imageDr Sarah Hale BA, MA, DPhil (Sussex); PG Cert in Learning and Teaching in HE (Portsmouth); MEd (Sheffield); SFHEA

Programme Director for Foundation Years


Prior to joining the Department for Lifelong Learning in September 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, actively 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. In an attempt to become a better historic boater, Sarah has recently mastered the art of crochet, but has largely given up trying to learn to play the melodeon.


Sarah currently teaches on a range of Foundation Year modules including Introduction to the Social Sciences, Academic Literacy and Communication Skills, and Extended Project. Sarah also acts as personal and project tutor to Politics and Journalism students.

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 and PLA Lead for Assessment and Feedback, and handles unfair means cases and academic appeals for DLL.

Institutional roles

Within the wider University, Sarah is active in the Dignity at Work Network and is a member of the Student Conduct and Appeals Panel. She represents DLL on the Extra-Faculty Learning and Teaching Committee and sits on the Quality and Scrutiny Sub-Committee.

External roles

Sarah is an active member of the Foundation Year Network and sat on the Executive 2017-2019, and is a founding co-editor of The Journal of the Foundation Year Network.

She is External Examiner for the Social Sciences Certificate programme at the University of York, and for the Centre for Open Learning at the University of Edinburgh. She has acted as external validator for new foundation years at Newman University and Swansea.

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.

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.

Her teaching interests extend across the social sciences, and include qualitative research methods.

Recent publications/conference papers

‘What do we think we’re doing? Practitioner perspectives on the role of foundation years in working class inclusion in HE’, paper submitted to the Foundation Year Network Annual Conference, University of East Anglia, 2020

‘Something to be? Social mobility and agency in the Foundation Year classroom’ (with Willy Kitchen), presentation at the Foundation Year Network Annual Conference, University of Sussex, 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 (link)

'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