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Elizabeth Houghton

PhD candidate in Sociology, Lancaster University

I am a PhD candidate in Sociology at Lancaster University, funded by the ESRC. My doctoral research aims to address a gap in the literature on ‘marketised’ higher education (HE) by examining students’ experiences of universities operating under neoliberal policies.

I am exploring how university students in England engage with their institutions and courses in the context of a marketised higher education field in which they are told they have more ‘choice’ but a political and social environment which frames them as being individually responsible for the consequences of that choice and their futures, in an increasingly precarious world.

More specifically, my research is exploring:
- how contemporary students approach choosing a university and course and how this choice is influenced by economic rationales, concerns about (student) debt and employability;
- how the university as a ‘human technology’ attempts to ‘engineer’ students into enterprise minded subjects through various technologies including league tables, ‘learning objectives’, and ‘transferable skills'.

I am also an associate lecturer on Lancaster's Media and Cultural Studies Part One course; a QAA student reviewer; and former student coordinator of the National Union of Journalists.


  • 2015–present
    Student Reviewer, Quality Assurance Agency
  • 2015–present
    Assistant lecturer, Lancaster University
  • 2013–present
    PhD Student in Sociology, Lancaster University
  • 2011–2012
    Student Coordinator, National Union of Journalists


  • 2013 
    Lancaster University, Master of Arts / Sociological Research
  • 2012 
    Lancaster University, Bachelor of Arts / Sociology with Politics

Grants and Contracts

  • 2012
    PhD Student
    Funding Source:
    Economic and Social Research Council