Dr Alison Ainley

Head of Humanities and Social Sciences;

Associate Professor Philosophy

Faculty:Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences

School:Humanities and Social Sciences

Location: Cambridge

Areas of Expertise: Philosophy

Research Supervision:Yes

Alison is Head of our Department of Humanities and Social Sciences. Her current research concerns philosophical questions about embodiment, particularly in the work of Simone de Beauvoir.



Alison became Head of Humanities and Social Sciences at Anglia Ruskin University in 2005. Before this she was a lecturer in philosophy at Anglia Ruskin, appointed in 1990. She also spent two years teaching at University College Dublin, from 1991-92. Alison teaches on our undergraduate philosophy degree, including modules on the Philosophy of Art and Western Civilisation, and also supervises research students in philosophy.

Areas of research supervision

  • Phenomenology 
  • Feminist philosophy
  • Philosophical issues in psychoanalysis 
  • Contemporary European philosophy
  • Areas previously supervised to successful completion include Heidegger and sexual difference; Heidegger and Edith Stein; Merleau-Ponty and Derrida on language; politics in Byzantium and Plato and mathematics. Current PhD students are researching topics including questions of human rights.


  • PhD in Philosophy; 'Ethics and Embodiment’, University of Warwick, 1993
  • MA in Philosophy and Literature ‘Mallarmé and Literary Theory’, University of Warwick, 1986

  • BA (Hons) Philosophy and Literature, 1st Class, University of Warwick, 1985

Memberships, editorial boards

  • Society for Women in Philosophy
  • Mind, Aristoteles and Society
  • British Society for Phenomenology
  • British Philosophical Association

Selected recent publications

Ainley, A., 2001. 'Imagination and the Maternal; Kant and Levinas' in Tina Chanter (Ed.). Re-Reading the Cannon: Feminist Interpretations of Levinas. USA: Pennsylvania State Press.

‘Provoking thought’ (2003). Philosopher’s Magazine, issue 22 February.

‘What’s it all about?’ (2003). Philosopher’s Magazine, issue 23 May.

‘Grounds for Optimism’ (2004). New Humanist, November-December.

‘The mighty fork (Kierkegaard)’ (2005). Philosopher’s Magazine, July.

‘Kristeva, subjectivity and culture’ (2009). Hypatia, 24(1).

Recent presentations and conferences

Alison organised a conference to celebrate 40 years of philosophy at Anglia Ruskin University on 11 November 2013, bringing together both current and former staff and students.