Staff profile

Dr Sarah Rawlinson

Head of Department Hotel Resort and Spa Management


College of Business, Law and Social Sciences


Buxton Campus



I joined the University of Derby 20 years’ ago after a career in the travel industry where I specialised in group travel. I am passionate about experiential learning and making sure that my students have the skills and knowledge that employers are seeking in todays graduates.

Teaching responsibilities

My specialist teaching areas are in rural tourism development, MICE markets and curriculum development. I am passionate about supporting students from a wide and varied background to succeed at university. I am involved in undergraduate and postgraduate courses and supervise a number of PhD students.

Professional interests

My professional interests include the development of curriculum models that support vocational learning and provide opportunities for students to learn how to transfer knowledge in a context that allows them to bring theory alive and link it to practical application.    I have been involved in developing opportunities for students to gain as much experiential learning as part of their degree  to support their professional develop and provide students with experiences that support employability. I believe this approach provides better prepared graduates for industry.

I led the development of spa management as a subject area in higher education. The University of Derby is the world leader in spa management degrees and provides graduate to some of the most prestigious spas in the world.

Research interests

My research interests also include teaching and learning, especially the development of “real world learning” and “experiential” teaching and learning strategies.

I am working with two PhD students on aspects of research related to the demands for talented young people in the hospitality industry.

Membership of professional bodies


Undergraduate qualifications

Postgraduate qualifications

Research qualifications

Recent conferences

Rawlinson, S., (2014). Exploring a new curriculum model for vocational degrees. CHME Annual Research Conference May 2014.

International experience

I work closely with the Swiss Education Group, Switzerland's leading Hotel Management Group including the Swiss Hotel Management School and IHTTI providing world class education for students from around the world.  I also work with partners in Botswana, China, Holland and Greece.

Additional interests and activities

I am a trustee of the Arkwright Society.  The Arkwright Society is an educational charity devoted to the rescue of industrial heritage buildings and helping to preserve the precious built and natural landscape in and around Cromford.  It was formed in 1972, growing out of the Arkwright Festival Committee which ran a local celebration. This commemorated the bicentenary of Sir Richard Arkwright’s first Cromford Mill and the construction of the world’s first successful water powered cotton spinning mill in 1771.

I am also a Director of Buxton Town Team.  The Tuxton Town Team is essentially people – individuals who live or work in Buxton and care about its future. It is registered as a Community Interest Company, whose agreed objective is “to advance the prosperity of Buxton and the well-being of its community”

Recent publications

Braham, J., Church, F., Rawlinson, S and Senior L. (2009) Continuing Professional
Development in Partnership - a model of inclusive practice to develop excellence in teaching across the FE/HE spectrum. Forum for Access and Continuing Education Spring 2009 31

Rawlinson, S., and Dewhurst, P., (2013) How can effective university – industry partnerships be developed?  Worldwide Hospitality and Tourism Themes Vol. 5 No. 3, pp. 255-267

Rawlinson, S., and Dowthwaite, K., (2013) Benefits of Higher Education to the International Spa Industry: A UK Perspective.  In Smith, M and Puczko, L (2013) Health Tourism and Hospitality: Wellness, Spas and Medical Travel. 2nd Ed Routledge

Darby, A. and Rawlinson S. (2008) Involving HE in the Development and Delivery of Diplomas. Presentation at the 3rd Annual 14-19 Diplomas Conference. Neil Stewart Associates

Rawlinson, S. (2008) Are graduates more productive than non-graduates? Practice Paper at the Hospitality, Leisure, Sport and Tourism Subject Network Annual Conference