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Personal profile

Scholarly biography

Michael joined the School of Sport and Service Management in March 2008 as a member of the events management team. Michael studied event management at Leeds Beckett University and worked in the arts and cultural events sector for over 10 years. He completed his PhD in music events as contemporary spectacle at the University of Brighton in June 2017.

He teaches across the undergraduate and postgraduate programmes in event management at the University’s Eastbourne campus and at Wittenborg University of Applied Sciences, one of the School’s partner institutions.

Prior to joining the University of Brighton Michael was responsible for managing the festival programme at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. He has also previously worked as Events Manager for the Harrogate International Festival and the Wiltshire Festival.

Research interests

My research interests lie in the emerging area of the social sciences and critical study of events. My research is stimulated by a desire to understand how we make meaning from, engage in, negotiate and (co)create event experiences. I am particularly interested in music events, the spectacle, fan communities and identity and politics. I am also interested in the use of digital technologies in the production and consumption of events.

Approach to teaching

I am a passionate and enthusiastic scholar, educator and festival and event goer. I draw on my experiences of working in, attending and investigating events in order to engage my students through practice and research informed teaching. I try to encourage and develop employable, critical thinkers and practitioners through helping students to nurture their own passion, enthusiasm, knowledge and experiences in events.

I endeavour to deliver teaching that is relevant and stimulating, by examining theoretical and practical as well as local and global perspectives. Currently, I teach a range of modules at undergraduate and postgraduate level including: The Event Industry, Event Experience Design, Event Design and Management and Theorising the International Event Industry modules.

Supervisory Interests

PhD Supervision

I am currently supervising two doctoral candidates. One project focuses on Soft Power and the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar. The other examines resistance to the hosting of Mega Events such as the Olympics. I am interested in supervising doctoral students in areas relating to sociological, cultural, and political aspects of international festivals, events, and spectacles. My particular focus is arts and cultural events for example Burning Man, Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival, and global touring productions, such as U2's 360 tour. I am also interested in supervising PhD projects in the following areas relating to leisure events:

  • fandom and fan communities
  • community and cultural identity
  • space and place
  • production, consumption, and co-creation of leisure spectacles.


Education/Academic qualification

PhD, University of Brighton

1 Jan 201230 Jun 2017

Award Date: 30 Jun 2017

External positions

External Examiner, Wrexham Glyndwr University

1 Aug 20181 Aug 2022

External Examiner, University of West London

1 Jun 20181 Jun 2022

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics where Michael Williams is active. These topic labels come from the works of this person. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Research Output

The Radical Populist Pitch of U2’s (2009-2011) ‘360°’ Tour

Williams, M., 2020, (Accepted/In press) Populism in Sport, Leisure and Popular Culture. Clift, B. & Tomlinson, A. (eds.). Routledge, (Sociological Futures).

Research output: Chapter in Book/Conference proceeding with ISSN or ISBNChapter

  • U2’s ‘360°’ tour: an episodic and perpetual experience of community

    Williams, M., 3 Aug 2020, In : Leisure Studies.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  • 'One but not the same': U2 concerts, community and cultural identity

    Williams, M., 25 Feb 2015, Identity discourses and communities in international events, festivals and spectacles. Merkel, U. (ed.). Basingstoke, UK: Palgrave Macmillan, p. 242-259 18 p. (Leisure Studies in a Global Era).

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Conference proceeding with ISSN or ISBNChapter

    Politics as spectacle: U2's 360° tour (2009-11)

    Williams, M., 22 Jul 2013, Power, politics and international events: socio-cultural analyses of festivals and spectacles. Merkel, U. (ed.). Abingdon, UK: Routledge, p. 174-190 17 p. (Routledge Advances in Event Research Series).

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Conference proceeding with ISSN or ISBNChapter

    Festival evaluation: an exploration of seven UK arts festivals

    Williams, M. & Bowdin, G. A. J., Feb 2008, Events and Festivals: Current Trends and Issues. Robertson, M. & Frew, E. (eds.). Oxon, UK: Routledge, p. 86-102 17 p.

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Conference proceeding with ISSN or ISBNChapter


    • 1 Taught course

    External Examiner

    Michael Williams (Examiner)

    1 Jun 201831 Jul 2022

    Activity: External examination and supervisionTaught course