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Dr Sue Timmis

Dr Sue Timmis

Dr Sue Timmis
B. Ed (CNAA), PhD (Bristol)

Reader in Education

Area of research

Reader in Education

Office 1.11
Helen Wodehouse Building,
35 Berkeley Square, Clifton BS8 1JA
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+44 (0) 117 331 4336


My research is about students’ lived experience of higher education which is critical to understanding and addressing the challenges facing higher education in a changing world where access, success and participation are increasingly being undermined.  Over the last ten years I have focused on the use of digital technologies, social practices and learning in HE and more recently on widening participation, diversity and social justice in the UK and now expanding into Global South, post-colonial contexts.

I am currently Principal Investigator on a 30 month ESRC/NRF/Newton funded project based in South Africa called SARiHE (Southern African Rurality in Higher Education – see with partners in the Universities of Johannesburg, Rhodes and Fort Hare and in the UK, University of Brighton. The research is about inequalities in access and participation in higher education. We are investigating how students from rural areas in South Africa negotiate the transition to higher education foregrounding the social and cultural capital they bring and how they are shaped by their home, school and community.

I am also working on an EU funded widening participation project called Access4All (see on access and inclusion and  which acts as a laboratory for the creation of innovative and flexible strategies to support universities across Europe. From 2013 – 2016, I led a study funded by the University of Bristol’s Widening Participation Research Fund called ‘DD-lab’ or Digital Diversity, learning and belonging, investigating the role of digital media in fostering a culture of belonging amongst undergraduate students from non-traditional backgrounds. 

I am interested in supervising PhD students in areas related to the above interests - in particular widening participation, social justice, students’ lived experiences and identities, digital cultures and practices in higher education.



Sue Timmis is a Reader in Education and Co-Director of the Centre for Knowledge, Culture and Society. She is the Bristol representative on Worldwide Universities Network, Global and Higher Education Research group (GHEAR). Her work is mainly focused on the changing contexts of higher education and in particular students’ lived experiences and identities, in relation to teaching and learning, social justice, widening participation and the possibilities and contradictions surrounding digital cultures and practices in higher education.  Sue has also developed very successful models of co-produced research working alongside students as co-researchers in communities of inquiry. This is reflected in her current and recent projects – SARiHE and DD-lab.

She was Centre Director for Centre for Learning, Knowing and Interactive Technologies from 2008 - 2014 and a contributor to STELLAR, the EU Network of Excellence in Technology Enhanced Learning where she was a member of the Scientific Capacity Committee.   Sue was Director of the Ph.D. programme from 2013 -2016 and prior to that led the M.Sc. in Educational Research programme. Sue currently teaches on the undergraduate Education Studies degree, Masters’ and Ed.D. programmes  and supervises Ph.D. and Ed.D. students in Bristol and Hong Kong.

Sue joined the School of Education in June 2008.  Prior to this, she worked at the University of Bristol for 11 years, in the Institute for Learning and Research Technology where she was a Research Fellow.  Research projects included Victorious, an EU-funded project on higher education students’ mobility in a digital world, the SOLE project, a major study of HE and FE students' online learning experiences across six discipline areas, and eChina - a unique collaborative programme funded by the Chinese Ministry of Education and HEFCE.

Sue held a previous research post at the University of Bath and before that was a freelance interactive designer and educational consultant for several years as well as a spell setting up and working in a worker's co-operative - Context Computing Ltd based in Bristol.  In her first life she taught in secondary schools in London and Derbyshire and was Head of Modern Languages at a comprehensive school in the London Borough of Newham.


I welcome applications from prospective PhD students who are interested in pursuing research related to the social and cultural aspects of technology enhanced learning, particularly in higher education or informal settings. I am also interested in the development of reflective practice, agency and identity amonst higher education students, (particularly medical students) and welcome students interested in similar topics.


  • technology enhanced learning
  • higher education
  • young people and ICT
  • formal and informal learning
  • Cultural Historical Activity Theory
  • sociocultural perspectives on literacy and interaction
  • identity
  • ICT and learning
  • computer supported collaborative learning


  • Society for Research into Higher Education (SRHE) International Society for Cultural and Activity Research (ISCAR)

Selected publications

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Recent publications

View complete publications list in the University of Bristol publications system

Networks & contacts

  • Centre for Medical Education University of Bristol At-Bristol Hands On Science Museum


Dr Timmis currently teaches 4 courses:

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