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Paul Trowler supervises 17 postgraduate research students. If these students have produced research profiles, these are listed below:

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Professor Paul Trowler


Paul Trowler


Tel: +44 1524 592879

Research overview

I am probably best known for my work on Academic Tribes and Territories. However my interests range across many areas of higher education, both substantive and methodological. These are detailed below. I am a policy sociologist, and apply that analytical lens across domains of research and evaluation which broadly concern policy production and enactment in different higher education contexts. I work with an eye to making a difference: 'enhancement' is a watchword that guides my work. I have advised institutional leaders, higher education organizations and change agents in higher education around the world for many years.

PhD supervision

Higher education policy-making and policy implementation; The analysis of organisational and professional cultures in universitities, particularly as they relate to change-management processes; The reception and impact in differing social contexts of learning, teaching and assessment policies and practices; Discourse and identities in higher education; ethnographic research methodologies.

Research Interests

Paul has researched, published and produced reports in the areas of:

  • Academic disciplinary differences and academic cultures (“Academic Tribes and Territories”)
  • Student engagement in higher education
  • Departmental leadership in higher education
  • The ‘teaching-research nexus’ in higher education
  • Cultures and change in higher education (“teaching and learning regimes”)
  • The enhancement of learning and teaching in higher education: policy production and enactment
  • Institutional change in higher education
  • Social practice theory/socio-material theory
  • Insider research and ethnographic research in higher education
  • Doctoral research into higher education
  • Supporting doctoral learning online
  • Centres for Excellence – evaluation studies
  • Scottish Quality Enhancement Framework – evaluation studies
  • Subject Centres – evaluation studies
  • Higher Education Funding Council for England – evaluation study
  • Strategic development in higher education institutions – evaluation study

More information can be found at Paul’s website:


Downloads of many publications, keynote talks, research reports etc. are available at:


Paul is an elected Fellow of the Society for Research into Higher Education. He is a member of the Higher Education Academy and an active member of international organizations involved in higher education research and evaluation.

Paul was the initiator of and main organizer for the first three Higher Education Close Up conferences. These are devoted to fine-grained research into higher education. Higher Education Close Up 4 was held in Cape Town in 2008 and Close Up 5 was held at Lancaster University in July 2010.http://www.lancs.ac.uk/fss/events/hecu5/index.htm. Paul delivered a keynote to the Higher Education Close Up 6 conference, held in Grahamstown, South Africa in July 2012. He organized the most recent Close Up conference, number 7, in July 2014 at Lancaster: www.lancs.ac.uk/fass/events/hecu7 .



I engage in research, evaluation and development work with universities and higher education funding and policy bodies across the world, most recently in South Africa, Sweden, Chile, Italy, Norway, Australia and Ireland.

I have Management Team responsibility for research across the Department of Educational Research and chair the Department's Research Committee.

Current Research

Current Research and Writing includes:

Paul and a colleague recently completed the reports student engagement, funded by the HEA and the LFHE. These include a literature review, a summary of the evidential base, case studies, briefings for managers and policy makers and an interactive website on student engagement.

Paul's Diary

Paul has been helping to launch the HEREE doctoral programme through a series of national and international keynotes and events in Australia, Hungary, South Africa and the UK. Forthcoming events include:

  • Sheffield Hallam University - Masterclass June 2015
  • Keele University Keynote - October 2015

Current Teaching

Policy, Change and Organisational Development module, Doctoral Programme, Educational Research (Convenor)

Policy and Change Processes in Higher Education module on HEREE doctoral programme. Read about how this module works here: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/428999

Supervisor to numerous PhD students

Research Director for the Department

Website for research students

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