Rebecca Thomas

I am a Lecturer on the MA in Higher Education Practice at the University of East Anglia, and was formerly Programme Leader of Photography at the University of Hertfordshire. I also co-ordinated Teaching and Learning in the School of Creative Arts at Hertfordshire. At East Anglia my main areas of concern include the development of curiosity through integrated teaching structures, Signature Pedagogies (especially in relation to the effects of specific environments), and the production of teaching resources developed out of my visual arts background. I am also a visual artist.

Current Post

  • 2017
    • Academic Developer and Lecturer on the MA in Higher Education Practice (University of East Anglia)

Academic Qualifications

  • 2006
    • Professional Doctorate in Fine Art (University of East London)
  • 1997
    • MA Visual Theory (University of East London)
  • 1990
    • BA (Hons) Fine Art (Central St Martins College of Arts and Design)

Professional Qualifications

  • 2018
    • Supporting and Leading Educational Change (Fellowship of SEDA)
  • 2014
    • Postgraduate Diploma Leadership and Education; Making Sense of Leading, Leading Through Coaching (University of Hertfordshire)
  • 2006
    • Horizon Leadership Programme – Modules: Leadership and Networks, Change and Innovation (University of Warwick)
  • 2001
    • Post-Graduate Diploma Arts Management (University College London)
  • 1992
    • Post-Graduate Certificate of Education in Art and Design (Manchester Metropolitan University)

Membership of Professional Bodies and Learned Societies

  • Senior Fellow Higher Education Academy
  • University Teaching group University of Hertfordshire
  • Land2 – A national network of landscape/place-orientated practitioners
  • Leading Creative Learning University East Anglia
  • Society for Research into Higher Education

Previous Posts

  • 2007-2017
    • Programme Leader Photography / Co-ordinator of Learning and Teaching; Study Abroad/CATS subject Tutor (School of Creative Arts, University of Hertfordshire)
    • Co-ordinating Learning and Teaching
      I worked with the Associate Dean of Learning and Teaching my main concerns included developing learning and teaching projects and supporting staff, including visiting lecturers and programme teams or individuals. I lead the staff to engage with and become members of HEA and national networks and develop the learning and teaching culture in the School, including the Research into Pedagogy Group. This extends to my being informed about, and communicating to staff the latest subject-relevant research. I also lead the Peer Review for the School of Creative Arts.
    • Link Tutor Fine Art University of Nicosia, Cyprus; Lead of Programme Leaders and Link tutors on Academic committees and Senior Management team
  • 2001-2007
    • Curriculum Co-ordinator – Art, Design and Media (Croydon College of Higher Education)
      My previous post was a School-wide position at Croydon College of Higher Education, where I held a budget for all my areas, managing ten permanent teaching staff, several technicians, and associate lecturers. I had responsibility for BA courses in Photo Media and Graphic Design, and I also managed the Critical/Theoretical studies provision and Professional Practice modules across five degree, and seven Foundation Degrees.
      As well as my substantial teaching contribution I was heavily involved in training staff to organise Learning and Teaching strategies. During my time at Croydon I was also in charge of ensuring peer and graded observations of teaching sessions, as well as carrying these out myself.
      In 2003 Croydon changed its validating body, a major institutional transformation in which I played a substantial and invaluable role. Prior to this I had been running the academic skills area and organising work-based programmes, this experience being of considerable value in the reorganisation (moving the provision to one more closely related to the workplace).
      In 2005 I was required to plan for a QAA inspection for the School of Art, Design and Media, for which I organised departmental meetings and prepared related documents, the process involving a thorough understanding of key pedagogical issues and procedures.
  • 1996-2001
    • Curriculum Leader of Creative Arts; Programme Leader – BTEC Foundation, GNVQ and Access Art and Design Director of Space – Frame Gallery; Gained funding for textiles education, The Ashley Family Foundation (Medway Adult Education Service)
  • 1992-1996
    • Co-ordinator of Contextual Studies (Bangor Technical College)
      I was responsible for designing, organising and delivering Design and Art History/Contextual Studies modules across all levels in the Art and Design department from Level 1 Diploma to a BA (Hons) Fine Art.

Public Output from Research and Scholarly Activity

  • List of Exhibitions (on request)
  • Field Notes: Artists Book ‘In the Open’ Bank St Arts and Sheffield Institute of the Arts Space (2017)
  • Writing the Room: Learning and Teaching in the Creative Arts (2016)
  • Reframing Spaces: A pedagogical provocation from the School of Creative Arts (2015)
  • Against lethe…, Politis, Nicosia, Cyprus (June 2013)
  • Close to Home: Artists reconsider the Local, East Street Arts, Leeds (July 2012)
  • Geographical Self, Art Pavilion, London (June 2012)

Teaching and Learning, Conferences / Workshops Contributions (of the last 5 years, previous years on request)

  • 2017
    • 22nd Annual SEDA Conference Developing Teaching Excellence: Supporting and Developing the Work of Groups and Teams, Cardiff
    • Authority, Leadership and Cake: enablers or inhibitors of the creation and effectiveness of academic staff learning groups? (UEA+UH)
    • Building staff groups for enhancing learning and teaching Learning Through Collaboration Enhancing Student Learning Through Innovation Scholarship University of Sheffield July 2017
    • Thomas, R Curiosity in Practice ELIA ACADEMY What’s Going on Here; Exploring Elasticity in Teaching and Learning in the Arts, Central St Martin’s London July 2017
    • Brownie, B, Smith, J & Thomas, R Temperature testing leading to ongoing curriculum evolution in Creative Arts modules HEA Annual Conference 2017: Generation TEF: Teaching in the spotlight Manchester July 2017
    • Glass, L, Clark, K, Jarvis, J, Thomas, R  Title of Contribution:  We need to talk about (our) teaching. The benefits of a multi-disciplinary conversation group
    • Annual Learning and Teaching Research rich/informed teaching Conference University of Hertfordshire (UH), Hatfield April 2017
  • 2016
    • Phillips, I., Thomas, R., Jarvis, J. & Clark, K. A Landscape for Learning: Developing shared student-staff understanding of  processes of learning in the Creative Arts Higher Education Academy Arts and Humanities Annual conference Brighton
    • Smith J, & Thomas, R  Two Different Arts Approaches: Modes of Engagement Through Digital Technology Higher Education Academy Arts and Humanities Annual conference Brighton
    • Thomas, R & Schmeer, S The Student Photographer as Communicating Citizen: Engaging with Race in Tottenham Town Centre Group for Learning Art and Design Birmingham
    • Thomas, R & Schmeer, S The Collaborative Student Project as Educational Form: Documenting Deprivation in East London. GLAD Research Symposium Coventry University
    • Thomas, R & Wilkinson, M Socially-engaged student photography: Employability, Responsibility and Respect Learning and Teaching Conference Hatfield
    • Jarvis, J, Rosella, T, Smith, J & Thomas, R How can teaching focused staff contribute to creating an institutional strategy of ongoing professional learning in teaching? 2nd Enhancing Student Learning Through Innovative Scholarship Conference, University College London 2016
  • 2015
    • Brownie, B, Rabikowska M, Smith J, & Thomas,R  In Another Instant: Focus and Interaction in Creative Arts Learning ECEL International conference Hatfield 2015
    • Thomas, R When is a Picnic a Poster? Annual Learning and Teaching Conference, University of Hertfordshire
    • Thomas, R Picnics to Pixels: the Benefits of the University Day Out Group for Learning in Art and Design, Sheffield Hallam University
  • 2014
    • Jarvis, J & Thomas, R FoodNet Food-related research in the School of Creative Arts Public Health Symposium, University of Hertfordshire
  • 2013
    • Observation, Feedback and BME Student Participation in the Classroom and Beyond Annual Learning and Teaching Conference, University of Hertfordshire
  • 2012 
    • BME Student Success and Inclusive Practice Annual Learning and Teaching Conference, University of Hertfordshire
    • Navigation – students introduction to research through exploratory methods Annual Learning and Teaching Conference, University of Hertfordshire

Contributions at Art and Critical Theory Conferences (of the last 5 years)

  • 2017
    • Cross-Multi-Inter-Trans Study of Literature and Visual Arts Title: Performative Collaboration in Southern England (University of Sheffield)
  • 2016
    • Matter Matters (University of Leeds)
  • 2015
    • Vibrant Matters (University of Dundee)
  • 2014
    • Of the Earth: Art, Design and Environment (Plymouth University)
    • Text/Cities: From the 1970s to the present, TVAD Research Group in partnership with BA/MA Photography, (University of Hertfordshire)
    • Peripatetic Practice: Leisure, Line and Landscape (Southampton City Art Gallery)
  • 2013
    • Against lethe…: ICTVC International Conference on Visual Communication (University of Nicosia, Cyprus)
    • Close to Home: Artists Reconsider the Local (East Street Arts, Leeds)
  • 2012
    • Land2 Symposium (University of Hertfordshire)


  • 2017
    • Thomas, R (2017) Triggering Curiosity in the Learning Environment: Staff and Student Collaboration [Available at:]
    • Thomas, R & Jarvis, J (2017) Chapter 16: Reframing spaces for staff learning Reframing Space for Learning: Empowering Excellence and Innovation in University Teaching and Learning. []
    • Jarvis, J, Thomas, R, Rosella, T, Smith, J et Al (2017) ‘Find the Gap’: can a multidisciplinary group of university teachers influence learning and teaching practice? The Scholarship of Teaching and Learning Practice and Evidence of Higher Education Vol 13
    • Thomas, R (2016) Going out on a roll: Cake, Conversation and Critique …. [Available at:]
  • 2016
    • Jarvis, J & Thomas, R (2016) Reframed Spaces LINK 2,2 [,-issue-1/reframing-spaces]
    • Thomas, R. & Jarvis, J (2016) Learning to Talk about Learning: A Novel Approach to Professional Development in the Creative Arts, Creative Academic Magazine 4a p.40-43 [The website for Creative Academic Magazine can be found at]
  • 2015
    • Thomas R. Picture This: The Mobile Phone Camera as an Educational Device, LINK, Vol. 1, Issue 1 (December)
    • Brownie B, Rabikowska M, Smith J, & Thomas R. (2015) In Another Instant: Focus and Interaction in Creative Arts Learning In ECEL International Conference Academic-publishing
  • 2014
    • Thomas R. Seeing Through Race, Bernie Grant Arts Centre, London (December)
  • 2013
    • Close to Home: Artists Reconsider the Local. East Street Arts, Leeds (July)

Research Supervision

  • 2014-
    • Julia Petty – The Narrative Structure of the Experience of Illness
    • Geirgia Bara – Film as a Tool for Transpersonal Education
  • 2012
    • Kerry Purcell – Biography as History

Industrial Links

  • Association of Photographers
  • Magnum Photographic Agency

External Examining Experience

  • 2017
    • MA/PG Cert Academic Practice in Art, Design and Communication (University of the Arts, London)
    • BA (Hons) Art and Design (University of Leeds)
  • 2014
    • Professional Doctorate in Fine Art (University of East London)
    • PhD Hiraeth: Designing a Welsh Identity (University of Leeds)
  • 2013
    • PhD A Photographic Investigation of Landscape and Nature (University of Northampton)
    • Professional Doctorate in Fine Art (University of East London)
  • 2012
    • FDA Fine Art Practices and Skills (CSM, University of the Arts)
  • 2011
    • PhD (University of the West of England)
  • 2008
    • FDA Photography(City and Islington College)
  • 2006
    • Open College Network (University of Canterbury)


Rebecca Thomas
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