Dr Aileen Ackland

Dr Aileen Ackland

Senior Lecturer

Dr Aileen Ackland
Dr Aileen Ackland

Contact Details

work +44 (0)1224 274875
The University of Aberdeen Room 710 MacRobert Building School of Education University of Aberdeen Kings College AB24 5UA


Prior to joining the School of Education in 2003, I had a professional career in education which encompassed work in schools, colleges, continuing education and workplace learning.  I have extensive experience of working with communities through adult and community learning, and as a voluntary sector manager with WEA Scotland.   I have been involved for many years at strategic level regionally and nationally, contributing to a range of partnerships and working groups in relation to adult guidance, adult learning, community learning and literacies. My experience across educational sectors and in inter-professional partnerships, combined with a research interest in international policy, means that my educational practice is informed by a broad and critical appreciation of historical and current discourses.  

I am committed to a collaborative approach, working across sectoral and disciplinary boundaries to advance education for social justice.  I have led a number of multi-agency programme development teams, such as the Scottish TQAL project   - a Government funded project to design and deliver the first professional qualification for adult literacies tutors.  Although my main responsibilities are to professional development programmes for adult and community educators, I contribute to programmes across the School of Education and aim to broker shared understandings.

My interest in critical pedagogies is fundamental to my University teaching as well as being the focus of my research.  It has also influenced the development of my practice with respect to information and communication technologies for participative distance learning. My passion is for the design of creative curricula which synthesise form and content.  

Memberships and Affiliations


Member of the School of Education Strategic Coordination Team.

Programme Director:

M Sc/ Postgraduate Diploma in Community Learning and Development

PGDE (Adult Literacies)

M Ed (Adult Literacies Development)



Member of the CPD Committee of the Scottish CLD Standards Council.

Curriculum and Research Leader,  Scottish TQAL Consortium.   

Member of Education Scotland short life working group which developed the Professional Development Framework for Scotland's adult literacies workforce.


Research Overview

Creative Pedagogies, Digital Literacies and Online Learning, Adult Literacies and Learning, Participatory Action Research.

Socio-material theoretical perspectives.  


Current Research

Wherever possible, I try to integrate research and teaching.  Working with a range of artists on the Postgraduate Diploma in CLD, I am currently researching the transformative potential of creative pedagogies of professional development.  I have a particular interest in applied and participatory theatre techniques.  I am increasingly drawn to socio-material perspectives which also provide a lens through which to examine the new pedagogical challenges of online learning.

As Director of the CUSP research centre http://the-cusp.org/ I support Participatory Action Research approaches to enquiry and action with communities. One such project utilises visual research methods to explore young people's experiences of well-being in a rural community.




A collaboration with Aberdeen City Creative Learning team has supported the redevelopment of the Postgraduate Diploma in CLD to emphasise creativity.  Since 2014, we have worked with a range of creative artists including architects, Stone Opera http://stone-opera.com/ and writer, Raman Mundair.  

Collaboration has been key to the development of new courses designed to meet the professional development needs of practitioners working in community settings.  Working with colleagues at the University of Dundee and the Aberdeen City Family Learning team, I developed new professional development courses in Family Learning.  

Between 2006 -2012, I was Curriculum and Research Leader for the Scottish TQAL Consortium - a partnership of HE and FE institutions funded by Scottish Government to develop and deliver new professional qualifications for Adult Literacies practitioners.  The Consortium included: the Universities of Aberdeen, Dundee & Strathclyde and Forth Valley & Cardonald Colleges of Further Education. 

Research collaborations include work with colleagues at the Universities of Dundee, Strathclyde, Edinburgh and West of Scotland.  Collaborations for research in practice settings include work with the North Alliance and Aberdeenshire Council.



Teaching Responsibilities

Masters/Postgraduate Diploma in Community Learning and Development

Master of Education

Professional Graduate Diploma in Education

MA Education


Dr Aileen Ackland received the College of Arts and Social Sciences Award for Excellence in Postgraduate Teaching in 2015.




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  • A Scottish Consortium of Higher and Further Education Institutions: Developing Collaboration through Critical Incidents

    Ackland, A., Roberts, G., Swinney, A., Wallace, D.

    University Partnerships for Pre-Service and Teacher Development. Blessinger, P., Cozza, B. (eds.). Emerald Group Publishing Limited, pp. 17-32, 16 pages

    Chapters in Books, Reports and Conference Proceedings: Chapters

  • Literacy and Education by James Paul Gee

    Ackland, A. M.

    Research and Practice in Adult Literacy, vol. 86, pp. 41-42

    Contributions to Journals: Reviews of Books, Films and Articles

  • Adult learning and wellbeing: Between body politics and the body politic

    Ackland, A., McGregor, C., Roberts, G.

    Contributions to Conferences: Papers

  • More…or less?: Towards a critical pedagogy of Adult Numeracy

    Ackland, A.

    Adults Learning Mathematics – An International Journal, vol. 9, no. 2, pp. 7-21

    Contributions to Journals: Articles

  • At play in the space: the concept of ‘the social practice approach’ in the Scottish adult literacies field

    Ackland, A.

    Literacy & numeracy studies, vol. 21, no. 1, pp. 59 -84

    Contributions to Journals: Articles

  • The eye of the storm: discursive power and resistance in the development of a professional qualification for adult literacies practitioners in Scotland

    Ackland, A.

    European Journal for Research on the Education and Learning of Adults , vol. 2, no. 1, pp. 57-73

    Contributions to Journals: Articles

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