Personal profile

Teaching Interests

My responsibilities centre on the design, development and delivery of research informed teaching at doctoral, post graduate taught and undergraduate levels of education, with specific expertise in the teaching of educational and social research methods. Applying the learning from a decade’s worth of funded research activity in education to my own practice as a teacher has meant that I make a distinctive contribution to the Strathclyde Curriculum, both in terms of the practical methodological insights that I can bring to bear, but also according to the empirically derived understanding that human experience is the basis for enjoyable and fundamentally useful teaching and learning.

I lead six modules in the School of Education, including, since 2013, the undergraduate Dissertation in Education. The latter is an especially fulfilling role since it involves managing the progress and assessment each year of approximately 140 students as they complete their first piece of independently directed research during the defining year of their studies. In addition to guiding students about their choice of research topic and methodological approach, the relevance that these might hold for their careers, and providing formative feedback to them individually via a research proposal task in year three, the role also requires that I allocate supervisors to the planned studies on the basis of common research interests, and provide support and development opportunities to supervisors (new and experienced; from PGR students to professors) about the aims and purpose of the dissertation; what is expected of students; what students should expect from supervisors; the assessment and moderation process, including the care, usefulness and goodwill that I expect from superviors in their feedback to students about the finished work. There is no question that the dissertation can be a demanding, daunting experience for students and staff, and it should be understood as placing a demand on the ontological as well as the epistemological domain. It is for this reason that the support that I provide to students and colleagues in the School of Education has authenticity as its criterion and strives to reduce the unanticipated, sometimes messy aspects of the research process and the supervisory relationship, thus increasing the possibility for mutually beneficial learning to take place.

Course LeadershipCourse Management Team
  • BA Primary Education Coordinator of Education Studies
  • BA Primary Education
  • BA Joint Honours Education
  • MEd Professional Practice
  • MSc Applied Educational and Social Research
Module LeaderModule Tutor
  • Dissertation in Education
  • Social Research Methods
  • Independent Study Joint Honours Education
  • Culture Society Formation
  • Understanding Education in the 21st Century
  • Exploring Moral and Ethical Issues in Contemporary Society
  • Children and Childhood
  • Policy and Politics in Education
  • Educational Perspectives and Policies
  • Research Methodologies and Reasoning
  • Professional Learning, Practitioner Inquiry, and Impact
  • Educational and Social Research and Enquiry
  • Design Strategies in Educational and Social Research
  • Data Analysis in Educational and Social Research
  • Child-Centred And Child-Focused Approaches To Practitioner Research
  • Advanced Qualitative Methods (Strathclyde Business School)

Research Interests

Allan’s research interests have never fully been explained to him. He has some ideas about the enhancement of research and critique in teacher education through a wider literary reference base. However there may be the glimmer of a dark smirk in this – of the kind that goes unnoticed in the transactions of those who regard knowledge as something that can be ‘cascaded’, and which the rules of intransitive verbs do not in any case really permit. So, guided by doubts about how information can be expressed through a language grown detached from it – and with apologies for the inconvenience – let’s just say that Allan has become eclectic in argument, blending the hunches of the seasoned researcher with a range of theoretical and philosophical perspectives. There may be grounds for suggesting that this self-questioning discourse is worthwhile and relevant for inquiry in teacher education. Those who believe in telekinetics might raise Allan’s hand now.

Allan has been a researcher on the European Commission’s Science-Teacher Education Advanced Methods project and, before that, the ESRC/TLRP-funded Early Professional Learning project. The EPL project was conceived to explore the extent to which a grounded theory of early professional learning could enhance the state’s competence-based model for new teachers and contribute to the theoretical and practical formulation of that process. The project employed a multi-method design which used ethnographic data as a basis for model building and testing in a correlational design that involved the development of five quantitative indicators of new teacher development.

The results of the project have since been turned into a book. Allan suggests that if you read only one book this year then it should of course be A Game of Thrones; if you read two, however, make your second Improving Learning in a Professional Context: A Research Perspective on the New Teacher in School, edited by Jim McNally & Allan Blake (Routledge: ISBN: 978-0-415-49340-6). Says the Journal of Non-Euclidean Geometry: ‘this book represents a new high at Pseuds’ corner’.

More recently, Allan was a researcher on the Work of Teacher Education project. Funded by the Higher Education Academy through an ESCalate subject centre grant, the Work of Teacher Education project involved collaboration between researchers at three universities: Oxford, Brunel and Strathclyde. The project sought to open up for discussion the nature of teacher education as work in the higher education sector; where possible, to note similarities and differences in both practical activities and institutional conceptualisations; and to generate data that would be useful in setting a 21st century agenda for the development of teacher education. Participatory in design and framed by cultural-historical activity theory, the analysis of data is suggesting that the division of labour within HE education departments is formative in structuring the social relations of the work of teacher education, with teacher educators themselves coming to be regarded as a proletarianised class of academic worker.

A Work of Teacher Education project symposium was programmed at the 2012 BERA Conference in Manchester, and the project is being replicated by researchers at the Australian Catholic University in Melbourne and the Universities of Otago and Auckland in New Zealand. A special edition of the Journal of Education for Teaching - The Work of Teacher Education: Policy, Practice and Institutional Conditions - was published in 2013.

Allan was the University of Stirling, 2002 Edward and Thomas Lunt Medal winner in English. He paid for his education at this time by writing book reviews and literary pieces for the Daily Express newspaper, and The Bookseller magazine.

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 4 - Quality Education


Dive into the research topics where Allan Blake is active. These topic labels come from the works of this person. Together they form a unique fingerprint.
  • 1 Similar Profiles