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Dr Emma Miles

Senior Lecturer
Faculty of Arts, Humanities, Education and Social Sciences
Areas of Expertise:
Education and teaching
Research Supervision:
Courses taught:

Emma has experience as a classroom teacher specialising in early literacy learning, as well as having worked as a facilitator and manager in the museum and gallery education sector. Her research interests centre around the pedagogy of arts/cultural experiences, with a particular focus on theatre.


Emma began her career as a primary school teacher in the Early Years and Key Stage One, where she specialised in early literacy intervention and whole school approaches to supporting reading (through training in Marie Clay’s ‘Reading Recovery’ approach as part of the ‘Every Child a Reader’ scheme). Having completed an MA in Arts Culture and Education alongside this role, she went on to study for a PhD exploring reception and experiential learning in theatre made for audiences aged two to five years old.

Following this, Emma spent five years as the Learning Manager of Sir John Soane’s Museum in London, where she developed her experience in pedagogical approaches to learning through arts and cultural experience. She also led the community engagement and exhibition programme for a historic church in north London.

Emma began working at ARU in 2017, initially holding a part-time lecturing post alongside her work in museums. She moved to a full-time position in 2022 and is currently the Course Leader for the accelerated BA (Hons) Primary Education Studies, as well as teaching on the Primary PGCE and supervising doctoral students. Emma is currently working on a monograph about theatre for early years audiences.

Research interests
  • Theatre for children
  • The pedagogy of arts/cultural experience
  • Theatre and education
  • Museums/galleries and education
  • Early childhood education
  • Informal/experiential learning
  • Environmental sustainability
  • Ethnographic and arts-based research methods
Areas of research supervision

Emma has experience of supervising Doctoral students as both first and second supervisor, and would be interested in hearing from prospective students whose work aligns with the research interests outlined above.

  • BA (Hons) Primary Education Studies modules including: sociology/social justice and education; arts-based methods for teaching environmental sustainability; Early Years/KS1 science teaching.
  • PGCE module on the Reflective Practitioner and Professional Evidence Based Enquiry
  • PhD in Drama and Theatre Studies, Royal Holloway, University of London. Thesis title: ‘Theatre for Early Years Audiences at Polka Theatre: Performance, Reception and Pedagogy’
  • MA in Arts Culture and Education, University of Cambridge
  • PGCE in Primary Education (QTS), University of Cambridge
  • BA (hons) English Literature, University of York
Memberships, editorial boards
  • Reviewer for Research in Drama Education: The journal of applied theatre and performance
Selected recent publications

Academic publications

Miles, E. and Nicholson, H. (2019) ‘Theatres as Sites of Learning: Theatre for Early Years Audiences’ In: Finneran, M., Anderson, M. (eds) Education and Theatres. Landscapes: The Arts, Aesthetics, and Education, vol 27. Springer, Cham.

Miles, E. (2018) Bus journeys, sandwiches and play: young children and the theatre event, Research in Drama Education: The Journal of Applied Theatre and Performance, 23:1, p. 20-39.

Miles, E. (2014) ‘Theatre, Youth and Culture: A Critical and Historical Exploration' (Book Review). Research in Drama Education: The Journal of Applied Theatre and Performance. 19:4, p. 414-415.

Other publications

Research project and industry report: Miles, E. (2019) Engaging hard-to-reach audiences at Polka Theatre: A research report exploring perspectives on the barriers and incentives to live theatre access for family audiences. Polka Theatre.

Professional journal article: Miles, E. (2017) ‘Punchdrunk Enrichment’s Lost Lending Library’. Teaching Drama. 70:2

Industry report: The Lost Lending Library: A case study of Punchdrunk Enrichment's Practice and Impact. Sept 2015.

Recent presentations and conferences

Participation and Agency in Theatre for Early Years (TEY), The Theatre and Performance Research Association conference, Leeds, 30 August – 1 September, 2023.

Theatre for Early Years Audiences: Who is it really for?, Age(s) and Age(ing) in Applied and Social Theatre symposium, Cardiff, 25 March, 2017.

Listening to the unspoken: Methods for exploring young children’s theatre reception, Relating Research symposium at Polka Theatre, March 2017.

Bus Journeys, Playing and Performance: The ‘event’ of theatre-going for early year audiences, The Theatre and Performance Research Association conference, Bristol, 5-7 September, 2016.

Pioneering Practices in Theatre for Early Years Audiences (panel member), On the Edge, ASSITEJ World Festival of Theatre for Young People, Birmingham, 2-9 July, 2016.

Play, Pedagogy and Research in Theatre for Early Years Audiences, The British Educational Research Association conference, Belfast, 14-17 September, 2015.