About Me

Welcome to ThomasLancaster.co.uk, the home of Dr. Thomas Lancaster.

I work across the sector in my main area of Computer Science and in my research field of interest, academic integrity and contract cheating.

My most recent senior role saw me work as Associate Dean in Recruitment at Staffordshire University. My particular responsibility is for Digital Technologies, a role which closely matches my interests for online branding, promotion and marketing, my background in Computer Science and my wider interests in emerging technologies.

In other previous roles, I’ve been employed as a Principal Lecturer at Coventry University and a Senior Lecturer a Birmingham City University, the latter being a university where I worked for over 12 years. I have held a variety of management level roles, including leading a major Computer Science programme and leading student recruitment across the Computing, Electronics and Mathematics field. I also hold various external roles, particularly as an external examiner and as a subject expert for course approval events.

One of my interests is teaching and improving the student experience. My background is technical, with plenty of programming experience, but most of my pedagogical research has been based around professional practice for Computing students, focusing particularly on research and project preparation skills, as well as helping students to obtain sandwich year placements and to become employable. I think that that’s a key part of everything we do as university lecturers, and I aim to help students to achieve the best careers available for them.

Other teaching has based around my Mathematics background, and includes formal methods (specifying computer systems using mathematical logic) and applied maths (particularly Discrete Mathematics and Statistics). I also regularly teach areas related to my research into Computing Education, particularly aimed at practitioners. I’ve also previously heavily taught programming, including languages such as Java, JavaScript and C, as well as Human Computer Interaction, Usability Engineering and computer hardware and architecture. I feel that I have a versatile ability to teach across a wide variety of Computer Science and Computing subjects.

My research is varied as well, particularly in the Computing Education field. I’m best known for my research into academic integrity, plagiarism detection and contract cheating, an area in which I’ve delivered keynote presentations, research talks and staff training for institutions around the world. My PhD, obtained from London South Bank University, looked into plagiarism detection. Since then, I’ve explored the challenge of contract cheating, looking at how students can get original work produced for them which they can then hand in as if they had created this work for themselves. I’ve published widely on this topic with my colleague Robert Clarke. I’ve also published around topics including assessment, student projects and, more recently, student employability. I tend to focus my research in directions of interest to teaching practitioners and lecturers, as opposed to pure academic research, and aim to make sure that it reaches as wide a selection of people as possible.

I am a Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy and I have experience supporting them in an Academic Associate role and developing and delivering materials for staff development sessions. I work with several other organisations, including prominently as an Expert with the Council of Europe.

There’s much more information about my background and academic experience around the site and on my blog, so feel free to have a browse around and leave comments on anything that interests you.

3 thoughts on “About Me”

  1. Pingback: TABBIC - Cheating found to be rife in British schools and universities

  2. Alison Backhouse

    Dear Doctor Lancaster
    I work at Anglia Ruskin University in London, we like all universities have students who use contract cheating. We have rethought many of our assignments so that students are assessed via simulated meetings and presentations. I’ve read a lot of your work about student motivation for contract cheating. Next semester I will introduce a new campaign about academic integrity, to raise awareness of our response to CC and to link CC with health and social care ethics.

    As part of this strategy, possibly contributing to a PHD, I was thinking about reclaiming the idea of the essay mill. I would recruit a group of students to offer help to fellow students who are struggling with their work. Obviously this would not involve writing the essay for the student but would involve guiding the student on what questions to ask, where to find research and how to structure their work. For students in trouble for what ever reason this could provide a helpline.

    This is controversial, but this could be offered as a paying service but with lecturer oversight. My rationale is that some students are CC because they think they have too much to lose by failing. Many other reasons, as you have highlighted such as perceived lack of availability of lecturers and not understanding the assessment question are addressed by this service. Hopefully the academic integrity campaign has made them fearful of using essay mills and has possibly raised questions about integrity. The in house essay mill is a acceptable alternative.

    The practicalities are complex but do you think this could be an option to deal with this problem?

Comments are closed.