Mr Nick Swarbrick

Programme Lead, Undergraduate Degree Programmes

Nick Swarbrick leads the teams for the Undergraduate Degrees in the School of Education, teaching on the undergraduate degree in Early Childhood Studies. He also contributes to teaching on the Primary PGCE, principally around Early Years pedagogy. He has a developing research and teaching role in children's literature and how young children explore the outdoors environment. Nick holds an Associate Teaching Fellowship at the University and is a Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy. 


In 2006, Nick completed an evaluation of Foundation Degree mentoring funded by AimHigher.

In 2008, Nick presented a paper on children's literature and the outdoors to the International Board on Books for Children and Young People (IBBY). 

In 2009 Nick worked with practitioner colleagues in Early Years settings in Oxfordshire who were researching how young children learn in the outdoors. He has also presented papers to internal audiences on werewolves in children's literature (2008), on how Early Childhood Studies students explore issues around spirituality (2009), on images of the outdoors in children's literature (2010, 2011) and the iconography of Christmas.  Nick's work on representations of death in young children's picture books, entitled How Dead are the Skeletons in Funnybones? was an internal paper and, more recently, a public lecture at the Story Museum.   His current work centres on how visual methodologies can be used to explore aspects of childhood, and he is working on two projects with Mat Tobin, one on the sentient landscape (exploring the work of Alan Garner), and one on fatherhood in picturebooks.

He is registered as a research student at the University, looking at young children's literature and the outdoor environment. In July 2011, he presented a paper at the International Research Society for Children's Literature (IRSCL) on images of the outdoors in the work of Janet and Allan Ahlberg.


Former Experience

Prior to joining the Institute he was headteacher of a lively, multi-cultural Nursery School in Oxford City which pioneered the Forest School project in Oxfordshire and supported a school-based Initial Teacher Training Scheme.

Other professional roles

Nick is a member of the local group of the British Association for Early Childhood Education. He has acted as External Examiner at Worcester and at Bucks New Universities, and as External on validation panels in various institutions, most recently in Carmarthen. He is currently one of the External Examiners for Early Childhood Studies at the University of Chichester.


  • Journal articles
  • Book chapters
  • Other

Journal articles

  • Swarbrick, N. & Tobin, M. (2016) Challenging Notions of Fatherhood in Children’s Picturebooks. Literacy News. Literacy Association of Ireland. 2016. 
  • Hutchison, A., Musgrave, J., Rea, T., Swarbrick, N. (2016) Transformative learning and visiting The Gambia: ongoing project Brookes Electronic Journal of Learning and Teaching Vol. Eight - Issues 1 and 2 - April 2016
  • Swarbrick N, Eastwood G and Tutton K (2004) Self esteem and successful interaction as part of the forest school project, Support for Learning, 19 (3), pp137-141
  • Wild, M and Swarbrick N. (2004) Enriching the student experience: what do students think? Teaching News, Semester 1 2004/05

Book chapters

  • A chapter on Play in Wild, M and Street, A (2012) Themes and Debates in Early Childhood. Exeter : Learning Matters
  • Escape into the Outdoors: Messages from Children's literature in Deep Into Nature: Ecology, Environment and Children's Literature, Proceedings of the IBBY/NCRCL Conference, Roehampton, 2008
  • Chapters on Play and Curriculum in Mitchell, H and Wild, M (2007) Early Childhood Studies: A Reflective Reader, Exeter: Learning Matters
  • Sykes R and Swarbrick N (2004) Professionalising the early years educator: Foundation Degree in early years, in L. Brennan and D. Gosling, (eds) Making Foundation Degrees Work, London: SEEC