Dr Sarah Hale

BA, MA, DPhil, MEd, SFHEA.

Department for Lifelong Learning

Programme Director: Foundation Programme


Prior to joining the Department for Lifelong Learning in 2012, Sarah spent five years in the Faculty of Lifelong Learning at Birkbeck, University of London, and previously held posts at the universities of Huddersfield and Portsmouth.

She has undertaken consultancy work for the Institute for Public Policy Research and the Higher Education Academy.

Sarah began her first degree as a 29-year-old single parent, having previously worked (among other things) as a cleaner, a supermarket checkout operator, and a cook in a care home.

She has been a local authority councillor, and a founding member and Company Secretary of a large community development association, involved in local regeneration partnerships.

When not working, Sarah enjoys an obsession with historic canal boats, and spends most of her spare time and money on her 1937 Grand Union Large Woolwich motor Chertsey.

  • BA (First Class Hons) in Politics (Sussex, 1997)
  • MA in Social and Political Thought (Sussex, 1998, AHRB funded)
  • DPhil (Sussex, 2003, ESRC funded)
  • PG Cert in Learning and Teaching in HE (Portsmouth, 2004)
  • MEd (Sheffield, 2019)
  • SFHEA (2018)
Research interests

Sarah’s research background is in Politics, and particular interests have included political discourse, higher education policy, local government and the politics of community.

Current interests include both pedagogical and political aspects of foundation year provision. Most recently, her MEd dissertation, ‘The Class Politics of Foundation Years’ (2019), examined practitioner perceptions of the role of foundation years in working class students’ access to, experiences of, and outcomes from higher education.

Teaching activities

Sarah convenes Introduction to the Social Sciences, and Academic Literacy and Communication Skills, and teaches on Extended Project. She acts as personal and project tutor to Politics and History students.

Professional activities

Departmental roles

Sarah chaired DLL's Learning and Teaching Committee from 2015-2019, and was Principal Ethics Contact from 2012-2019. She is currently the Department's Examinations Officer, Unfair Means Officer and PLA Lead for Assessment, and handles academic appeals for DLL.

Institutional roles

Within the wider University, Sarah represents DLL on the Extra-Faculty Learning and Teaching Committee and sits on the Quality and Scrutiny Sub-Committee. She is a member of the Student Conduct and Appeals Panel, and was elected to Senate in 2020. 

Having been diagnosed as autistic in 2015, Sarah is keen to promote understanding of and respect for neurodiversity. She co-founded and currently co-ordinates the (Unofficial) Autistic Staff Peer Support Group and is a Co-Chair and Secretary of the University Staff Disability Network, and a member of the Dignity at Work Network.

External roles

Sarah is an active member of the Foundation Year Network and has sat on the Executive since 2017, and is a founding co-editor of the Journal of the Foundation Year Network.

She is External Examiner for the Social Sciences programme at the University of York’s Lifelong Learning Centre, and for Foundation Years and open access provision at the University of Edinburgh. She has acted as external validator for new foundation years at Newman University (2017) and Swansea (2018) and for a comprehensive curriculum review at Durham (2020).

  • ‘The Class Politics of Foundation Years’ Journal of the Foundation Year Network Vol. 3, December 2020 (forthcoming)
  • ‘Full university membership or throwing them to the lions? Three narratives on the role of foundation years in working class inclusion’, Foundation Year Network Annual Conference, University of East Anglia, July 20th, 2020
  • ‘Tunnelling into the Ivory Tower (and Other Stories about Foundation Years and Social Class)’ University of Sheffield Learning and Teaching Scholarship Showcase, June 1st, 2020
  • ‘Something to be? Social mobility and agency in the Foundation Year classroom’ (with Willy Kitchen), Foundation Year Network Annual Conference, University of Sussex, July 2019
  • ‘Surveying the Foundations: The Purposes of Assessment at Foundation Level and how best to achieve them’, Journal of the Foundation Year Network Vol. 1, December 2018 https://jfyn.co.uk/index.php/ukfyn/article/view/24/18
  • 'Education for Modernisation? The impact of Higher Education member development programmes on councillors' perception and performance of their roles', Local Government Studies 39:4 June 2013
  • 'Discourse, Policy... and Ideas: An Obituary of the Third Way in Britain', European Political Science 10:4, December 2011