Dr Justine MacLean (PhD Philosophy)

Lecturer in Physical Education and Programme Director: Year 3 MA (Hons) Physical Education


Justine MacLean has worked as a lecturer in physical education at Moray House Institute, the School of Education of the University of Edinburgh since 1998. She has worked as a physical educator within comprehensive schools and within the commercial, charitable and voluntary sectors. Justine's PhD was in the factors that enable and constrain Physical Education teachers to exercise agency during large-scale educational reform. Justine is currently the Programme Director for year 3 of the MA Physical Education programme and course organiser for Placement. However, Justine's passion is to use her research and teaching to help students develop resilience, exercise agency and reach their full potential.


  • (1989-1993) BEd (Hons) Physical Education, Herriot-Watt University.
  • (1999-2002) MEd Advanced Educational Studies, University of Edinburgh
  • (2015-2018) PhD Philosophy, University of Edinburgh

Responsibilities & affiliations

Justine’s main remit is to teach on the MA(PE) Hons programme and undertake research within this area. Justine is a member of the Physical Education Forum and Pedagogy, Curriculum and Learning research group and works collaboratively with other staff in Sport and Recreational Management, Sports Science and the Primary Education course. Justine has acted as a reviewer for a number of academic journals including Physical Education and Sport Pedagogy and the European Physical Education Review.

Director MA(PE) Year 3

Depute Director Academy of Sport 

Undergraduate teaching

  • Physical Education Perspectives in Sociocultural: The body, the self and negotiating social relationships; identity and agency; Curriculum and Policy.
  • Physical Education Perspectives in Aesthetics: Phenomenology; physical literacy, aesthetic experience.
  • Physical Education Curriculum: Curriculum and Policy; Nat 5 and Higher Physical Education.
  • Physical Education Investigation: Topics include; teacher agency, enabling curriculum change, gender identity, social justice, confidence and self-efficacy.

Open to PhD supervision enquiries?


Areas of interest for supervision


 I am interested in supervising doctoral research in the areas of teacher and pupil agency in different contexts. In particular during times of change, difficult climates and when resilience is required. I am also interested in policy and curriculum change, health and wellbeing and sociocultural perspectives on Education and Physical Education.

Current PhD students supervised

Constanza Cárdenas "Inclusive curriculum: exploring inclusion from the glance of the curriculum studies"

Research summary

  • Teacher agency in times of change.
  • Developing resilience in pupil and teacher identity.
  • Pedagogy and curriculum in physical education
  • Developing self-esteem and confidence through physical education

Current and recent research

  • Curriculum and policy enactment within Health and Wellbeing
  • Teacher agency

Project activity

Explore how teachers work collaboratively with others and use technology to support students during the crisis of COVID-19. Identify essential skills, resources, and support that can enable teachers to act as agents of change in difficult times.

See link for further details and project team.


Current project grants

British Academy's Leverhulme Small Research Grants

Conference details

Edinburgh University: Suicide awareness, Edinburgh. 

Mental Health Training, University of Edinburgh 

Managing Difficult People, University of Edinburgh 

Professional Knowledge and Practice, University of Edinburgh 

Assertive Behaviour in the workplace, University of Edinburgh 

AIESEP Conference, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh 

SERA Conference, Dundee University, Dundee  Edinburgh University, Todays Research, Tomorrows future, Edinburgh 

BERA Conference Herriot-Watt University

Qualitative Data Analysis, University of Edinburgh

SQA Conference, Stirling Conference Centre

Curriculum for Excellence, University of Edinburgh

BERA Conference, Herriot-Watt University

Quantitative Data analysis, University of Edinburgh 

BERA Conference, Institute of Education, London  Professional Knowledge and Practice, University of Edinburgh 

National Conference on Physical Education in Scotland, University of Edinburgh  Learners, Learning and Teaching, University of Edinburgh 

Motor Behaviour, University of Edinburgh

Professional Knowledge and Practice, University of Edinburgh 

Assertive Behaviour in the workplace, University of Edinburgh

Invited speaker

MacLean, J. (2019). Exercising agency during times of educational change. Scottish Educational Research Association (SERA) School of Education, University of Edinburgh, Scotland.

MacLean, J. (2018). Transformative Learning and Teaching in Physical Education AIESEP Conference, University of Edinburgh, Scotland.

MacLean, J. (2017). Physical Education Teachers as agents of Policy and Curricular change. PE Research Forum (PERF), University of Edinburgh, Scotland.

MacLean, J. (2016). Revisiting PE Teachers Confidence to Teach Dance in CfE SERA, Dundee.

Simmons, J., & MacLean, J. (2016). PE teachers’ perceptions of factors that inhibit and facilitate the enactment of curriculum change in a high stakes exam climate SERA, Dundee.

Papers delivered

MacLean, J (2019) Exercising agency during times of educational change 22nd November SERA.

MacLean, J (2019) Developing resilient agents of change RTEN 18th March 2019

MacLean, J. (2018). Physical Education teachers as agents of change RTEN 13th February 2018

MacLean, J. (2018). Agency and Physical Education Edinburgh Social and Political Sports Research Forum’s workshop. 23rd February 2018

MacLean, J. (2018). The factors that enable and constrain PE teachers to exercise agency during large-scale educational reform. Physical Activity for Health Research Centre 23rd May 2018