Reflections on the development of a model of partnership designed to enhance the ‘digital curriculum’ of Sociological Studies programmes


  • Clarissa Simpson Department of Sociological Studies University of Sheffield
  • Tom Clark Department of Sociological Studies University of Sheffield


As this journal demonstrates, there are a growing number of accounts describing how student partnerships can be achieved in practice. However - and as some of this literature highlights - student partnerships are not merely technical impositions that can be simply implemented from ‘there’ to ‘here’ (Healey et al, 2016). They are instead reflexively experienced as processes of engagement by those who are working together within situated environments. Partnerships are not only directed by particular people toward particular ends, they are also relative to the contexts they variously exist within (see Elphick and Sims, 2017, for example). Drawing on our experiences of working together on a project designed to enhance the ‘digital curriculum’ within an undergraduate sociology programme, this casestudy reflects on a model of partnership that emerged from the situating determinants within which our relationship was based - and how these conditions subsequently impacted on assessments concerning the ‘success’ of the project. These determinants include the aims of the initiative that the project was a part, the substantive arena within which the project was focussed, and our own competencies, experiences, and networks. The role of the institution in enabling and constraining the project is also explored. In examining the values that underpinned the model of partnership that we developed, the paper follows Healey et al’s (2014, p 7) contention that student partnerships are a process of engagement, not merely a product that can be measured by outcomes. More specifically, it highlights the importance of reflecting on the interdependencies that exist between people, process, and purpose when doing partnership work, and how these connections influence judgements about effectiveness.


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Author Biographies

Clarissa Simpson, Department of Sociological Studies University of Sheffield

CLARISSA SIMPSON is currently studying for a BA (hons) in Sociology at The University of Sheffield. She is currently planning for a career in teaching.

Tom Clark, Department of Sociological Studies University of Sheffield

TOM CLARK is a Lecturer in Research Methods. He has expertise in areas of student partnership, inquiry-based learning, and ‘connected curricula’.


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How to Cite

Simpson, C., & Clark, T. (2018). Reflections on the development of a model of partnership designed to enhance the ‘digital curriculum’ of Sociological Studies programmes. Student Engagement in Higher Education Journal, 2(1), 61–69. Retrieved from



Case studies/Practice Pieces