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Dr Steven Dempster


Steven Dempster

County South

Lancaster University


Lancaster LA1 4YL

United Kingdom

Tel: +44 1524 592884


Research overview

My primary interest is masculinities in education looking particularly at the relationship between gender and learner identities, and the phenomenon of laddishness.  I am also interested in student experience of higher education considering how student identities and lifestyles impact upon students’ academic behaviours and sense of well-being.  A further interest is educational transitions (especially between secondary education and work, and school and university) and how these are influenced by individuals’ sense of self, their expectations, and the quality and nature of information, advice and guidance (IAG) they receive.

Research Interests

Gender in Education

My PhD investigated issues of masculinities among male undergraduates at a campus university in England. Taking Connell's conceptualisation of mutiple, hierarchical masculinities as its theoretical basis, the research investigated students' conceptualisations of laddishness, a form of masculinity considered popular among young British males. From this research I have authoredfour papers for academic journals. One of these papers, co-authored with Carolyn Jackson, was the subject of an article in The Guardian: http://www.guardian.co.uk/education/2009/apr/07/crib-sheet-april-20091

I have recently been awarded funding - alongside Carolyn Jackson-from the Society for Educational Studies to investigate laddish cultures in a cohort of Sports Science undergraduates.  I am also currently engaged on a British Academy-funded research project, 'Harry Potter and Boys' Literacies', with Jane Sunderland and Joanne Thistlethwaite of LAEL

I am a member of the newly-established Swedish-English Network on Gender and Teaching, alongside colleagues from Educational Research at Lancaster, the University of Cumbria, and University of Gothenburg. This network will develop joint international empirical research in the area of gender and education.

Transitions to University and Student Experience of Higher Education

Thanks to funding from North Lancashire teaching Primary Care Trust, REAP has recently completed two studies into the role of alcohol in the undergraduate student experience, focusing on students' attitudes towards peer influence and risk in their use of alcohol.

Widening participation

Working within REAP, I have gained an interest in issues of widening participation and extended my interest in, and understanding of, issues concerning social inclusion and inclusive educational practice. The REAP team is currently engaged in a thematic evaluation study on behalf of Aimhigher Lancashire, to add to the large body of work we have already done in this area. Areas we hope to cover include Information, Advice and Guidance, the value of Aimhigher Summer schools in preparing young people for higher education, and ways in which the legacy of Aimhigher can be embedded into institutions' widening participating menus, now Aimhigher funding has been removed.

Training Young Researchers

As part of REAP's work within the local community I have been active in the training of young researchers (14-18 years old) as part of the Barrow-in-Furness Youth Re:Action Team (YRAT). REAP has collaborated with YRAT on a number of successful projects investigating regeneration and student representation inthe Barrow area http://www.youthreaction.org/

We aim to extend our experience of training young researchers in future projects.

Other interests

My research interests are broadly sociological/social psychological, though I also have an interest in the history of education in England. My MA dissertation looked at provision of education for children of the working classes by the churches and the state in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

Current Teaching

I currently teach on EDS 100, PinE 205 (social Psychology in Education) and PinE 206 (Qualitative Research Methods). I also convene the PinE 210 programme which looks at social and cognitive development, and PinE 213 "Teaching and Being a Teacher".

I have previously convened a module entitled "Gender and Education", co-tutored the "Youth Cultures and Informal Learning" research workshop, and have delivered sessions on the MA in Education, in both gender issues and study skills.

I have also acted as Curriculum Consultant for the cross-faculty, ESRC funded, SIMPLE Project (Statistics Instruction Modules with Purposeful Learning Emphasis) and deliver external sessions to junior social researchers (see below).

Additional Information

Publications and Reports


Dempster, S., (2009), Having the balls, having it all? Sport and constructions of undergraduate laddishness, Gender and Education, vol. 21, no. 5, pp 481-500.

Dempster, S., (2011), I drink, therefore I'm man: gender discourses, alcohol and the construction of British undergraduate masculinities, Gender and Education, vol. 23, no. 5, pp 635-653.

Jackson, C. and Dempster S., (2009), 'I sat back on my computer . . . with a bottle of whisky next to me': Constructing 'cool' masculinity through 'effortless' achievement in secondary and higher education, Journal of Gender Studies, vol. 18, no. 4, pp 341-356.

Warin, J. and Dempster, S., (2007), The salience of gender during the transition to Higher Education: male students' accounts of performed and authentic identities, British Educational Research Journal, vol. 33, no.6, pp 887-903.

Executive Reports

Dempster, S. and Houghton, A., (2008), An Evaluation of 'Up2uni': A staff development programme to develop the role of teachers in guidance and encouraging pupils, Lancaster, REAP: Researching Equity, Access and Participation, Lancaster University.

Dempster, S. and Houghton, A., (2009), Students' and Professionals' Experience, Concerns and Issues regarding Alcohol use by Lancaster Students, Lancaster, REAP: Researching Equity, Access and Participation, Lancaster University/ NHS North Lancashire. Details now available on the HubCAPP* website: http://www.hubcapp.org.uk/MO2I(*HubCAPP: Hub of Commisioned Alcohol Projects and Policies, a national resource of local alcohol initiatives)

Dempster, S. and Houghton, A. (2010), Barrow Youth RE: Action Team Impact Report 2010, Researching Equity, Access and Participation, Lancaster University: available www.youthreaction.org

Dempster, S. and Houghton, A., (2010), An evaluation of the impact of the Youth Re:Action Team experience on YRAT Members, Researching Equity, Access and Participation, Lancaster University: available www.youthreaction.org

Houghton, A. and Dempster, S., (2008), An evaluation of Aimhigher Cumbria's contribution to the Carlisle Information Advice and Guidance Task Group, Lancaster, Researching Equity, Access and Participation, Lancaster University.

Houghton, A. and Dempster, S., (2011), Students, Alcohol and Risk Taking, Lancaster, Lancaster University/ NHS North Lancashire.

Conference Papers

Dempster, S., (2011), Equality Issues in Primary Education: Boys' failure and male role models, paper presented at the Joint Regional Conference of Soroptimist International North West England and the Isle of Man, Blackpool, May 2011.

Dempster, S. and Houghton, A., (2009), Students' and Professionals' Experience, Concerns and Issues regarding Alcohol use by Lancaster Students: paper presented at the NHS North Lancashire Research and Development Conference, Lancaster, September 2009.

Jackson, C. and Dempster S., (2009), 'Laddish' masculinities in schools and university: exploring continuities and discontinuities, presented at the Gender and Education Association 7th International Conference, March 2009, Institute of Education, University of London.

The County College

As a firm believer in the value of Lancaster's college system, I am an active member of The County College. I have been a College Personal Tutor and a senior member of the College Tribunal. In 2006 I was elected Dean of The County College. I am responsible for the discipline and welfare of over eight hundred students, and the appointment and management of four Assistant Deans.

Students wishing to contact me about College matters can do so by email or appointment, or by approaching me when I am about the College.

The College's deanery page can be found at:


Additional Information

I am a chartered member of the British Psychological Society.

I am a current member of Lancaster University Senate, University Court, and Disciplinary Committee.

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  • Sexualities

    Activity: Editorial work or peer review of publicationsPublication peer-review

  • Gender and Education

    Activity: Editorial work or peer review of publicationsPublication peer-review

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