Dr Graeme Nixon

Dr Graeme Nixon
MA, BD, PGCE, PHd, Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy

Senior Lecturer (Scholarship)

Dr Graeme Nixon
Dr Graeme Nixon

Contact Details

work +44 (0)1224 274644
The University of Aberdeen Room 523 School of Education University of Aberdeen MacRobert Building 5th Floor King's College Aberdeen AB24 5UA t: +44 (0)1224 274644 e: g.nixon@abdn.ac.uk

Blog on the use of mindfulness during covid-19 lockdown

Recent paper on Religious Literacy in Sweden, Austria and Scotland

Recent paper on the Aberdeen Mindfulness MSc programme 

Recent paper on the Sanitisation of religion in schools  

Recent paper on parental withdrawal of children from RE




MA Philosophy (University of Edinburgh) 1987-1990

BD Ecclesiastical History (University of Glasgow) 1991-1994

PGCE Religious Education (University of Strathclyde) 1994-1995

Teacher and Principal teacher of RMPS 1995-2005

PHd (University of Aberdeen) 2012


  • Mindfulness
  • Hillwalking
  • Rugby
  • Cricket

Research Interests

  • The Emergence of Philosophy in Religious Education
  • Secularisation and education
  • The impact of faculty management structures on secondary schools
  • Faith education
  • Comparative studies in Religious Education
  • Thinking skills approaches in schools
  • Mindfulness in education
  • Religious Observance in Scottish education
  • Mindfulness; secular and/or spiritual?
  • The sanitisation of religion in education
  • Using e-portfolios in initial teacher education

Current Research

PhD (completion Sept 2011); what factors have influenced the emergence of philosophy in Scottish secondary school Religious Education?

Mindfulness in Schools

The student and probationer experience of faculty style management structures in Scottish secondary schools

Mindfulness and reflective teaching

Mindfulness as secular analogue for religious experience in the Religious Education classroom

The conscience clause and Religious Education. How often are children withdrawn and why?

Mindfulness in Contexts(s); the perfect storm for mindfulness?

Religious Education in an age of Diversity (READY): European project looking at preparation for teachers of Religious Education in multiuple jurisdictions and how facilitate safe dialogic space in the RE classroom

Schools and the santising of religion


Erasmus Plus project Religious Education and Diversity (READY) is a three year European Union project involving universities of Aberdeen, UCL, Karlstadt, Vienna and Tuebingen, as well as the Comenius Institute. This project aims to develop approaches to teaching about and training for dealing diversity in classrooms.


Currently collaborating with Dr Jo Pearce at University College London on a series of papers about the sanitising of religion in schools; qualifications for Religious Education teaching, and purpose of Religious Education.


Teaching Responsibilities


Currently supervising 6 PhD and 16 Masters students



Programme Director for MSc Programme Studies in Mindfulness (teaching and co-ordinating courses ED505A Mindfulness, ED555B Compassion and ED505L Insight)

Subject leader for all RME/RMPS inputs across MA and PGDE programmes

Course co-ordinator for MA1 ED101B Global Perspectives on Education (mandatory course)

Course co-ordinator MA2 ED251C Belief Matters (mandatory course)

Tutor on Thinking Skills elective courses within PGDE and BEd programmes

CPD co-ordinator for RME/RMPS and thinking skills

Tutor on ED50BA Discovering Mindfulness course



Further Info

External Responsibilities

Reviwer for Journal Religions

Reviewer for Routledge (Publisher)

Peer Reviewer for Springer Journal Mindfulness (Journal)

Peer Reviewer for Religious Education (Journal)

External Examiner for Dublin City University (2016)

Peer Reviewer for Religious Education (Journal)

Key Witness for Commission on Religion and Belief in British Public Life (April 2015, University of Glasgow)

Initial Teacher Education representative on National Forum for RE/RME (2015)

Peer Reviewer for ESRC (2014)

Reviewer for Journal of Language and Intercultural Communication (2013)

Reviewer for Scottish Educational Review (Journal) (2013)

Consultant on Monitoring Standards process for Scottish Qualfications Authority (February 2013)

Member of RME Reference group as part of Education Scotland's Curriculum Impact Project (November 2012)

External Review member for Irish Teaching Council review of St Patrick's Teaching College, Thurles (2012)

Member of editorial review board of Leadership and Policy Quarterly (July 2012)

Writer of RMPS materials for Education Scotland on the Dalai Lama and Aung San Suu Kyi (for senior secondary pupils) (2012) Weblink:https://education.gov.scot/improvement/Documents/rme14-buddhism.pdf  

External Examiner for University of Strathclyde (BEd1 RME, Health and Well-being and electives) (2011-14)

External Review member for Irish Teaching Council review of Mater Dei Institute, Dublin (2011)

Scottish representative on European Forum for Teachers of Religious Education (2010 - present)

Convener of Scottish Joint Comittee for Religious and Moral Education curriculum group (2008 - 2014)

SQA marker for Higher RMPS (2001 - 2015)

Member of Curricular Area Review Group (CARG) for Religious and Moral Education (2010 - 2013)

Writer of subject summary material for CfE review (SQAm 2010)

Writer of exemplar material for Religious Observance review (2007)

External Examiner for RMPS inputs at the University of Edinburgh (2006-2009) 

General Teaching Council (Scotland) member of accreditation team for University of Glasgow (MA in Religous Education) (2005)

Admin Responsibilities

Programme Director MSc Studies in Mindfulness

Course co-ordinator for Mindfulness

Course co-ordinator for Compassion

Course co-ordinator for Insight

Subject leader for all RME/RMPS inputs across MA and PGDE programmes

Course co-ordinator for MA1 Global Perspectives on Education course

Course co-ordinator for MA2 Belief Matters course

Tutor on Thinking Skills elective courses within PGDE and BEd programmes

CPD co-ordinator for RME/RMPS and thinking skills

Press articles, curricular guidance materials and Book Reviews


Conference presentations

Academic Conference Presentations (selected)

Date                                    Conference/Presentation/workshop title

June 2018  University of Amsterdam, International Conference on Mindfulness; Secular  Mindfulness; the Full Catastrophe (Paper)

March 2018 University of Bologna, European Academy of Religion Annual Conference; Resisting Essentialist Discourse in Education (joint paper with Drs David Smith and Jo Pearce (UCL)

September 2017 University of Sussex, British Educational Research Association Conference; Schools and Sanitising Religion (joint paper with Drs David Smith and Jo Pearce (UCL)

June 2017  Samye Ling, Mindfulness Association bi-annual conference - Mindfulness in society - Changing the world one mind at a time; Secular Mindfulness? (Keynote)

June 2017  University of Tuebingen  Seminar on European Religious Education                             Religious and Moral Education in Scotland (joint paper with Dr David Smith)

2017-2018 Beijing,  Thinking Skills trainings for Chinese secondary teachers;               Critical Thinking Skills in the secondary school

April 2017 Dublin,  Ireland International Conference on Education (IICE); The Religious Education and Diversity Project (READY) – an overview

February 2017  York, Compassionate Wellbeing conference; Mindfulness and Spirituality

November 2016  Alford Academy, Aberdeenshire; Mindfulness in Education (Aberdeenshire Schools CPD event) An introduction to mindfulness

November 2015   Edinburgh City Council;   Mindfulness in Schools, The Emergence of Mindfulness in Education – An Overview

October 2015 Nairn, Northern Alliance Annual Conference; Mindfulness and Empowerment

August 2013  University of Malmo, Sweden, European Forum for Teachers of Religious Education Tri-annual conference – Religion and Relationships; Mindfulness, self-compassion and the anatomy of love

May 2013 University of Aberdeen   Managing Change in Community Development MOOC; Mindfulness and Resilience in Community Development

March 2013  St George’s School, Edinburgh, Scottish Council for Independent Schools conference  on Religious and Moral Education;     Mindfulness, Compassion and Religious Education

January 2013  Carlton Hotel, Edinburgh, Edinburgh Secular Society Meeting; RME/RMPS – an overview of Scottish practice

October 2012  University of Edinburgh   Scottish Joint Committee for Religious and Moral   Education annual conference; Assessment in RME – the Case for.

August 2012 Dublin City University, Dublin, Developing reflective teachers. CPD for academic staff; Developing Reflective practice in the BEd programme

June 2012 University of Dundee, Engendering Dialogue III -Pedagogical Encounters: Feminist Philosophy and Education; Mindfulness, relationality and pedagogy

March 2012 Stranmillis University College, Belfast, European Forum for Teachers of Religious   Education Board Meeting; Mindfulness as a secular analogue for religious experience

March 2012 University of West of Scotland, Youth in Crisis Conference; Mindfulness as a Thinking Skill for a Distracted Generation

March 2012  Glasgow, Scottish Humanist Society meeting; RME/RMPS – the Scottish situation

October 2011 University of Edinburgh, Scottish Joint Committee on Religious and   Moral Education Annual Conference; Mindfulness as a Thinking Skill

May 2011 University of Aberdeen,  Educational Institute for Scotland and University   Aberdeen CPD event on Health and Well-being; Mindfulness in Education (keynote)

May 2011  North West University, South Africa, International KOERS conference on world views and education; Paper on the emergence of philosophy in Scottish   secondary school Religious Education

April 2011 University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh International Science Festival; Guest speaker during forum discussing 'Creeping creationism' in Scottish education

May 2010 Churches, House, Dunblane, Association of Teachers of RE in Scotland annual   conference, The emergence of philosophy in RE in Scottish   secondary schools

November 2009  Dundee, HMIE good practice event, Developing thinking skills using philosophy   for children and mindfulness

October 2009  University of Aberdeen staff forum, Using De Bono's Hats to structure an analysis of critical thinking

May 2009 Museum of Religion, Glasgow, Scottish Interfaith Council; Religious and Moral Education; the Personal   Search and Curriculum for Excellence

November 2008 Perth, Scottish Educational Research Association (SERA)   annual conference; The Move   to Faculty Middle Management Structures   in Scottish Secondary Schools; A Case Study

August 2008 University of Edinburgh, Scottish Joint Committee for Religious and Moral   Education annual conference; Thinking skills and the Curriculum for Excellence

August 2008 University of Kent, Canterbury     European Association for Research in Learning and   Instruction (EARLI); The impact of Postmodernity on teaching within   the context of Religious Education.

November 2007 Perth, Scottish Educational Research Association (SERA)   annual conference; Social Theory, Secularisation and the changing   educational paradigm as factors in the emergence of Philosophy in schools.   Reflections on a pilot study of Religious Education in one local authority.

November 2007 Perth, Scottish Educational Research Association (SERA)   annual conference; A conceptual background to the use of Actor   Network Theory as a lens by which to analyse School Experience (as part of   Scottish Teachers for a New Era symposium).

November 2006 Perth, Scottish Educational Research Association (SERA) annual conference; A review of Religious Education guidelines as   evidence for a move towards increasingly philosophical approaches to the   subject.

Research Funding

  • Religious Observance tender - bid and leadership (November 2006 – March 2007). Successful tendering for a bid to write exemplar material for Learning and Teaching Scotland and leadership of the writing team to create 18 assembly exemplars for the primary and secondary sectors. The tender was worth £15,422.
  • Scottish Joint Committee for Religious and Moral Education. Successful bid for £2498.10 to support writing of paper and research into the issue of withdrawal from Religious and Moral Education in Scotland.
  • Religious Education and Diversity in Europe: Erasmus Plus - Share of €275,506. Three year project working with 5 European partner institutions



PHd Supervision

David Di Domenico - Multiculturalism and Nurse Education

Kathryn Anderson - Mindfulness and Hospital Chaplaincy

Jane Kellock - The experience of mindfulness, a phenomenological study

Debbie Banks - Mindfulness and Nursing

Heather MacKenzie - Mindfulness in Scottish secondary schools

Jennifer Obbard - Nature Connectedness

Alison Speakman - Group Effect and Mindfulness

MSc Supervision

Currently have 20 Masters supervisess

Graduated (a sample):




Dissertation   Title




An assessment into how mindfulness learning contributes to

developing authentic leadership.




An Evaluation of a Mindful Leadership Programme




Learning Sport Mindfully




Compassion, unlocking the interpersonal potential




A comparative analysis of the Insight course ED505C of the   University of Aberdeen’s Studies in Mindfulness MSc Program with respect to   the Interacting Cognitive Sub-Systems Model of Cognitive Psychology




‘Lite’ Mindfulness and Self-Compassion Meditation:    An Exploratory study of the Perceived Value for Primary Post Graduate Trainee   Teachers




Can an increase in mindfulness lead to an individual's increase   in working memory capacity?




To what Extent does a Mindfulness Training Intervention   contribute to pupil Health and Wellbeing in the context of the Curriculum for   Excellence in a Scottish Secondary School?




An Evaluation of mindful compassion training for nurses



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  • von Brömssen, K, Ivkovits, H & Nixon, G 2020, 'Religious literacy in the curriculum in compulsory education in Austria, Scotland and Sweden - a three-country policy comparison', Journal of Beliefs and Values, vol. 41, no. 2, pp. 132-149. [Online] DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/13617672.2020.1737909
  • Barrett, T, Harris, V & Nixon, G (eds) 2019, Mindful Heroes: Stories of Journeys that Have Changed Lives. vol. 1, 1 edn, Inspired by Learning, Aberdeen.
  • Nixon, G 2019, 'Mindfulness and Liminality - watching thoughts become thinking', Liminal Spaces, Images and texts, Dublin, Ireland, 12/06/19 - 14/06/19.
  • Smith, DR, Pearce, J & Nixon, G 2019, 'The Demographics of RE teachers in England and Scotland in 2017: An Empirical Study', Paper presented at Association of University Lecturers in Religion and Education Annual Conference 2019, Birmingham, United Kingdom, 9/05/19 - 10/05/19.
  • Nixon, G, Smith, DR & Pearce, J 2019, 'Who is teaching RE in England and Scotland? An Empirical Study of English and Scottish Religious Education Teachers', Paper presented at European Academy of Religion Annual Conference 2019 - Bologna, Bologna, ITALY, 3/03/19 - 7/03/19.
  • Schreiner, P, von Bromson, K, Fischer, M, Ivkovits, H, Kliemann, P, Leganger-Krogstad, H, Miedema, S, Niemi, K, Nixon, G, Olschewski, J, Panjwani, F, Pearce, J, Savill, J, Schreiner, P, Schilling, C, Smith, DR & Stones, A 2018, Are you READY? Diversity and Religious Education across Europe. vol. 1, 1 edn, Waxmann, Munster/New York.
  • Smith, DR, Nixon, G & Pearce, J 2018, 'Bad Religion as False Religion: An Empirical Study of UK Religious Education Teachers’ Essentialist Religious Discourse', Religions, vol. 9, no. 11, 361. [Online] DOI: https://doi.org/10.3390/rel9110361
  • Nixon, G 2018, 'Conscientious withdrawal from religious education in Scotland: anachronism or necessary right?', British Journal of Religious Education, vol. 40, no. 1, pp. 6-19. [Online] DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/01416200.2016.1161597
  • Nixon, G, Smith, DR & Pearce, J 2018, 'Good and bad religion: resisting essentialist discourse', Paper presented at European Academy of Religion - First Annual Conference 2018 - Bologna, Bologna, Italy, 5/03/18 - 8/03/18.
  • Smith, DR, Nixon, G & Pearce, J 2018, 'How RE teachers see religion - and why it can be bad for pupils', The Conversation. <> [Online] DOI: https://theconversation.com/how-re-teachers-see-religion-and-why-it-can-be-bad-for-pupils-107859
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