Share this page:
Maria Birch

Dr Maria Birch

Head of Nursing, Midwifery and Social Work & Research Supervisor

School of Nursing, Midwifery and Social Work

I have been in academia since 1995. My interests are in the learning of anatomy, reflective practice, forensic gait analysis and phenomenology.

I became an RGN from the Nightingale School of Nursing in 1988, specialising in theatre nursing and children’s nursing. In 1995, I gained a first class honours degree in Podiatry at the University of Brighton, then joined the University as a clinical tutor, becoming a lecturer in 1996, senior lecturer in 2000 and principal lecturer in 2013. I have extensive higher education teaching experience, teaching on numerous profession-specific and multidisciplinary modules and programmes, both pre and post healthcare registration. Prior to joining Canterbury Christ Church University, I was Associate Dean Academic Operations at the University of Brighton, and from 2006 to 2016 I was course director for the BSc (Hons) Podiatry. I gained a Certificate in Learning and Teaching in Higher Education in 1999, an MSc Podiatry in September 2001 and a Doctorate in Education in 2019. I am a respected member of the podiatric community, and in November 2011 was awarded a Fellowship of the Royal College of Podiatrists in Podiatric Medicine in recognition of my ‘distinguished, significant, and sustained contribution to the field of podiatry in the practice of podiatric education’. In 2014, I was awarded an Excellence in Facilitating Learning Award for my contribution to the learning and teaching of anatomy, and for demonstrating innovation through the implementation, evaluation and research of an independent learning module (BSc Module by Learning Objectives), which has been running since 2003. I am a Senior Fellow of Advance HE. My doctorate was focused on the complexities of the learning of anatomy through the study of the student experience, including that of human dissection. My methodology was descriptive phenomenology. I am currently writing up papers related to this work, and I have developed a Community of Practice for teachers of anatomy in allied health disciplines. I have published a book and several papers on forensic gait analysis. This work has informed the development of professional codes of forensic practice and facilitated their implementation by the Forensic Science Regulator and Home Office. The features of gait tool developed and tested as part of this work is the first validated methodology for forensic gait analysis and is helping to shape forensic practice around the world. I have also published work in reflective practice, and arterial disease. I have presented at national and international conferences on the student experience of learning anatomy, the teaching and assessment of anatomy, and the promotion of autonomous learning. I peer review for four journals. I am deeply committed to the learning, teaching and assessment of the course curricular, and the enhancement of the School in all aspects.