Dr Valerie Farnsworth

Dr Valerie Farnsworth


My primary teaching responsiblity in the Leeds Institute of Medical Education (LIME) is to lead Year 1 IDEALS, the professionalism strand of the MBChB. I am responsible for the 'teaching and learning' and 'diversity education' themes across this professionalism strand (Years 1 and 2). I also provide iBSc, ESREP and post-graduate research student supervision in the area of medical education. I am a Fellow of the HEA and an experienced education researcher.  I have published on social identity, learning theory and the relevance of these for student learning and professional identity development.

Following completion of my PhD on the impact of engagement with diverse communities on teacher’s professional identity development (from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, 2006) I became a researcher and part-time lecturer at the University of Manchester. Over my four years there, I worked on funded research projects in secondary education and the transition to higher education. In 2010, I joined the University of Leeds as a Research Fellow in 14-19 Education and Training where my research focused on the role of identity in learning and factors shaping the educational pathways of young people. This research background underpins my contributions to the IDEALS curriculum and feeds into my work with the Transitions Team and ongoing research and scholarship.


  • Year 1 IDEALS Lead
  • UG and PG dissertation supervision
  • Medical education research & scholarship

Research interests

My research is in the area of diversity education and transitions. My focus is on understanding student transitions into medical school with the goal of informing innovative ways to best support these transitions. A diversity and inclusion strand runs through this research for two reasons. Firstly, because of the increasing diversity of our student population and a related goal of widening access to medicine. Secondly, because a key part of the transition into and through medical school is professionalism which has multiple dimensions, including cultural sensitivity/cultural responsiveness, critical self-reflection and lifelong learning. 

I have been funded by a small grant from ASME to conduct a study exploring the role of 'ability mindset' in students' learner orientations and changes in learning approach within the first year of the MBChB. I am particularly interested in situating their transition in the MBChB curriculum as it is experienced by students. My engagement in scholarship with regards to the MBChB has focused on developing sessions in IDEALS on 'mitigating personal and social bias' and have presented this work at the LIME Clinical Education Network Inaugural Symposium. This is a developing area of research where innovation and inquiry are needed.

I supervise research students in education projects relating to diversity education, learning and teaching, transitions and widening participation. 

I am a member of the Researching Professional Learning Group within LIME. Externally, I am a member of DIMAH (Diversity in Medicine and Health): http://www.dimah.co.uk/ 

I co-convene the BERA (British Educational Research Association) SIG on Socio-cultural and Cultural Historical Activity Theory: https://www.bera.ac.uk/group/socio-cultural-and-cultural-historical-activity-theory 


  • PhD, Educational Policy Studies; University of Wisconsin-Madison
  • Fellow, Higher Education Academy (HEA)

Professional memberships

  • BERA

Student education

Teaching and scholarship in the area of professionalism.

Research groups and institutes

  • Leeds Institute of Medical Education
  • Professional Learning Group
<h4>Postgraduate research opportunities</h4> <p>We welcome enquiries from motivated and qualified applicants from all around the world who are interested in PhD study. Our <a href="https://phd.leeds.ac.uk">research opportunities</a> allow you to search for projects and scholarships.</p>