Professor Kathleen M Quinlan

Centre for the Study of Higher Education - Professor in Higher Education and Director of the Centre for the Study of Higher Education
+44 (0)1227 824579
Professor Kathleen M Quinlan


Professor Quinlan is Director of the Centre for the Study of Higher Education and Director of Research.

Before joining the Centre for the Study of Higher Education in 2016, I held academic and leadership positions in educational development at the University of Oxford, The Australian National University and Cornell University’s College of Veterinary Medicine. I also have five years of government consulting experience in the United States, contributing to curriculum development, action planning for national and state projects, and planning and evaluation of large-scale biomedical research. I hold a Ph.D. in education from Stanford University and a B.A. in psychology from the University of Maine. Enhancing teaching in higher education has been an enduring theme in my research and teaching.

Research interests

I have two primary research interests. First, discipline-sensitive pedagogical research in higher education has been a main focus of my work, including recent research on interdisciplinarity, chemical education, engineering education and, in the past, veterinary medical education and history education. This work is often done collaboratively with academics in cognate fields and I welcome MA and PhD students who wish to research their own teaching practice. I was the PI for a £9,000 Royal Academy of Engineering HE STEM Programme Grant (2011) entitled Exploring engineering thresholds at Oxford University: what happens in the tutorial with Chris Trevitt, David Edwards, Alex Lubansky, Susannah Speller, Caroline Baillie and Artemis Stamboulis.

A second main research area focuses on holistic student development. In 2011, I was funded by the Leadership Foundation for Higher Education (£2,500) to write a stimulus paper on the leadership required within universities to support education that fosters students’ holistic (emotional, moral and cognitive) development. I have continued that line of research with an analysis of the UK Quality Assurance Agency subject benchmark statements, looking at the affective/moral outcomes expected of students in popular disciplines. Affective outcomes are as much emotional as cognitive, thus my recent research investigates the role of emotions in higher education, including an edited book, How Higher Education Feels: Commentaries on Poems that Illuminate Emotion in Learning and Teaching from Sense Publishers (2016).

I am currently focusing on students’ interest, as well as their broader motivations for and experiences of studying in higher education. In 2017-18, I received a University of Kent Teaching Enhancement Small Support Award for the project What triggers students’ interest during lectures? and worked with the Deputy Vice Chancellor for Education and Student Experience and the Kent Union on the project, Developing a Framework for Powerful Student Learning Experiences.

Kathleen M Quinlan on ResearchGate


Dr Quinlan is Director of the Doctoral Programme in Higher Education in CSHE. She convenes the CSHE Seminar Series and the following modules:

She supervises doctoral and master’s students and is a personal tutor on the Postgraduate Certificate in Higher Education.

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