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Winchester School of Art
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Dr Nik Mahon BA (Hons), MA, PGCTLHE, PhD

Principal Teaching Fellow in Advertising

Dr Nik Mahon's photo

Nik is a Principal Teaching Fellow at University of Winchester School of Art (WSA), where he leads the MA Global Advertising & Branding Pathway. He joined the university in 2015 after 21 years at Southampton Solent University where he began teaching in 1993. His subject areas include: advertising, art direction, corporate identity and design, creativity and idea generation.


Nik’s formative career years were spent working as an art director, and later, creative director in advertising agencies both here in the UK, and overseas, where clients included Burger King, Hyatt Hotels, Holiday Inn, Red Funnel Ferries, Swinton Insurance, and TSB Bank.

He has served as an external examiner on numerous advertising and design courses across the UK and has acted as an external curriculum consultant and validator on a variety of HE programmes at an international level. As a brand consultant, he led the research team responsible for the rebranding of Southampton Institute as Southampton Solent University.

Nik has written several books on advertising creativity and idea generation which have been published internationally and are core texts on many advertising courses. He holds an honours degree in Graphic Design from St Martin’s School of Art, an MA in Research, a Post Graduate Certificate of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education, and a PhD, awarded for his research into 'Fostering Creativity'. In recent years he has received three ‘Tutor’ awards from the Design & Art Directors Association (D&AD).

Linked to his research area, he runs training workshops in creative thinking and problem solving for external organisations which include a range of blue-chip organisations such as British Gas, Ordnance Survey, The Inland Revenue and United Biscuits, together with a variety of advertising agencies and PR consultancies.


Research interests


Since 1998, Nik has been heavily involved in research into techniques and approaches for enhancing student learning in the area of creative thinking and problem solving. This research formed the foundation of his PhD, which examined approaches for fostering creativity in higher education. It has informed many teaching, learning and assessment policies at the institutions he has worked at, and continues to drive his current research and engagement with new programme development and current teaching enhancement.

In 2009 Nik led a Teaching Quality Enhancement Fund (TQEF) research project which received a funding grant of £15,000 and involved research into new strategies for enhancing creativity on higher education programmes. The outcomes of this research had a significant impact on the curriculum design and teaching content of programmes within his Faculty, and he was able to implement and monitor the recommendations that had emerged from this research, in the delivery and subsequent development of new strategies for teaching creativity that, at the time of their inception on the advertising course, provided a new and ground-breaking model for a course of this type.

From 2010 - 2015 Nik was Director for the 'Creativity & Communication' Research and Enterprise Cluster at Southampton Solent University. The cluster group was a hub for academic staff conducting research or enterprise activities in this field and its membership included colleagues with a variety of experience ranging from new or novice researchers to seasoned published researchers. He has authored several text books in this area which have become essential core reading material on advertising courses worldwide. These include:

Mahon, N. (2014). Magma Sketchbook: Idea Generation. Laurence King

Mahon, N. (2011). Ideation. AVA/Bloomsbury

Mahon, N. (2010). Art Direction. AVA/Bloomsbury

Burtenshaw, K., Mahon, N., and Barfoot, C. (2010). The Fundamentals of Creative Advertising (2nd edit). AVA/Bloomsbury

 In addition to these, Nik has endeavoured to disseminate his research into approaches for fostering creativity, through as many different channels as possible including refereed journals, academic papers, magazines and conferences.



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  • Mahon, N. (2000). Unleashing creativity. Poster session presented at SRHE conference: Innovation & Creativity in Teaching & Learning, United Kingdom.

Nik has nearly 25 years teaching experience within the Higher Education sector, most of which was spent as a Senior Lecturer at Southampton Solent University. He joined Winchester School of Art in February 2015 to lead the MA Design: Advertising Design Management Pathway. In addition to this he is one of four Senior Personal Academic Tutors responsible for overseeing the Personal Academic Tutor system across all of the postgraduate Programmes within the school.

Nik's background in teaching and education spans a variety of different areas and Higher Education institutions. As well as full-time posts, he has served as a visiting lecturer at Bournemouth University, Surrey Institute of Art & Design (now UCA), Totton College, and the University of West England. He have also taught overseas, in Finland (TAMK, Tampere University of Applied Sciences, Virrat), Belgium (AP Hogeschool Antwerp), Spain (The Miami Ad School, Madrid) and the Netherlands (InHolland Hogeschool, Alkmaar). In addition to this, he has (together with programme leaders from each of the respective overseas institutions) been instrumental in organising and delivering a EUTA funded annual 'Intensive Project' for students across seven different universities located in different European countries.

In 2005, Nik was commissioned as an international HE consultant by the University of Wales, Newport to write an undergraduate advertising degree programme which was to be delivered under licence at Shenzhen University, China. This programme incorporated new teaching approaches that he had pioneered on the undergraduate advertising programme at Southampton Solent University and developed as part of his Doctoral research. Wishing to extend these approaches to other courses and subject areas, in 2009 Nik led a Teaching Quality Enhancement Fund (TQEF) project researching and developing creativity programmes for Higher Education.


At Winchester School of Art Nik Mahon currently teaches on the following modules:

Design 1

Design 2

Research Skills

Final Project



Dr Nik Mahon
Winchester School of Art University of Southampton Park Avenue Winchester Hampshire SO23 8DL

Room Number : 63G/T2011

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