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Dr Steven Dempster

Formerly at Lancaster University

Steven Dempster

Research Interests

Gender in Higher Education

My PhD, completed in 2007, was one of the first to consider the issue of laddism in higher education, something which has now become more of a media and academic “hot topic”.  Since completing my PhD, I have authored/co-authored five papers on this theme (two with Carolyn Jackson, the other with Jo Warin) and worked with Carolyn on a Society for Educational Studies funded project investigating the impact of laddish cultures on attitudes to studying in a cohort of Sports Science undergraduates.  My current research is a pilot study which attempts to investigate whether undergraduate laddism is influenced or related to broader claims that Western societies have become “sexualised.  This pilot (funded by the Faculty of Arts and Social Science) will inform a wider multi-site mixed methods study of this issue which aims to help HEIs and student leaders to develop effective intervention strategies.


Transitions within education and Student Experience of Higher Education

Also arising from my PhD are interests in the “lived experience” of students, particularly how they negotiate a “student identity” and experience transitions into, within and out of higher education.   My research in this area has included two studies into Higher education students’ attitudes towards alcohol, focusing on peer influence and risk taking (funded by North Lancashire NHS); and numerous studies with Ann-Marie Houghton on issues of widening participation in HE and social inclusion in education.


Evaluation of Further/Higher Education programmes

With Murray Saunders I have completed two evaluation studies of the "Enhancement agenda" in Scottish universities, funded by QAA Scotland. I have also participated in various evaluations of widening participation activities and provisions for carers counselling.  



Based on a recent British Academy-funded research project (with Jane Sunderland and Joanne Thistlethwaite of LAEL), a co-authored book Children’s Literacy Practices and Preferences: Harry Potter and beyond was published by Routledge in Spring 2016.

Current Teaching

I currently convene modules on our innovative online PhD programmes: Higher Education Research and Evaluation; and Education and Social Justice

I have previously convened numerous undergraduate modules on developmental and social psychology in education, gender, and classroom teaching and learning processes, while contributing to courses on qualitative and quantitative methods.

Additional Information

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.  Between 2006 and 2016 I was Dean of The County College, and am currently that College's Vice Principal.



Additional Information

I am a chartered member of the British Psychological Society.

I am a current member of Lancaster University Court,  Disciplinary Committee, and the Executive Committee of The County College.

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.

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