Skip to content Exit mobile menu

Dr Fiona Cullen

Senior Lecturer - Education Studies

Dr Fiona Cullen

About Research

Tel: 020 8240 4000 (2385)


  • Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (FHEA) (2011)
  • PhD Education, Goldsmiths College, London, UK (2007)
  • MA Culture, Globalisation and the City, Goldsmiths College, London, UK (2002)
  • PG Cert Youth & Community Work, Brunel University, London, UK (2001) 

Fin Cullen is the joint Programme Director for the BA Education Studies and the MA Education, Culture & Society. Fin Cullen is a qualified Youth and Community worker and worked for over a decade across the UK in a variety of contexts including youth homeless provision, residential settings, day centres, school-based youth services, centre-based, outreach, detached and mobile provision and sexual health and drugs education services. She has written widely on issues relating to youth and community work, youth policy and professional identities and in 2018 co-edited – The SAGE Handbook of Youth Work Practice (with Pam Alldred, Kathy Edwards & Dana Fusco). This was the first international collection critically mapping the range of youth work practice across the globe.

Fin’s main teaching areas include social justice and user empowerment, informal education and youth work, youth policy and qualitative research methods. She teaches across the Education programmes including modules on Children’s rights, Youth studies and the Purpose & Politics of Education. Previously, Fin was the Director of Youth & Community Work at Brunel University and taught across a range of modules on the BA and MA Youth & Community and MA Children, Youth & International Development programmes from 2008-2016. Fin taught on the MA Social Work at Brunel University and led modules including Research Methods; Social Policy & Sociology, Social Work theory and Service Users in Community Context. She has also previously taught on PGCE courses at Goldsmiths, Institute of Education (UCL) and was a visiting tutor at the University of St Mark & St John.

Fin Cullen has also supervised and supported PhD students with interests in young people's street cultures and social justice interventions in youth work practice.


Research profile

Fin Cullen is a sociologist and her research interests encompass gender, education and youth studies.

Fin Cullen studied sociology and film at the University of Glasgow, before gaining an MA Culture, Globalisation & the City from Goldsmiths College, London. She subsequently received her PhD on young women's smoking and drinking cultures from Goldsmiths College.

Fin has undertaken research for a range of youth services, play services and voluntary organisations including Richmond Parish Lands Charity and Clubs for Young People. From 2007-2009 she was a Research Officer for the ESRC funded No Outsiders project. She was the UK Local Action Coordinator for an international (EU-Daphne funded) project developing training to help educators challenge gender-related violence (2013-15).

Find out more about Fin's research specialisms...

Research interests

Fin's research interests include: drugs and alcohol issues, sex and relationship education, youth and community work practice, youth geographies, participatory research, ethnography; sexuality and gender, youth policy; visual and new technologies, girlhoods, and the sociology of humour.

Her current and future research explores approaches and interventions to combat gender-related violence within education and youth settings. She is also interested in substance use and gender across the life-course.

PhD supervision

Fin is interested in hearing from potential PhD candidates in the following areas:

  • Gender related violence
  • Girlhoods, masculinities and femininities
  • Youth cultures
  • Youth work and informal education
  • Drugs and young people
  • Gender and sexualities equalities in education
  • Citizenship, nationhood and identity

External activity

  • Editorial Board, Pedagogy, Culture & Society
  • Book Reviews Editor Women's Studies International Forum
  • Co-Convenor of Sexualities SIG (BERA)
  • Executive Member, Gender and Education Association 2013-18
  • Co-editor of special section of Sociological Research Online on Modern Girlhoods (May 2013 – see:
  • Co-editor of Special Issue of the International Journal of Adolescence and Youth on 'Youth Policy in Austerity Europe.' (Sept 2014 - see

Peer Reviewer

  • Gender and Education
  • Pedagogy, Culture & Society
  • International Journal of Adolescence & Youth
  • Sex Education
  • Sociological Research Online
  • Irish Journal of Education

External examiner

  • Liverpool Hope (MA Youth & Community work) 2019
  • Coventry University (BA Youth Work & BA Children & Youth studies) 2013-16
  • Newman University, Birmingham (MA Youth Work) 2011-2014
  • Northampton (Youth Work MA validation) 2012

Academic consultant

  • LGBT Youth NW Peer Health project 2014-16
  • Plan UK Girls' Rights project 2019
  • 5Rights 2020

Convening and organising activity

  • Young people at the Margins conference team, St Mary's University, June 2020
  • GEA conference organising team, Middlesex University, June 2017
  • Co-Convenor BERA Sexualities SIG BSA & GEA - Modern Girlhoods day conference, Brunel University, February 2011;
  • BERA SIG- Youth Sexualities and Informal Education seminar, Manchester Metropolitan University, November 2011;
  • Hedonism & Youth Cultures seminar series, Brunel University, September 2012- May 2013;
  • Challenging Heteronomativity day event for practitioners, activists and academics, Brunel University, May 2013.
  • Youth & Violence seminar series, Brunel University, September 2014- June 2015
  • Thinking Space: Youth & Violence day event for academics, practitioners  & activists,  Brunel University, May 2015.

Professional memberships

  • British Educational Research association
  • Feminist and Women's Studies association
  • Gender & Education association
  • Society for Research in Higher Education
  • International Girls’ Studies Association (IGSA) 

Books and book chapters

  • Johnston, C & Cullen, F (Forthcoming) Paradoxes of playwork practice in an English primary school, Playwork Practice at the Margins: Research Perspectives from Diverse Settings, J. Cartmel & R. Worch (eds) Routledge
  • Cullen, F, Barker, J. & Alldred, P. (2020) Trying to keep up”: Spatial and temporal rhythms within caring narratives: Examples from women student carer accounts, Palgrave MacMillan Handbook of Auto/Biography,  J. Parsons & A. Chappell (eds), Palgrave
  • Cullen, F & Galman, Campbell, S (2020) UN Declaration of Human Rights and Children’s Rights, The SAGE Encyclopedia of Higher Education V5, SAGE
  • Alldred, P, Cullen, F,  Edwards, K & D. Fusco (eds) (2018) International Handbook of Youth Work Practice, SAGE
  • Cullen, F. & Bradford, S. (2018) Precarious Practices with Risky Subjects? Policy and Practice Explorations in the UK and Europe in The Handbook of Youth Work Practice, Alldred, P, Cullen, F, Edwards, K & Fusco, D (eds) SAGE
  • Alldred, P, Cullen, F,  Edwards, K & D. Fusco (eds) (forthcoming) International Handbook of Youth Work Practice, SAGE
  • Bradford, S & Cullen, F. (eds) (2011) Research and Research Methods for Youth Practitioners: An Introduction, Routledge.
  • Cullen, F, Bradford, S & Green, L (2011) Working as a Practitioner-researcher, eds. S. Bradford & F. Cullen, Research and Research Methods for Youth Practitioners: An Introduction, London, Routledge.
  • Cullen, F & Bradford, S. (2011) Research and Work with Young People: Politics, Participation and Policy, eds. S. Bradford & F. Cullen, Research and Research Methods for Youth Practitioners: An Introduction, London, Routledge.
  • Cullen, F. (2010) 'I was kinda paralytic, Pleasure, peril and teenage girls' drinking cultures' in Girls and Education 3-16, eds. C.Jackson, C.Paechter & E.Renold. Buckingham, Open University Press.
  • Cullen, F,. (2009) 'Desperately seeking a queerying praxis, Adventure in the classroom', Interrogating heteronormativity in primary schools: The work of the No Outsiders Project. eds DePalma, R., & Atkinson, E.  Stoke on Trent, Trentham 

Selected journal articles

  • Cullen, F & Johnston, C (2017) Playwork goes to School: Professional (mis)recognition and play work practice in primary school. Pedagogy, Culture & Society
  • Cullen, F., (2015) Are Teen Girls Funny? Laughter, Humor and Young Women's Performance of Gender and Sexual Agency, Girlhood Studies., Volume 8, Number 2, Summer 2015, pp. 119-136(18).
  • Bradford, S. & Cullen, F (2014) Positive for youth work? Contested terrains of professional youth work in austerity England, International Journal of Adolescence & Youth, 19, 93-106.
  • Cullen, F., (2013) From DIY to teen pregnancy: new pathologies, melancholia and feminist practice in contemporary English youth work, Pedagogy, Culture and Society, 21 (1) : 23- 42
  • Cullen, F. (2011) "The only time I feel girly is when I go out": Drinking stories, Teenage girls, and respectable femininities', International Journal of Adolescence and Youth, 16(2): 119- 139.
  • Cullen, F. (2010) 'Two's up and poncing fags': young women's smoking practices, reciprocity and friendship', Gender and Education, 22 (5): 491- 504.
  • Cullen, F., & Sandy, L. (2009) 'Lesbian Cinderella and other stories: Telling tales and researching sexualities equalities in primary school'. Sex Education (Special issue on Queering Elementary Education: The State of the Art Ten Years Later)


  • Johnston, C., & Cullen, F., (2015) Developing Play: An Evaluation of a Pilot Play Ranger project in primary schools, (Brunel University, London)
  • Bradford, S., Hey, V., Cullen, F. (2004) What Works? An Exploration of the Value of Informal Education Work with Young People, NAYPC.
  • Bradford. S, Kindness. L, Hey. V & Cullen. F (2003) You're either in or you're out or you're a saddo:  The report on a survey of young people's attitudes in the London Borough of Richmond  (Richmond Parish Land Trust) at
  • Gidley, B, Cullen, F, Keith, M & Mayo, M (2002) Healthy Living and Community Empowerment: Pepys Community Forum Evaluation Case Studies in Community-led Regeneration (Goldsmiths College)

Selected conference papers

  • Cullen, F & Whelan, M. (2019) Thinking critically and feeling discomfort: Critical tensions in developing gender related violence training for youth practitioners, On violence- Gender studies conference, University of Helsinki, Finland, 25th October 2019.
  • Cullen, F, Barker, J. & Alldred, P. (2019) Female student carers: Intersections of identity, space, time and rhythm, British Education Research Association, Manchester University, UK, 6th September 2019
  • Cullen, F & Johnston, C (2017) They have a bit of banter going on’: Professional (mis)recognition, man-to-man chats and play work practice in primary school, Gender & Education Association conference, Middlesex University, 22nd June 2017
  • Cullen, F & Johnston, C (2016) ‘It’s basically like being a teaching assistant’: Professional (mis)recognition and play work practice in primary school, Interdisciplinary research with children, young people and families: crossing boundaries, sharing stories, Northampton University, 8th September 2016
  • Cullen, F (2016) “I don’t mind challenging most things but this topic is quite a sensitive one” Developing training for youth practitioners to tackle gender-related violence, Children and Young People in a Changing World Conference, Liverpool Hope University, UK, 23rd-24th June 2016
  • Cullen, F (2015) Mind the Gap: Tackling Gender-Related Violence in Theory and Practice in Developing Training for Youth Practitioners, Feminist & Women's Studies Conference, University of Leeds, 10th September 2015.
  • Cullen, F (2015) Combatting Gender related Violence, Training Action Group Youth Work conference, Brathay Hall, Ambleside, UK, 23rd June 2015.
  • Cullen. F & Alldred, P.  (2013) "If that was me, I would've probably given up by now": Widening participation, care responsibilities and becoming a Higher Education student  Gender & Education association conference, South Bank University, London, UK, 25th April 2013.
  • Cullen, F. (2012) (in)Formal education for informal educators: Exploring learner identities in a professional youth work training course, at Practicing 'otherwise': BERA Youth Studies SIG, University of Manchester, 3rd September 2012
  • Cullen, F (2011) 'It's only a joke': Laughter, humour and young women's performance of gender and sexual agency, British Education Research Association, Institute of Education, September 2011
  • Cullen, F (2010) 'From DIY to teen pregnancy: New pathologies, melancholia and feminist youth work', ESRC funded seminar series, convened by Professor Carrie Paechter and Professor Angela McRobbie, Goldsmiths College, invited presentation, June 2010.
  • Cullen, F., (2008) The MTV knowing child: challenging heteronormativity in primary school, BERA Sexualities SIG, Institute of Education, 31st October 2008
  • Cullen, F.   (2009)   'Failing youth: the contemporary gendering of youth work in England' , DCSF Gender Agenda Symposium, Gender and Education Association Conference. Institute of Education, London, UK.  
  • Allan, A & Cullen, F.   (2008)   'Picturing innocence? Innocent pictures?: Representation and the use of self-directed photography in studies of children and young people's cultural worlds' , ESRC Qualiti, Advancing the Use of Visual Methods in
  • Children's Research Seminar. University of Cardiff, Wales, 16th April 2008
  • Cullen, F (2007)  "Where are we gonna go?": Cotching, respectability and teenage girls' drinking identities, Disorders of Consumption; health, identities and social policies on consumption; Identities and consumption ESRC seminar series, University of Bath, UK, 4th September 2007

Media enquiries

For media enquiries, please contact our Press Office Team by emailing