Dr Cathal Butler

Academic Portfolio Leader

Cathal Butler

Since 2013, I have been the course co-ordinator for our MA Education Pathways. These courses support the continuing development of practicing educators, as well as supporting the academic development of recent graduates, both British and International.

I teach across a range of our postgraduate courses and units, as well as supervising PhD students. I am also link co-ordinator for the MA Education (Leadership) course that is running at a partner institution in Guyana. I also co-ordinate our recently approved MA International Education Courses.

I am a member of the Institute of Research in Education at the University of Bedfordshire, and am involved in two of the research groups within the institute. Along with my colleague, Neil Hopkins, I work to promote and support research work being done by my colleagues in the area of Education across the Faculty of Education and Sport, as well as organise and support the research seminar series that IRED operate.

Other References


  • PhD in Cognitive Developmental Psychology - University of Hertfordshire
  • MSc Research Methods in Psychology - University of Hertfordshire
  • BA Psychology - Trinity College Dublin

Teaching Expertise

My teaching broadly covers four areas:

  • I lead and have taught on our Postgraduate Research Methods units for many years, which have consistently received positive feedback from Bedfordshire Unit Surveys. This unit has supported students in producing methodologically sound and original pieces of work at dissertation level.
  • Within our MA Pathways, I focus on developing new and innovative approaches to support Teacher Professional Development, through units such as “Enhancing Practice in Educational Settings”.
  • My teaching also covers international perspectives, particularly within the unit Education and International Development.
  • I also contribute to the very strong suite of postgraduate units that cover Special Educational Needs, particularly the unit Meeting Diverse Needs, which provides an overview of a cross-section of current topics of relevance to a range of diverse needs, and which has produced strong pieces of student work over the last few years.

Research Interests

  • Special Educational Needs and Inclusive Education
  • Teaching and Learning for those with Severe Learning Difficulties, and Profound and Multiple Learning Difficulties
  • Leadership in Higher Education

Current and Recent Research Projects

  • I am writing a chapter on accesible curricula for learners with profound and multiple learning difficulties, for an edited book, called "Bringing the Curriculum to Life", to submit to the Open University Press. Professor Janice Wearmouth and Dr Karen Lindley are the editors of this book.

  • I have been involved, with a group of colleagues in a project evaluating the first iteration of the Chartered College of Teachers' Chartered Teacher programme. A report has been submitted to the College, and we are working on articles, based on the data collected.

  • A number of colleagues and myself are developing a research project focusing on the role, primarily of course co-ordinators, as middle leaders, within Higher Education Institutions

  • I am working with a number of recent MA graduates, alongside a recently completed PhD student, and supporting them to write up research articles, based on their dissertations.

External Roles

  • UCET – Member of Research and International Committee
  • BERA – Member of SIG for Inclusive Education
  • Member of Editorial Advisory Board – Journal of Global Education and Research
  • External Examiner: University of Cumbria (Postgraduate Certificate, SENCO Award, 2014-2018)
  • External Examiner: University of Roehampton (MA Education, Distance Learning: 2016-2020 ),
  • External Examiner: London South Bank University (MA Education, 2018- )
  • External Examiner: Liverpool Hope University (MA Education, 2020-)
  • External panel member for approval / review events: I have done a number of these in the last few years.


  • Butler, C. (2021). Exploring Accessible Curricula for Learners with PMLD. In Wearmouth, J., and Lindley, K. (eds). Bringing the curriculum to life. Open University Press.

  • Berisha-Kida, E., & Butler, C. (2020) ‘Emotions and Professional Reflections in a Post-War Community: Teachers’ perspectives from Kosovo Health Education Journal. doi.org/10.1177%2F0017896920971327

  • Goodchild, A., & Butler, C. (2020). ‘Building the foundations for academic success: learning from the experiences of part-time students in their first semester of study’. Widening participation and lifelong learning

  • Goodwyn, A., Butler, C., Hopkins, N., Lindley, K., Majid, N., & Thompson, C. (2020). Investigating the development of The Chartered College for Teaching. Report Submitted to the Chartered College

  • Butler, C. (2019). Education for Democratic Citizenship in Ireland. In (Raiker, A., Rautiainen, M, & Saqiupi, B. (Eds.). Teacher Education and the Development of Democratic Citizenship in Europe. London: Routledge.

  • Butler C (2018). Developing the capacity to recognize the capabilities of pupils with PMLD, to promote learning opportunities and to reduce isolation. (Report funded by the Harpur Trust, Bedford).

  • Butler, C. (2018). Outcomes Based Education: A handbook being developed for the University of Pristina as part of an EU funded TEMPUS project focusing on the development of MA Level teacher training qualifications in Kosovo.

  • Travers, J. Savage, R, Butler, C., & O’Donnell, M. (2017) Mapping research in the field of special education on the island of Ireland since 2000. Journal of Research in Special Educational Needs.

  • Butler, C., & Naukkarinen A. (2016). Inclusion and Democracy in England and Finland. In Raiker, A., & Rautiainen, M., (eds). Educating for Democracy in England and Finland. Principles and Culture. London: Routledge.

  • Butler, C. (2016). The effectiveness of the TEACCH approach in supporting the development of communication skills for learners with severe intellectual disabilities. Support for Learning 31 (3), 185 – 201.

  • Butler, C. (2015). Practical ways to promote the active involvement of young people with severe learning difficulties in their local living and learning community by developing effective post-school transition provision. Bedford: Harpur Trust.

  • O’Sullivan, H., McConnell, B., McMillan, D, & Butler, C. (2012). Continuous Professional Development and its Impact on Practice: A North-South Comparative Study of Irish Teachers’ Perceptions, Experiences and Motivations. Armagh: Standing Conference on Teacher Education North and South.

  • Ware, J, Butler, C, Robertson, C, O’Donnell, M., & Gould, M. (2012) Access to the Curriculum for Pupils with a variety of special educational needs in junior infants to second class: An exploration of the experiences of young pupils. Trim: National Council for Special Education.

  • Travers, J., Balfe, T., Butler, C., Day, T., Dupont, M., McDaid, R., O’Donnell, M., & Prunty, A. (2011). Addressing the challenges and barriers to inclusion in Irish Schools. Dublin: St. Patrick’s College.

  • Ware, J., Balfe, T., Butler, C., Day, T, Dupont, M., Hatern, C., Farrell, A-M., McDaid, R., O’Riordan, M., Prunty, A., & Travers, J. (2010) Research report on the role of special schools and classes in Ireland. Trim: National Council for Special Education.


  • Goodwyn, A. C., Majid, N., Hopkins, N., Thompson, C. L., Butler, C. & Lindley, K. (2020, Apr 17 - 21) Can the English, Chartered College of Teaching Lead the Profession's Development for the Public Good? [Roundtable Session]. AERA Annual Meeting San Francisco, CA  (Conference Canceled)

  • Butler, C. (2018) Using Quest for Learning to understand and assess learners with Profound and Multiple Learning Difficulties. Presented at the BERA English in Education conference, 21st June, 2018, Bedford.

  • Chaudry, J, & Butler, C (2018): The Prevent Agenda: Exploring the awareness and impact of this policy on British Pakistani students and secondary school teachers. Presented at the BERA English in Education conference, 21st June, 2018, Bedford.

  • Laurier, K., & Butler, C. (2018): Great expectations: The contextual relationship between students as consumers and the impacts on the work/life balance of lecturers, through the evolution of email accessibility. Presented at the BERA English in Education conference, 21st June, 2018, Bedford.

Contact Details

E: cathal.butler@beds.ac.uk
T: +44 (0)1234 793045


School of Education and English Language
University of Bedfordshire
Bedford campus
Polhill Avenue
MK41 9EA


School of Education and English Language

Bedfordshire English