changed the narrative for previously isolated cohorts. For example, this work has created vocabularies, educational resources, cross-cultural online spaces, friendship networks and self-help tools, with meaningful impacts for people's lives. My aim is to understand this autobiographical mobilisation, critically explore for whom and how it is significant, and articulate its implications for key aspects of society, such as mental health, health, ageing, housing, work and disaster-planning. 

I also research and teach in socio-cultural change and climate change. I am inquisitive about the role that social science, arts and humanities can have in addressing the climate and ecological crisis. Much of my work develops and translates ideas from social theory, and ethnographic, auto/biographical and participatory knowledges, into interventions and actions. You can read about my work in this area on my wordpress site. I have made significant contributions to debates on everyday practices, everyday mobilities and sustainability; and through my teaching and supervision contribute to a much broader range of topics. For example, my current PhD students and their projects are: 

Joanna Morley: An Analysis of the UK's Climate Anxiety Preparedness with Suggestions on How to Improve it

Harriet Phipps: Young People as Meaningful Participants in Climate Change Policy

Naomi Hammett Cows, care and carbon: a study of the practices related to greenhouse gas emissions and the environment across dairy farms in North West England

Abi Lafbery What is Wild? The Co-constitution of wild swimming in a context of climate crisis

Fei Yu Autonomobility Justice in China: a mixed methods study of how autonomous vehicles could shape future mobility system

My research has been funded by the ESRC, the Scottish Government, the EPSRC, the AHRC, and Design United. Also through visiting fellowships and research visits with the Department of Anthropology, Danish School of Education, Copenhagen, Denmark (as an ESRC-funded visiting PhD student); Beyond Behaviour Change, RMIT, Melbourne, Australia; Academy Mobility Humanities, Seoul, S. Korea; Department of Thematic Studies, Linköping University, Sweden. 

PhD supervision

I am especially interested in supervising projects focussed on climate and cultural change, and changing life-course. For example, what new and emerging socio-cultural practices are happening around the world in relation to changing climates and environments? What are the losses - which practices need to disappear, how are these differentially experienced, and how can people and communities be supported? How can young people's meaningful participation in climate change policy be supported, what role can sociologists have in making this possible? How is life course changing in a context of changing climates, what new issues does this place on the agenda, and how can they be researched in novel, future-shaping ways? Theoretical interests: social and cultural change, mobilities, theories of practice, forms of justice, auto/biographies, archival research in the social sciences, social futures. Methodological interests: creative biographical, ethnographic, intergenerational and transgenerational methodologies; oral histories; mobile methods; design ethnography and making; participatory action research.

Current Teaching

I convene and teach:

SOCL521 Theories and Debates in Environment and Culture (MA module)

SOCL221 Climate Change and Society (With Katie Oliver) (UG module)

SOCL210 Dissertation Research Skills (With Shakthi Nataraj) (UG module)

I teach/supervise on:

SOCL360 Independent Dissertation Module (UG module)

In the past I have also convened and/or taught on: 

SOCL315 Sociology of the Future

SOCL200 Sociological Thought for Our Times (UG)

SOCL919 Research Projects in Practice (MA)

MA Dissertation supervisor

I was MA Lead Environment, Culture and Society 2020-2022

Career Details

I came to Lancaster University as a Senior Research Associate in 2014. I took up position as Anniversary Lecturer in 2016, and was promoted to Senior Lecturer in 2020. I am Director of the  Centre for Mobilities Research and Co-Director (with Vincent Gaine) of Student Experience, Recruitment and Admissions in the Sociology Department. 

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