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Dr Sarah Lawther

Educational Research and Evaluation Specialist

Centre for Academic Development and Quality Dept.


Sarah is an Educational Research and Evaluation Specialist within the Educational Research and Evaluation Team. Sarah’s role involves conducting research and evaluation to inform strategic decision making.

Career overview

Sarah joined Nottingham Trent University in 2000. During her time at NTU Sarah has worked on a range of research projects that aim to improve the student experience such as the Erasmus funded ‘Onwards from Learning Analytics (OfLA)’ project, the Paul Hamlyn Foundation ‘What Works? Student Retention & Success Programme’, and projects on induction, the Student Dashboard, and NTU Welcome. Sarah was involved in early work to raise awareness about Success for All and has a particular interest in understanding the diversity and intersectionality of students within higher education. Sarah has also supported colleagues to develop Theory of Change plans and with evaluation of programmes.

Sarah has an MSc in Social Science Research Methods from Nottingham Trent University and is a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy. She has also worked within the NHS to evaluate a national ADHD diagnosis programme, and has been a lecturer within the School of Social Sciences.

Research areas

Sarah has a PhD in Sociology from Nottingham Trent University. Her doctoral research explored the student experience of religion and belief (including non-religious belief) and the everyday practices that students do that support their university experience and their wellbeing.


Lawther, S., 2021. Telling their own story in their own way: negotiating the ethics of a diary-like photo-elicitation method to capture faith and belief from students’ own starting point. In: Cao, X., and Henderson, F., eds. Exploring Diary Methods in Higher Education Research: Opportunities, Choices and Challenges. London: Routledge, 2021. pp. 115-128.

Lawther, S., 2018. Exploring how to research religion and non-religion on campus. Paper at the “Religion and Secularism on Campus: The Changing Dimensions of the University Experience” conference hosted by the Re/presenting Islam on Campus project on 6-7 September 2018 at SOAS, University of London.

Lawther, S., 2018. Understanding religion and belief on campus: using postcards to initiate conversations about students’ everyday beliefs and practices. Roundtable Session given at the “BSA Annual Conference” hosted by the British Sociological Association on 10-12 April 2018 at Northumbria University.

Lawther, S., Foster, E., Mutton, J., and Kerrigan, M., 2016. Can the use of learning analytics encourage positive student behaviours? In: Janes, G., Nutt, D., and Taylor, P., eds. Student Behaviour and Positive Learning Cultures, SEDA Special 38. London: SEDA, pp. 17-21.

Lawther, S., and Foster, E., 2016. Developing a Sense of Belonging: what is it that helps students feel that they ‘fit in’ on their course? In: Bonne, P., and Nutt, D., eds., Ten Times the First Year: reflections on ten years of the European First Year Experience Conference. Tielt: Lannoo Campus.

Lawther, S., and Pears, A., 2015. Understanding, development and implementation: Strategies at Nottingham Trent University for closing the BME attainment gap. Presentation given at the “Think Tank 2: Journey to close the BME attainment gap” conference hosted by the Higher Education Race Action Group (HERAG) on 1 June 2015 at Woburn House, 20 Tavistock Square, London.

Kerrigan, M., and Lawther S., 2015. Learning Metrics, Learning Analytics: using data to improve the student experience. Presentation given at the “TILT symposium and ABLE Project Multiplier event” on 10 December 2015 at Nottingham Trent University.

Lawther, S., Scott, F., Vesey, A., 2013. Using data to inform strategies to promote student retention and success. In: Clark, R., Andrews, J., Thomas, L., Aggarwal, R., eds. Compendium of effective practice in higher education: Volume 2 [online]. Higher Education Academy, 2013, pp.152-155. Available at:

Foster, E., Lawther, S., Keenan, C., Bates, N., Colley, B., Lefever, R., 2012. HERE Project Toolkit: A resource for programme teams interested in improving student engagement and retention [online]. Available at:

Foster, E., Lawther, S., Lefever, R., Bates, N., Keenan, C. and Colley, B., 2012. HERE to stay? An exploration of student doubting, engagement and retention in three UK universities. In: I. Solominides, A. Reid and P. Petocz, eds, Engaging with Learning in Higher Education. UK: Libri Publishing, pp. 95-114.

Lawther, S., 2009. What is 'on': an exploration of iconographical representation of traditional religious organizations on the homepages of their websites. In: Deacy, C., Arweck, E, eds. Exploring Religion and the Sacred in a Media Age. Farnham: Ashgate.