Marie Brennan started work in education as a Humanities teacher in Victorian technical schools. She subsequently moved to the Access Skills Project Team in the Curriculum & Research branch of the Victorian Department of Education, working with teacher action research around questions of literacy, numeracy and social justice. She then co-led the Victorian School Improvement Plan, engaging teachers, parents and students in School Self-Evaluation across the state.

After gaining her PhD, Marie moved to the university sector, with stints at Deakin, Central Queensland, Canberra, University of South Australia (where she had a five-year term as Dean) and Victoria University.

She has retired, and is not taking new students. She is an honorary Professor at VU, an Adjunct Professor at the University of South Australia and Professor Extraordinary at Stellenbosch University in South Africa.

Recent publications

Refereed journal articles

Brennan, Marie and Zipin, Lewis (2016) The Work of Teacher-Educators. Asia-Pacific Journal of Teacher Education, 44 (4). 302 - 305. ISSN 1359-866X

Nuttall, J and Brennan, Marie (2016) Teacher education as academic work: the affordances of a materialist analysis. Asia-Pacific Journal of Teacher Education, 44 (4). 364 - 378. ISSN 1359-866X

Brennan, M., Zipin, L. & Sellar, S. (2015) Negotiating with the neighbours: Balancing different accountabilities across a cluster of regional schools. In Thompson, G. Lingard, R. & Sellar, S (eds) Assessing National Testing.  First book in the AARE ‘Local/Global Issues in Education’ series. London: Routledge. Launched at AARE 2015.

Zipin, L., Fataar, A. & Brennan, M. (2015) Can Social Realism do Social Justice? Debating the Warrants for Curriculum Knowledge Selection, Education as Change, 19:2, 9-36, DOI: and online 17 September.

Do, Van Hanh Thi & Brennan, Marie (2015): Complexities of Vietnamese femininities: a resource for rethinking women's university leadership practices, Gender and Education 27 (3)  273-287. DOI: 10.1080/09540253.2015.1024619

Zipin, L., Sellar, S., Brennan, M., & Gale, T. (2015/2013). Educating for Futures in Marginalized Regions: A sociological framework for rethinking and researching aspirations, Educational Philosophy and Theory, 47, 3, 227-246. Online published October 2013. DOI:

Brennan, Marie (2014) A necessary thought experiment: Changing the secondary school template. In Susanne Gannon and Wayne Sawyer (eds) Contemporary Issues of Equity in Education. Cambridge Scholars Publishing: Newcastle Upon Tyne. pp.231-244.

Edited books

Blackmore, J.A., Brennan, M. & Zipin, L.D. (eds) (2010) Re-positioning University Governance and Academic Work.  Rotterdam: Sense Publications.

Furlong, J. Cochran-Smith, M. & Brennan, M. (eds) (2009). Politics and Policy in Teacher Education: International Perspectives. London & New York: Routledge.

Popkewitz, T., & Brennan, M. (1998) Eds.  Foucault's Challenge: Discourse, Knowledge and Power in Education. New York: Teachers College Press.

Refereed chapters

Green, B, Reid, J-A & Brennan, Marie  (2017) Challenging policy, rethinking practice: Struggling for the soul of teacher education. In: The Struggle for Teacher Education: International perspectives on governance and reform. Trippestad, TA, Swennen, A and Werler, T, eds. Reinventing teacher education. Bloomsbury Academic, London, pp. 39-55.

Brennan, Marie, Zipin, Lewis & Sellar, S (2016) Negotiating with the neighbours: balancing different accountabilities across a cluster of regional schools. In: National Testing in Schools: An Australian Assessment. Lingard, B, Thompson, G and Seller, S, eds. Local/Global Issues in Education Series. Routledge, London and New York, pp. 199-211.

Reid, J. & Brennan, M. (2013) The Standards Cage: Contradictory politics of control in Australia teacher education. In Lori Beckett (ed) Teacher Education Through Active Engagement: Raising the professional voice. London: Routledge.

Zipin, L. & Brennan, M. (2012) Re-imagining the university: governing the claims of global futures; in B. Adamson, J. Nixon & F. Su (Eds.) The Reorientation of Higher Education: Changing the East-West Dichotomy. New York and Hong Kong: Springer and The Comparative Education Research Centre of The University of Hong Kong Springer. pp. 247-268.

Hodgetts, K. & Brennan, M. (2011) Senior secondary study as a part-time phenomenon? Implications for policy and practice. In T. Stehlik & J.Patterson, (Eds) Changing the paradigm – education as the key to a socially inclusive future. Adelaide: Wakefield Press. pp. 62-75.

Brennan, M. (2009). A school system takes on Exhibitions through teacher action research.In Noffke, S.E. & Somekh, B. (eds) International Handbook on Educational Action Research. London: Sage. pp.158-166

Brennan, M. & Noffke, S.E. (2009). Political Theory and working with teachers for social justice schooling.  In Noffke, S.E. & Somekh, B. (eds) International Handbook on Educational Action Research.  London: Sage. pp. 338-344.

See a full listing of Marie Brennan's publications in VU's Research Repository.

Postgraduate research students & fellows

Marie has supervised 33 research students, and is currently co-supervising 4 doctoral students.

Research grants

Marie has been a Chief Investigator on five Australian Research Council grants:

2012-2014: Capacitating Student Aspirations in Classrooms and Communities in a High Poverty Region. ARC Discovery Project #DP120101492. $180,000 (L. Zipin, M. Brennan, T. Gale and S. Sellar).

2010-2014: Pursuing equity in high poverty rural schools: improving learning through rich accountabilities. ARC Linkage Project #LP100200841: ARC contribution: $386,000 (R. Lingard, M. Brennan, L. Zipin, M. Mills, P. Renshaw, partnered with Education Queensland).

2010-2013: Renewing the teaching profession in regional areas through community partnerships. ARC Linkage Project #LP100200499: ARC contribution: $164,469 (M. Brennan, F. McCallum (UniSA), M.Simons (UWS), with partner investigators H.Strickland (RDA Limestone Coast), Michael Preece (CESA, Pt Pirie), DECS, (SA) (commenced 2011)

2004-7: Reinvigorating middle years pedagogy in ‘rustbelt’ secondary schools. $369,828.  ARC Linkage Project #LP0454869. Chief Investigator with R. Hattam, B. Comber, P. Cormack, L. Zipin, D. Lloyd, H. Nixon & A. Reid (UNiSA)

2004-7: Pathways or cul-de-sacs? The causes, impact and implications of part-time senior secondary study. ARC Linkage project #LP0455760. Chief Investigator with Prof Eleanor Ramsay and Prof Alison Mackinnon. (UniSA).

Professional memberships

  • Australian Association for Research in Education (AARE)
  • American Educational Research Association (AERA)
  • European Educational Research Association (EERA)
  • Australian Teacher Education Association (ATEA)
  • Action Research Issues Association (ARIA)
  • National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU)

Industry experience

  • Humanities teaching in technical schools in Victoria
  • Curriculum & Research Branch, Victorian Education Department
  • Principal officer, School Improvement Plan, Vic Education Dept
  • Portfolio Coordination Division, Ministry of Education, Victoria
  • Seconded Policy officer, Schools Commission, Canberra. 

Appearances in the media

Can Indigenous education afford to wait for a real response to Gonski?, The Conversation, 6 September 2012

Will the curriculum review make it in to schools? It’s a political waiting game, The Conversation, 13 November 2014

Areas of expertise

  • Education in the Anthropocene
  • Critical education policy analysis across the globe
  • Curriculum & school reform
  • Democratic education
  • National curriculum
  • Sociology of education
  • Education and social justice
  • Students as researchers
  • Teacher Education
  • Teachers as researchers
  • Teachers’ work

Contact details