Linda Evans

Linda Evans, (FAcSS)


Personal profile


Doctoral supervision: I'm interested in taking on new doctoral students whose research is closely aligned with mine - but please note that I shan't reply to your inquiry unless you show that you have carefully read the information and closely followed the advice for potential doctoral students that I provide here on my webpage (below). You'll find this information and advice by scrolling down until you get to a heading Research Interests, and, within that, a sub-heading: Doctoral supervision.

Visiting scholars: I'm afraid I'm not currently considering applications from visiting scholars.


Born and brought up in Greater Manchester, I was a primary school teacher in Salford and Burnley before becoming an academic. My first academic post was at the University of Warwick, where I worked for 12 years before moving to the University of Leeds, to take up a post as reader before then being promoted to a professorship. I was delighted to come to the University of Manchester in June 2017. In 2019 I presented my inaugural lecture, A career-long odyssey through education workplaces. You can find a recording of it here, listed in the archives of the Sarah Fielden lecture programme.

In my leisure time I enjoy the theatre and visiting historical sites. I am a fan of the website, Onehundredthousand words, and I am a lifelong Manchester United supporter. I enjoy European travel and learning foreign languages, and as a French student many years ago spent a period of study at the University of Dijon in Burgundy (now l'Université de Bourgogne Franche-Comté). More recently, I lived in France in 2011 as visiting professor at the Institut français de l'éducation in Lyon. I remain a fluent French speaker and I speak reasonably fluent German. I have several networks in the francophone world, and from time to time I present my work in French and collaborate with Francophone colleagues on research and writing projects. Most recently this involved a return to Dijon, where, in June 2019, I presented a paper, ‘L’attractivité des métiers de l’enseignement en Angleterre’, at the journées d'étude: Penser l’attractivité des métiers de l’enseignement : des agendas politiques aux travaux scientifiques held at the Université Bourgogne Franche-Comté.

My research focuses broadly on professional working life in education contexts representing all sectors - compulsory and post-compulsory. Most recently, I have focused on educational leadership, applying a 'new wave' critical leadership-sceptic perspective to examining whether leadership exists or whether it is a myth that we have reified. Two of my provocative articles, intended to encourage outside-the-box thinking about leadership and leadership studies, were published in 2022 and are available open access: 'Is educational leadership (still) worth studying? An epistemic worthiness-informed analysis' and 'Is leadership a myth? A "new wave" critical leadership-focused research agenda for recontouring the landscape of educational leadership'.

I have also examined the academic workforce in higher education. Four of my funded projects on UK-based university professors have culminated in my book, Professors as academic leaders: expectations, enacted professionalism and evolving roles, published in 2018 by Bloomsbury. A Spanish translation of the book has been published by Narcea, with the addition of a prologue by the eminent Professor Miguel Zabalza Beraza from the Universidad de Santiago de Compostela. One of the research projects that feeds into the book traced the history of professors and professorship from medieval times - from which I developed a website intended for a general audience of those interested in how professorship and professors' work has evolved. Since my research into professors has generated what I believe is the largest research-generated data set to date on UK-based professors, I am often invited to speak at universities' professorial away days, or to advise universities on how best to deploy and develop their most senior academics. In 2022 I also featured in a South Korean TV documentary, 'Chair', which was broadcast by KBS, and is now available to view on YouTube.

Another of my fields of interest and expertise is research leadership and researcher development, and, again, I am often invited to speak on issues related to these topics. I am also an associate researcher, by invitation, at the Centre for the Study of Research Training and Impact at the University of Newcastle in Australia.

Recent and forthcoming speaking engagements

 In 2023 my speaking invitations included:

  • Expert speaker at the Advance HE Aurora face-to-face event, Edinburgh, 19th April 2023.
  • Keynote speaker at 'Professionalism and professional development: Concepts and connections', a roundtable discussion on teacher professionalism, Lusofona University, Portugal, 2nd June 2023.
  • 'Transforming our perspectives on educational leadership: outside-the-box thinking' - invited keynote at the International Conference on Education PGRI Palembang, Beston Hotel, Sumatera Selatan, Indonesia, 23-24 June 2023.
  • Keynote speaker at the seminar, Leadership and Team Work, hosted by the University of Bengkulu, Indonesia, under the aegis of its Karinosseff organisation, October 1st.
  • Keynote speaker at the International Academic Conference on Strategic Thinking & Education, the annual conference of the International Academy of Social Sciences,14th October 2023, at the Oxford & Cambridge Club, London.
  • 'Exploring educational leadership: promoting outside-the-box thinking' - invited talk at Manchester Grammar School leadership professional development twilight session, 16th Nov. 2023.
  • 'Evans's conceptual models of professionalism and professional development' - invited masterclass, University of Dundee, 21st Nov. 2023

Invitations for 2024 include:

  • 'Managing to motivate: An employee-centric approach to effective educational leadership' - invited keynote at The Tony Buzan World Mind Sports Council's summit, 13-14th January.
  • 'The future of leadership in HE' - expert panel speaker at the Advance HE face-to-face event, Sheraton Hotel, Edinburgh, 29th February
  • Guest speaker at the Center for Educational Leadership and Excellence, Stockholm School of Economics, 15th March
  • Invited keynote speaker at the University of Manchester Teacher Education and Professional Learning annual conference, 13th June 2024. Ellen Wilkinson Building, University of Manchester.
  • Invited plenary speaker at the Second Inter-university Conference on Sustainability, Youth, Education and Research, Sept. 12th, Madrid, Moncloa - Aravaca, 28023 Madrid, Spain.


Teacher’s certificate (with distinction) (subjects: French; history) - Victoria University of Manchester (Didsbury College of Education)

Diploma in mathematical education - Manchester College of Higher Education

BEd (hons), class I - Lancaster University

MA in education - Lancaster University

PhD - University of Warwick (passed with no corrections)

Diplôme approfondi de langue française, level C1 - Brasshouse Language Centre, Birmingham, UK


Learned society membership and activity

I am a fellow of the UK's Academy of Social Sciences.

I am a member of the British Educational Research Association (BERA)


Research interests

I am a qualitative researcher whose research interests lie in the broad field of professional working life, and encompass topics such as: professionalism, professional learning and development, leadership, research leadership and researcher development, professional work cultures, and employees' attitudes to their work and jobs. I have carried out empirical studies of schoolteachers' and academics' working lives, including factors influencing their morale, job satisfaction and motivation. I have researched academic leadership in the university sector, including several funded projects on (full) professors and professorship. If you’re interested in the history and origins of professors and professorship in the UK, and would like to know what professors in the medieval university got up to, please take a look at this webpage that I've developed from a funded library-based study:

I enjoy developing theory and theoretical perspectives that are not context-specific, such as conceptual analyses and theoretical models. I have developed conceptual models of: professionalism, professional development, and researcher development, and processual models of the attainment of high morale and job satisfaction, and of the individual's professional learning. My 2002 article in the Oxford Review of Education, 'What is teacher development?' is frequently referenced by other researchers and has over 600 Google Scholar citations, but my thinking has moved on considerably since I wrote that paper, so I recommend my 2014 paper in the Cambridge Journal of Education for my much more up-to-date perspective and for my most recently formulated conceptual model of professional development. A very easy-to-read introduction to my theoretical perspectives on professionalism and professional development may be found here; master's and doctoral students and researchers who are unfamiliar with the related scholarly fields of professionalism or professional development should find it a good starting point for getting to grips with some of the most up-to-date cutting edge thinking. Last, but certainly not least, my own original Proximity Theory, presented in detail in my 2018 monograph, Professors as Academic Leaders: Expectations, Enacted Professionalism and Evolving Roles, posits that job-related attitudes are influenced by the extent to which the individual perceives her/his actual job situation to be aligned with her/his current perceived ideal job situation.

As I note above, I have a strong interest in educational leadership; in particular,  conceptually-based critical leadership research - what has been described as 'new wave' critical leadership studies. My perspective is leadership-sceptic or leadership-agnostic - meaning that I question whether leadership really exists or is a myth that we have reified. This perspective is presented in two very provocative articles - 'Is educational leadership (still) worth studying?' and 'Is leadership a myth?' - that I wrote in 2022.

Much of my recent research has been located in the context of higher education, but I am equally interested in issues related to working life in the compulsory education sector. I am particularly interested in researcher development and the development of research cultures and research capacity. I am a member of Manchester University's Research Group on University History.

Doctoral supervision: doctoral research under my supervision at the University of Manchester will widen your perspectives, through engaging with challenging ideas, concepts and discourses that lie at the cutting edge of research and scholarship in fields relating to working life in education contexts.

I welcome inquiries from potential doctoral students who are excited by the prospect of such challenges. However, since I receive many inquiries every week, and most of these inquiries are from people whose research interests and topic are not aligned with my own interests and expertise, I now respond only to people who follow the advice below.

In their inquiries to me, I expect potential doctoral candidates to address me personally, and refer to my university, by name in order to distinguish them from generic inquiries that some potential doctoral students send out to multiple academics at multiple universities. I am unimpressed by meaningless generic terms that are intended to flatter, such as 'your esteemed university'. Please note that I do not respond to requests for doctoral supervision from inquirers who are simply trying to secure a scholarship by a given date, and who are clearly emailing as many academics as possible, in the hopes of securing a supervisor. I welcome inquiries from scholars who are interested in conducting qualitative research that's closely aligned with my own work - as outlined above - and I also expect them to have read my work and to refer to it meaningfully in their proposals. The closer the proposed doctoral research matches my own specific research interests, and reflects knowledge of my published work, the more I am likely to be interested. I am looking for doctoral students who genuinely know my work and wish to come to Manchester to work with me. Such students will usually have drawn upon my work and cited it - and, ideally, critiqued it - in their master's dissertations. Potential doctoral students who wish to research educational leadership should have read my two 2022 articles in the journal Educational Management, Administration and Leadership. I shall not consider any applicants who have not read, and whose research proposals do not incorporate consideration of, those two articles.

I do not object to potential doctoral students contacting other academics to inquire about supervision, but I like them to tell me openly that they are making inquiries to other universities.

Many people who contact me are clearly hoping for a University of Manchester scholarship to fund their research. However, it is very important to understand that such scholarships are very competitively fought for and we always receive many, many more applications for them than we are able to award. So you should have some alternative means available to you for funding your doctoral research.

If you wish me to respond to your inquiry about doctoral supervision, you should ensure that:

  • You address me by name - Dear Professor Evans - I immediately delete emails that simply begin 'Hi';
  • Your research topic or focus is closely aligned with my own interests and expertise - you will only know if it is so by having read some of my work;
  • You refer to those of my papers or books that you have read, and you indicate which specific ideas in them interests you, and why;
  • You outline the nature and focus of your proposed research project;
  • Your research proposal is not simply cut-and-pasted from your master's dissertation proposal or abstract;
  • Your proposal includes meaningful references to my work - not simply references in parentheses; I want to know that you have read in depth some of my work and are including in your proposal some of my ideas that are presented in my work;
  • Your proposal states how it extends and builds upon your master's work;
  • You attach an electronic copy of your master's dissertation.

Please present your inquiry to me, and your research proposal and CV in British English, not US English - this means, for example, that you write 'programme', rather than 'program'. It is important to me that someone who wishes to come to the UK to undertake a course of advanced study has taken the time and trouble to use British (or UK) English, rather than American English, terms and spelling.

The following areas are those that reflect my current interests and expertise in both the compulsory education sector and the higher education sector:

  • teachers' working lives
  • teacher morale, job satisfaction or motivation
  • teacher professionalism and professional cultures
  • teacher professional development and learning (in any subject)
  • teachers' professional standards
  • educational leadership
  • academic working life in the HE sector
  • academic morale, job satisfaction or motivation
  • research leadership
  • researcher development
  • research cultures
  • critical university studies
  • European higher education
  • the history of universities and academic staff
  • university professors and the professoriate
  • academic professionalism
  • academic development
  • academic identity
  • leadership in higher education



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

External positions

Editorial board member, Educação Sociedade e Culturas

3 Mar 202128 Feb 2025

Visiting professor, University of Leeds

19 Jun 201718 Jun 2018

Associate Editor for the journal, 'Educational Management, Administration and Leadership'


Visiting professor, Institut Français de l’Education, Ecole Normale Supérieure de Lyon

Jan 2011Dec 2011


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