Dr Paul McHugh

  • Lecturer in Catholic Religious Education (School of Education)


Paul joined the University of Glasgow in August 2023 and is a member of the Pedagogy, Praxis and Faith Research and Teaching Group in the School of Education. His professional background has largely been in secondary education in the Catholic sector in England, first as a practitioner and head of department, but in more recent years as an education adviser. He has also worked extensively in educational resource development and publishing both for online and printed resources.

Paul was a member of a small core team which brought to completion the Religious Education Directory, which from September 2023 is mandated for the over two thousand Catholic primary and secondary schools in England and Wales. It was an enormous project, drawing on many lines of enquiry, and bringing together the fruit of much deliberation and insight. He has recently co-authored textbooks to support the implementation of the Religious Education Directory.

Paul’s academic background is interdisciplinary: his graduate and masters qualifications span disciplines as diverse as Mathematics, Computing, Philosophy, Theology, and Education. His doctorate explored the philosophical outlook of John Henry Newman, a Victorian thinker, writer, pastor, and preacher – and in recent years, a canonised saint. He has deep interest in what has come to be called the ‘epistemology of faith’. This seeks to answer the question of how and in what sense can faith be related to knowing. To that end, Paul has immersed himself in medieval philosophical thinkers (both in the Christian scholastic and Islamic traditions) for their thoughts on what knowing consists in, drawing comparison and contrast with more contemporary thinkers on this question, including John Henry Newman. His current research is concerned with bringing his epistemological interests into conversation with his thoughts on education.

In recent months, Paul has become more interested in a ‘comparing of notes’ between his discipline and the various academic concerns in comparative education, drawing on his early career experience of working as volunteer teacher in rural Zimbabwe. To that end, he is attending some of the seminars in the GLACIER (Glasgow Comparative and International Education Research) research seminar series in 2024.

Research interests

What unites my disparate scholarly projects is an abiding preoccupation about what is it to know, what it is to believe, and philosophy of mind in general. I am fascinated by the various different philosophical approaches to this question. The broad British empiricist tradition as it comes down to us through phenomenalist theses has still some cachet even in contemporary times, though I think them all gravely flawed methodologically. Against this, there are radically opposed philosophical programmes, not least, Husserl's phenomenological programme as well as the work of later Wittgenstein. John Henry Newman had a profound interest in what we might call 'the epistemology of faith', which attempts to relate assent from faith to ordinary, everyday assent. This too is my interest. Dressed in different terminology, medieval philosophy both in the Islamic as well as in the Christian tradition acutely explores these matters. Then and now, there were widely different accounts on what we would now recognise as epistemological questions. Finally, I am very interested in bringing all this into conversation with the philosophy of education, which has its own motivation for taking a view on these questions.


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Paul currently supervises students on the MSc (taught) programme and will move to doctoral supervision in the years ahead.


Current Teaching:

MEduc 1: Theology in Education

Meduc 2: Theology in Education

Curriculum Enquiry 1B: RERC

Curriculum Enquiry 2B: RERC

Curriculum Enquiry 3: RERC

Educational Elective 4: Prophets of a Future not their Own

Education in Practice 5

Catholic Teacher’s Certificate: Aberdeen (course leader), Dundee, Edinburgh, Strathclyde, UWS

Setting Out on the Road: Seminars

PGDE: Applied Catholic Theology

Additional information


Keynote on Religious Education Directory at ATCRE Conference: Birmingham, March 2023

Main Presenter on Christology at CES National Conference: York, June 2023

Presenter ‘Trust Redundant’ at the ACISE Conference: Lublin, April 2024

Public Lectures

Theology Thursdays, Lecture 1: ‘Prove it! Can the existence of God be proved? A new look at an old argument.’ February 1st 2024, Ogilvie Room, St Andrew’s Building, University of Glasgow

Theology Thursdays, Lecture 8: ‘And finally... a brief exploration of Christian teaching about the end of the world.’ March 25th 2024, Ogilvie Room, St Andrew’s Building, University of Glasgow

Other Interests

Paul is a keen explorer of nature and a birdwatcher. He enjoys regular exercising and walking in general. He loves his sports and is a keen fan of the Mighty Stags, otherwise known as Mansfield Town FC.