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Nigel Kettley


  • Academic Director & University Senior Lecturer (Institute of Continuing Education) in Education and Social Science, Cambridge.
  • Governing Body Fellow, Wolfson College.

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  • BA Sociology (Hons)
  • Certificate in Education (FE)
  • MPhil Sociology and Politics of Modern Society (SPS Cantab)
  • PhD Sociology of Education (SPS Cantab)

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  • Editorial Advisory Board: British Journal of Sociology of Education
  • Peer reviewer for the following journals: British Journal of Sociology of Education, Cambridge Journal of Education; British Educational Research Journal, British Journal of Educational Studies; and Educational Review.
  • Fellow of the Royal Society of the Arts (FRSA)

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Nigel has had a wide ranging teaching and research career in the fields of sociology, education studies, research methods and teacher training. Before joining the Institute of Continuing Education in 2007, he was a Research Associate in the Faculty of Education, University of Cambridge, and earlier still an MPhil and then PhD student at Wolfson College. Before returning to study in 1997, he was a lecturer in a Further Education college (1987-97). He is an active researcher in the areas of widening participation, educational attainment and lifelong learning more generally with a particular focus on issues of gender, social stratification, educational practice and theory building. Nigel teaches on a variety of courses for the Institute, supervises MPhil and PhD students for the Faculty of Education, and is currently establishing an MSt in Advanced Subject Teaching. He is also a Governing Body Fellow of Wolfson College and a member of the Faculty of Education.

Nigel is Academic Director for a number of courses at the Institute including: two Madingley Weekly Programme Courses (Crime and Deviance: Nuts, sluts and perverts? and Sex and Gender: Men, Women and Social Change); the Certificate of Continuing Education in the Principles and Practice of Assessment; and the MSt in Advanced Subject Teaching. He contributes to teaching on the Madingley Weekly Programme, the MSt in Advanced Subject Teaching and supervises MPhil and PhD students for the Faculty of Education. Areas of research supervision at graduate level include the following: widening participation and higher education policy; gender and ‘social class’ divisions within education; the new sociology of masculinity; pedagogical practice in immediate post-compulsory education; issues of citizenship in education; and aspects of international higher education (including the growth of transnational higher education, gender differences in HE and the utility of notions of ‘capital’ for exploring class differences in university systems).

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Research Topics

  • The history of educational attainment, widening participation and lifelong learning research
  • The development, incorporation and restructuring of further education in England and Wales
  • Differential student funding, bursary provision, public policy and legislative change in higher education
  • Student recruitment, socio-economic experience and progression in further and higher education in England and Wales
  • Gender, ethnic and socio-economic variations in educational attainment at GCSE and A/AS level in further education colleges combining numerical and narrative data
  • Gender and social class theory with particular reference to the new sociology of masculinity, gender and power relations, and continuous measures and models of social stratification
  • Mixed methods research design and theory-building in educational research including the development of inclusive and holistic research projects based on the conceptual tools of the Cambridge School of Sociology
  • Theorising educational practice, the making or doing of education, without recourse to Bernstein, Bourdieu or postmodernism

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Current Research Projects

Evaluation of the Cambridge Bursary Scheme (CBS, 2000-2011) Project, formerly the Isaac Newton Trust Bursary Scheme Evaluation Project, with Dr Joan M. Whitehead and Aleksandra Borek.

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Kettley, N., Whitehead, J. M. and Borek, A. (in preparation) 'Re-gendering financial worry? The impact of changing funding regimes on students' experience and perception of debt in elite higher education'.

Kettley, N. Borek, A. and Whitehead, J. M. (in preparation) 'The squeezed middle? Social class, students' funding packages and changing perceptions of financial assistance in elite higher education'.

Kettley, N. C. and Whitehead, J. M. (2012) 'Remapping the landscape of choice: Patterns of social class convergence in the psycho-social factors shaping the HE choice process', Educational Review Vol. 64, Number 4, pp. 493-510.

Oliver, C. and Kettley, N. (2010) 'Gatekeepers or facilitators: the influence of teacher habitus on students' applications to elite universities'. British Journal of Sociology of Education, Vol. 31, No. 6, pp. 737-757.

Kettley, N. (2010) Theory building in educational research. London: Continuum.

Kettley, N., Whitehead, J. M. and Raffan, J. (2008) 'Worried women, complacent men? Gendered responses to differential funding in higher education', Oxford Review of Education, Vol. 34, No. 1, pp. 111-129.

Kettley, N. (2007) Educational attainment and society. London: Continuum.

Kettley, N. (2007) 'The past, present and future of widening participation research', British Journal of Sociology of Education, Vol. 28, No. 3, pp. 333-347.

Kettley, N. (2006) 'It's pretty cool to be clever: The marginal relevance of gender to educational practices and attainment at AS/A level?'Evaluation and Research in Education, Vol. 19, No. 2, pp. 126-144.

Kettley, N. (2005) Patterns of GCE A/AS level attainment in Further Education. Cambridge Studies in Social Research No. 9. Cambridge: SRG Publications.