Personal profile


My research is in the critical sociology of higher education. It concerns the different values that people who study and work in higher education bring to their educational endeavours, and how they strive to be ethical and consistent in often unethical and inconsistent circumstances. Increasingly I am thinking about what educationalists can learn from ethical behaviour outside of formal educational spaces.   

I recently completed a project that examined the increasing popularity of interdisciplinary degrees branded as ‘liberal arts’ in English universities. I analysed this striking global trend (away from undergraduate specialisation and toward general education) as a symptom of complex changes in the university landscape. The culmination of the project is a monograph published in early 2023 with Bristol University Press, called The Liberal Arts Paradox in Higher Education: Negotiating Inclusion and Prestige. You can read the introduction of the book for free here: 

I have also published more broadly, alone and in collaboration, in areas such as international skills policy, social theory, and women’s studies as a discipline (which was the subject of my PhD research). 



I largely teach on the BSc Education, especially on core modules. I think of myself as a 'specialist in generalism' and love thinking about how the core of a degree fits together, how we think about the foundations of our disciplines, and how students progress from general knowledge to specialist expertise over time.   

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
  • SDG 5 - Gender Equality
  • SDG 8 - Decent Work and Economic Growth
  • SDG 10 - Reduced Inequalities

Areas of expertise

  • LB2300 Higher Education
  • L Education (General)
  • HM Sociology
  • LB2361 Curriculum
  • HT Communities. Classes. Races
  • LA History of education
  • JC Political theory
  • LF Individual institutions (Europe)
  • LD Individual institutions (United States)

Research Beacons, Institutes and Platforms

  • Policy@Manchester
  • Digital Futures


Dive into the research topics where Kathryn Telling is active. These topic labels come from the works of this person. Together they form a unique fingerprint.
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Collaborations and top research areas from the last five years

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