The Department of Adult Education was set up in 1949 within the University's Faculty of Education. Its purpose was to teach and research the theory and practice of adult education. The Department was the first of its kind in the UK. Ross Waller (1899-1988), who was also director of extra-mural education, was appointed first professor and head of department.
The Department was not involved directly with the delivery of the University's extra-mural education programme. Its role was to provide teaching and training to those who provided adult education, and to research relevant issues in this area.
The Department initially provided courses for the general diploma in education, but during the 1960s, a diploma in adult education was introduced, to which the department added diplomas for community development, industrial education and training, and education of teachers overseas. The Department also provided courses for the diploma in advanced study in education. A small number of students undertook Ph.D.s in adult education subjects.
Departmental staff were active in research, and undertook work on teaching media, distance and home learning, the organisation of regional education, and the training of adult educators. In later years, the department undertook research into the teaching English as a foreign language. A member of the Department also edited the Annual Bibliography in Adult Education. The Department was involved with a number of national and international agencies, including the National Institute of Adult Education, the Overseas Development Administration, UNESCO, OECD and the EEC. The Department also undertook training and consultancy work for public and private bodies.
In 1976, the department merged with the Colleges of Education Division of the Faculty of Education to form the department of adult and higher education. In a further restructure in 1984/5, the departments of education, physical education and adult/higher education were united into a single department of education.
- Ross Waller, 1949-1966
- George Weddell, 1964-1976 (C D Legge acting head 1973-76)
- John Turner 1976-1984