Rachael Chapman


Accepting PhD Students

PhD projects

Rachael is happy to receive enquiries from students interested in undertaking PhDs, particularly in the following areas:

• Governance and partnership working, including between government, statutory organisations and the third and faith sectors;
• Community participation and empowerment in the policy process, and within the third sector;
• Democracy and transition, particularly in relation to governance, partnerships and community participation;
• Democratic transition and the governance of urban green spaces;
• The role, development and benefits of Forest Schools.

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Personal profile


Dr Rachael Chapman is a part-time Senior Lecturer in the Department of Social Sciences and Languages at Northumbria University (since March 2010). She was previously employed as a Senior Research Fellow at the Local Government Centre (Warwick Business School, Coventry) and the Local Governance Research Unit (De Montfort University, Leicester) and research officer at the Policy Research Institute (Leeds Metropolitan University).


To date, Rachael has published 11 peer-reviewed journal articles/book chapters, and an excess of 10 research reports. Many of her academic publications relate to governance, participation, political representation and democracy in a variety of contexts, including regeneration, faith based social action, volunteering, multi-level governance, Europeanisation, community cohesion, and health and well-being. High ranking journals she has published in include: Governance: An International Journal of Policy, Administration and Institutions (impact factor 2.89), Public Administration (impact factor 1.83), Planning Practice and Research (impact factor 1.50), and Public Money and Management (impact factor 1.32). Rachael has undertaken numerous research, consultancy and evaluation projects on a range of topics for clients such as: The Department for Local Government and Communities, The Home Office, Department of Health, numerous local authorities, the Local Government Association, St Philips Centre for Multi-Faith Study and Engagement and the European Structural Funds Objective 1 Programme Executive.


Rachael undertook her ESRC funded CASE studentship doctoral degree in the Department of Politics at The University of Sheffield. Her thesis was titled ‘Third Sector Empowerment and Legitimacy in a Multi-Level Polity’, in which she studied third sector engagement in the implementation of the EU Objective 1 Structural Funds in South Yorkshire 2000-06. Her thesis was defended successfully with no-amendments. Prior to embarking on her PhD studies, Rachael held a research post at the Policy Research Institute (Leeds Metropolitan University) during which she undertook a part-time masters degree in Public Policy at The University of Sheffield and was awarded a distinction and the Bethan Reeves Memorial prize for the best record of academic attainment.


Rachael is currently engaged in collaborative research activities relating to the democratic transition and governance of urban green spaces, with a particular focus on a case study of Newcastle Upon Tyne. She is also working with practitioners and academics from York University on research that explores the benefits of Forest Schools as it relates to the Education Inspection Framework and Biesta’s model of education purpose.  

Research interests

Rachael’s research focuses on issues of governance, participation, democracy and forest schools, and comprises of four key themes:

1)    Governance and partnership working between government and other organisations, particularly the third sector;

2)    Community participation and empowerment in the policy process and within the third sector; 

3)    Democratic transition and implications relating to governance, partnerships and community participation, including issues of power, political representation, democratic accountability and legitimacy; 

4)    The role, development and benefits of Forest Schools (where learners are given regular opportunities to develop skills, confidence and self-esteem through hands-on learning experiences in an outdoor woodland environment).


She is interested in exploring these themes in a wide variety of contexts, including but not limited to: urban green spaces, the environment, health and well-being, forest schools, education, food security, regeneration, faith based social action and community cohesion.



Further Information

The main courses Rachael teaches on are:

- IR5003 Theories and Practices of Democracy

- AD3005 Politics and Decision-Making

- SO7002 Postgraduate Dissertation

- HI6022BNN01 History and Politics Joint Honours Dissertation

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 2 - Zero Hunger
  • SDG 11 - Sustainable Cities and Communities

Education/Academic qualification

Politics, PhD

1 Dec 200531 Dec 2099

Award Date: 1 Dec 2005

MA (Hons), MA in Public Policy with distinction and Bethan Reeves Memorial Prize, University of Sheffield

Award Date: 17 Jan 2002

BA (Hons), BA Honours Degree in Economics and Politics, University of Sheffield

Award Date: 20 Jun 1997


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Collaborations and top research areas from the last five years

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