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Dr Alison McManus

Assistant Professor

AffiliationRoom numberTelephone
Assistant Professor in the Durham Centre for Academic Development (DCAD) 48343
Co-ordinator for Arts, Humanities & Business Programmes in the Foundation Centre +44 (0) 191 33 48343


Like many of her students, Alison has always been an international student. Her first study abroad trip as a teenager took her from Portland, Oregon to a convent school in Portugal, where she was once sent home for not wearing the correct socks. While at university, Alison studied French art & literature for a semester in Paris, and in her final year she had the opportunity to conduct ethnographic field research whilst living with a host family on a coffee co-operative in rural Nicaragua.

Once she had completed her degree in Psychology in the United States, Alison gained a qualification in teaching English as a second language and returned to Portugal, where she taught English to children and adults. Alison then moved to the UK to take an MA in Gender, Culture & Development in 2003, which included further field research in Nicaragua and other parts of Central America. She joined the Foundation Centre at Durham in 2005, and has been Module Leader for a range of Foundation modules including Psychology, Sociology, English Literature, and Academic Practice. After completing a PGCE in Learning and Teaching in HE, Alison became a Fellow of the HEA in 2009, at the same time as finishing her MA in Creative Writing.

As a result of her love of books and all things Brontë-related, Alison completed her PhD in English Literature with Creative Writing at the University of Newcastle in 2015, where she also had the oppportunity to teach and supervise undergraduate and postgraduate students. Her thesis included a novel, 'Branwell & Daphne: A Romance', loosely based on the lives of Branwell Brontë, the less famous and doomed brother of Charlotte, Emily and Anne, alongside his biographer, Daphne du Maurier. The critical component of the thesis examined a legacy of gothic fiction written by women.

Since 2015, Alison has also worked in the School of Education at Durham, supervising undergraduate and postgraduate students, leading seminars and lectures, and providing workshops on Academic Writing and Wellness/ Resiliance. Thanks to her varied experience and background, her research interests range across several areas. She is continuing to work on her novel and other creative projects, whilst also researching aspects of gender, class, ethnicity, creativity, and women writers across genres. She is the Chair of the Scholarship, Ethics and Data Protection Committee, which has oversight of staff and student projects. Meanwhile she is also actively engaged in pedagocical scholarship, and has a particular interest in supporting non-traditional students, international education, adult learning, and academic literacy. Currently she is leading a project to embed wellness and resilience as academic skills which can be overtly taught in the same way as essay writing or library research skills. 

Passionate about social justice, she is a member of the University's Participatory Research Hub, and is keen to work on projects which connect the wider community to the university. Her role at the Foundation Centre also includes outreach, and Alison has led projects targeting students from a wide range of backgrounds, including refugees and asylum-seekers, families/ student parents, and international students. She is actively engaged with the Durham Book Festival and the Potery Exchange Project. Her next outreach project is to develop a Roving Bookgroup, which will meet in cultural spaces across Durham.

Publications and Conferences:

McManus, A. (2015) 'A Poem as a Friend: Review of the Poetry Exchange at Durham Book Festival' Research in English at Durham (READ) Blog

McManus, A. (2015) ‘From Jane Eyre’s Mad Bertha to Gone Girl’s Amazing Amy: A Feminist Iconography of the Madwoman in Gothic Fiction’ Fifty Years of Sexism: What Next? Durham University, 7th - 8th March

McManus, A. (2015) ‘Jane’s Other Legacy: Problem-Based Learning Resources & “Teaching-Led” Research’ Durham University Teaching Fellow Scholarship Network Durham University, 18th February

McManus, A. (2014) ‘Branwell & Daphne: A Romance’ Newcastle First Thursday Live Reading Newcastle Centre for the Literary Arts, 14th December

McManus, A. (2014) ‘Review of Kate Tempest’s Hold Your Own at Durham Book Festival’ Research in English at Durham (READ) Blog (

McManus, A. (2014) ‘Review of William Atkins and Benjamin Myers: Lives, Landscape, Literature at Durham Book Festival’ Research in English at Durham (READ) Blog ( )

McManus, A. (2014) ‘Once Upon a Time in EAP-Land: Using Fairy tales and Other Literary Texts to Support Academic Literacy’ Innovation in EAP Teaching University of St Andrews, 1st March

McManus, A. (2013) ‘The Ethics of Supporting Student Projects’ Foundation Centre Scholarship Mini-Conference 2nd September

McManus, A. (2013) ‘Re-inventing Rochester: Subversion and Masculinity in the Neo-Victorian Novel’ Late Summer Lecture Series, Newcastle University 20th August

McManus, A. (2013) ‘Re-inventing Rochester: Subversion and Masculinity in the Neo-Victorian Novel’ Late Summer Lecture Series, Durham University, 21st August

McManus, A. (2013) ‘Foundation Ethics: Implications for Foundation students and staff’ Foundation Year Network, Durham University, 11th July

McManus, A. (2013) ‘Playful Parallelism: A “grammar” of subversive, post-modern historiographic metafiction ’ Breaking Boundaries, Newcastle University, 9th May

McManus, A. & Wilson, J. (2012) ‘The Language Lunch: “Bite-sized” and creative ideas for additional language support’ Inform Issue 10

McManus, A. & Wilson, J. (2012) ‘Additional Language Support for Foundation Students: Good practice and evaluation.’ Inform Conference, Newcastle University, 20th July

McManus, A. (2012) ‘Family Learning: An opportunity for Foundation’ Foundation Year Network Conference, Keele University 5th July

McManus, A. & Wilson, J. (2012) ‘The Question Mark in the Margin: How can EAP practitioners address language errors that impede communication?’ BALEAP PIM, Durham University, 9th June

McManus, A. (2012) ‘Using Gardner’s theory of multiple intelligences to teach psychology for International and Home Foundation Students’ Inform Issue 9

Mathias, J., McManus, A. & Wilson, J. (2011) ‘Culture Shock: Supporting Home & International Students in the Foundation Year’ Foundation Centre Scholarship Day 16th March

McManus, A. & Rushall, C. (2010) ‘International Student Induction: Positives and perils of alternative cultural induction activities’ Foundation Year Network Conference University of Southampton, 9th July

Awarded Grants

  • 2017: Developing primary science subject leaders(£3000.00 from )