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Department of Education

Emma Rawlings Smith

Departmental Lecturer in Geography Education

Emma Rawlings Smith is Departmental Lecturer in Geography Education. She teaches on the PGCE Geography and MSc in Learning and Teaching programmes, and supervises postgraduate students in the fields of geography education and teacher education.

After completing a first degree in Geography and Biology at the University of Sussex, a Masters in Environmental Archaeology and Palaeoeconomy (with Distinction) and a Secondary Geography PGCE both at the University of Sheffield, Emma taught school geography for 15 years in the United Kingdom and abroad. Emma’s disciplinary expertise was recognised by the Royal Geographical Society (with IBG) when she became a Fellow (FRGS) and Chartered Geographer in 2009. While working in Abu Dhabi, she gained an MA in Education (with Distinction), and became increasingly interested in practitioner research and professional learning. On return to England Emma completed her doctorate exploring the professional capital of authors who recontextualise knowledge about place in geography textbooks.

Emma has worked in Higher Education since 2016. Firstly, at the University of Leicester as PGCE Geography Lead, SCITT Academic Lead and MSc Educational Leadership module lead. She then moved into the role of Postgraduate Research Lead at Bangor University and further supported research as the School Ethics Chair and CaBan ITE Partnership Research Lead. Emma was awarded Welsh Government funding for a Student Transitions to University project in collaboration with colleagues at Cardiff Metropolitan University. She has published widely on geography education and initial teacher education (ITE) and her research interests focus on teacher education, professional development, teacher and teacher educator identity, student transitions, lesson study in ITE, and place pedagogy. Emma is currently working on an edited volume titled Encountering Place in Education to be published by Routledge in 2023.

Emma has been, and continues to be, involved in a range of societies and associations. She is a trustee and sits on the Council of the Royal Geographical Society (RGS- IBG) as Honorary Secretary (Education) and is a Chartered Geographer assessor. Emma is a member of the Geography Education Research Collective, a member of the Geographical Association’s (GA) Teacher Education Phase Committee and Teaching Geography Editorial Board, having previously sat on the Post 16 & Higher Education Committee (2009-2016). Through her consultancy work with the GA, RGS, the Field Studies Council, NASBTT and Durham Education Service, Emma has supported the professional learning of geography teachers on Data Skills, Changing Places, qualitative methods and geographical enquiry and she has co-authored a number of 11-18 school geography textbooks. Emma has examined GCSE and A level geography for AQA and Edexcel and most recently worked as a GCE Geography Examination Author for OCR. Emma has since served as an External Examiner on PGCE programmes at the University of Reading and Liverpool Hope University.

Current professional associations: British Educational Research Association (BERA);
Royal Geographical Association (with IBG); Geographical Association (GA); International Professional Development Association (IPDA); British Educational Leadership, Management and Administration Society (BELMAS).

Funded Research Projects

Student transitions to university in Wales during COVID-19 Welsh Government funded as part of the National Strategy for Educational Research and Enquiry Collaborative Evidence Network Programme (10/2021-07/2022).

Teacher Drop Out Erasmus+ Programme (2000-2023).

NERC Discipline Hopping (DH) for Environmental Solutions, (12/2021 – 04/2022).


Rawlings Smith, E. (2020) An exploration of the professional capital of authors who recontextualise knowledge about place in English A level geography textbooks, PhD Thesis. Leicester, University of Leicester.

  • Subjects Taught

    PGCE (Geography)

    MSc in Learning and Teaching

    MSc in Teacher Education


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