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Our Flagships

We have flagship areas of health and rehabilitation, sustainable business and creativity and culture. Like all our teaching and research, the work within our flagship areas is designed to be thoroughly relevant to the social and economic development of Scotland and countries across the world.

Work within our flagships areas tackles issues ranging from alcohol abuse to the development of healthcare systems across the world; and from providing dialogue tools which allow marginalised groups to have their voices heard, to giving people their voice more literally through innovations in speech therapy.


This flagship area is underpinned by our portfolio of health courses: we have the widest range of allied health professional courses of any university in Scotland. Our research is focused on policy and practice, and therefore has an immediate practical impact in terms of service delivery and patient care.

We have capitalised on our broad range of health courses to become leaders in interprofessional education. This ensures that our teaching and research reaches beyond the limits of professional boundaries, providing fresh insights and helping to ensure that healthcare professionals from different areas work together effectively with positive consequences for patient care.

We have the benefit of high-quality specialist facilities at our purpose-built campus including practical research laboratories, a nursing simulation suite, and working speech, audiology and podiatry clinics.

Our work has a global reach, not least through our Institute for International Health and Development.

Within the area of health and rehabilitation, our flagships include food and nutrition, speech and hearing sciences, international nursing education and rehabilitation science.

Food and nutrition

Our work has always focused on food and nutrition. Indeed, the institution which is now Queen Margaret University was partly established to address the poor diets of working class Victorian society.

We research dietary behaviours to enable individuals to achieve a better quality diet. For example we have been researching how to improve the intake of oily fish - rich in omega-3 fatty acids - in nursery school children.

We carry out nutritional assessment. This involves identifying how a disease process influences nutritional status in individuals and vice versa.

We have expertise in assessing the effects of functional foods. These are foods that have components or supplementary ingredients giving a specific medical or physiological benefit, other than a purely nutritional effect.

Our alcohol research group is contributing to our understanding of the issues relating to this major social problem. Their research interests include the unit-based system of measuring alcohol, alcohol labelling, pricing and education.

Our experts in dietetics, human biology and nutrition work closely with our business experts to supply product development and marketing solutions to food and drinks companies of all sizes.

Examples of our work in food and nutrition include DietPhone and our role in Advanced Microwave Technology.

International nursing education

Our role as a high-quality provider of nurse education (of which the undergraduate pre-registration honours degree is our lowest graduate level qualification), has led to demand for our curriculum development and accreditation services in countries that actively seek to raise the standard of nursing care, through the provision of a better standard of nurse education. We also help international partners to offer a QMU degree completion route to the award of the BSc Professional Practice – Nursing degree.

Our international work therefore focuses on the development of faculty academic staff in overseas colleges and universities, through working with QMU nurse lecturers in the establishment and on-going development of nurse education programmes. All international partner staff have the opportunity to visit and work with QMU nurse lecturers and participate in learning opportunities related to the programme being developed.

The BSc (Hons) Nursing or BSc Professional Practice programmes that students undertake internationally do not intend to lead to registration as a qualified nurse in the UK. Rather they seek to help people from their own nations and cultures to gain recognition from their own government and nurse organisations, to approve and recognise their academic and professional qualifications.

Curriculum development, together with robust quality assurance through validation and on-going enhancement of the partnership education programmes helps us to assure the standards of education provision.

We have formal partnerships in Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Singapore. Other links include India, China and Bangladesh. Our international work encompasses both hospital and community nursing.

Speech and hearing sciences

Communication is central to human interaction: problems can affect all areas of our lives and result in social exclusion. Our work helps to ensure that individuals with communication and hearing problems can participate fully in society.

We have long-acknowledged expertise in speech science. In 2002, we won the Queen’s Anniversary Prize for our work in this field and our research in linguistics and communication was recognised as internationally significant in the latest UK Government’s Research Assessment Exercise.

We host the Clinical Audiology, Speech and Language Research Centre , which brings together two closely related specialisms: speech and hearing. This combination of expertise allows a fully integrated approach to clinical research in communication and hearing. The value of this is illustrated by individuals with hearing impairment who have benefited from joint management by our audiologists, and speech and language therapists.

A major strand of our work is the development of technological tools to explore the processes involved in speech production. One example is electropalatography (EPG), a technique for recording the timing and location of tongue contact with the roof of the mouth (hard palate) during speech. We have demonstrated the value of EPG in research and in the clinical management of speech problems associated with a range of conditions, such as cleft palate, Down’s syndrome and hearing impairment. We are now leading the world in the development of high-speed ultrasound tools for speech research and clinical applications.

Other areas of research include communication problems in young offenders, bilingualism, and the use of mobile technology to monitor voice problems in teachers or to provide support for people with hearing impairment. Our work on typical speech production has led to new insights into social variation in Scottish speech which have important implications for clinical practice.

Rehabilitation sciences

Many of our health experts are focused on how we can make rehabilitation from accident or disease more effective and efficient.

Our multi-disciplinary work in rehabilitation sciences is organised around two principal sub-themes of: physical activity and exercise rehabilitation, and orthopaedic/musculoskeletal rehabilitation. Research activity is largely focused on the design and evaluation of assessment approaches and therapeutic intervention strategies within healthcare and is thus integrally linked with the health care practice of allied health, health promotion and exercise professionals .

Examples of on-going activity within this area include investigations into the impact of physical activity interventions on the physical well-being, functional capacity and quality of life of people living with long-term conditions such as chronic kidney disease, multiple sclerosis, cerebral palsy, and of people recovering from a stroke. Other research explores the effectiveness of assistive technologies in the rehabilitation of gait in people with neurological conditions (e.g. support of walking through electrical stimulation and ankle-foot orthoses). Computerised 3D analysis of human movement and other clinical biomechanical assessments, conducted in our state of the art motion analysis laboratory, plays a central role in this type of research.

Our work in musculoskeletal and orthopaedic rehabilitation focuses on issues influencing recovery following surgical interventions. This research is oriented towards the development and evaluation of rehabilitation protocols and services aimed at enhancing clinical and functional outcomes across a variety of patient care journeys.


We take a holistic view of business sustainability, incorporating financial, social and environmental sustainability. We take the view that sustainable businesses are profitable, effective and efficient with a long-term horizon, and contribute to both economies and communities. In addition, they invest strategically in sustainable futures and innovation and are recognised as having business leaders committed to applying broad principles of sustainability throughout the organisation.

International hospitality and tourism

We are recognised internationally for our work in international hospitality and tourism. Through collaborative partners, we have students on our programmes in India, Nepal, Singapore and Switzerland. We have been commissioned by the Scottish Government to support the development of sustainable tourism in India.

Events management

We are innovators in the subject area of events management and host the International Centre for the Study of Planned Events.

Consumer insights

Our consumer insights team has a wide range of expertise in understanding consumer motivations and behaviour. The team has proficiency and experience of research and consultancy in customer service, complaints handling, marketing, and consumer behaviour (including how consumers apportion value to goods and services). Our clients include the Financial Ombudsman Service and the Legal Ombudsman (for England and Wales).

Social justice

A focus on social justice underpins our teaching and research and is illustrated in: our growing range of work in social enterprise; our research on the link between human trafficking and large scale events; and a social justice focus to our consumer insights work. And, for many years, our staff have been involved in gaining social justice for the victims of the Bhopal gas disaster. Students on our sociology programmes contribute to social justice whilst still studying with us, through placements in third sector organisations.

Social enterprises – that is, businesses driven by a social or environmental purpose – are becoming an ever more popular and necessary way of working. Our social enterprise projects include evaluating the impact of Street Soccer; involvement with the Centre of Health and Wellbeing Company which provides clients with bespoke health improvement programmes; and supporting Soroba House Hotel, a social enterprise which provides training in hospitality skills to the long-term unemployed and people with disabilities.


Our research in cultural and media studies was recognised as internationally significant in the latest UK Government’s Research Assessment Exercise. We bring together media, events and performing arts students in one academic school to maximise opportunities for inter-disciplinary work.

Costume and performance production

One of our specialisms is costume and performance production. Our undergraduate programme in costume design and production - the only such programme in Scotland - has close industry links, with our students providing costumes for professional productions and for heritage bodies.

We use community theatre as a tool for implementing social change. For example, specialists have joined forces to allow drama students to develop ‘Alcohol Interactive’, a drama-based programme focused on increasing understanding of alcohol issues amongst school children.

Discourse and cognition

Our work in the areas of discourse and cognition focuses on how people make sense of themselves, others around us and the contexts that go to make up our everyday lives.

Research relating to discourse examines issues of communication and identity across a diverse range of settings ranging from our daily conversations and interactions with other people to ways in which individuals present themselves in face-to-face meetings, in media, and in the virtual worlds made available by new forms of technology. All such communications have implications for the identities that people claim, avoid or are ascribed and for how people themselves come to make sense of their own experiences. Recent work on such topics has looked at, among other things, young people’s experiences of abuse in the workplace, ways in which mothers understand their communications with health professionals in arriving at birth choices, and issues relating to migration and how asylum-seekers are identified in seeking asylum in the UK.

In psychology we have extensive expertise across many aspects of cognition. Research within the division has focused on memory, emotions and belief formation, incorporating both theoretical and applied approaches. Examples of ongoing research include the evolutionary function of human memory, religion and cognition, reasoning biases in belief formation, the role of laterality in PTSD, emotional processing, understanding working memory, understanding stereotypes and understanding various systematic biases and individual variables that affect cognition. 

Public relations, media and culture research

Our work in public relations, media and culture research focuses on dialogue. We examine dialogue used for strategic and policy purposes both in the public and business spheres with practical outcomes. For example, through dialogue techniques we have empowered high school students to learn about alcohol issues and to find strategies for themselves, their families and their school. We also have expertise in publishing history, and in Scottish film and ‘tartantry’.

Cultural management

Finally, we have expertise in cultural arts management. This work is enhanced by our position in Edinburgh, a city famed for its cultural festivals. Our postgraduate Festivals Management and Arts and Cultural Management programmes produce graduates which go on to make a real impact in the cultural sector and we research cultural policy.

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last modified 02/04/12 Queen Margaret University, Edinburgh EH21 6UU - Tel: +44 (0)131 474 0000
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