Gill Simpson

Gill Simpson

BA (Hons) Leeds, MA Leeds, PGCE, FHEA

I originally studied for a degree in English Literature at Leeds University, subsequently working in the Inland Revenue and for a while in primary education. In the late 1990s I took the decision to return to Higher Education when I developed an interest in the academic study of Christianity. I pursued my interest in Christian Theology through my studies, initially gaining a Certificate in Christian Studies and later my MA. My dissertation focussed on concepts of obedience in the work of Dorothee Soelle and this led to questions of human learning and growth in a faith context. My dissertation work also led to an interest in education and counselling, and I completed a Certificate in Counselling (York St John University) and subsequently a PGCE (Huddersfield University) while working as a Visiting Lecturer at York St John University.

My experience of teaching and mentoring undergraduates has led to a particular interest in the way in which students engage in the field of Theology and Religious Studies, both academically and on a personal level, and how they make connections between what is known already and what is yet to be learned.  With my background in Counselling Studies and teaching I have developed an interest in the impact of reflective learning on undergraduate students in their personal, academic and professional development and I am currently pursuing the idea of using personality profiling in order to optimise undergraduate learning experience.

I have a particular interest in the use of novels in learning and teaching in HE, and have completed an article jointly with Professor Julian Stern on the use of novels in the context of teaching about the Holocaust in an undergraduate context.

Involvement in conferences and seminars  have allowed me  to gain a deeper insight into the different manifestations of reflective learning across a number of diverse disciplines in order to develop a programme of learning for our students. I have deepened my understanding of pedagogical practices appropriate for these subject areas through attendance at a number of conferences including Swansea University, York University and York St John University.

I was the Head of BA Programme between 2013 and 2016, additionally between 2007 and 2013 I served as a member of the Northern Region Board for the CCRS (Catholic Certificate in Religious Studies), working alongside area coordinators to ensure good practice and standards across the North of England. Particular attention was paid to the development of new teaching materials as well as assessment practices. I worked in close partnership with Middlesbrough Diocese in developing and delivering the CCRS course to students at York St John University in accordance with the guidelines from the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales; this has led to the validation of the Certificate in Catholic Studies programme at York St John University together with a new model of module delivery for the course.

I have also supported the validation of a new course at Worcester University for the BA in Religion, Philosophy and Values in Education as an external adviser for the validation team, since that time taking the post of External Examiner; and I have experience as a panel member in the validation of courses outside the TRS discipline


Further Information



My teaching commitments across strands on the BA Theology and Religious Studies programme include the subject areas of Christianity, Judaism and the Holocaust, and the introduction to the academic study of religion. I have responsibility for the third year undergraduate dissertation programme and have supervision responsibilities in my specialist areas.

I also lead the new Work Related Learning modules which have been developed to give an insight into the world of work in relation to the students’ academic disciplines and to prepare them for future careers. This includes reflecting on and learning from the complexities of balancing academic study with work placements, theories of work, and the development of practical skills beneficial for the workplace.

The Judaism modules at levels four and five reflect the diversity of contemporary Judaism and involve a collaborative project with a college in Israel which allows students to engage with Jewish students and to develop an understanding of the lived reality of Judaism as well as introducing them to the history, belief and practice.

I have developed and lead the module Responses to the Holocaust at level six which builds  on the knowledge and understanding of Judaism gained in the other modules and gives students the opportunity to develop a reflective approach to their own responses to Holocaust issues.

As part of the learning experience the students have the opportunity to visit Auschwitz which I organize bi-annually. I have developed a programme of optional overseas visits to Rome and Auschwitz for the students as an additional experiential learning element for the BA programme, to underpin and supplement their knowledge and appreciation of the subjects covered on the course. I believe that experience plays a vital part in developing a deeper understanding of a subject.


Research Projects


Current Projects

Gifts Differing: a joint project with Professor Andrew Village on the relation between learning and personality types in a group of Theology and Religious Studies undergraduates.

Further details on my current projects can be found at Research Projects - Gill Simpson

Previous Projects

Holocaust Memorial Day 2018: Joint project with Dr. Adam Stock. Screening and discussion of Night and Fog [1956] (Dir. Alain Resnais) as part of the Holocaust Memorial Day commemorations in York.

Collaborative project with Kaye College Israel developing links between students (via Skype and discussion forums) to enhance students’ understanding of the lived reality of Judaism in Israel.

“The Auschwitz Project”: an art exhibition by disabled rights campaigner Di Lofthouse MBE. The exhibition was displayed at York St John University as a part of the Holocaust Memorial Day commemorations (2012) which take place across the city in partnership with York City Council.




Journal Article

Gill Simpson & Julian Stern, "The Educational Use of Holocaust Novels", Other Education: The Journal of Educational Alternatives, ISSN 2049-2162, Volume 7(2018), Issue 2 · pp. 38-54


Professional Activity


“In Community, Alone, In Community: Towards an understanding of a Christian faith for the post-1960s generation”: paper presented at ‘Alone Together: An International Pandisciplinary Symposium on Solitude in Community’ York St John University 10th – 12th April 2019


Fellow (Higher Education Academy)



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