Practitioners, pedagogies and professionalism in English for Academic Purposes (EAP): The development of a contested field. Thesis submitted for the award of PhD

Research output: Other contribution


This thesis examines key developments and changes which have taken place within the field of English for Academic Purposes (EAP) from the 1960s until the present day. It critically evaluates the effects that these developments have had on EAP as an academic discipline; on the positioning and status of EAP within the academy; and on the work carried out by EAP practitioners, particularly with regard to conceptualizations of professionalism, and understandings of what constitutes practitioner expertise.
Drawing on qualitative data generated from in-depth semi-structured interviews with 15 internationally-recognised scholars from EAP, the study presents a particular history of the different stages and developments which have occurred in EAP, and maps how these have impacted not only upon EAP as a discipline, but also upon the work of its practitioners.
Grounded in a series of narratives provided by individuals recognized for their key contributions to the field, the analysis utilizes ideas from socio-cultural theories developed by Becher (1989), Bernstein (1971) and Bourdieu (1977) to account for EAP’s current status and positioning in the academy. It then draws on theoretical concepts developed by Shulman (1986), Schön (1983), and Lave and Wenger (1991) to suggest ways in which EAP teachers build their knowledge and go about developing their particular professional expertise.
The thesis proposes that EAP has now reached an important crossroads in its development. It argues that factors such as a poor appreciation for and understanding of EAP from within the academy at large; a lack of clarity and consistency around professional standards and teacher development within EAP itself; the current marketization of UK higher education and the resulting influx of private educational providers seriously threaten the longer-term security and future development of EAP within UK university contexts.
Original languageEnglish
TypePhD Thesis
PublisherThe University of Nottingham
Number of pages371
Publication statusPublished - 30 Jun 2016


  • EAP
  • expertise
  • academic status
  • professionalism
  • teacher life histories
  • academic tribes and territories
  • classification and framing
  • the pedagogic code
  • habitus
  • field
  • capital
  • teacher knowledge
  • teacher training and professional development
  • teacher competencies
  • the reflective practitioner
  • legitimate peripheral participation
  • private providers


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