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Associate Professor in the School of EducationBU110 
DRMC Co-Director (MA in Research Methods) in the Faculty of Social Sciences and Health  



I am an academic with a strong interest in educational and digital practices and inequalities. I am particularly interested in exploring – both in my research and in my teaching - the intersection of education and emergent social phenomena through different social theory lenses. I have conducted research on widening participation, digital literacies and digital inequalities, curriculum innovation and digital scholarship practices in the last few years. For example, I was the UK co-coordinator of the ERASMUS+ project Digital Literacy and Inclusion of Learners from Disadvantaged Background. (2015-2017). I also worked on different projects regarding Estranged Students’ Experiences of Higher Education with Professor Yvette Taylor.

Current projects:

  1. 2020-22 From on-campus to online: International students returning to academia in the context of COVID-19 with Dr Huaping Li (Shanghai Normal University), funded by BA/Leverhulme Small Grants. (see report + Blogpost)
  2. 2022 - The Durham University Digital Literacy Clinic with Dr Michaela Oliver. Funded by ESRC IAA.

I have also started a research project with Dr Ana Lúcia Pereira that aims to explore students' and academics' digital pedagogical practices and wellbeing in Brazil: Higher Education interrupted: exploring the challenges covid-19 poses to students and academic staff in Brazil . 

I have supervised PGR students in a wide range of areas, including digital literacies and digital practices, internationalisation of curriculum, estranged students, gendered practices, etc.

I currently convene and teach the PGT modules Digital Technologies and the UG module Digital Society: Theory and Practice. I have also taught or currently teach the following MA modules:

  • Education and Critical perspectives in Education
  • Narrative inquiries 

I served as Programme Director (student experience) for the Master's in Education programme (2020 - 2022) and Research Environment Co-ordinators within the School of Education.

Currently, I coordinate Student Recruitment, Marketing & Internationalisation for the School. 

I am Co-Director (MA in Research Methods) in the Durham Research Methods Centre

I am co-editor of the Social Theory Applied blog/website and act as co-convenor of the BERA Social Theory and Education SIG

You can find me on Twitter as @cristinacost

I am a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy

Information for Prospective Doctoral Research Student Supervisions

I would be pleased to work with students interested in pursuing research in areas of inquiry related to student experience, widening participation, educational and/or digital inequalities, curriculum innovation, critical digital practices and literacies, internationalisation and globalisation of education. I also have a strong interest in working with students wishing to engage with social theories as part of their research projects.

Research interests

  • Social Theory
  • Critical Digital Literacies
  • Widening Participation
  • Educational and Digital Inequalities
  • Student/ Family Estrangement
  • Digital Scholarship Practices
  • Higher Education
  • Digital education

Research Projects

  • From on-campus to online: International students returning to academia in the context of COVID-19

Awarded Grants

  • 2020: From on-campus to online: International students returning to academia in the context of COVID-19

Esteem Indicators

  • 0000: External Examining: I often examine Ph.D and Ed.D theses at different British universities. I have also served as an examiner for Ph.D theses and Master’s dissertations in mainland Europe (Portugal and Spain), Australia, and Brazil.
  • 0000: Invited Talks: Selected invited talks

    • Guest speaker atThe Future of Education and Public Policy, Glasgow University: ; ;Online Education during the pandemic (2021)
    • Guest speakers at the Webinar series on “Development in Education in East Asia” in Hong Kong: ;From on-campus to on-line: international students’ experience on the ground during a pandemic (2021)
    • Guest Speaker: Oxford debate on the impact of Covid-19 on He. EDEN Conference (2020) ;
    • Guest Speaker: Digital Europe: Challenges and opportunities for education. Conversations for the future of Europe. ;European University Institute. (2020)
    • Guest Speaker: Addressing the policy issues surrounding estranged students in higher education. Stand Alone Event on Estranged Students for the Scottish Parliament.(2019)

    • Guest Speaker: Hybrid social theory and education research: working with conceptual interdisciplinary. BERA Social Theory SIG (2019)

    • Keynote Speaker: The impact and influence of digital cultures on curriculum design. Congresso Internacional de Ensino – CONIEN. State University of the North of Parana, Brazil. (2019)

    • Keynote Speaker: Curriculum Innovation and Digital Participatory Practices. Aula Magna. State University of Ponta Grosssa, Brazil. (2019)

    • Invited Workshop: The application of social theory to educational research. State University of Ponta Grosssa, Brazil. (2019)

    • Guest Speaker: The experiences of estranged students in the strange space of academia. University of Bristol, UK. ;(2019)

    • Guest Speaker: Digital scholars: A feeling for the academic game. University of Strathclyde – Research Seminar Sessions (2019)

  • 0000: Peer reviewing:
    • Australasian Journal of Educational Technology
    • Critical Studies in Education
    • International Journal of Lifelong Education
    Editorial Board Member of British Journal of Sociology of Education; ;The Curriculum Journal; International Studies in Sociology of Education; ;International Journal of Educational Technology in Higher Education (ETHE)

    Editorial Board Member Book Series Social Theory and Methodology in Education Research, Bloomsbury Publishing

    Co-Covenor of the BERA Social Theory and Education SIG (2020 -) and the ;BSA study group ‘Digital Sociology ;(2016 - 2021)

Media Contacts

Available for media contact about:

  • Subject specialists:
  • General policy:
  • Education:
  • Subject specialists:
  • Social and ethical inequality:
  • Sociology:


Chapter in book

Edited book

  • Murphy, M., Burke, C., Costa, C. & Raaper, R. (2020). Social Theory and the Politics of Higher Education. Critical Perspectives on Institutional Research. Social Theory and Methodology in Education Research. Bloomsbury.
  • Murphy, Mark, Burke, Ciaran Costa, Cristina & Raaper, Rille (2020). Social Theory and the Politics of Higher Education: Critical Perspectives on Institutional Research. Social theory and methodology in education research. Bloomsbury Academic.
  • Breeze, Maddie, Taylor, Yvette & Costa, Cristina (2019). Time and Space in the Neoliberal University. Palgrave.
  • Costa, Cristina & Condie, Jenna (2018). Doing Research In and On the Digital: Research Methods across Fields of Inquiry. Routledge.
  • Murphy, Mark & Costa, Cristina (2015). Theory as Method in Research: On Bourdieu, Social Theory and Education. Routledge.
  • Costa, Cristina & Murphy, Mark (2015). Bourdieu, Habitus and Social Research: The Art of Application. Palgrave.

Journal Article

Other (Digital/Visual Media)


Supervision students