Dr Jo Shah, BA (Hons), MA, PGCE (PC), PhD, SFHEA | The Royal Central School of Speech and Drama

Dr Jo Shah, BA (Hons) MA, PGCE (PC), PhD, SFHEA.

Job title

Programme Leader, Learning Skills


My journey in to academia coincided with the start of my doctoral studies at the Institute of Education, UCL. I adopted a qualitative longitudinal approach for my PhD, to extend focus into institutional level policy enactment, and the lived experiences and long-term outcomes of GCSE failed, low level vocational media learners.  

My first role at Central was as Pathway Leader for the PGCE Media Studies with additional teaching responsibilities for the PGCE Drama, later moving into management of the former Learning Centre which comprised of services for the support of learning, disability, and specific learning differences (SpLDs). My current work at Central includes programme leadership of Learning Skills (which offers informal learning development to Central’s full student body) and teaching Screen Studies on the MA Acting for Screen. In addition to this, I also sit on a number of internal boards and committees and represent the institution on two working groups as part of the University of London Refugee Activities and Initiatives Forum. Outside of Central, I work in the role of Associate Lecturer of Contextual Studies for Theatre and Screen Production at the University of Arts London. 

I hold a diverse academic engagement portfolio, which includes memberships of the Society for Artistic Research, British Sociological Association, Postcolonial Studies Association, UCL Centre for post-14 Education and Work, the TATE affiliated Digital Maker Collective, and the Association of Learning Development in Higher Education (ALDinHE), Research and Development Working Group. I also fulfil reviewer engagements for the British Educational Research Association Journal (BERJ), Journal of Learning Development in Higher Education (JLDHE), and the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR). 

I am currently working on a number of funded projects including a drive towards decolonisation of the creative arts curriculum, co-development of a screen studies multimodal resource - alongside research studies exploring educational access and outcomes for students of colour in community and formal educational settings.  

Since joining Central, my research has continued developing in interdisciplinary directions, and can be aligned with the sociology, social policy, media education fields. I hold particular expertise in person-centred research that incorporates visual anthropology and narrative approaches to interrogate and re-conceptualise societal positioning(s) of the individual and their self-identity formation - and my current research is strongly focused on the conceptualisation of socialisation as 'social performance'. 

I have recently brought together the various strands of my practice and research to establish the Social Performance Network in association with the White Spaces Network. The Social Performance Network is an evolving community of practice that exemplifies a digitally convergent, socially engaged platform that is focused on connecting understandings of 'social performance' and inequality, through collaborative work with academic and practitioner communities from within the Arts, Humanities, and Social Science disciplines – with an underlying aim to extend research and open up conversations that interrogate, explore, and reconceptualise socialisation, and its impact on the way we live and formulate our self-identities. The network's first public event was the " Performing Race " (#performingrace) curation, which was hosted by Central in November 2018. The network has similar events planned for the future, information for which can be obtained via the its website or through following @socialperforma2 on twitter.  


Research Degrees (MPhil/PhD)

Acting for Screen, MA

Teaching Areas

  • Screen Studies 
  • Contextual Studies
  • Representation and Hegemony
  • Socio-cultural and critical theories
  • Equality and Inclusion
  • Qualitative Research Design
  • Contemporary pedagogies 
  • Learning Development

Areas of Expertise

  • Media and Film Education
  • English Further Education (practice and contexts)
  • Social policy ecologies
  • Sociological perspectives on social inequality
  • Britishness in postcolonial contexts
  • Social Performance (Shah, 2018)
  • Desocialisation (Shah, 2018)
  • Qualitative Longitudinal Research (QLR)
  • Person-centred approaches to research 

Research Areas

  • Decolonisation
  • Social Performance
  • Educational access and opportunity
  • Education and lived experience
  • Self-identity formation
  • Representing identity and experience
  • The Screen - theory and practice
  • Creative arts, pedagogies and practice
  • Digital inclusion  


Outside of academia, I am an engaged artist who uses improvisation and multimodal platforms including spoken word and photography-based art to conceptualise issues of identity and diaspora. 


Shah, J. (2018) ‘Decolonising the Creative Arts Curriculum in White Spaces’, in Progress in Education, (NSP, NY)

Shah, J. (2017) ‘Informal Learning in a Digital Landscape: A Higher Education Drama Conservatoire Case Study’, in Informal Learning: Perspectives, Challenges, and Opportunities, (NSP, NY)