Reader in Consumer Policy, Director Consumer Dispute Resolution Centre

Business School

Tel: 0131 474 0000

Carol Brennan (MA, BA) is a Reader in Consumer Policy in the Queen Margaret Business School and Director of Consumer Dispute Resolution Centre. She is also a member of the Centre for Applied Social Sciences.

  • Overview
  • Research Interests
  • Research Publications
  • Funded Projects
  • Teaching & Learning

Carol Brennan is a Reader in Consumer Policy and Director of the Consumer Dispute Resolution Centre at Queen Margaret University. Carol has expertise in consumer policy, complaint management, dispute resolution, consumer empowerment and customer experience.  With a strong interest in knowledge exchange, Carol’s work bridges the gap between academia and policy/practice.  She leads a team providing an extensive range of projects in both public and private sectors including researching the outcome of complaints for the Care Inspectorate; and using complaints to drive innovation for the National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts (NESTA). A significant part of Carol’s work is leading accredited training projects for a range of organisations including a major bank, the Ombudsman Association, the Legal Ombudsman and the International Ombudsman Institute. She has an extensive range of peer reviewed publications including articles in the International Journal of Consumer Studies; Legal Studies; Consumer Policy Review; the Journal of Workplace Learning and Managing Service Quality. She has presented her work at international, national and local conferences in Los Angeles, Boston, Lisbon, Bonn, Belfast, Liverpool, Cardiff, London, Derby, Aberdeen, Glasgow, Dundee and Edinburgh. Carol has supervised and examined PhD students. She is currently supervising PhD studies in the area of consumer/citizen dispute resolution

As Director of the Consumer Dispute Resolution Centre (CDRC) she participates in regular external roundtable events and workshops on, for example, vulnerable consumers, consumer policy, regulation of legal services, using complaints to drive innovation, customer experience strategy and consumer redress. Carol has often been asked to provide opinion and commentary to regulatory and ombudsman organisations at both UK and European level. She contributed to a European study of consumer education for the Directorate General Health and Consumers; was a member of the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman Advisory Group on NHS Investigations into complaints about avoidable harm; advised the National Consumer Rights Protection Council, Lithuania on strengthening administrative capacity of and promoting the activities of consumer organisations; and peer reviewed a Financial Conduct Authority occasional paper on access to financial services. She has also given evidence at the Public Administration Select Committee at Westminster.

Carol is developing the Consumer Dispute Resolution Centre as a Centre of Excellence for continuing professional development (CPD), research and knowledge exchange in dispute resolution, complaint management and consumer policy. During the last six years, the Centre has provided training for over 2500 complaint investigators in the UK and internationally.

Prior to joining QMU, Carol gained experience in financial services and as a Consumer Adviser/Enforcement Officer in Trading Standards. Carol has also taken on roles in the voluntary sector as Chair and/or Member of Citizens Advice Bureau committees. She facilitated the development of eighteen Consumer Support Networks throughout the UK. She also audited consumer advice services in Scotland.

Carol is chair of the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission Consumer Panel. She is also Chair of the Qualifications and Awards Board and the Examination and Assessments Board of the Chartered Trading Standards Institute.

Affiliations/Memberships to Other Organisations:

  • Chair of the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission Consumer Panel
  • Chair of the Qualifications and Awards Board and the Examination and Assessment Board, Chartered Trading Standards Institute
  • Member of the Editorial Board for the International Journal of Consumer Studies

Professional Social Media:

Research/Knowledge Exchange Centre Membership:

My research is in the area of consumer policy including consumer/citizen complaints, vulnerable consumers, dispute resolution, consumer education/empowerment and more broadly the customer experience. Recent studies include consumer vulnerability and complaint handling, using complaints to drive innovation in public services, the outcome of complaints, the future of ombudsman schemes, and models of ADR.

Active research interests:

  • Consumer policy, vulnerable complainants, consumer education, consumer empowerment, complaint handling, consumer dispute resolution, dispute system design, consumer redress, customer experience

Research Methods:

  • Qualitative research and case studies


Please see my research publications in eResearch – Queen Margaret University’s repository

Research Grants & Contracts Funding:

Financial Services Dispute Resolution Programme Royal Bank of Scotland  2016 

Ombudsman Training Legal Ombudsman   2011-2016

Training in Ombudsman and Complaint Investigation in Vienna and Bangkok International Ombudsman Institute  2012 and 2013

Designing Consumer Redress: Making Redress Accessible for Consumer-Citizens    Carnegie Grant for the Consumer Insight Centre  to run a workshop in collaboration with the University of Oxford Centre for Socio-legal Studies.  2015

Models of Alternative Dispute Resolution Legal Ombudsman   2014

The future of ombudsman schemes: drivers for change and strategic responses Legal Ombudsman   2013

Outcome of complaints research Collaboration with the University of Stirling. Care Inspectorate   2013

Ombudsman Practice African Ombudsman Research Centre  2012

Scottish Seniors Research Project: Evaluation of financial products and services and World Café research event   Centre for the Older Person’s Agenda  2007 - 2009

Feasibility Study to consider the need for a Consumer Policy Research Centre Scottish Higher Education Funding Council Strategic Research and Development Grant  2005 – 2006

Postwatch Scotland  2004 - 2006


The main focus for my teaching is on the MSc in Dispute resolution where I lead the modules on Complaint Management and Consumer Behaviour and the Dispute Resolution Project. I also contribute to the Applied Research module on the MRes and to the Public Administration: International Trends module on the MPA. At undergraduate level, I teach on the Customer Experience module and contribute to Contemporary Issues in International Management. I provide leadership for ombudsman and complaint management courses in the Consumer Dispute Resolution Centre


  • BM051 Complaint Management and Consumer Behaviour
  • BM058 Dispute Resolution Project
  • B2086 Customer Experience
  • XM013 Applied Research
  • BM062  Public Administration: International Trends
  • Module  BM013 – Contemporary Issues in International Management