Dr Tracey Collett

Dr Tracey Collett

Associate Professor

Peninsula Medical School (Faculty of Health)



I am subject lead for the Sociology of Health and Illness at  Plymouth University Peninsula Medical School and an active researcher. 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 am always interested in taking on more post graduate supervision. I am lead for evaluation and scholarship and co lead our faculty Education and Scholarship group, D.E.S. https://www.plymouth.ac.uk/research/camera/division-of-education-and-scholarship. 

Broad areas of teaching and research:

  • Health inequalities/ social determinants of health and illness 
  • Experiences of chronic illness and disability
  • Social research methods
  • Health professions education


B.Ed(Hons), MSc (Social Research), Phd (Sociology)

Professional membership

  • Member - Behavioural and Social Sciences in Medicine (BeSST), Social Sciences group
  • Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy
  • Member - British Sociological Association 
  • Member - British Sociological Association Auto / Biography Group
  • Member - International Society for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (ISSOTL)

Roles on external bodies

  • Co - Chair - Behavioural and Social Sciences Teaching in Medical Education (BeSST) https://www.besst.info
  • Co - Convenor - British Sociological Association (BSA) South West Regional Medical Sociology Group
  • Member of the Editorial Committee of Sociological Research Online



Teaching interests

Lectures and workshops (often co taught):

  • Models of heath, illness and disease
  • Occupation, socioeconomic status, health and illness
  • Gender, health and illness
  • LGBTQI+ health
  • Race, ethnicity health and illness
  • Disability and medicine
  • Health, illness and the life-course
  • The patient - doctor relationship
  • Shared decision making
  • Stigma, health and illness
  • Lived experiences of illness with respect to:

  • cardiac disease
  • domestic abuse
  • substance use
  • disordered eating
  • obesity
  • non - legitimated illnesses
  • invisible illness
  • Social research methods, with a focus on qualitative methodologies
  • Health professions education

  • Small group facilitation : problem based learning and special studies units.
  • Co lead ‘Medicine in Society’ Special Studies Unit
  • PhD supervisor 
  • Dissertation supervisor Masters in Clinical Education degree programme
  • Visiting lecturer University of Cardiff Medical School: Identity health and illness. 
Curriculum management roles include:
  • Chair of the Cross Cutting Themes Group (sociology, psychology, medical humanities, ethics and population health)
  • Member of the Public and Patient Involvement curriculum working group
  • Member of Faculty Equality, Diversity and Inclusion, Decolonisation subgroup

Staff serving as external examiners

  • External examiner - Edinburgh University 2015 - 2019



Research interests

My underlying 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 and embodiment. My current theoretical interest is on insults. This work is with Professor Gayle Letherby.

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

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. I have also explored interdisciplinary working in higher education. With respect to delivering integrated medical curricula interdisciplinarity 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. Creating teaching spaces that encourage 'every one to have a voice'. This is a meta theme emerging from mine and others educational practices. How can we best utilise pedagogies such as reflection, problem based learning, small group work, community placements to encourage genuine curiosity? When do interactive learning settings inhibit learners? And what external factors might mitigate against genuine dialogue for learning between students and students and educators in university settings? My interest in this area stems from a staff development initiative whereby myself and a colleague with an education research and theory background (Dr Cath Gristy) teamed up to observe and discuss each other's teaching sessions. 

I am a reviewer for the Sociology of Health and Illness, the Journal of Medical Education, Perspectives in Medical Education and Methodological Innovations. 



Key publications

Key publications are highlighted

Browne J & Collett T (2023) 'Transition theory and the emotional journey to medical educator identity: A qualitative interview study' Medical Education 57, (7) 648-657 , DOI Open access
Watson HR, Dolley M, Perwaiz M, Saxelby J, Bertone G, Burr S, Collett T, Jeffery R & Zahra D (2022) '‘Everyone is trying to outcompete each other’: A qualitative study of medical student attitudes to a novel peer‐assessed undergraduate teamwork module' FEBS Open Bio , DOI Open access
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
Harden J, Collett T, Forrest S & Kendall K (2021) 'Assessing sociology and psychology in UK undergraduate medical education: Square peg in a round hole?' MedEdPublish 10, (1) , 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 Open access
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
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, 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
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
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)

Collett, T. (2022) Mind the gap! Discipline, inter/multidisciplinary issues in Twinley, R and Letherby, G. The Doctoral Journey as an Emotional, Embodied, Political Experience: stories from the field. Routledge. London and New York.

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. 

Conference Papers
Collett T (2003) 'Non-legitimate illness, embodied experience and the moral career: the case of ME/CFS' 2nd Global Conference, Making Sense of: Chronicity: A Health, Illness and Disease Project September Open access
Neve H, Leyland R & Drake E 'How have I changed?’, ‘Am I ready?’: the value of looking back at past reflections in the final year of Medical School. Clinical Teacher. 17 (S1):120' Tracey Collett
Kendall K, DeIongh A, Forrest S & Kelly M (2019) Teaching Sociology to Undergraduate Medical Students: AMEE Guide 122. Association of Medical Education Europe (AMEE)
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
Other Publications

Collett, T. and Gristy, C. (2021) Introducing race, ethnicity and medicine through Cultural Circles. BeSST Blog, July, 2021 https://www.besst.info/blog

Kendall, K. Collett, T. Forrest, S. Harden, J. and Kelly, M. (2021) It was the worst of times it was the BeSST of times. Featured article on Cost of Living Blog, January 13. https://www.cost-ofliving.net/features/