Dr Matt Finn
Senior Lecturer in Human Geography
+44 (0)1392 72 5917
Amory Building, University of Exeter, Rennes Drive, Exeter, EX4 4RJ , UK
Office hours: Office hours can be found here.
Office hours can be found here.
I explore changes in the contemporary conditions of education, and work to understand how childhood and young people's lives vary globally. I bring this to my scholarship of geographical learning and education which is informed by a participatory action research ethos.
As an Exeter Education Incubator fellow I worked with students to research experiences of transitions to university following the introduction of the reformed A Levels in England 2017-2018. As a 2019-2020 fellow I explored 'online resources and narrowcasting the curriculum'. This research is informing my contribution to Exeter's Transition and Induction Working Group as part of the Success for All Strategy.
My Masters and PhD studies - on the rising use of data in education settings - were enabled by an ESRC Quota Studentship. I am a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society with the Institute of British Geographers, a Fellow of The Higher Education Academy, a member of the Geography Education Research Collective, Education Officer for the RGS-IBG Geographies of Children, Youth & Families Research Group and a member of the RGS-IBG Geography and Education Research Group committee. I am a member of the editorial collective of Geography - the Geographical Association’s international journal for lecturers, teachers and students in post-16 geography.
I lectures on a wide range of courses and seek to combine enthusiasm for geography with opportunities for academics and students to shape learning together.
Before academia I had a variety of jobs including being a Human Resources administrator with a city council, a teacher, a local education administrator and a church-based pastoral worker with students.
- Geographies of education and schooling
- Childhood, youth and young people
- Geographical education and learning
- Participatory Action Research (PAR)
- Critical geographies of data
BA Geography (Durham)
MA Research Methods - Geography (Durham)
PhD Geography (Durham)
Postgraduate Certificate in Academic Practice (Exeter)
Research group links
Issues concerning data and education are increasingly hitting the headlines.
Matt worked alongside pupils to develop their own research projects about their school which they presented to school staff and members of the Geography Department.
Geographies of education and childhood
My research has explored the place of data in the process of education and the production of futures in schools. This is connected with a wider interest in the contemporary conditions of education and learning, and the ways in which education is 'going global'.
An open access reading list I maintain periodically on the Geographies of Education is available here: www.tinyurl.com/GeogEd.
As an Exeter Education Incubator fellow I worked with students to research experiences of transitions to university following the introduction of the reformed A Levels in England 2017-2018. As a 2019-2020 fellow I explored 'online resources and narrowcasting the curriculum'.
Particiatory action research approaches
A second interest is in forms of participatory action research and co-produced research and how this has provoked reflection on 'gentle geographies', conceptually and methodologically. With Jayne Jeffries and a range of collaborators we have been problematising the notion of gentleness using this to explore the opportunities this concept offers for re-examining diverse empirical interests as well as academic practice. Details including audio from the first of two seminars on gentle geographies can be found here.
I have reviewed for the following journals: Annals of the American Association of Geographers; Area; Big Data and Society; British Educational Research Journal; Children's Geographies; Contemporary Social Science; European Educational Research Journal; Geographica Helvetica; Journal of Geography in Higher Education; Learning, Media and Technology; Political Geography; Progress in Human Geography; Sage Publishing and Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers.
I have had the opportunity to present his work at various conferences and organise various sessions and events:
Previous presentations and sessions
Looking ahead to the future of GeogEd: creating spaces of exchange between communities of practice - RGS-IBG Conference, in Evolving the ‘Higher Education Research Group’ to the ‘Geography & Education Research Group
Student Voices on Transition to Geography in HE session hosted with Dr Niall Majury (Queen’s University Belfast) and Zara Hamilton, Sophie Graham, Lucy Millsopp, Morgan Beattie, Leanne Domican, Lauren Mallon, Julia Anusiak, Cara Greene, Paulina Gawronska, Fiona Duffy and Alice Murdock (geography students at Queen’s University Belfast) for the Geography and Education Research Group event: Student transitions: journeys into and through geography at university
Invited workshop: Growing up global - development, childhood and education, Department of Geography, University of Zurich
Invited seminar: On listening to and through children in geographical research, Department of Geography, University of Zurich
Launching the ‘Geography and Education Research Group’ of the Royal Geographical Society, ‘Geography and the student experience’ event, part of the organising committee
Geography and Education: Panel session organised for the RGS-IBG, London
Invited keynote: A-level reform and implications for transition to University: the case of Geography - IGU CGE Conference, London
Invited speaker: Provincializing the European Child, Child Studies Multiple 30th Anniversary Research Workshop, Department of Thematic Studies – Child Studies at Linköping University, Sweden
A-level reform and implications for transition to university: the case of Geography - RGS-IBG Conference, Cardiff, in Tear down the walls? Cross-disciplinary engagements with geographies of education, Geographiedidaktik and young people’s geographies session organised with Dr Itta Bauer (University of Zurich)
A-level reform and implications for transition to University: the case of Geography - 3rd International Conference on Geographies of Education, Loughborough
A-level reform and implications for transition to University - Enhancing Student Learning Through Innovative Scholarship Conference, Bristol, with Katie-Boyd Lee and Finlay Simmons
Transition to University following the reformed A Levels - EduExe2018 Education Conference with Alice Clarke, Scott Lewis, Connor Spence, Bella Tull, Sarah Tyrrell
Beyond frenemies: contact and collaboration with universities, Teacher-to-Teacher Session at the GA Annual Conference, Sheffield Hallam University
Data and schools spaces – materialisations, circulations and temporalities - Materialities and Mobilities in Education Day Conference, School of Geography and the Environment, University of Oxford.
Workshop on Module Design, GCYFRG Educating under- and post-graduate geographers for/about/using the geographies of children and youth Day Teaching Workshop, RGS-IBG, London
The awkward geographies of schooling – working at the intersection of geographies of education, childhood and youth - AAG, Boston, USA, in Theorizing the Geographies of Education and Learning session, a session I organised. You can see a storify of tweets from the session here.
Invited presentation: How can we think about data in schools? Atmospheres of progress and forging futures in a data-based school. Audio, slides and handout available. Research seminar at School of Education at the University of Brighton
Invited session: Student Voice in schools with Dr Sara Bragg, Blatchington Mill School, Hove
The awkward geographies of schooling – working at the intersection of geographies of education, childhood and youth - RGS-IBG Conference, London, in The nexus between Young People`s Geographies and Geographies of Education session
Growing up global – children, young people and the geographies of global change - RGS-IBG Conference, London, in Educating undergraduate geographers for/about/using the geographies of children and youth session
Introducing Gentle Geographies - University of Exeter, in A Gentle Alertness to Geographies of the (Non)human & (Ir)Responsibilities seminar - details including audio from the day
The two-part seminar series is co-organised with Jayne Jeffries (Newcastle University) and funded thanks to the Spatial Responsibilities Group at the University of Exeter, the School of Architecture, Planning & Landscape and Open Lab at Newcastle University, the Participatory Geographies Research Group and the Geographies of Justice Research Group.
Invited presentation: Ran and facilitated half-day training event on Participatory Action Research, Plymouth University Social Science Doctoral Training College.
Report from Enhancing Student Learning Through Innovative Scholarship: The Role of Teaching Focused Academics in driving the evolution of HE - RGS-IBG Conference, Exeter, in GEES LTHE Network Annual Meeting
Forging futures in a data-based school - Futures in Question International conference as part of the ESRC Austerity Futures series, Goldsmiths, University of London
Invited presentation: Forging futures in a data-based school - 2nd ESRC code acts in education seminar, University of Edinburgh
Forging futures in a data-based school - St. John's College Durham University, Broaderlands Seminar
Forging futures in a data-based school - AAG, Tampa, USA, in Data-based living: peopling and placing 'big data' session, a session I organised
Atmospheres of progress in a data-based school (revised) - Education, Emotions and the Future Seminar, Geography Department, University of Leicester
Atmospheres of progress in a data-based school - RGS-IBG Conference, London
(In)dividuals and data-based futures in schools - 2nd International Education Conference on Geographies of Education, Loughborough University
How to hear a voice? 'Student Voice' and Participatory Action Research - RGS-IBG Conference, Edinburgh
How to hear a voice? 'Student Voice' and Participatory Action Research - St. John's College Durham University, Broaderlands Seminar
Faith, encounter and confession: an undergraduate's experience of the lecture theatre as a site of geographies of religion, Geographies of Religion: a new dialogue conference, Newcastle University
Publications by category
Publications by year
I lecture on a wide range of courses from thinking about 'growing up global' to supporting students develop their research design expertise. I seek to combine enthusiam for geography with opportunities for academics and students to shape learning together.
I have also been invited to facilitate training and workshops, for example on Participatory Action Research for the Plymouth University Social Science Doctoral Training College, and Growing up global - development, childhood and education for the Geography department at the University of Zurich.
I welcome enquires about PhD supervision on areas of eduction, childhood and geography and have been a co-supervisor to Emma Marshall (Geography) and Abbie O'Brien (Education).
Undergraduate modules 21/22:
- Geographies of Global Change (Covenor) - GEO1106
I convene the module and contribute to it with the 'Growing up Global' section exploring why as geographers we might look to the lives of children and young people to make sense of globalisation.
- Study Skills for Human Geographers - GEO1309
As a tutor and lead tutor I work with students to develop the key skills they need for university and beyond.
- Learning through place: doing human geography - GEO1313b
As part of one of the fieldtrip teams, I work with first-year students providing guidance in the field.
- In/visible spaces of modern life (Convenor) - GEO2135
In this module we examine some of the taken-for-granted spaces that are fundamental to making modern life work. I introduce and round-off the module and support the site visit(s)/workshop as part of the module.
- Geographies of Justice: Research Methodologies in Action - GEO2327
I act as an academic tutor on this module.
- Geographies of Consumption: Doing Human Geography Research (Convenor) - GEO2329
Through exploring the geographies of consumption students work in research teams to learn about the practice and principles of designing research in human geography. The module also prepares students for their dissertations. I lead this module and also act as an academic tutor.
- Dissertation advisor - GEO3311/GEO3312
I work to support students in carrying out their diverse dissertation projects with fortnightly tutorials and individual meetings.
- Admissions Tutor for the BA Geography programme at Streatham campus (since 2015)
- Geography Ethics Committee member (since 2014)
Deputy Chair, Transition and Induction Working Group, Success for All Strategy (since 2022)
- Research Methods for Geographers - GEO1315
I contributed to the section of the course that helps students think through the process of research before and following the Bristol fieldtrip. With Dr Ewan Woodley I taught the introductory statistics component.
- Human Geography Fieldtrips - GEO2308C, GEO2308D
As part of one of the fieldtrip teams to Seville and New York, I worked with students to develop the projects they carry out while on the fieldtrip and provide guidance in the field.
- Human Geography Virtual Fieldtrip - GEO2322A
As part of one of the teaching team, I worked with students to explore New York through a range of innovative desk-based methods.
- Research Methods for Human Geography - GEO2325 - ELE page, Course Twitter feed/hastag
With Dr Ewan Woodley, we took students on from introductory statistics to more advanced techniques and through examples seek to show some of the potential and difficulties with these techniques. I also acted as an academic tutor on this module.
- Research Design in Human Geography (Convenor) - GEO2326 and GEO2328
In this module, which I led, I helped students learn about the practice and principles of designing research and help students to prepare for their dissertations. I also acted as an academic tutor on this module.
- Geographies of Education and Learning (Convenor with Dr Sarah Dyer) - GEO3140
In this module we explored key concepts that geographers use to understand education and learning at different scales, from the local sites/spaces of learning to the international. We examine different concepts and theories of learning and how these might influence understandings of our own educational experiences and how we communicate geographical knowledge to others.
- Academic Misconduct Officer for Geography (2014-2019)
- Senior Academic Misconduct Officer for the College of Life and Environmental Sciences (2016-2019)
- Student Engagement Co-ordinator (2014-2018)
- GEO1106 - Geographies of Global Change
- GEO2135 - In/visible Spaces of Modern Life
- GEO2329 - Geographies of Consumption: Doing Human Geography Research