Mr Karl Johnson (BSc (Hons), MRes) is a Lecturer in the Psychology, Sociology and Education Division.

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

I’ve been at QMU in one capacity or another since 2009 – having completed my Undergraduate and Masters degrees here – and am now lecturing in sociology/public sociology. I’ve previously acted as the Academic Disabled Student Coordinator for the Division of Psychology & Sociology, and am currently also the WISeR (Widening Student Participation and Retention) Coordinator for the School of Arts, Social Sciences and Management, involved in work with the QAA Enhancement Themes amongst other things.

Hope Christie and I have written ‘Don’t Panic’, a short ‘survival guide’ for Honours-level social science students, which has been adapted into an online LibGuide by the LRC [] at QMU, as well as featuring in The Psychologist magazine.

Alongside Dr Clare Uytman and Dr Maddie Breeze, I’ve been working with direct entry students to help them transition into higher education at QMU.

John Docherty-Hughes and I were special consultants on social affairs for the 13th edition of the Collins English Dictionary, focussing on definitions relating to gender and sexuality.

I acted as QMU’s academic link in coordinating with Edinburgh-based organisation Children in Scotland, on their 2019 conference ‘Biting back: Transforming food experiences for Scotland's children’.

I’ve co-authored academic papers for the Journal of Perspectives in Applied Academic Practice and the journal of Teaching in Higher Education, and have sole-authored chapters in preparation for books on Public Sociology Education, Imposter Syndrome, and Social Theory.

My sociological interests are eclectic – ranging from the theoretical to the local to the cultural application of social science. I’m always interested to hear about some of the ‘stranger’ or more niche areas of social research.

Active Research Interests:

  • Shetland – particularly gender inequality in relation to Up Helly Aa.
  • Widening access to, and participation in, Scottish higher education. Student dialogue, experience, inclusion and retention.
  • Cultural sociology – particularly using popular culture to help explain social theory.
  • Sociological fiction.
  • Mental health in academia and higher education, and imposter syndrome.

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


JOHNSON, K., 2017a. Navy Rum. In: A. WATSON, ed. So Fi: A Sociological Fiction Zine: Edition #1. pp. 48-51.

JOHNSON, K., 2017b. Gutters and Panels. In: A. WATSON, ed. So Fi: A Sociological Fiction Zine: Edition #2. pp.

JOHNSON, K., 2018. ‘Dixon’, Shetland: home of human interaction [online]. The Island Review. 13 September [viewed 13 September 2018]. Available from:

JOHNSON, K., 2019. Viewpoint: Everyone is entitled to equal rights. Shetland News [online]. Shetland, 16 April [viewed 16 April 2019]. Available from:

Other funding:

QMU PETL funding for ‘Don’t Panic: The Psych/Soc Student’s Guide to Fourth Year’

QMU WISeR funding for Psych/Soc Direct Entry student induction project

I have contributed to several modules. My seminars and lectures focus on Social Inquiry, Diversity, Identity & Well-Being, Engaged Sociology & Public Sociology amongst other topics.

Examples of some undergraduate dissertation topics I’ve supervised include: solidarity in women’s shinty; attitudes towards tattoos; experiences of bar work, and; emotional labour of support workers.