We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. You can change your cookie settings at any time. Otherwise, we'll assume you're OK to continue.

Durham University

School of Education

Research Projects

Dr Cora Lingling Xu, PhD

Personal web page

Assistant Professor in the School of Education

Contact Dr Cora Lingling Xu (email at


Cora is a sociologist of education mobilities. Her research examines how the intersection of class, gender, ethnicity, rural-urban divides, time, and geopolitics can shape social agents’ educational and life trajectories. She is interested in investigating the interplay between individual agency and structural factors through innovative research methods, such as digital storytelling. Cora draws heavily on social theories to inform her empirical research, including Bourdieu’s theory of practice, sociology of time, diaspora and diaspora at home. Cora’s geographical focuses include China (mainland China, Hong Kong), the UK, and the Asia-Pacific. Listen to this interview with The Migration Podcast about Cora's research details.

Cora’s research has been funded by the British Sociological Association, The Sociological Review Foundation, the ESRC Methods North West, The National Social Science Fund of China, Monash University Malaysia, and the Cambridge International Trust.

Cora is founder and director of Network for Research into Chinese Education Mobilities (NRCEM). The NRCEM is a cross-disciplinary network that attracts more than 300 members from across Europe, Asia, Australia and North America. The website has on average 1,000 monthly hits. Its ‘Research Highlights’ section has featured more than 70 original submissions of latest publications and research projects. This network has become an important outlet for global scholars to disseminate cutting-edge research on all aspects of Chinese education mobilities. Listen to the Podcast series ‘Meet the Author‘ and ‘Lived Experiences‘ that Cora has curated. 

Cora received her PhD in Sociology of Education from the University of Cambridge in 2016, as a Cambridge Trust scholar. She obtained her MA from King’s College London as a British Chevening scholar and her Bachelor’s from the Education University of Hong Kong as an Outstanding Mainland scholar. A qualified teacher, she taught English as a second language for five years in two Hong Kong secondary schools. 

At Durham, Cora convenes and contributes to modules on the BA and MA courses in the International and Comparative Education area. Before joining Durham University, Cora worked at Keele University as Lecturer in Education between 2016 and 2020.

Cora is a fervent believer in community writing. This has been shaped by her experiences in organising various Writing Groups at the University of Cambridge and Keele University. She is a member of Durham University Writing Group.

Information for Prospective Doctoral Research Student Supervisions

Cora is interested to work with students on areas of inquiry related to rural-urban inequalities, ethnic minority experiences, international student and academic mobilities, transnational institutional and knowledge mobilities. She is keen to explore opportunities facilitated by creative qualitative research methods such as autoethnography, digital storytelling and other arts-based methods. She would be pleased to investigate how social theories can inform such empirical research.

Research Groups

Research Interests

  • Academic mobilities
  • Bourdieu
  • China studies
  • Diaspora & Diaspora at home
  • Ethnic minority experience
  • Hong Kong studies
  • International student mobility (ISM)
  • Rural-urban inequalities
  • Sociology of time
  • Study-to-work transition

Selected Publications

Book review

Journal Article

Show all publications

Media Contacts

Available for media contact about:

  • Education: international student mobility
  • Subject specialists: international student mobility
  • Asia (excluding Middle East): international student mobility
  • Social and ethical inequality: international student mobility
  • Sociology: international student mobility