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Dr Kerry Harman

Programme Director
Higher Education Introductory Studies (HEIS)
Higher Art Certificate, Newcastle School of Art and Design (Aus); BA, University of Newcastle (Aus); Grad. Dip. (Applied Psych), Victoria University; MCom(hons), University of NSW; PhD, University of Technology, Sydney

Department of Applied Linguistics and Communication
Birkbeck, University of London
26 Russell Square
London, WC1B 5DQ

Research and Teaching

Research interests

My main research interests are concerned with the politics of learning at work. My work explores the interrelationships between workplace practices, knowledges, power and subjectivity. I use the notions of embodiment and performativity to help me in these explorations. I am interested in developing ways of representing learning at work that enable different dimensions of workplace experience to become visible. I am also critical of the discourse of Mastery which prevails in much of the workplace learning literature.

My research strands include:

  • An exploration of the material effects of workplace practices in specific sites. What objects and subjects are produced in and through everyday practices at work?

  • An interest in representations of workplace learning and approaches that enable everyday learning to be re-presented as other than mastery. What is able to count as learning at work and who are able to be counted as workplace learners? Can resistance to organisational/workplace  norms be understood as learning at work?

  • Learning translations and the ways learning (as an object) is translated as it moves between the institutional domains of work and higher education.


  • Understanding the Business World (core module on BSc Business)
  • MSc Education, Power and Social Change

Research grants

  • Member of a collaborative project between OU, Leeds, Bristol and Birkbeck: ‘Understanding the impact of outreach on access to higher education for disadvantaged adult learners: an institutional approach’.
  • 2011 HEA-ESCalate subject centre, WBL pedagogies and academic development (£15,000)
  • 2009 JISC Business and Community Engagement, The ‘Open ICT Tools’ project (collaborative project, £30,000)
  • 2008 Small Grant, Northumbria University, development of an international research collaboration with UTS, Australia examining learning transitions from HE to workplaces (£2,200)
  • 2008 ADM-HEA Subject Centre, The Global Studio: Dissemination of Innovative Teaching and Learning practice, (£2,000)

Areas of research supervision

  • Learning in and through everyday practices at work
  • Learning translations (between workplaces and HE institutions)
  • Assessment practices in HE

Academic roles and memberships

  • Council member: SCUTREA (The Standing Conference on University Teaching and Research in the Education of Adults)

Invited seminars

  • Invited speaker at European Conference on Education, 2015. Presented a paper titled ‘Challenging academic practices: how might we enact equality?’ as part of the‘Challenging practices: imagining spaces of empowerment and participation’ panel.
  • December 2013, ‘Learning at work as the embodiment and activation of discourse’, Discourse at/on/as work symposium, Vienna University of Economics and Business
  • December 2011,‘Knowledge in motion: practitioner-researchers as consumers and producers of knowledges and implications for assessment’, IWBL Research Centre, Middlesex University
  • November 2011, ‘Work-based Learning and Knowledge: Can Universities Help?’, SRHE, Academic Practices Network
  • Feb 2010, University of Arts, London: ‘The teacher, the assessor and the designer: multiple academic identities in Design’.
  • Nov 2009, Researching workplace learning, IWBL Research Centre, Middlesex University
  • Nov 2009, A discursive approach to undertaking pedagogical research, Academic Practices programme, Northumbria University.
  • May 2009, The Assessment Cultures Project, SRHE New Researchers, London
  • Oct 2008, What counts, and what doesn’t count, as learning at work? Academic Practices programme, Northumbria University.


Selected publications

  • Harman, K. (2017). Democracy, emancipation and widening participation in the UK: changing the ‘distribution of the sensible’. Studies in the Education of Adults, 49 (1), 92-108.
  • Contributor to: ‘The Alternative White Paper for Higher Education’(2016)
  • Harman, K. (2016). Examining work – education intersections: the production of learning reals in and through practice. European Journal for Research on the Education and Learning of Adults, 7 (1), 89-106.
  • Harman, K. (2014). The multiple reals of workplace learning. European Journal for Research on the Education and Learning of Adults, 5 (1), 51-66.
  • Harman, K. (2012). Everyday learning in a public sector workplace: The embodiment of managerial discourses. Management Learning, 43(3), 275-289.
  • Harman, K., & McDowell, L. (2011). Assessment talk in Design: the multiple purposes of assessment in HE. Teaching in Higher Education, 16 (1), 41-52.
  • Harman, K., Inceoglu, I., & Shukla, N. (2010, 14-16 December). Constructing the Professional Doctorate: ‘what counts’ for academic advisers. Paper presented at the SRHE, Newport, Wales.
  • Harman, K. (2010, 13-14 July). Examining the politics of WBL: opening up critical spaces in work-based learning research. Paper presented at the Work Based Learning Network of the Universities Association for Lifelong Learning Teesside University.
  • Harman, K. (2008). Constructing ‘the workplace learner’ subject. In T. Keenoy & C. Oswick & I. Sabelis & S. Ybema (Eds.), 8th International Conference on Organizational Discourse: Translations, Transformations and Transgressions. London: KMCP.
  • Harman, K., & Bohemia, E. (2007). Structure and play: rethinking regulation in the higher education sector. Industry and Higher Education, 21 (5), 367-374.
  • Bohemia, E., & Harman, K. (2006). Boundary Crossing: Negotiating Learning Outcomes in Industry Based Student Projects. In W. Aung, C. Crosthwaite, R. V. Espinosa, J. Moscinski, S. Ou & L. M. S. Ruiz (Eds.), Innovations 2006: World Innovations in Engineering Education and Research (pp. 179-192). Arlington, VA: Begell House Publishing.