Dr Marion Bowl

Dr Marion Bowl

School of Education
Senior Lecturer in Education

Contact details

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

Marion is a Senior Lecturer in the School of Education. Her areas of research and teaching expertise include post-compulsory education, adult and informal education, widening participation in further and higher education and education in the context of globalisation and internationalisation. In the School of Education she is Departmental lead on Internationalisation in the Department for Education and Social Justice.


  • PhD Education
  • MA Education
  • BA Sociology
  • Certificate in Community and Youth Work


Marion is a community worker, teacher and academic with over 30 years’ experience of developing, managing and researching adult and community education practice and policy both in the U.K. and overseas, including in Aotearoa New Zealand where, from 2006-2009, she was Senior Lecturer in Adult and Community Education at the University of Canterbury and Manager of the University’s Adult and Community Education Teaching and Research Team. From 1996-2006, she was responsible for setting up and managing Birmingham Reachout, a community-based widening participation initiative with adults, and for embedding the lessons of this work and research within the further and higher education sectors. Her training portfolio covers a spectrum from management training, to group work and interactive skills. Her teaching work ranges from one-to-one work with adult returners, formal lecturing and PhD supervision. She is Editorial Board member of: Learning and Teaching: The International journal of Higher Education in the Social Sciences and Widening Participation and Lifelong Learning and the Journal of Adult Learning Aotearoa New Zealand. She is also an Associate of the Higher Education Academy.

She has held a range of management roles in the School of Education, including Head of Division, Deputy Head of Department, Director of Postgraduate Research and Director of Postgraduate Taught Provision.


PhD supervision; global education, post-compulsory education, adult and community education, professional development.

Module Lead

Global Education (BA Education)


International Studies in Education (Master's programme)

Postgraduate supervision

Marion is interested in undertaking postgraduate supervision in the following areas:

Adult Education, Education and community development, Critical pedagogy, Education in New Zealand, Education in ‘developing’ countries (esp. West Africa), Informal and non - formal education, Post Compulsory Education (in particular mature entry to education), widening participation, Participatory research, action research approaches, 
Qualitative approaches to data collection, Research ethics.

Topics of current and recently completed doctoral studies include: 



Her research interests and activities include:

  • Adult and Community Education
  • Lifelong learning
  • Informal and non-formal education
  • Post-compulsory education
  • Widening access to higher education
  • Teaching and learning in tertiary and higher education
  • Participatory research methods and approaches
  • Gender and Adult Education

Recent research includes:

2012 Literature synthesis for the Higher Education Academy: The role of Further Education and Sixth Form Colleges in Widening Participation (England)

2007-2010 Men's Learning Research Project (Aotearoa New Zealand)
This project is utilising statistical data and empirical research from the UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand to explore and critique the contention that men are under-represented in adult education and lifelong learning.

2009 Mature Students Bridging to University: an international evaluation of models and approaches to access (England and New Zealand)
The project explored different models of bridging/access to higher education provision through research undertaken with teachers and managers of Access/Bridging courses in England and New Zealand. It highlighted the ways in which the notion of ‘preparedness’ is integrated into Access/Bridging provision for mature students.

2008 - 2009: ESOL Home Tutors – the role of the organisation and its staff in advocating for refugees and new migrants (Aotearoa New Zealand)
The project involved volunteers, staff and managers of ESOL Home Tutors (New Zealand) in exploring their role as advocates for refugees and new migrants, the ways in which this aspect of the organisation’s work could be profiled and the training needs of those undertaking advocacy. 

2007 - 2008: Researching the impact of Adult Learners’ Week He Tangata Matauranga (ACE Aotearoa/Tertiary Education Commission, New Zealand )
The project evaluated the role of Adult Learners’ Week in developing capability and capacity in the adult and community education sector. In Aotearoa New Zealand.

Other activities

Member of ethics committee


Selected publications from 2008

Bowl, M., McCaig, C, and Hughes, J. (forthcoming 2018) Equality and Differentiation in Marketised Higher Education:  a new level playing field? London: Palgrave

Bowl, M. (2017) Adult Education in Neoliberal times: policies, philosophies and professionalism Cham: Palgrave.

Bowl, M. and Bathmaker, A. (2016) ‘’Non-traditional’ students and diversity in higher education’ in The Routledge Handbook of the Sociology of Higher Education Edited by James E. Cote, Andy Furlong. Abingdon: Routledge

Bowl, M. (2016) ‘Differentiation, distinction and equality – or diversity? The language of the marketised university: an England, New Zealand comparison’ Studies in Higher Education http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/03075079.2016.1190961

Bowl, M. and Hughes, J. (2016) Fair access and fee setting in English universities: what do institutional statements suggest about university strategies in a stratified quasi-market? Studies in Higher Education 41 (1-2): 269-287 https://doi.org/10.1080/03075079.2014.927846

Bowl, M. (2016) ‘‘Ducking and diving’ adult educator agency in testing times: insights from England and New Zealand’ in M. Milana, J. Holford and V.A. Mohorčič Špolar (eds) Adult and Lifelong Education: Global, national and local perspectives Abingdon: Routledge Chapter 2

Bowl, M. (2014) Adult Community Education in Changing Times: Policies, Philosophies and Professionalism Leicester: NIACE

Bowl, M. (2014) Adult education practice: Policies, philosophies and professionalism Leicester: NIACE.

Bowl, M. (2013) 'Ducking and Diving' Adult Educator agency in testing times: insights from England and Aotearoa New Zealand. Globalisation, Education and Society. https://doi.org/10.1080/14767724.2013.858516 

Bowl, M. et al (eds)(2012) Gender, masculinities and lifelong learning Abingdon: Routledge

Bowl, M. and Tobias, R. (2012) Learning from the past, organizing for the future: Adult and Community Education in Aotearoa New Zealand Adult Education Quarterly (in press)

Bowl, M. (2011) ‘Post Compulsory and Higher Education’ in Arthur, J. and Peterson, A. (eds.) The Routledge Companion to Education Abingdon: Taylor Francis/Routledge

Bowl, M. (2011) Communities of practice, compliance or resistance? Regional networks in the adult and community education sector in Aotearoa New Zealand Community Development Journal 46 (2)

Bowl, M. and Whitelaw, L. (2010) Be prepared: Preparing mature students for university entry in England and AotearoaNew Zealand, Journal of Widening Participation and Lifelong Learning Vol. 12 (special issue): 13-29.

Bowl, M. (2010) University Continuing Education in a Neoliberal Landscape: Developments in England and Aotearoa New Zealand, International Journal of Lifelong Education 29 (6) 723-738

Bowl, M. ,with  Leahy, J and Tully, L (2010) The complexity of collaboration: Opportunities and challenges, Gateways: International Journal of Community Research and Engagement (online)

Bowl, M. (2010) Struggling Against the Tide?  University Continuing Education in Aotearoa New Zealand, Journal of Adult Learning Aotearoa New Zealand 38 (1): 45-56

Hockings, C., Cooke, S. and Bowl, M. (2010) Learning and teaching in two universities within the context of increasing student diversify: complexity, contradictions and challenges, in David, M. (ed.) Improving Learning by Widening Participation in Higher Education Abingdon: Routledge.

Bowl, M. and Walters, M. (2008) Exploring Men’s Perceptions of Learning: A pilot study New Zealand Journal of Adult Learning 36(2)

Bowl, M. (2008) Working for Change in Higher Education: the possibilities for collaborative research Critical Studies in Education 49 (2): 185-198 DOI: 10.1080/17508480802040118

Bowl, M., Cooke, S. and Hockings, C. (2008) Home or Away? Issues of Choice, living arrangements and what it means to be a student Widening Participation and Lifelong Learning 10 (1): 26-35

Bowl, M. and Tully, L. (2008) Researching with communities: challenges in Adult and Community Education in Aotearoa New Zealand International Journal of Interdisciplinary Social Sciences, 2.

Bowl, M. and Tully, L. (2008) Researching Practitioner Professional Development: Challenges in Adult and Community Education in Aotearoa New Zealand New Zealand Journal of Adult Learning Vol.36 No.1: 59-74

Hockings, C., Cooke, S. and Bowl, M. (2008) Switched Off? A study of disengagement among computing students at two universities Research Papers in Education Vol. 23 No. 2: 191-201 DOI: 10.1080/02671520802048729

Bowl, M., Cooke, S. and Hockings, C. (2008) Researching across boundaries and borders: the challenges for research Educational Action Research Vol.16 No. 1: 85-95. DOI:10.1080/09650790701833139

Adult and Community Education Networks: their role, function and resource needs: A summary: Report for ACE Aotearoa November 2008

Adult Learners’ Week He Tangata Matauranga Research (with Jennifer Leahy): Report for ACE Aotearoa August 2008

View all publications in research portal