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Durham University

School of Education

Research Projects

Dr Rille Raaper

Assistant Professor in the School of Education

(email at


Dr Rille Raaper (BA, PgCAP, MA, Ph.D)

I am an Assistant Professor in the School of Education where my research interests lie in the sociology of higher education. I am particularly interested in neoliberalisation of university policies and practices, power relations in academia, student identity as consumers, and student politics in higher education. I often explore these themes by drawing on critical theory and critical discourse analysis. My most recent research project traces consumerist positioning of students in England and the ways in which it informs student politics. I have published a number of related articles (see the most recent one here) and blog posts to share some of the key findings. 

I am currently also a co-I on the Erasmus+ project 'Development, assessment and validation of social competences in higher education'). The project is led by the Warsaw School of Economics, and the overall aim is to explore the extent to which universities across partner countries help to prepare students for active citizenship.

I supervise a number of PGR students in my expertise areas; I currently also support two Laidlaw Scholars at Durham University whose research projects relate to student politics and free speech in higher education.

I currently convene the UG module Higher Education: Issues of Exclusion and Inclusion, and the PG module The Case for Higher Education: From Precarity to Empowerment. I also contribute to the PG module Critical Perspectives in Education.

I am also a coordinator of the First Generation Scholars Network at the School of Education. I would be very pleased to hear from current or prospective students at the School of Education who are first in their family to go to university.

Before joining Durham in 2016, I held research and teaching positions at the University of Glasgow. I was involved in research projects on assessment practices in higher education and MOOC courses as well as teaching in the areas of research methods and fundamentals of education. Previously, I also worked at the Estonian National Agency of European Lifelong Learning Programme and coordinated the activities of adult education programme Grundtvig in Estonia.


Completed Supervisions

Recovery as a troublesome concept: A phenomenographic study of mental health nursing students’ learning experiences.

Graduating from care: A narrative study of care leavers' journeys into and through university

Information for Prospective Doctoral Research Student Supervisions

I would be pleased to hear from potential research students with an interest in conducting research in matters relating to higher education policies, issues of inclusion and exclusion in higher education, student politics and consumerism in higher education. I am also keen to supervise students who are wishing to apply critical theory and critical discourse analysis in educational research.

Research Groups

Research Projects

  • Critical Analysis of the Higher Education Green and White Papers (2015-2016): Student Representation and Response
  • DASCHE: Development, Assessment and Validation of Social Competences in Higher Education

Research Interests

  • Higher education policy and practice
  • Politics of higher education and student movements
  • Consumerism in higher education
  • Widening participation in higher education
  • Assessment policy and practice
  • Critical theory and critical discourse analysis
  • Foucault


Chapter in book

Conference Paper

  • Raaper, R. (2016), Tracing assessment policy discourses in neoliberalised universities. A Foucauldian perspective, Foucault@90 Conference. University of West Scotland, Ayr, Scotland.
  • McGuire, W. & Raaper, R. (2015), Developing a guiding protocol for the moderation of summative assessments, in Gómez Chova, Louis, López Martínez, A. & Candel Torres, I. eds, 7th International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies EDULEARN15 Conference. Barcelona, International Association of Technology, Education and Development (IATED), Valencia, 7403-7411.

Journal Article

Other (Print)


  • Raaper, R. (2017), Students as consumers? Tracing the policy context of the Higher Education and Research Bill, British Educational Research Association Conference. University of Sussex, Brighton.
  • Raaper, R. (2016), Peacekeepers’ and ‘machine factories’ A Foucauldian exploration of Graduate Teaching Assistant subjectivity in a neoliberalised university, SRHE Conference. Newport.
  • Raaper, R. (2016), Tracing power and student subjectivity in assessment. A Foucauldian perspective, British Educational Research Association Conference,. University of Leeds.
  • Raaper, R. (2015), Foucauldian analysis of student assessment as a technology of government in neoliberal universities, British Educational Research Association Conference. London.
  • Raaper, R. (2014), Student assessment as a disciplinary and governmental technique in a neoliberal higher education context, EERA/ECER Conference. Porto.
  • Raaper, R. (2013), How did i find my home? A journey from grounded theory to Foucauldian framework in assessment in higher education research, Assessment in Higher Education Conference. Birmingham, UK.

Selected Grants

  • 2017: DASCHE: Development, assessment and validation of social competences in higher education (£43256.00 from Interreg (ERDF) Europe)
  • 2016: Critical Analysis of The Higher Education Green and White Papers (2015-2016): Student Representation and Response (£5895.00 from The British Academy)