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Dr Emma Wainwright


Emma is a Reader and a Geographer with expertise in the geographies of education, training and welfare. She is co-lead of the Human Geography: Space, Place and Society research group (with Nicola Ansell and Monica Degen). She is also a member of the Centre for Health and Wellbeing Across the Lifecourse, and Education, Identities and Society, and Embodiment in Academic and Professional Practice research groups. Emma studied Geography at the University of Aberdeen and, after completing her PGCE (Secondary) at the University of Edinburgh and a brief period of secondary teaching, was awarded a scholarship by the University of St Andrews to undertake her PhD in Social and Historical Geography. Prior to working at Brunel, Emma was a Research Executive in the Social Research Institute at MORI (now Ipsos MORI).

Emma's interdisciplinary research interests focus on: education, training and welfare-to-work; social housing and resident engagement; family, parenting and care; embodiment, body work and emotional labour. Her work has been funded through grants awarded by the ESRC, the British Academy, Barclays, the Froebel Trust, the Learning and Skills Council, the Money Advice Service, and Brunel University London. Emma has successfully collaborated with various social housing providers across London and the South East including A2Dominion, Catalyst and East Thames (now L&Q) to deliver research and evaluation projects. 

Emma is currently an editor of the British Educational Research Journal. She is external examiner at the University of Hertfordshire (BSc Geography) and Cardiff University (MSc Education, MSc Education, Policy and Society and MSc Childhood and Youth), and acts as a regular reviewer for various academic journals. In 2006 Emma was awarded the Newbigin Prize by the Royal Scottish Geographical Society for her paper published in the Scottish Geographical Journal. Recent work has been published in Area, Educational Review, British Journal of Sociology of Education and Population, Space and Place.  

Emma currently works part time (FTE 0.6) and her working days are Monday, Thursday and Friday. 


PhD, Geography, University of St Andrews

PGC in Higher Education, Brunel University London

PGC in Secondary Education (Geography and Modern Studies), Moray House, University of Edinburgh

MA (Hons) Geography (1st Class), University of Aberdeen



Co-lead Human Geography: Space, Place anc Society research group 

Senior Tutor (2017-2021)

Programme Co-Lead BA Education (2019-2021)

Chair of EC panel and SEC meetings (2017-2021)

Member of Department Management Board (2017-2021)

Member of University's British Academy review panel

Director of Centre for Human Geography (until 2015)


Co-Editor: British Educational Research Journal (2018-ongoing)

ESRC Peer Review College member (2010-ongoing)

External Examiner, MSc Education, Policy and Society and MSc Childhood and Youth, Cardiff University (2018- 2022)

External Examiner, BA/BSc Geography, University of Hertfordshire (2018-2022)

External Examiner, BA Geography, Newcastle University (2014-2018)

Newest selected publications

Wainwright, E., Aldridge, D. and Biesta, G. (2023) 'Navigating the complex space of journal editing: Exploring the tensions between the intellectual and commercial dimensions of academic publishing'. British Educational Research Journal, 49 (1). pp. 1 - 4. ISSN: 0141-1926 Open Access Link

Journal article

Smith, R., Mansfield, L. and Wainwright, E. (2023) '‘Do know harm’: Examining the intersecting capabilities of young people from refugee backgrounds through community sport and leisure programmes'. International Review for the Sociology of Sport, 0 (ahead of print). pp. 1 - 19. ISSN: 1012-6902 Open Access Link

Journal article

Biesta, G., Wainwright, E. and Aldridge, D. (2022) 'A case for diversity in educational research and educational practice'. British Educational Research Journal, 48 (1). pp. 1 - 4. ISSN: 0141-1926 Open Access Link

Journal article

Smith, R., Mansfield, L. and Wainwright, E. (2021) '‘Should I really be here?’: Problems of trust and ethics in PAR with young people from refugee backgrounds in sport and leisure'. Sport in Society, 25 (3). pp. 434 - 452. ISSN: 1743-0437 Open Access Link

Journal article

Chappell, A., Wainwright, E., McHugh, E. and Gilhooly, K. (2020) 'The Experiences of Undergraduate Commuter Students'. Place of publication: Brunel University London.Open Access Link

More publications(45)