Andrea Abbas, Professor of the Sociology of Higher Education

Professor, Prof

  • 1 WEST NORTH 3.07A

Accepting PhD Students

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Personal profile

Research interests

I am a sociologist of higher education. My work focuses on three areas. Firstly, I have a longstanding interest in the role of pedagogy, curriculum and knowledge in the transformation of indivdiual students and in how this affects what they can contribute to wider society. I draw upon sociolgoical theory to describe how inequalities are reproduced or transformed through the knowledge, pedagogies and curricula that students from diverse backgrounds and who embody and encounter different intersecting inequalities (e.g. age, (dis)ability, class, ethnicity, sexuality) encounter in universities of different status. In this work I have drawn upon the theoretical ouvre of the sociologist Basil Bernstein because his work provides a language and conceptualisation that describes inequality and it suggests strateigies for tackling them through actions within universities and departments.  This strand of my work has incorporated a large three year mixed-methods project which explored the quality of undergradaute education in four distinct sociology departments: this was funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC). Also, a multiinstutional project on postgraduate education, involing ten universities, funded by HEFCE which explored and evaluated ways of supporting students. Also, a project funded by the Higher Education Academy on teaching excellence.  The second area of work focuses on academic staff in universities.  A current project is a longitudinal study of fifteen early career academics, who have been interviewed three times over a period of ten years. This uses a critical realist approach to explore the way that individual biography, academics agency and the economic, social, political and cultural context of neo-liberal university life affects individual careers and the value that is put upon different aspects of academic work in the social sciences and humanities.  A feminist analysis of the ten women's careers explores the degree to which their decisions and lives are characterised by implicit and explicit feminism.  Also an analysis of what shapes acadmemics research work in universities from a Bernsteiniian perspective reveals insights into changes in academics lives and the role of the university. The third area of work that I am engaged in is based upon a collaboration between four European and four Chinese Universities and it is funded by ERASMUS + Capacity Building in Higher Education. My interest in this project is increasingly focused on how socially just and intellectual credible knowledge can be co-created by South and North partners. I am interested in the way power differentials between academic staff, different knowledge systems and different countries can be addressed in such a way that work can be truly collaborative. 

Willing to supervise PhD

Sociology of higher education; Higher education pedagogies and intesecting inequalites (gender, class, age and disabiltiy); higher education curriculla and inequalities; The role of knowledge in the transformation of students and societies; North- South research collaborations and relationships; The changing nature of academic work in contemporary universities. 

Education/Academic qualification

Sociology, Doctor of Philosophy, Keele University

1 Oct 19941 Apr 2000

Sociology and Social Anthropology with Psychology, Bachelor of Arts, Keele University

5 Oct 198625 May 1991

External positions

External Examiner EdD, University of Nottingham

30 Sep 2009 → …


  • Sociology of Education
  • Higher Education
  • Inequality
  • Social Class
  • Gender
  • Pedagogy
  • Knowledge
  • Curricula
  • Social Theory
  • Critical

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Projects 2008 2019

Research Output 2001 2019

Gender in learning and Teaching: Feminist dialogues across international boundaries

Taylor, C. (ed.), Amade-Escot, C. (ed.) & Abbas, A. (ed.), 29 Apr 2019, Routledge. 188 p.

Research output: Book/ReportBook

Introduction: Debates Across Anglophone and European Didactic Traditions

Abbas, A., Taylor, C. & Amade-Escot, C., 30 Apr 2019, Gender and Learning and Teaching: Feminst Dialogues Across International Boundaries. Routledge, p. 1-10 10 p.

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Abbas, A., Taylor, C. A. & Amade-Escot, C., 26 Apr 2019, Gender in Learning and Teaching: Feminist Dialogues Across International Boundaries. Taylor and Francis, p. xv-xvi

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingForeword/postscript

Students' gendered learning in physical education: A didactic study at a French multi-ethnic middle school in an underprivileged area

Verscheure, I., Debars, C. & Abbas, A., 30 Apr 2019, Gender in Learning and Teaching: Feminist Dialogues Across International Boundaries. Taylor, C. A., Amade-Escot, C. & Abbas, A. (eds.). Taylor and Francis, p. 142-156 15 p.

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

Tackling intersecting gender inequalities through disciplinary-based higher education curricula: A Bernsteinian approach

Abbas, A. & Collet, I., 29 Apr 2019, Gender in Learning and Teaching: Feminist Dialogues Across International Boundaries. Routledge, p. 68-82 15 p. (

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Cooperation or competition: an exploration of values relating to internationalisation in higher education in Ireland

Author: O'Neill, D., 3 Apr 2019

Supervisor: Abbas, A. (Supervisor) & Bunnell, T. (Supervisor)

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Education (EdD)

Participation in higher education international experiences: the role of habitus, rational cost-benefit analysis, and university based context

Author: Gundersen, G., 26 Apr 2017

Supervisor: Abbas, A. (Supervisor) & Shields, R. (Supervisor)

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Education (EdD)


The Intersection of Gender and Ethnicity and Traditional American-Ethos Type International School Leadership Positions

Author: Phan, L., 1 May 2019

Supervisor: Fertig, M. (Supervisor) & Abbas, A. (Supervisor)

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Education (EdD)