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Dr Nigel Thomas

  • Job title: Dean
  • Department: School of Life Sciences and Education


I graduated in 1986 from South Glamorgan Institute of Higher Education (now UWIC) in Sport, completed a Masters in Special Education in 1996, a Postgraduate Certificate in Education in 1998 and, supervised by Professor Barrie Houlihan at Loughborough University I was awarded a PhD in 2004. Following 10 years in a variety of local, regional and national posts in the sport and physical activity industry, I created and lead a partnership project between a national disability sport organisation and the University of Chester in 1994. Inspired by my experience of delivering a teacher training project in higher education and delivering lectures, seminars and practicals, in 1997, I took up a position as a Lecturer at Staffordshire University. I was appointed Head of the Sport and Exercise Department in 2003. As Head of Department I had responsibility for the leadership and management of the Department’s undergraduate and postgraduate courses, enterprise activity, research and scholarship, professional body and college partnerships, community engagement and staff development. As part of this role I was a member of the Faculty of Health’s Management Team and the University’s Senior Leadership Team.

From August 2012-2013, following a University restructure, I was appointed as the Associate Dean for
Scholarship, Enterprise and Research. The main purpose of the role was to work with colleagues within and across the Faculties and with key external partners, to co-ordinate and deliver the Faculty's research and enterprise objectives.

In August 2013 I was appointed Deputy Dean and then in 2014 Dean, of the Faculty of Health Sciences: providing strategic leadership of the Faculty’s teaching, research and staff portfolio. This included leadership of sport, psychology, nursing, midwifery, social work and allied health professions, across sites in Stoke, Stafford and Shrewsbury. In January 2017 I was appointed as Dean of Life Sciences and Education.

When not working, I enjoy a variety of activities. Mountain and trail walking, bird watching, wild water swimming, coasteering, surfing, golf, real ales, good food, music festivals and time with the family.


Boath E, Jinks, A, Thomas N, O’Connell P. Thompson R, Evans J, and Taylor, L. (2016). Don’t Go With The ‘Flo’ – A Student Mobile Texting Service To Enhance Nursing Student Retention. Nurse education today. vol. 45, p80–86

Boath E, Machin R, Dixon M, Thomas N, O’Connell P, Taylor L. (2016). Stop with the FLO: using text messages to improve retention rates in University Students. Innovative Practice in Higher Education. Vol.2 (3) April 2016.

Smith, A and Thomas N. (2016) Sport, Disability and the Paralympics. In B.Houlihan and D. Malcolm (Eds.) Sport and Society. A Student Introduction. London: Sage.

Thomas, N, and Guett, M. (2013) ,Fragmented, Complex and Cumbersome: A Study of Disability Sport Policy and Provision in Europe. IJSPP.

Thomas, N., Chockalingam,N and Duval, L. (2012) Should preparation for elite sporting participation be included in the Rehabilitation Process of War-Injured Veterans?' Prosthetics & Orthotics International. (IF.95)

Thomas, N. (2011). All for Sport for All: Perspectives of Sport for People with a Disability in Europe. Reporting Factsheet. Disability Sport Policies. Lyon, France: European Obsertvatoire of Sport and Employment.

Guett, M., Thomas, N., Hovemann, G., O’Rourke, B., Digennaro, S., Camy, J., Fodimdi and Carscadden. (2011). All for Sport for All: Perspectives of Sport for People with a Disability in Europe. Summary report to the European Commission. Lyon, France: European Obsertvatoire of Sport and Employment

Thomas N, Chockalingam N, Dunning D & Smith A (2011) By designing ’blades’ for Oscar Pistorius are prosthetists creating an unfair advantage for Pistorius and an uneven playing field? Prosthetics & Orthotics International, 35(4), 482-3. (IF0.95)

Thomas, N and Smith, A. (2009) Disability, Sport and Society: A Student Introduction. London: Routledge.

Smith, A and Thomas, N. (2005) Including Pupils with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities in National Curriculum Physical Education: A Brief Review’. European Journal of Special Needs Education, 21 (1): 69-83.

Smith, A. and Thomas, N (2005) The ‘Inclusion’ of Elite Athletes with Disabilities in the 2002 Manchester Commonwealth Games: An Exploratory Analysis of British Newspaper Coverage. Sport, Education and Society, 10 (1).

Smith, A. and Thomas, N. (2004) Inclusion, Special Educational Needs, Disability and Physical Education in K. Green and K. Hardman (Eds) Physical Education: Essential Issues. London: Sage.

Thomas.N., and Smith.A. (2003) ‘Pre-occupied with Able-bodiedness?’, An analysis of the British media coverage of the 2000 Paralympic Games, Adapted Physical Activity Quarterly, 20(2):166-181.

Thomas, N (2003) Sport and Disability. In B.Houlihan (Eds.) Sport and Society. A Student Introduction. London: Sage.


Thomas, N and Jones, P. (2017) Accelerated Degrees at Staffordshire University. In the fast lane. Universities UK Conference. London.

Thomas, N. (2007) Mainstreaming and the State of Disability Sport Policy in the UK. Invited Presentation. University of Lincoln. 26th Feb 2007.

Thomas, N. (2005). Mainstreaming: Do we know what it means yet? The British Association of Sport and Exercise Sciences, 5-7th Sept., Loughborough University, UK.

Thomas, N. (2005) Do we need another powwow? The Power of Sport. European Association for Sport Management. 7-10th Sept. Newcastle, UK.

Thomas, N. (2004) Policy process in disability sport. Invited speaker at “Sport, Disability and the Body”. British Sociological Association, the Warwick Centre for the Study of Sport in Society, and the Centre for the Sociology of Sport (University of Leicester, UK). 27th February. Warwick.

Woodgate, T., Duval, L. and Thomas, N. (2002) The sporting experiences of women with a disability. Commonwealth Games Conference. Manchester. August 2002.

Thomas.N. and Houlihan.B. (2001) Disability Sport Policy. A Policy Community or an Issue Network. 13th International Symposium. “ Towards Society for All’ . International Federation of Adapted Physical Activity.3-7th July. Vienna.

Thomas.N.and Houlihan.B. (2000) The Policy Process in Sport for Disabled People in the UK: The Power of the Non-disabled. Pushing the Limits. 5th Scientific Congress of the Sydney 2000 Paralympic Games. 11-13th October. Sydney. Australia.