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

Dr Richard Breakwell

School of Nursing and Midwifery
Senior Lecturer
Head of Quality and Placement Partnerships

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 a Senior Lecturer in the School of Nursing and Midwifery in the College of Medical and Dental Sciences. 

Richard has been a registered nurse for over 20 years and during this time he has maintained a keen interest in research and teaching related to the care of patients in the acute, hospital setting.

Richard’s research focus is on student learning in both university and clinical practice. His doctoral study explored the factors that influence student progress and how these affect student retention, attrition and overall course satisfaction.

Working closely with practice partners and other local HEIs, Richard develops quality assurance and placement management systems to ensure the quality of learning environment in practice. In partnership with a range of stakeholders across Birmingham, Solihull and Sandwell, he designs, implements and coordinates support processes for students and practice assessors. Richard has led several, funded projects to develop placement availability and student support, and he has helped coordinate the introduction of placement circuits, regional practice assessment documents, and placement audit and risk management processes.  

With a background in nurse education and theory, Richard is particularly interested in the pedagogy that underpins student learning and how this influences curriculum development.

Richard’s continuing aspiration is to develop the quality of the learning experience in both the university and the clinical setting for the benefit of students, staff and patients.


  • Educational Doctorate  2016
  • Master of Arts in Education 2004
  • PGCE 2002 – NMC registered
  • BSc(Hons) Combined Health Sciences 1998
  • ENB 100: Intensive Care Course 1996
  • ENB: 998 Teaching and Assessing 1996
  • Registered General Nurse 1992


Richard qualified as a nurse in 1992. He has worked in several clinical settings, including areas oncology, renal, and liver services. Following several years working in intensive care, he specialised as a transplant coordinator, working with adults and children receiving liver, kidney, small bowel transplants, and patients who were donating their organs for transplantation.

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

During his time in education, Richard has gained a wide experience of nurse education, including innovative approaches to teaching and learning, course management, and curriculum development. He has held several positions, including programme director, adult branch lead and academic lead for quality.

More recently, Richard has developed his focus on how students cope with learning within the university setting, especially in the first year.


Richard has a broad teaching portfolio, teaching and leading on a number of 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 was awarded a £7k grant to produce an eLearning website. This was completed in 2014 and now supports clinical mentors from local NHS trusts with their annual updating to meet NMC requirements.

More recently, Richard has also 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 ongoing project, in partnership with local NHS and HEI, explores designing the perfect placement experience for student nurses, and it is funded by a local NHS consortium. 


Richard’s doctoral study explored the factors that influence the progress of student nurses during the transitional first year of their studies.

Richard’s previous research activity has 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. For his BSc, he explored the use of nitric oxide in patients with ARDS.

Other activities

  • Honorary clinical contract at a local NHS hospital
  • Clinical Link Tutor at a local Birmingham NHS Trust
  • Reviewer for the Journal of Therapy and Rehabilitation


  • 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

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