Dr Richard Breakwell RN BSc (Hons) PGCE MA EdD SFHEA

Dr Richard Breakwell

School of Nursing and Midwifery
Associate Professor

Contact details

School of Nursing
Institute of Clinical Sciences
Medical School
College of Medical and Dental Sciences
University of Birmingham
B15 2TT

Richard Breakwell is an Associate Professor in the School of Nursing and Midwifery in the College of Medical and Dental Sciences. 


  • Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy
  • Level 5 Leadership and Management qualification
  • Educational Doctorate
  • Master of Arts in Education
  • PGCE – NMC registered
  • BSc(Hons) Combined Health Sciences
  • Registered General Nurse


Richard qualified as a nurse in 1992. He worked in several clinical settings, including oncology, renal, and liver services. Following several years working in intensive care, he specialised as a transplant coordinator in Birmingham and Newcastle upon Tyne.

In 2000, Richard moved into nurse education, working at the University of Central England before taking up a post at the University of Birmingham in 2005.

Richard has wide experience of all aspects of nurse education, including innovative approaches to teaching and learning, course management, and curriculum development and design. He has held several key positions in education, including programme director, adult field lead, academic lead for quality and placements – recently he has taken on the lead Fitness to Practise role within the School of Nursing and Midwifery.

Richard has continued to develop his research focus on how students learn during their educational and clinical experiences.


Richard has a broad teaching portfolio, supporting several pre-registration and postgraduate programmes within the School of Nursing and Midwifery.

In 2014, Richard was awarded the College of Medical and Dental Sciences for Excellence in Teaching and Supporting Student Learning.

His teaching input is into several academic programmes:

Richard has been awarded several grants to develop student learning. For example, in 2014 he received a £7k grant to produce an eLearning website to support clinical mentors from local NHS trusts with their annual updating to meet NMC requirements.

Richard has been part of the leadership team with two funded projects. One project, funded by Health Education England, involved expanding mentorship in primary care. The second project, in partnership with local NHS and HEI, explored designing the perfect placement experience for student nurses, and it is funded by a local NHS consortium. 

Richard has worked with local NHS Trusts to design applied leadership and management CPD and credit-bearing programmes for qualified staff.

Richard has wide experience of curriculum design, course management, and key roles that support how the School meets Professional, Statutory and Regulatory Body (PSRB) requirements. For example, in recent years, Richard has occupied several of the School of Nursing and Midwifery’s key roles:

  • NMC official correspondent
  • School and College Deputy Quality Lead
  • Practice Partnership Lead
  • University of Birmingham’s representative on the regional Midlands, Yorkshire and East Placement Learning Group
  • Chair of the University’s Placement and Simulation Working Group

Since 2023, Richard has taken on the role of the School’s Fitness to Practise Lead and the role of Postgraduate Academic Integrity lead. These roles involve developing and implementing processes, managing investigations, and writing reports for Misconduct and Fitness to Practise committees. Furthermore, Richard is engaged in researching student nurse fitness to practise awareness, understanding and training.


Richard supports PhD, MRes, and undergraduate students with their research projects that cover a wide range of themes, although his particular interest is in student learning in both the university and placement settings.

Richard’s doctoral study explored the factors that influence the progress of student nurses during the transitional first year of their studies. His previous research activity included designing a new assessment approach (Learning Application Reviews) for his MA that encouraged students to adopt a deeper approach to learning rather than a strategic or surface approach to their studies.

Other activities

Richard is a Partner Governor with Birmingham Community Healthcare Foundation Trust.

Previously, Richard has been an external examiner with several universities in the UK, offering guidance and quality assurance advice on preregistration and postgraduate programmes.


  • 2018 Health Education England: Maximising Leadership Learning in the Pre-registration Healthcare Curricula – member of the co-production design team.
  • 2016 Conference Paper: Student Progression - A Multifaceted Phenomenon. University of Birmingham School of Education Research Conference 2015
  • 2015 Conference Presentation: Student Progression – A Multifaceted Phenomenon. University of Birmingham School of Education Research Conference 2015
  • 2015 Poster Presentation: A New Model of Student Progression. University of Birmingham School of Education Research Conference 2015

View all publications in research portal