Dr Tracey Collett

Dr Tracey Collett

Associate Professor (Education)

Peninsula Medical School (Faculty of Health)



I am subject lead for the Sociology of Health and Illness at  Plymouth University Peninsula Medical School. In addition to being responsible for the sociology elements of the medical school curriculum I undertake a variety of teaching and management roles including Enquiry Based Learning (EBL), academic tutoring, case unit management, and special study units. I supervise post graduate students at Masters and PhD level and lead our faculty Education and Scholarship group, D.E.S. Information about D.E.S. can be found via the following link https://www.plymouth.ac.uk/research/camera/division-of-education-and-scholarship


BEd (Hons), MSc (Social Research), Phd (Sociology)

Professional membership

British Sociological Association (BSA) - member

BSA South West Regional Medical Sociology Group - co convenor
Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy

Roles on external bodies

I Co Chair the national Behavioural and Social Sciences Teaching in Medical Education (BeSST) network. Information about BeSST can be found via the following link https://www.besst.info



Teaching interests

The Sociology of Health and Illness

Health Professions Education

Social Research Methods

Staff serving as external examiners

I served as an external examiner at Edinburgh University from 2015 - 2019



Research interests

I am a keen sociologist. My focus has been on the lived experience of chronic illness and disability with a particular emphasis on invisible / contested conditions. Recurring themes in my work include power, social inequality, identity, stigma, embodiment and social theory. I am currently working with Professor Gayle Letherby on a sociology of insults.

I also conduct applied sociological research into the field of health professions education with respect to the following areas:

1. The scholarship of teaching and learning. What is it ? How is best practice defined? What models do faculties (nationally and internationally) use to promote excellence in teaching scholarship? This work stems from our own experiences at Peninsula Medical School as we have sought to develop a progressive socially focused curriculum that is evidence based and informed by best practice. Research here leads on from collaborative work with other UK medical schools where we discovered the value of acknowledging transitions and identity formation in research scientists as they move into teaching roles within health professions education. Real interdisciplinary working in higher education can only take place when we recognise the strength of the pull of monodisciplinarity in higher education.

2. Sociology teaching in health professions education: how does the future look? This is inspired by my own experiences of designing teaching and learning experiences for medical students. It has involved convening a national support network of teachers and forging links between the British Sociological Association and Medical Education. As part of an ongoing collaborative project with sociologists working in 8 UK medical schools, I have led on or contributed to: a review of the literature; a series of regional workshops and the development of core guidelines for sociology teaching and assessment in medical education. This work is receiving international attention and we have been invited to deliver symposia and workshops and to write best practice guidelines. Our research on assessing the social sciences in medical education has led to the inclusion of sociology questions into uk mandatory licensing exams.

3. Threshold concepts have proven to be a useful heuristic tool for us at Peninsula, allowing us to 'focus more on' and therefore 'better understand' processes of learning from students' perspectives. Ideas within the 'thresholds literature' (for example, 'students can find certain concepts troublesome'; 'students can undergo periods of liminality prior to getting an idea' and that 'threshold concepts often bring together a number of strands of thought') have made sense of and influenced my practice as a teacher. They make sense of the importance of linking learning to prior knowledge; of consolidating learning and of recognising that some learning will be not be immediate but triggered at later points. Our Threshold Concepts work is led by Professor Hilary Neve and has been funded by PEDRIO.



Key publications

Key publications are highlighted


Kendall, K. Collett, T. DeIongh, A. and Forrest, S. Kelly, M. (2019) Teaching Sociology to Undergraduate Medical Students: AMEE Guide 122. AMEE 2018 ISBN 978-1-910612-50-7

Collett T, Capey S, Edwards J, Evans DJ, McLachlan JC, Watson H & Bristow D (2021) 'Teaching, research or balanced? An exploration of the experiences of biomedical scientists working in UK medical schools' FEBS Open Bio , DOI Open access
Ley T, Kisielewska J, Collett T & Burr SA (2019) 'Improving communication for learning with students: expectations, feedback and feedforward' MedEdPublish 8, (1:14) 1-10 , DOI Open access
Kendall K, Collett T, de Iongh A, Forrest S & Kelly M (2018) 'Teaching sociology to undergraduate medical students' Medical Teacher 40, (12) 1201-1207 , DOI
Neve H & Collett T (2017) 'Empowering students with the hidden curriculum' The Clinical Teacher 15, (6) , DOI Open access
Burr SA, Collett T & Leung YL (2017) 'The value and challenges of collegiality in practice' British Journal of Hospital Medicine 78, (9) 486-487 , DOI Open access
Collett T, Hanks S, Watson H & Davies T (2017) 'Collecting student feedback: a whole-school approach' Medical Education 51, (5) 547-548 , DOI Open access
Collett T, Neve H & Steven N (2017) 'Using audio diaries to identify threshold concepts in 'softer' disciplines: a focus on medical education' Open access
Neve H, Lloyd H & Collett T (2016) 'Understanding students’ experiences of professionalism learning: a ‘threshold’ approach' Teaching in Higher Education 22, (1) 1-17 , DOI Open access
Brooks L, Collett T & Forrest S (2016) 'It’s just common sense! Why do negative perceptions of sociology teaching in medical education persist and is there any change in sight?' , DOI Open access
Collett T, Brooks L & Forrest S (2016) 'The history of sociology teaching in United Kingdom (UK) undergraduate medical education: an introduction and rallying call!' Author Site , DOI Open access
Neve H, Wearn A & Collett T (2015) 'What are threshold concepts and how can they inform medical education?' Medical Teacher 38, (8) 850-853 , DOI Open access
Chinnah TI, De Bere SR & Collett T (2010) 'Students’ views on the impact of peer physical examination and palpation as a pedagogic tool for teaching and learning living human anatomy' Medical Teacher 33, (1) e27-e36 , DOI
Brennan N, Corrigan O, Allard J, Archer J, Barnes R, Bleakley A, Collett T & de Bere SR (2010) 'The transition from medical student to junior doctor: today's experiences of Tomorrow's Doctors' Med Educ 44, (5) 449-458 Author Site , DOI Open access
Collett T, Kirvell D, Nakorn A & McLachlan JC (2009) 'The role of living models in the teaching of surface anatomy: some experiences from a UK Medical School' Med Teach 31, (3) e90-e96 Author Site , DOI
Collett TJ & McLachlan JC (2006) 'Evaluating a poetry workshop in medical education' Medical Humanities 32, (1) 59-64
Collett T, Williams M, Maconachie M, Chandler J & Dodgeon B (2006) 'Long termness with regard to sickness and disability: an example of the value of longitudinal data for testing reliability and validity' International Journal of Social Research Methodology 9, (3) 229-243
Rees CE, Bradley P, Collett T & McLachlan JC (2005) '"Over my dead body?": the influence of demographics on students' willingness to participate in peer physical examination' Med Teach 27, (7) 599-605 Author Site , DOI
Collett TJ & McLachlan JC (2005) 'Does 'doing art' inform students' learning of anatomy?' Medical Education 39, (5) 521-521
Chandler J, Williams M, Maconachie M, Collett T & Dodgeon B (2004) 'Living alone: Its place in household formation and change' SOCIOLOGICAL RESEARCH ONLINE 9, (3) Author Site

Collett, T. (2019) Concepts of Health, Illness and Disease in van Teijlingen, E. and Humphris, G. (eds) Psychology and Sociology Applied to Medicine, 4th ed. Elsevier. Edinburgh. 

Collett T, Brooks L, Forrest S, Harden J, Kelly M, Kendall K, MacBride Stewart S, Sbaiti M & Stevenson F (2016) A Core Curriculum for Sociology in UK Undergraduate Medical Education. BeSST, UK Cardiff Cardiff University Publisher Site Open access