The School of Geography, Politics and Sociology

Staff Profile

Dr Gethin Rees

Lecturer in Sociology



I am interested in the use of scientific and medical evidence within criminal and civil trials, with a particular focus on the use of forensic medicine in gender-based violence cases.  As a result my research sits at the intersection of the sociology of science and technology, medical sociology and socio-legal studies.  From September 2015 I will be teaching the core module 'Doing Sociology' as well as the optional stage three module 'CSI: Newcastle', and will be module coordinator for undergraduate dissertations.

Prior to joining Newcastle University I held an ESRC Postdoctoral Fellowship (2009-2010) and was Principal Investigator on an ESRC Small Grant (2010-2011), both carried out at the University of Edinburgh; following the completion of the small grant I became a Lecturer in Criminology at the University of Southampton (2011-2015).  I hold a PhD in Science and Technology Studies from the University of Edinburgh and a Postgraduate Certificate in Academic Practice from the University of Southampton.  I have also held Visiting Fellowships at Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University; Department of Sociology, Trent University; and School of Law, National University of Ireland in Galway.  I am a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy, an Executive Committee member of the Socio-Legal Studies Association and a member of the British Sociological Association.  


Research Interests and Expertise

I am predominantly interested in the ways that medicine is employed in legal decision-making contexts and have followed this interest through three principal research projects: the role of doctors (otherwise known as Forensic Medical Examiners) in the examination of a person reporting a rape or sexual assault; a study of the introduction of nurses into the forensic investigation in sexual assault cases, in particular comparing the novel Forensic Nurse Examiner role in England and Wales with the more established Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner in Ontario, Canada; and, most recently, the role of sleep medicine in sexual assault cases where the accused does not deny the assault but claims to have no recollection of the event, as they were sleepwalking at the time.  At the heart of all of these studies are questions concerning the boundaries between medicine and the law and the ways that those boundaries are maintained and negotiated; questions about the ways that 'real rape' stereotypes inform (and are in turn supported) by forensic practices; and the ways that disagreements in knowledge claims are resolved.

Latest Projects

Most recently I have been exploring the different constructions of the medical condition 'sexsomnia' from medical, legal and cultural perspectives.  This work culminated in a workshop attended by legal scholars, sleep experts and social scientists interested in the sleep defence.  We are presently preparing a grant to The Wellcome Trust to establish a network of scholars and to further our interdisciplinary understanding of sexsomnia and other sleepwalking conditions.

International Networks

I am a co-founder of the Comparative Analysis in Rape Research Network (CAiRRN), an interdisciplinary collection of scholars interested in the treatment of rape victims by criminal justice personnel.