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Dr Rachel Wilde
20 Bedford Way
Institute of Education
Tel: 020 7612 6811
Dr Rachel Wilde profile picture
  • Associate Professor
  • IOE - Education, Practice & Society
  • UCL Institute of Education

I studied Social Anthropology at the University of Manchester, focusing during my doctorate on the modern phenomena of Gap Years. The main question I was exploring was what sort of person does a gap year produce, and how is this achieved? I spent a year doing ethnographic participant observation with a gap year organisation, learning about the organisational processes and procedures, both behind the scenes and in their work with young people and adults.

After completing my doctorate, I took up a position at LLAKES (Centre for Learning and Life Chances in Knowledge, Economies and Societies) as a research officer, working on numerous projects as a qualitative ethnographer and interviewer.

In 2016, I began a new post as Lecturer in Education on the Education Studies BA at UCL IOE, and in 2018 took up the role of Programme Leader for the Education Studies BA. I was promoted to Associate Professor in 2020.

Research Summary

My main research interests are concerned with the world of work and the relationship between work and education (informal and formal). I'm fascinated by organisations, and the role they play in our lives, how they shape us, as we shape them back. I've conducted research in international NGOs, British charities, British private, state and free schools, and in businesses in engineering, retail and professional services sectors.

My recent book, co-authored with Professor Pauline Leonard at the University of Southampton explores how young people access the labour market and become employable persons.

My work with Professor David Guile is about the learning and work process for project teams made up of different professions. We're currently working with a case study organisation in the engineering sector and exploring how different forms of value are articulated and negotiated by interdisiplinary project teams.

I've also worked on the qualitative element of the Citizenship Education Longitudinal Survey, interviewing young people about their aspirations and opportunities. 

I've conducted interviews with head teachers in private schools about how they understand 'public benefit' and charitable obligations, and with head teachers of free schools about their school missions and objectives.

My most recent research project explores the impacts of COVID-19 on young people's employment opportunities and support.

Teaching Summary

I work with PhD students who are interested in;

Work, labour and employment
Workplace learning
Transitions to work and career development
Young people
Personhood, individualism and governmentality
Organisational Anthropology
Ethnography and qualitative methods

I am also available for Anthropology PhD students for Co-Supervision with UCL Anthropology. I have limited capacity currently so am only considering students with a projects very close to my expertise.

PhD Students Supervised to Completion:

Dr Hilary Chadwick Employer Ownership: The barriers for policy makers.

Dr Chris Mitchell Disturbing circles: investigating the public role of UK higher education through the emergence of Grand Challenges.

Dr Sally Burtonshaw (nee Holt) Insurmountable Silos? A Study of School-University Relationships within Progression to Higher Education.

Contributing Lecturer:

Professionalism and Expertise (MA Engineering and Education)
Theory, Ethnography and Professional Practice (MSc Social and Cultural Anthropology)
UK Food Systems Centre for Doctoral Training, Qualitative Methods

Academic Background
    Doctor of Philosophy University of Manchester
2019   ATQ04 - Recognised by the HEA as a Senior Fellow University College London
2016   ATQ03 - Recognised by the HEA as a Fellow  
2008   Master University of Manchester
2007   Bachelor of Social Science University of Manchester
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