School of Health and Life Sciences  

Karen Thomson

Head of Learning, Teaching & Quality
Having first walked through the gates of GCU, then known as Glasgow College of Technology, as a student in 1986 it could be argued that I am stuck here with the bricks and mortar, however I would maintain that the reason I have been here so long, in a number of different posts (with a short break in the mid 90s when I taught in FE colleges), is because it is a great place to study and work.

As Head of Learning, Teaching & Quality for the School of Life Sciences I work with both academic and support staff across the Departments of Biological and Biomedical Sciences, Psychology and Vision Sciences. I am responsible for monitoring the academic health of all undergraduate and post graduate modules and programmes in the School. Academic development and student support for our home and international students is an important aspect of my current role.

My academic background is Social Psychology which influences the approach to my research interests - the student experience in higher education. I am currently involved in a large ongoing research project looking at first year psychology students' expectations and perceptions of their degree course. I have recently been awarded a PMI Project grant to look at the expectations of our international students as they arrive and how this compares to the reality of studying on a programme within the School of Life Sciences at the end of the first trimester. I also have an interest in preferred teaching and learning styles of students within Life Sciences, particularly cultural influences in learning styles.

Although much of my time is spent working across the School, university committees and representing Psychology, Life Sciences and GCU across the Scottish HEI sector and internationally I still maintain some teaching responsibility, delivering lectures on a number of modules and am the module leader for an honours module, Gender Issues in Psychology. This module presents a critical review of perspectives on gender, sex and sexuality based principally on contemporary theory and research but drawing also on anthropological, biological, sociological, historical and literary sources. I continue to supervise a variety of projects at undergraduate levels 3 & 4 and am an external examiner for the Applied Psychology programme at LJMU.