Academic credentials

I am Emeritus Professor at Loughborough University, and freelance social researcher and qualitative research trainer.

Academic Career

I started my academic career as a mature student at the University of Essex in 1989. I gained a 1st class honours degree in Sociology in 1992, then completed my PhD in July 1996, also at Essex. Supervised by Professor Roger Goodman, this is when I acquired my love of social anthropology. My first job was at Essex University, as Assistant Academic Advisor to the ESRC/ONS review of social classifications – designing the NS-SEC. After that, I worked at the University of Aberdeen for eight years and was able to use some of that time to return to my interests in British emigration and ethnography. I went to Loughborough University on 1st April 2007, becoming a Professor of Sociology in 2011 and Head of Department in 2014. You can see my Inaugural Lecture here.

 My Research

Brexit and Brits Abroad

To find out about our recently completed research into what Brexit means for UK nationals living in the EU27, visit the project website.

British in Spain

Listen to me talking about British in Spain with Instituto Cervantes in Manchester

I have done research in a few areas. What drives me to study a social phenomenon is the simple desire to understand social life, how it all works, or doesn’t work; how we all get on together most of the time, and how things are resolved when we don’t; how patterns are often repeated despite the fact we should have learned lessons from the past, but also how from time to time perspectives, social relations, facts, will shift dramatically, causing whole new ways of life to emerge. To me sociology is special because it makes us look at the world in different ways; it turns common sense on its head, questioning all the things we tend to take for granted. Out of this challenging approach arise new ideas, new perspectives, and sometimes solutions to society’s problems.

However, I am not driven by the desire to simply resolve problems. One person’s problem is another person’s solution after all. Instead, I enjoy studying forms of life for what they can teach us. How might we be inspired by the way people live? How might we wish to challenge the way groups go on? And also, possibly, how might we turn what we have learned into lessons for improving the future?

My research has fallen into a few main areas, as you can see by following the links on this site. I also have a deep and lasting interest in teaching research methods. See the link to Qualitative Research Training.

Email me: k.oreilly (at)