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Durham University

School of Education

Staff Profile

Publication details for Emma Dobson

Dobson, Emma (2019), A theory-driven thesis: Utilising theory-driven evaluation to guide the conduct and content of a PhD thesis examining peer-led Sex and Relationships Education, in Shao, Xin & Dobson, Emma eds, Imagining Better Education. Durham, England, Durham University, School of Education, Durham, England, 53-69.

Author(s) from Durham


The following article discusses the content and conduct of a PhD thesis exploring
the utilisation of peer education to deliver Sex and Relationships Education (SRE)
to adolescents in the United Kingdom. Evaluative literature currently suffers from
a lack of theorisation and an absence of mechanistic investigation. In attempting to
address this limitation, the PhD evolved from one study into a series of five
separate studies. It is hoped that by drawing findings together from separate
studies, the work as a whole will form a more complete, cohesive and
comprehensive understanding of peer-led SRE. The purpose of this article is to
describe how undertaking Theory-Driven Evaluation facilitated the evolution of
the PhD from one proposed study to five; present an argument as to why this was
the best approach to conduct the PhD study; and to outline the strengths and
limitations of employing such an approach to compile the PhD thesis.