Professor Mike McLinden

Professor Mike McLinden

School of Education
Programme Lead (Vision Impairment)
Deputy Head of School

Contact details

School of Education
University of Birmingham
Edgbaston, Birmingham
B15 2TT, United Kingdom

Mike is Deputy Head of School in the School of Education. This role follows two periods as Director of Education in the School and interim Director of Educational Development for the University of Birmingham.

With over 25 years’ experience of teaching in schools and Higher Education (HE) Mike has extensive experience of curriculum design, delivery and evaluation as a teacher, lecturer, senior manager and a researcher. Mike’s research interests include developing and promoting ‘research-informed’ pedagogical practice within HE with a particular focus on student-centred approaches (including enquiry-based learning). With colleagues in the University he has led a number of funded projects that link to strategic developments within the institution and HE sector.

Mike's other professional role is concerned with the inclusion of children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities. He is co-Director of the Vision Impairment Centre for Teaching and Research (VICTAR) in the Department of Disability Inclusion and Special Needs (DISN) at the University of Birmingham and programme lead for the professional development courses in vision impairment. Approximately 100 students are registered on programmes offered within the Centre, making it the largest single provider of specialist courses in this field in Europe. 

Mike is involved in a wide range of research and knowledge exchange activities within and beyond the academic sphere (e.g. policy makers and practitioners in the field). These activities include:

  • contributing to strategic developments for project funders;
  • running workshops and training events for schools, services and other academic institutions;
  • invited sessions at national and international conferences;
  • national and international consultancy. 

In June 2013 Mike was conferred the status of Principal Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (PFHEA) in recognition of a sustained record of effective strategic leadership in academic practice and development and wide-ranging strategic leadership responsibilities in connection with key aspects of teaching and supporting learning.


  • PhD, University of Birmingham,  2000
  • BPhil Special Education: Visual Handicap, University of Birmingham, 1993 
  • PGCE, Oxford Brookes, 1986
  • MEd Child Development, Institute of Education, 1985
  • BSc Psychology, Leicester, 1983


Mike's main teaching role is Programme Director for the PG Diploma Mandatory Qualification (MQ) for Teachers of Children and Young People with Vision Impairment. Other teaching responsibilities include input to various programmes within the School of Education, as well as the supervision of MEd and PhD students.

For queries in relation to the programme, please either email or telephone +44 (0) 121 414 4837 

Postgraduate supervision

Postgraduate supervision

Mike is supervisor for PGR students with wide ranging backgrounds and research interests. The research areas of students he is currently supervising or has recently supervised include:

  • student centred pedagogical approaches within  higher education;
  • inclusive education and learners with disabilities/SEND;
  • the inclusive curriculum within higher education.

For more information on research degrees, please visit the Postgraduate Research pages.


Research Interests

Mike's research interests in the field of inclusive education have been primarily concerned with the identification and reduction of potential barriers to learning and participation for children with sensory impairment including those with complex needs. Particular themes within this focus have included:

  • Role of touch in the learning experiences of children with vision impairment
  • Haptic exploratory strategies and children who are blind with additional needs
  • Early literacy/communication (including Moon, objects of reference, tactile symbols)
  • Role of Low Vision Aids for children with vision impairment and additional needs
  • Effective curriculum access for children with multiple disabilities 

As co-Director of VICTAR Mike is engaged in a wide range of funded research projects that relate to participation in education for learners with vision impairment. Recent funded projects he has contributed to within VICTAR include:

  • ‘Evidence of best practice models and outcomes in the education of children with vision impairment’
  • ‘Mobility and Independence outcomes for children with visual impairment’
  • 'Development of online enquiry-based learning resources'
  • 'Inclusion of children with vision impairment in developing countries' 

Mike was co-investigator for two reviews of literature funded by the National Council for Special Education (NCSE) in Ireland (International review of literature in visual impairment and education and International review of approaches to measuring educational engagement, progress and outcomes for children with special educational needs). Following blind peer review, both reviews were launched at conferences in Dublin and are now published and presented on the NCSE website. On the back of these publications Mike was invited by the Government in Ireland to undertake a review of the Visual Impairment Visiting Teacher Service in collaboration with a colleague from the University of Manchester.

He also has a broad research interest in professional learning and pedagogy within Higher Education and has been involved in a number of funded pedagogical projects in partnership with colleagues in the University and HE sector. He was Strand Lead (Part Time Learners) for the 2013 'Flexible Pedagogies' project funded by the Higher Education Academy (HEA) and project lead for a 2016 HEA project examining how to promote equality of opportunity through flexible learning (Promoting Equality of Opportunity through Flexible Learning)

Knowledge Exchange

With colleagues in VICTAR and the School Mike is involved in a wide range of knowledge exchange activities within and beyond the academic sphere (e.g. policy makers and practitioners in the field of sensory needs). These activities include:

  • contributing to strategic developments for project funders;
  • running workshops and training events for schools, services and other academic institutions;
  • invited keynote sessions at national and international conferences 

Other activities

Mike was Joint Editor of the British Journal of Visual Impairment (SAGE) between 2006-2012. He serves as a reviewer for a range of peer reviewed journals including: 

  • Journal of Visual Impairment and Blindness
  • British Journal of Ophthalmology
  • British Journal of Special Educational Needs
  • European Journal of Special Education
  • Australian Journal of Special Education
  • Studies in Higher Education


Selected publications


Hewett, R., Douglas, G., McLinden, M. & Keil S.  (2018): Balancing inclusive design, adjustments and personal agency: progressive mutual accommodations and the experiences of university students with vision impairment in the United Kingdom, International Journal of Inclusive Education

McLinden, M., Lynch, P., Soni, A. et al. IJEC (2018). Supporting Children with Disabilities in Low- and Middle- Income Countries: Promoting Inclusive Practice within Community-Based Childcare Centres in Malawi through a Bioecological Systems Perspective. International Journal of Early Childhood, pp 1-16.

Lynch, P., Gladstone, M., McLinden, M., Douglas, G., Jolly, E.,  Schmidt, E. and Chimoyo, J. (2018) I have learnt to love the child and give opportunities to play with peers’: A feasibility study of the training programme to support parents of young children with visual impairment in Malawi. Journal of Early Childhood Research

McLinden, M., Ravenscroft, J., Douglas, G., Hewett, R. and Cobb, R. (2017) The Significance of Specialist Teachers of Learners with Visual Impairments as Agents of Change: Examining Personnel Preparation in the United Kingdom through a Bioecological Systems Theory. Journal of Visual Impairment and Blindness. Volume 111, 6, pp. 569-584. 

McLinden, M., Douglas, G., Hewett, R.,Cobb, R., & Lynch, P. (2017). Facilitating Participation in Education: The Distinctive Role of the Specialist Teacher in Supporting Learners with Vision Impairment in Combination with Severe and Profound and Multiple Learning DifficultiesJournal of Blindness Innovation and Research, 7(2). 

Gladstone, M., McLinden, M., Douglas, G. et  al. (2017) ‘Maybe I will give some help…. maybe not to help the eyes but different help’: an analysis of care and support of children with visual impairment in community settings in Malawi. Child: Care, Health and Development. View abstract

Hewett, R., Douglas, G., McLinden, M. & Keil, S. (2017) Developing an inclusive learning environment for students with visual impairment in higher education: progressive mutual accommodation and learner experiences in the United Kingdom. European Journal of Special Needs Education. 32:1, 89-109. DOI: 10.1080/08856257.2016.1254971

McLinden, M. (2016). Examining proximal and distal influences on the part-time student experience through an ecological systems theory'. Teaching in Higher Education.

McLinden, M. and McCracken, W. (2016) Review of the Visiting Teachers Service for Children with Hearing and Visual Impairment in supporting inclusive educational practice in Ireland: Examining stakeholder feedback through an ecological systems theory. European Journal of Special Needs Education

McLinden, M., Douglas, G., Hewett, R., Cobb, R. & Ravenscroft, J. (2016).  Access to Learning and Learning to Access: the role of the specialist teacher of children and young people with vision impairments in facilitating curriculum access. British Journal of Visual Impairment. May, 1-19. DOI: 10.1177/0264619616643180

Douglas, G., McLinden, M., Robertson, C., Travers, J. & Smith, E. (2016) Including pupils with special educational needs and disability in national assessment: Comparison of three country case studies through an inclusive assessment framework. International Journal of Disability, Development and Education. 63, 1.

McLinden, M., Edwards, C.,  Garfield, J., Moron-Garcia, S.  (2015) Strengthening the Links Between Research and Teaching: Cultivating Student Expectations of Research-informed Teaching .  Education in Practice, Vol. 2 No. 1, pp24-29. 

McLinden, M., Douglas, G. and Carmichael, F. (2015) Flexible Pedagogies for Part Time Learners: Guiding the learning journey of part-time postgraduate social science research students. Journal of Widening Participation and Lifelong Learning . 17 (2), 80-95(16). DOI:

McLinden , M.,  Grove, M., Green, J. and Birch, A.  (2014) Developing and Embedding Inclusive Policy and Practice within the University of Birmingham. Education in Practice, Vol. 1 No. 1, pp18-21.

Frank, H., McLinden, M. and Douglas, G. (2014) Investigating the learning experiences of student physiotherapists with visual impairments: An exploratory study. British Journal of Visual Impairment. 32 (3), 223-235. DOI:

McLinden, M. (2012) Mediating haptic exploratory strategies in children who have visual impairment and intellectual disabilities. Journal of Intellectual Disability Research.  56(2),129-39

Lynch, P., McLinden, M., Douglas, G., McCall, S. (2012). Developing participatory approaches for use in an action research project with teachers who support children with visual impairment in Kenya and Uganda: Reflections on the relational praxis between project partners. Research in Comparative and International Education. 7(3), 282-295.

McLinden, M. and Edwards, C. (2011) Developing a culture of enquiry-based, independent learning in a research-led institution: Findings from a survey of pedagogic practice International Journal for Academic Development. 16 (2), 147-162. 

Douglas, G., McLinden, M., McCall, S., Pavey, S., Ware, J., and Farrell, A. (2011). Access to print literacy for children and young people with visual impairment: findings from a review of literature.  European Journal of Special Needs Education, 26(1), 25-38.

Douglas, G., McLinden, M., Farrell, A., Ware, J., McCall, S., and Pavey, S. (2011). Access to print literacy for children and young people with visual impairment: policy and practice.  European Journal of Special Needs Education  26(1), 39-46. 


Cleaver E, Lintern, M and McLinden M (2018). Teaching and Learning in Higher Education: Disciplinary Approaches to Educational Enquiry. London: Sage.

The text was originally published it 2014 and fully revised in 2018. Itexplores broad best practice approaches to undertaking enquiry into learning and teaching in higher education. It provides an introduction for staff who have been educated within a range of academic disciplines, often with high-level but very focused knowledge about, and understandings of, research processes to the potentially new world of educational enquiry. This is complemented by chapters exploring what educational enquiry means in the context of different academic disciplines, including physical sciences, mathematics, engineering, the life sciences, the arts, the humanities, the health professions, and law.

McLinden, M. and McCall S. (2002). Learning through touch. Supporting children with visual impairment and additional difficulties. London, David Fulton. (To be revised 2018-19)

Arter, C., Mason, H., McCall S., McLinden M., and Stone J. (Eds) (1999). Children with Visual Impairments in Mainstream Settings, London, David Fulton. 

Mason, H., McCall, S., Arter, C., McLinden, M., Stone, J. (Eds) (1997). Visual Impairment: Access to Education for Children and Young People. London, David Fulton. 

Chapters in books

McLinden, M., Grove, M., Green, J., and Birch, A. (2017). Developing and embedding inclusive policy and practice within higher-education institutions in Krcmar, K. M. (Ed). The Inclusivity Gap: expectations and delivery in higher education. Inspired by Learning: Aberdeen, UK.

Douglas, G., McLinden. M. and Hewett, R. (2019) Transition of learners with visual impairment from School. In Ravenscroft. J.  The Routledge handbook of visual impairment: Social and Cultural Research. Routledge, London. 

Edwards, C. and McLinden, M. (2017). Cultivating student expectations of a research-informed curriculum:  Developing and promoting pedagogic resonance in the undergraduate student learning pathway.  In Brent, C. and Fung, D. Developing the Higher Education Curriculum: Research based Education in Practice. UCL Press: London.

Hodges, E., and McLinden, M. (2014) Sensory Needs in Lacey, P. (Ed) in Supporting Learners with Severe and Profound Learning Difficulties. Sage: London

McLinden, M. and Douglas, G. (2013). Education of children with sensory needs: reducing barriers to learning for children with visual impairment. In: A. Holliman (Ed), Educational Psychology: An International Perspective. Routledge: London 

Research/Education Project Reports

McLinden, M. and McCracken W. (2015) A review of the role, organisation and management of the visiting teachers service for children with hearing and visual impairment service in Ireland. Final Report. Department of Education and Skills, Ireland.

McLinden, M. (2013) Flexible Pedagogies: Part Time Learning and Learners’. Final Report. Higher Education Academy: York.

McLinden, M. (2013) Flexible Pedagogies: Student Learning Pathway. Higher Education Academy: York.

McLinden, M. (2013) Flexible Pedagogies: Synthesis of Case Studies. Higher Education Academy: York.

Douglas, G., and McLinden, M. (2013) A guide to the design, selection and use of outcome measures in services for people with visual impairment. Thomas Poklington Trust: London.

Douglas, G., Travers, J., McLinden, M., Robertson, C., Smith, E., Macnab, N., Powers, S., Guldberg, K., McGough, A., O’Donnell, M. and Lacey, P. (2012). Measuring Educational Engagement, Progress and Outcomes for Children with Special Educational Needs: A Review. National Council for Special Education (NCSE), Trim, Ireland. 

McCall, S., McLinden, M. and Douglas, G. (2011). A review of the literature into effective practice in teaching literacy through braille. RNIB.

Douglas, G., McLinden, M., McCall, S., Pavey, S., Ware, J., Farrell, A. (2010). International review of the literature of evidence of best practice models and outcomes in the education of blind and visuallyimpaired children, National Council for Special Education (NCSE), Ireland, National Council for Special Education (NCSE), Ireland.

View all publications in research portal