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Accepting PhD Students

PhD projects

Areas within Education, Sociology, Mental health

Willing to speak to media

1988 …2024

Research activity per year

Personal profile

Current research activities

My most recent CPD was at UWS in the School of Health and Life Sciences, over 2021-2023 I successfully completed their Post Graduate Diploma in Cognitive Behaviour Therapy. It included volunteering delivering clinical interventions with patients experiencing common mental heath disorders, depression, anxiety and panic. With a colleague in Division of Psychology we aim to orientate to applied studies around investigating and promoting mental wellbeing in schools among students. 

My academic life has grown from several foundations: I attended a Junior Secondary School in Edinburgh leaving at 15 without any qualifications or having read a book, then was a trade apprentice car mechanic, and electrician with British Rail. I left both jobs and then moved into instructing snow sport in the Alps, Swiss, Italian and French. I instructed for outdoor education centres as a BASI qualified instructor in Glencoe and the Cairngorms. 

Out of winter seasons I was a general labourer on building sites,, including the icon Battersea Power Station, London. In Scotland i helped build the Hydro-Electric power station on the banks of Loch Ness. An accident in the French Alps literally brought me down to earth although without mobility! I then took Highers at the local FE college PT, and two A-levels at the National Extension College, Cambridge for which I paid £35 pounds for each, Economics and Sociology.

My subsequent university cultivation took place through York, Edinburgh, St. Andrews (MRC Studentship), Cambridge, Open and Aberdeen (SSRC Studentship). As a GTCS registered English teacher I taught in schools in and around Edinburgh and St. Andrews for several years. I have taught in Fife 'List D' schools, fomer Borstals, and in Secure Units for teenagers. I was an adult Community Education Tutor in Fife and Lothian Regions for 6 years. Throughout 1984-87 in tandem with my doctoral research I was a Tutor/Demonstrator in St. Andrews University, School of Psychology.  I was on working parties led by Dr. Bill Gatherer, Senior Adviser (English) of Lothian Region to develop the English curriculum. Based on my RSA TEFL qualification I taught post-graduate students at St. Andrews, and also taught for independent language summer schools in St.Andrews, Edinburgh and Cambridge. Immediately following the completion of my doctorate I became a Research Officer at the Scottish Council for Research in Education (SCRE) in Edinburgh dedicated to a national project funded by the Government about discipline in schools. I learned an immense amount about research from colleagues during my year at SCRE.  I have tutored for the WEA and the Open University, at undergraduate and post-graduate levels.

My doctorate was in Developmental Dyslexia at St. Andrews University, supervised by Professor Rhona Johnston, MBE. The field work took place in Edinburgh primary schools, and Reading Units. Academic teaching posts in Jordan, Hong Kong, and Beijing also shaped my outlook, not to mention lectures by Ludwig Wittgenstein's pupil Casimir Lewy, philosophical logician at Cambridge, and Bernard Williams's King's College, seminars on paradoxes.  My subsequent life history as a research academic connects with studies in Education, Sociology, Psychology, History and Criminology. I have had the pleasure of publishing jointly and with Professor Pamela Munn (Edinburgh), Professor Ian Mentor  (Oxford) and Professor Walter Humes (Stirling). My most recent collaboration is with a Fellow of Clare College, Cambridge. I have developed my expertise in each of the areas where I have published through formal qualifications, personal studies and immersion.  My intellectual history and my outputs have been supported by external grants from research councils and from governmental contracts. Based on my research available in the journal Visual Studies I was invited in 2017 by Professor Elijah Anderson, author of the renowned 'Code of the Street', and based at Yale, which funded me, to give an invited lecture on criminal histories. I currently collaborate with a colleague at UCL in London. Our most recent paper is In Press with the London Review of Education (December 2022). 

My publications are in peer reviewed international journals. The themes that I have engaged with include: teenagers experience of incarceration, prison visiting, youth violence, prisoners' correspondence, masculinity, drug dealing, organised crime, youth gangs and territoriality; within education I have published on learning values, leadership, head teacher training, offending by teachers and studies of higher education. I have undertaken two studies of British suffraggette prisoners through archival sources and based upon Hansard. I am currently collaborating with colleagues at UCL, Cambridge, Northumbria and Leeds on the following topics: assault of disabled girls, the attainment gap and private grammar schools in England. My outputs have embraced quantitative statistical methods and in the main qualitative approaches to the social world. My paradigm is typically interpretative. In summary my approach to research has become increasingly multi-disciplinary over recent years. I remain proud of the fact that I remain a fully qualified school teacher (English) and registered with the GTCS.

Two of the most recent additions to my qualifications & expertise include a Postgraduate Certificate in History (with Merit) at the University of Edinburgh (2016-2020), and the completion of clinical training (Life Sciences UWS) through a PG Diploma in CBT (2020-2022). As a volunteer for a national charity I worked with clients as a CBT therapist treating, over the past 24 months, major affective disorders, depression, anxiety and panic: I am registered with the BABCP 

Current research activities

I'm engaged with the University of Leeds in collaborative work about the nature and origins of the attainment gap in education, and a statistical analysis of the census data over a twenty year period to determine whether or not Scotland is a meritocratic society or if class mobility is static over the generations. In addition I'm using achival historical data to examine the moral formation of working-class incarcerated persons during the early part of the twentieth century in Scotland. An aspect of this work is a visual sociology of photographic data. In that context I'm completing a study of militant suffraggete women in Scotland prior to the First World War through a gender analysis. My recent three PhD students from outside the EU are Nassima, Kazi, Houda. They are respectively investigating the impact on language learning in Algeria of lessons based upon primary historical sources, a quasi-experimental study; the integration of emigrants from Bengal into Scotland and their biographical experiences, and the effects on the identity of Algerian research students who undertake their higher degrees in the UK. These studies run from 2018-2021. I am working on papers connected with the Attainment Gap in education, mental health and empowerment. 

Desired research direction

To pursue futher collaborative research partnerships within the UK and overseas. I'm currently investigating collaboration with the education department, Charles University, Prague and pursuing other funded opportunities for comparative educational and sociological studies. I intend working on collaborative grant proposals oriented to mental health, education and relevant contexts.

Target collaborative organisations

education department, Charles University, Prague; University of Cambridge, Bath, UCL, and Leeds.

Third sector organisations connected with the provision of mental health support, and UK universities for collaborations. 

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-being
  • SDG 4 - Quality Education
  • SDG 5 - Gender Equality
  • SDG 10 - Reduced Inequalities
  • SDG 16 - Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions


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Collaborations and top research areas from the last five years

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