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Durham University

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Staff Profile

Professor Steve Kirk, EdD, SFHEA

Professor (Teaching), Head of Academic Development Programmes for Students in the Durham Centre for Academic Development (DCAD)
Telephone: +44 (0) 191 33 42249

Contact Professor Steve Kirk (email at

Personal Profile

Steve is Professor (Teaching) and Head of Academic Development for Students at Durham Centre for Academic Development (DCAD). He previously served for two years as director of the University's English Language Centre (now part of DCAD).

Steve's work focuses particularly around curriculum, pedagogy and teacher development in English for Academic Purposes (EAP). He has spoken widely across the UK and internationally on these areas, including as an invited plenary speaker for the British Council in Russia. His doctoral thesis was a case study of EAP curriculum enactment. The research used Legitimation Code Theory (LCT), a social realist framework in the sociology of education, to examine what happens as an educational programme moves from conceptualisation to course design, and then from page to classroom pedagogy. Steve is coordinator of LCT-UK, a regional network created to develop and support the UK-based community of educational researchers and practitioners enacting LCT in their work. LCT-UK is affiliated with the LCT Centre for Knowledge Building at the University of Sydney.

Steve is a BALEAP Accreditation Scheme Assessor of EAP programmes across the UK and also sits on the Accreditation Scheme Committee (BASC). He has been an external examiner for EAP-related programmes across the country since 2009, including MA and PgCert programmes in teaching English for academic purposes (TEAP). He was a core member of the BALEAP TEAP Working Party, seeking to develop applications of the original BALEAP Teacher Competency Framework (CFTEAP) (BALEAP 2008), and worked on the development of the 2014 revision of the CFTEAP. The new framework is embedded within the TEAP Accreditation Scheme, a CPD pathway scheme for individual EAP practitioners. Steve was involved in the early conception and development of this Scheme. Portfolio criteria are mapped both to the CFTEAP and to the UK Professional Standards Framework. The first BALEAP associate and senior fellowships were awarded in April 2015 and many more EAP practitioners are now working towards individual accreditation. Steve's observation framework for EAP teacher development, co-developed with Dr Julie King (Imperial College London), was incorporated into the BALEAP Accreditation Handbook in 2011 and is still being used by institutions across the UK.

Steve teaches on the MA Applied Linguistics for TESOL, run through DCAD. He leads modules in Cognitive Linguistics perspectives on second language development, and in Teaching English for Academic Purposes (TEAP). He also runs academic reflective writing workshops across the university, using an educational enactment of Legitimation Code Theory (Kirk, 2017) to work with students from physics to sociology on, what is for most, an unfamiliar genre.


Research & Publications

Kirk, S. (2018). Enacting the curriculum in English for academic purposes: A legitimation code theory analysis. Durham theses, Durham University. Available at Durham E-Theses Online:

Kirk, S. (2017). Waves of Reflection: seeing knowledges in academic writing. In Kemp, J. (Ed.) EAP in a rapidly changing landscape: issues, challenges and solutions. Proceedings of the 2015 BALEAP Conference. Reading: Garnet Publishing.

Kirk, S. (2015) 'Teaching English for Academic Studies' [online teacher education course for EAP practitioners]. In English for Academic Studies. Epigeum. [Example screens in this course image gallery Available in full internally via DUO]

Kirk, S. and L. Greener (2013) ‘From TEFL to TEAP, starting with A (for Academic)’. In Pattison, T. (Ed.) IATEFL 2012: Glasgow Conference Selections. Kent: IATEFL.

Kirk, S. and J. King (2011) Framework for EAP Teacher Observation and Development. BALEAP Accreditation Scheme Handbook. Revised Edition, 2011. pp. 49-50.

Kirk, S. (2010) 'Exploiting and Embedding the EAP Teacher Competency Framework'. BALEAP Activity. Journal of English for Academic Purposes 9: 250-251.

Kirk, S. (2008) Academic Reading Module. Macmillan English Campus


Plenary Speaker

'South of the Border, West of the Sun: Explorations & Articulations in EAP'.  Nowegian Forum for EAP annual conference. 7 June 2019.

'We don't need to CLIL it; we need to KILL it: Knowledge-Integrated Language Learning for EAP'. Finding the Balance - Language and Content in EAP. St Andrews University. 27 February 2016. [slides]

'Teaching EAP: Enabling Academic Participation'. E-merging Forum, Moscow. British Council Russia. 12 March 2015. [full talk]

'Lost and Found in Translation: innovating and the EAP practitioner'. Innovation in EAP: the key to the future. St Andrews University. 1 March 2014.


Invited Speaker

'Using LCT in Planning and Pedagogy'. Third International Legitimation Code Theory Conference. University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa. 1 July 2019.

'Seeing and Interpreting Knowledge Practices in Curriculum Design'. Knowledge in Education Symposium. Sheffield Hallam University. 27 June 2019.

'What Do We Actually Mean By 'Knowledge'?: Some possible thinking tools'. BALEAP Professional Issues Meeting (PIM). University of Northmampton. 22 June 2019.

'Moving beyond language and text in disciplinary writing: A teaching tool from LCT'. English Language Teaching Unit (ELTU), Leicester University. 7 December 2018.

'What can LCT tell us about EAP teaching and teacher education?'. TESOL Centre, Sheffield Hallum University. 21 November 2018.

'Principles, plausibility & practice: Three stories of scholarship from and for EAP'. Centre for English Language Education (CELE), School of Education, Nottingham University. 22 October 2018.

'Discerning design: Developing academic courses and materials with Semantics'. Invited Workshop Leader. Second International Legitimation Code Theory Conference. University of Sydney, Australia. 3 July 2017.

'Observation of EAP teaching: Principles and practice'. Opening talk + afternoon of workshops and discussion for UK institutions looking to enhance their practice. With Dr Julie King (Imperial). BALEAP Accreditation Scheme Development Day. Heriot Watt University. 14 May 2016.

'Using LCT in teaching practice: Curriculum | pedagogy | assessment'. Stellenbosch University, South Africa. 23 June 2015.

'From context to classroom in EAP pedagogy'. Centre for Languages & International Education, University College London. 6 November 2014.

'Can EAP be good for your ELF? Towards a 'European resolution''. EULEAP Conference. Humboldt University, Berlin. 4 May 2013.

‘EAP opportunities in academic reading: Some thoughts for teachers’. Staff development workshop. University of Bath. 21 February 2013. [Slides]

‘Revisiting the A in EAP’. Staff development workshop. University of Leeds. 14 Oct 2011.

'Observation practice for EAP'. Staff development workshop. Newcastle University. 12 Novermber 2010.

'Motivated meaning, motivated learners'. Staff development workshop. Newcastle University. 14 July 2010.

‘Observation criteria for EAP’BALEAP Professional Development Day, London South Bank Univ. With Dr J. King (Imperial). 22 May 2010.

‘From process writing to process marking’. Staff development workshop. Nottingham University. 04 Mar 2010.

‘Grammar revision and re-vision: Perceptions, problems & possibilities’. Invited speaker, School of Modern Languages & Cultures, Durham University. 17 Dec 2008.


Conference Papers

Kirk, S. (2019) 'Diving for Pearls: Exploring EAP curriculum enactment with Semantics'. Third International Legitimation Code Theory Conference. University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa. 4 July 2019.

Kirk, S. (2019) 'A Context, a Curriculum & a Call to Arms: Theorising the local in EAP'. Biennial BALEAP Conference. University of Leeds. 12-14 April.

Kirk, S. (2017) 'Talking with teachers: Semantic gravity and explicit praxis in EAP'. Second International Legitimation Code Theory Conference. University of Sydney, Australia. 5 July 2017.

Kirk, S. (2017) 'From page to pedagogy: Towards 'signature profiles' for EAP'. Biennial BALEAP Conference. Bristol University, 9 April 2017.

Kirk, S. (2015) 'Waving across fields of practice: Three tales of Semantics'. Legitimation Code Theory Colloquium, University of Cape Town, South Africa. 18-19 June 2015

Kirk, S. (2015) 'Teaching reflective writing: Learning to weave and wave'. Biennial BALEAP Conference. Leicester University, 19 April 2015.

Cowley-Haselden, S., Ding, A, King, J. & Kirk, S. (2015) 'On the purposes in EAP'. Symposium, Biennial BALEAP Conference. Leicester University, 18 April 2015.

Kirk, S. (2014) 'Consulting the OrAcLe: A tool for EAP teaching planning and practice'. BALEAP PIM, Sheffield Hallam University. 29 November 2014.

Kirk, S. (2013) ‘Walking the talk: Refining notions of TTT for EAP’. Biennial BALEAP Conference. Nottingham University. 20 April 2013. [Slides]

Kirk, S., Macdiarmid, C & Rogers, L. (2013) ‘Competently brought to life’. Biennial BALEAP Conference. Nottingham University. 20 April 2013. [Slides]

Kirk, S. & Macallister, C. (2013) ‘Plausibility, power & progress: Enhancing student language learning through professional collaboration’. AULC National Conference. Durham University. 9 January 2013. [Slides]

Kirk, S. & Greener, L. (2012) ‘From TEFL to TEAP, Starting with A (for academic)’. IATEFL Glasgow. 23 Mar 2012. [Abstract]

King, J. & Kirk, S. (2011) ‘Seeing through new eyes: Observation practice for EAP’. Biennial BALEAP Conference. Portsmouth University. 11 Apr 2011.

Kirk, S. (2010) ‘Scaffolding EAP teacher development: Towards an integrated view of curriculum’. IATEFL ESP/EAP SIG Event. Bilkent Univ., Ankara, Turkey. 18 Jun 2010.

Kirk, S. (2010) ‘Motivated meaning, motivated learners’. BALEAP PIM, Newcastle University. 27 Feb 2010

Kirk, S. (2009) ‘Enquiry-based learning for EAP’. LLAS Workshop-to-go: Enquiry-Based Learning in Language Teaching. Durham University. 26 Jun 2009.

Kirk, S. (2006) ‘(Under)standing on their own two feet: Scaffolding for EAP’. IATEFL Harrogate. 11 Apr 2006.

Kirk, S. (2006) ‘Rethinking notions of learner autonomy for East Asian students of EAP’. BALEAP PIM, University of Winchester. 25 Feb 2006.



2016. Enhancing the Student Learning Experience Award. Grant of £33,905 for PG Transitions project to develop pre-arrival online materials for Durham postgraduates. With M. Murray, S. Nolan & N. Reissland-Burghart

2007. Enhancing the Student Learning Experience Award. Grant of £7.5k to develop bespoke pedagogical materials for EAP students in Law and Business. With L. Greener.



2017. Winner of a People's Choice Award for 'Talking with Teachers: semantic gravity and explicit praxis in EAP'. Second International Legitimation Code Theory Conference. University of Sydney, Australia. 5 July.

2014. Winner of the Guiding Hand award. Durham Student Union Staff Awards

2013. Nominated for Lecturer of the Year. Durham Student Union Staff Awards