Summer Institute in Qualitative Research

Putting Theory To Work

Monday 22nd – Friday 26th July 2013


Migration (detail) (Maskull Lasserre,

About the Summer Institute

While courses on research methods abound, theory tends to receive less attention. And yet, without an understanding of how theory informs what counts as ‘data’, knowledge, identity, truth or action, our research may be driven by taken-for granted assumptions. The Summer Institute allows participants to pursue questions such as:  

    What are the current trends and the future directions in theoretical work?
    How does theory engage with policy and practice?
    How can I put theory to work in my own research?
    How do different theories conceptualise methods, ethics, identity, culture and change?

Theoretical trends discussed in the 2013 programme will include psychoanalysis, art theory, feminisms, mixed methods, postcolonialism, ethnography, literary criticism, poststructuralism, discourse analysis, new materialisms.

Structure of the Summer Institute
The Institute is organised around a programme of keynote sessions, from presenters with an international reputation in their specialist area. Small group work allows for follow-up discussion of each keynote. A strand of mini-sessions on 'Putting theorists to work' runs throughout the week, where researchers describe the influence of a key thinker on their own research, and invite participants to pursue the implications for their own ongoing or planned research. Delegates who wish to do so have the opportunity to lead short presentations on their own research.

The Summer Institute is of interest to qualitative researchers who are looking for serious and stimulating engagements with theory. It is of particular interest to researchers and research degree students in education, the social sciences, and the health and caring professions. Because of its dialogic structure, the Institute is relevant to both beginning and more experienced researchers.

We welcome groups of research students or staff from a single institution, who wish to attend the Summer Institute as a cohort.

Note: the Summer Institute is now also available as part of a 30 credit unit on ESRI's Masters of Research (MRes) programme. Applicants wishing to enrol for this unit, which involves payment of an additional fee, should contact us at the address below in the first instance.

The Education and Social Research Institute at MMU is a leading centre for applied social and educational research, with a world-class reputation for the development of theory and methodology. It is one of the top ten UK education research establishments, according to the latest Research Assessment Exercise. Our theoretical work is distinctive in being firmly grounded in our extensive experience as applied researchers, educators and policy analysts. We do not just teach theory as an abstract body of ideas: we ourselves put theory to work in designing better, more critical and more useful research; in research degree training and teacher education; and in contributions to policy debates and international collaborations.


Further information about the 2010 and 2011 events can be found via the links on this page.