The following members of staff are available for supervising Independent Study Projects during 2008/09:

Neil Carey
Clive McGoun
Paul Wilkins
Eric Northey
Wendy Moran
Annette Blampied

Neil Carey

Neil Carey

My BSc and MSc are both in Psychology. The latter in organizational/Occupational Psychology at the Universityof Sheffield. This background has provided me with experiences of conducting quantitative Experimental and Survey based research work. For example, I have recently been involved in conducting a training needs analysis for workers associated with substance misuse work, in a large borough in London.One of the methods adopted in this study was a self-completed questionnaire method.

However, my more recent research interests focus on either qualitative empirical research or critical theoretical research. The qualitative empirical research includes a project that is interested in finding out how young people think and talk about ‘heavy-end’ cannabis use. The project has been funded by 8 Drug and Alcohol Action Teams in the Greater Manchester area, and involves interviews with over 60 young people, some focus groups, and some compressed ethnographic work with outreach youth projects.

The interviews with the young people are being conducted by qualified substance misuse workers who have also been trained in research methods appropriate for this project. Members of the research team then conduct ‘debrief’ interviews with the worker/researcher. In this way the views of the young people being interviewed can be supplemented by the ‘expert’ views of the substance misuse worker who interviewed them. This multi-layered data will then be combined to construct a complex representation of ‘heavy-end’ cannabis use amongst young people in Greater Manchester.

My critical theoretical research centres around my interests in issues of epistemology (or, how we know what we think we know). I want to write some fictional stories, in the form of in-depth interview transcripts. These ‘interviews’ would effectively be with different/fractured aspects of myself (intra-personal/autobiographical interviews), and would explore the kinds of stories that are, or could be, told about why gay men are/become ‘gay’. In doing this I am interested in expanding and disrupting the repertoire of stories that are available in discourses of sexuality when ‘theorizing’ the epidemiology of ‘male gay-ness’. One aim in telling such stories in this form would be to pose a series of epistemological questions which might include the following:

  • In what ways are traditional empirical methods adopted in the social sciences a vehicle for supporting and entrenching particularized and particularizing views of sex/uality.
  • If we are subject to the (prevalent) discourses in which we are embedded, how can data collected/generated in traditional one-hour interview slots offer radical departures from those on-going discourses? I adopt a queer agenda in ‘perverting’ such prevalent discourses of (homo)sex/uality.)
  • What is invested in the separations/divisions between that which counts as ‘fact’ and that which counts as ‘fiction’.
  • How, and in what ways can we make claims to know our, or others’ sexuality?
  • How, and in what ways are intra-personal/autobiographical interviews a valid way to know?

Independent Studies that I have supervised in the past: Some examples.

  • What factors lead to planned and unplanned organizational culture change.
  • An interpretation and re-presentation of some of the many components of contemporary motherhood.
  • Feminism(s) and research – a work in progress.
  • How realistic a notion is Freedom of Movement to work as a citizen of the European Union?
  • Researching the prison.
  • Possible readings of cultural images from Gossard’s Wonderbra advertising series.
  • The sexual workplace: A discourse analysis of sexuality and work in newspaper press.
  • Investigation into the forces driving an SME to using an HRM department
  • Representations of war/conflict in Ireland: reading the British press.
  • Reflexive autobiography and research: a story of an un academic boy doing academic research.
  • The experience of women’s sexuality in a particular organizational setting.
  • An interrogation of ‘race’ and ‘nation’. Autobiography, research and knowing.
  • Men’s work; Women’s work: An observation study in a Care Home setting.
  • Men’s views of sexual harassment: an interview study.
  • Looking at boys looking: Communicating ‘masculinity or masculinities of crisis’ in young men’s magazine advertisements.
  • Evaluation of a new appraisal scheme in a large organization.
  • Employee turnover in a Voluntary Sector organization: Looking for causes using an Organizational Communication Audit.
  • Mainstreaming Special Educational Needs in primary schools: Uncovering the Wizard of Oz in (re)searching knowledge.

Independent Studies that I am currently supervising (approximate titles)

  • The role of parents in the emotional development of children: Social Workers’ views.
  • Young black boys failing in secondary education: the role of supplementary schools – a case study.
  • Communicating Turkey to an EU audience – a critical history with empirical case work.
  • Globalizing burgers, Glocalizing tonics: selling and advertising in China. A textual analysis of cultural translations.
  • The compulsion to work: life-history interviews with my family.
  • Students and Stress: a survey.
  • Resisting discourses: Religion and Satanism
  • Students’ alcohol binging: effects on students’ ability to study.
  • Music consciousness and memory: Adapting the Orange Playlist format as a research tool

Clive McGoun

Clive McGoun

Since joining the University in 2005 I have taught courses which explore the ways in which language and culture are understood to intertwine to define who we are, how we understand the world and how we relate to each other.

Research Interests: cultural theory; theories of identity & self; transculturalism & the politics of diaspora; textual studies; language & politics

Previous Independent Study Supervisions:

  • An investigation into the effects of television on children’s language behaviour
  • A study of our overseas students’ experiences of communicating within friendship building
  • Representations of Autism
  • A study into the ways advertising in women’s magazines contributes to the construction of social identity
  • Gender, Children and Television
  • Ethics and Massive, Multi-User Games
  • Constructing and Maintaining Musical Identities
  • Belonging: Culture and Identity for British Born Chinese

Paul Wilkins


Windlestaff was poking around amongst the dust and papers of his room high up in the tower. It was the usual scene of organised chaos (or at least Windlestaff claimed it was organised). Bits of paper were pinned to the walls, piles of books lay on the floor and a couple of scrappy looking plants were scrabbling towards the pale light entering from a ramshackle window. He couldn’t quite remember what he was looking for but pottered on in the certainty that when he found it (if he found it), he would know.

Suddenly, there it was – or rather there they were. Two volumes leapt to his hands. One was bound in green and its gold embossed title proclaimed ‘Jealousy – The Green-eyed Monster’, the other, vibrant red, just bore the legend ‘ANGER’. Now he remembered. Another trainee had struggled up to his room to ask the same old question. They came every year, in ones, twos, threes. They always wanted to know about some mystery of human existence. Windlestaff’s answer was always the same ‘If you want to know about human experience, ask a human being’. To those to whom this made sense, he would add ‘And which human being do you know best?’

It was simple really but very few realised immediately that it was themselves of whom they had the greatest knowledge. Fewer still saw that a lot of this knowledge was hidden even from them. For the willing, Windlestaff had a bag of tricks he was eager to share. He would speak of the magic of stories (for we are all storytellers and an audience for the stories of others), reminisce about the joys of working as equals with others and about the power of imagination and intuition. ‘There are ways,’ he would say, ‘ways to reflect on and make sense of our journeys through life. Self-questioning, deep contemplation and tuning in to our unvoiced knowledge all help but never underestimate the power of the collective. Somehow, two people always know more than twice as much as one, three much more again’. Here he might mumble on about geometric progressions and Fibonacci numbers but usually his listeners would just glaze over and he himself nod off in mid-flow.

Having found what he was looking for, Windlestaff sat in his deep armchair and gently closed his eyes. Often when he did this people would assume he was asleep (well, OK, sometimes he was asleep) but usually he was deep in thought. Now, as he sat in the warmth of the fading sun, he was recalling all the trainees who had heard what he had to say and stayed to listen to more. So many had produced volumes like those he had found amongst the papers and the dust. There were fairy stories telling of the efforts necessary to carry out some endeavour. There were deeply personal accounts of encounters with difficulties, poems expressing a collective understanding – somewhere buried amongst everything else there was even a rap song. As he mused on the past, Windlestaff began to think to himself, ‘I wonder who will come by my door this time?’ And with a warm smile and a gentle chuckle he drifted off to a place of pleasant dreams.

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