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Nicola Spurling supervises 5 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

I research and teach about the socio-cultural change that is needed to tackle climate change, and the socio-cultural changes that are emerging in relation to changing climates. You can read more about this on my worpress site.

Although my teaching covers a broad range of theoretical ideas and topics within this field, my research is focussed into two key areas:  socio-cultural change regarding life without children (I am developing the foundations of this work through the ESRC-funded initiative ‘Connecting Mobilities Research Between the UK and South Korea’); and, the just transformation to sustainable everyday mobilities. I engage with auto/biographical, archival, participatory and future-shaping methods throughout my work. Much of my work contributes to the theoretical fields of mobilities and/or practice theory, whilst also involving cross-sector collaboration and engagement. 

I supervise PhDs in a broad range of topics which pick up on one or more of the interests above. My current PhD students and their projects are: 

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

I support university and faculty initiatives to develop a more sustainable academia through all areas of university life. This includes my active involvement in the Faculty Sustainability Group and support for the ongoing development and improvement of the University’s Climate Emergency Carbon Reduction Plan. The reduction of scope three travel emissions related to the successful achievement of international research programmes and partnerships is a specific challenge which I am facing, and trying to find my way through, both as a Research Centre Director, and within my current project (above).   

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 lead the Masters in Environment, Culture and Society

I convene and teach:

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

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

I teach/supervise on:

SOCL360 Independent Dissertation Module (UG module)

SOCL221 Social Research Methods

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

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 from August 2023 I will also be Co-Director (with Vincent Gaine) of Student Experience, Recruitment and Admissions in the Sociology Department. 

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