Professor Helen Walkington


Professor of Higher Education

School of Law and Social Sciences


Helen Walkington is Professor of Higher Education in the School of Law and Social Sciences. She teaches Geography and carries out research into higher education pedagogy. Helen established the University-wide student experience project called Get Published! She has been a National Teaching Fellow since 2009 and one of the first people in the UK to be made a Principal Fellow of The Higher Education Academy in 2012.

Helen is an experienced presenter of educational workshops and seminars and has given numerous international conference keynote speeches on linking teaching and research and mentoring student research. She has published widely on pedagogy. She has worked as an advisor to universities, examination boards, The Higher Education Academy and Quality Assurance Agency on aspects of teaching and learning. She has established numerous undergraduate research conferences and journals and was a founding a steering group member of the British Conference of Undergraduate Research (BCUR). She is co-chair of the Society for Research in Higher Education’s Academic Practice Network, co-chair of the International Network for Learning and Teaching (INLT), editor-in-chief of the journal GEOverse and an active editorial board member of the Journal of Geography in Higher Education.

Teaching and supervision


Modules taught

Module leader - Environmental Hazard Management (Level 5)
Module leader - Conservation and Heritage Management (Level 5)
Module leader - Independent Study: Work and Community Related learning (Level 5)
Module Leader - Independent Study in Geography (Level 5)
Module leader - Independent study in Geography (Level 6)

Contributor to
Introduction to Geographical Skills and Techniques (Level 4)
Advanced Research Skills (Level 5), including leadership of the Malta fieldtrip
Dissertation (Level 6)
Sustainable Futures (Level 6)

Supporting Foundation students in Geography


Doctoral research
2019 - Dr Gisele Arruda: ‘Promoting sustainable energy literacy thorough Higher Education for the Arctic.’
2013 - Dr Mansi Desai: 'Phytoremediation: a tool for restoring land degraded due to open cast coal mining.'
2011 - Dr Gareth Preston: 'From nomadic herder-hunters to sedentary farmers: the relationship between climate, environment and human societies in the United Arab Emirates from the Neolithic to the Iron Age.'

MSc by Research
2022 - Alastair Findlay: 'Volcanic risk perception in Santorini, Greece'.

Current Doctoral Students:
Alice Wilby (Director of Studies)
Rose Scofield (Director of Studies)
Ka-Yan Hess (Supervisor)

Research Students

Name Thesis title Completed
Dr Gisele Arruda Promoting sustainable energy literacy through higher education for the Arctic 2019


Helen's current research takes a geographical approach to educational inequality. Her Nuffield Foundation project (with Carol Brown) investigates access to, and outcomes for, the Extended Project Qualification (EPQ).

Why is this important?
The EPQ is an independent project, equivalent to half an A-Level, undertaken by approximately 36,000 sixth form students annually. It was introduced in 2004 with the intention of supporting students to develop skills that would be useful in their future studies, supported by one-to-one teacher mentoring.

The EPQ has become associated with academic success in A-Level and degree outcomes, which is attributed to the development of learner agency, self-awareness, and academic engagement. However, the extent to which the EPQ has affected the gap between advantaged and disadvantaged learners, for example through access to the qualification in different types of schools and colleges, is less clear.

The project will investigate inequalities in access, participation, and outcomes and the “levelling-up” potential of the EPQ. IT uses a novel mapping technique to visualise the data.

Helen is a World leading researcher in Learning and teaching in Higher Education.
Past projects include:
Excellence in mentoring undergraduate research (in collaboration with colleagues at Duke University, Elon University, Bridgewater State University and Roanoke College, USA)
Students as researchers pedagogy
Undergraduate research dissemination
Capability theory in the Higher Education curriculum
Courageous and Compassionate pedagogy

Research impact



Projects as Co-investigator

  • Inequality in access to higher learning: the EPQ as a tool for levelling up(30/09/2023 - 29/09/2025), funded by: Nuffield Foundation, funding amount received by Brookes: £142,614, funded by: Nuffield Foundation


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Professional information

Memberships of professional bodies

  • 2021 Councillor, Royal Geographical Society (Expeditions and Fieldwork division)
  • 2010, Co-Chair of INLT (International Network of Learning and Teaching in Geography in Higher Education)

Further details

Press, publicity and reviews

Editorial and journal review work

Reviewer for Quaternary International, Journal of Archaeological Science, Journal of Quaternary Science,  Geoderma, Higher Education Research and Development, Teaching and Learning Inquiry, Council on Undergraduate Research Quarterly, Journal of Geography in Higher Education, Studies in Higher Education, Higher Education Pedagogies.


  • 2015, Oak Tree, Nature's greatest survivor BBC 4
  • 2014,‘The Fen’ episode 5 of The Laboratory with Leaves - shown in the Oxford University Natural History Museum.
  • 2011, ‘Assessment and feedback,’ ‘supervising undergraduate research’ and ‘Research ethics’ - Video vignettes for Epigeum (an educational consultancy) for staff new to teaching in the US and UK.
  • 1999, BBC TV programme Rocks and Soils in the series Pod's mission.