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Professor Sheila Trahar

Professor Sheila Trahar

Professor Sheila Trahar
B.A.(C.N.A.A.), MSc, Dip.Counselling(Bristol), Ph.D., BA, PhD

Senior Associate Teacher

Professor of International Higher Education

Area of research

Honorary Reader in International Higher Education

Office 1.13
Helen Wodehouse Building,
35 Berkeley Square, Clifton BS8 1JA
(See a map)

+44 (0) 117 331 4400


  • England-Africa Partnerships - Partnership for Strengthening Education & Social Science PhD Programmes

  • Developing a Widening Participation Strategy for Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) Postgraduate Students

  • University of Bristol Teaching and Learning Fellowship Continuing Professional Development Needs of New Academic Staff

  • Supervision and Careers Practitioners in Higher Education

  • University of Bristol Teaching and Learning AwardUsing Student Self-assessment - an evaluation


Sheila Trahar is Honorary Reader in International Higher Education.  She has extensive professional experience in teaching in adult and higher education and in counselling, career counselling and guidance.  She has taught on the EdD in both Bristol and Hong Kong, the MSc Educational Research in Bristol and taught on the MEd (now MSc)  programme in Hong Kong for several years, leading the programme there from 2008 - 2015. 

Sheila completed her doctoral research, a narrative inquiry into the learning experiences of postgraduate students in a culturally diverse environment in 2006.  Through this research she became particularly interested in the philosophical assumptions underlying more traditional methodological approaches, in the ways in which learning and teaching are culturally mediated and the ethical dimensions of conducting research across cultures.  She continues to be engaged with ways in which autoethnographic exploration can enable people in higher education to examine critically their experiences and beliefs about learning and teaching and ways in which those practices are culturally mediated.

Her research reflects her commitment to celebrating greater diversity in higher education while acknowledging its concomitant complexities.  Currently, she is a Co-Investigator on the ESRC/Newton Fund project 'Negotiating the Transition from Rurality to Higher Education in South Africa'.  This 20 month project, in collaboration with the University of Johannesburg, is investigating the challenges  faced by students from rural areas in their transition to higher education.  She has completed research projects on a range of Widening Participation issues including experiences and perceptions of British Black and minority ethnic postgraduate students and ways to engage 'Hard to Reach' Communities in Bristol with higher education.  In 2008 Sheila led the Higher Education Academy funded project investigating Perspectives on Internationalising the Curriculum

Sheila has published widely in the area of international higher education and intercultural learning and teaching.  Her book Developing Cultural Capability in International Higher Education: a Narrative Inquiry was published by Routledge in 2011 and she has since edited 3 books that focus on narrative inquiry, in particular on the importance of contextualisation.  She is the ESCalate Subject Centre’s Academic Consultant on Internationalisation and her Discussion paper ‘Teaching and Learning; the International Higher Education Landscape – some theories and working practices’ continues to have international impact.


In addition to her extensive experience of teaching in Hong Kong, Sheila has been an invited lecturer at the University of Malta, the University of Barcelona and King Abdul Aziz University, Jeddah.


Sheila has extensive experience of teaching across a number of programmes in the Graduate School of Education, both in Bristol and Hong Kong.  She is the coordinator of the MEd  programme in Hong Kong.  Her current teaching reflects her continuing professional interest in cross-cultural issues in learning and teaching in higher education  and her wider research interests in methodological approaches.

Current teaching (2010-11)

MSc Educational Research

  • Exploring Qualitative Methods
  • Advanced Qualitative Methods and Data Analysis
  • Understanding Educational Research

EdD – Bristol

  • Understanding Educational Research
  • Learning and Teaching in the Global University

EdD – Hong Kong

  • Human Resource Management in Education
  • Learning and Teaching in the Global University

MEd – Hong Kong

Contemporary Perspectives on Learning


  • teaching process
  • higher education
  • widening participation
  • conducting research across cultures
  • internationalisation
  • diversity in higher education
  • equality and diversity


  • British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy.
  • Fellow of the Higher Education Academy.



School of Education

Recent publications

View complete publications list in the University of Bristol publications system

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