The School of Geography, Politics and Sociology

Staff Profile

Dr Ruth Graham

Dean of UG Studies; Senior Lecturer in Sociology


Following doctoral studies (1997-2002) and a then a period working in Newcastle University Medical School (Research Associate; Public Health tutor), I joined the Sociology subject area as Lecturer in Sociology in 2005.

My research interests are informed by an approach that draws on sociology, social policy and law, as applied to health, illness and disability. I have a particular interest in understanding both lay and professional experiences of health care provided in the context of distressing life events such as reproductive loss.

Roles and Responsibilities

(i) Current key roles include:
Dean of Undergraduate Studies, Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences (HaSS) (2017 - )
Senior Lecturer in Sociology, (2011 - )
HaSS Faculty Education Committee (Member since 2012, Chair from 2017)
University Education Committee (2017 - )

(ii) Previous roles have included:
- in the Sociology Subject Area:
Degree Programme Director, BA Politics and Sociology (2005 - 2009)
Combined Studies Liaison (2005 - 2008)
Subject area Careers liaison (2009 - 2011)
Member of school ethics panel (2008 - 2010)
Lead Convenor, Health and Life Sciences Research Cluster (2010 - 2012)
Senior Tutor (2010 - 2012)

- for the School of Geography, Politics and Sociology
School Director of Excellence in Learning, Teaching and Student Experience (2012-2014)                              
Chair, School of Geography, Politics and Sociology Teaching and Learning Committee (2012-2014)

- at Faculty or University level:
Associate Dean Teaching and Learning, HaSS Faculty (2015-2017)
Member of the Student Experience Sub-Committee (2015-2017) 
Member of Programme approval panels (2009 - 2010; 2015 onwards)
Member of the Evasys Implementation Group (2012-2014)
Elected member of the Faculty Promotions Panel (2013-2015)
Member of the Programme Data Working Group (2013-2016)
Elected member of Senate (2015-2018)

(iii) Roles outwith Newcastle University:
Co-Editor, Social Theory & Health (2008 - )
External Examiner for UG sociology programmes at University of Durham (2017 - )
External Examiner for UG sociology programmes at University of York (2012-2016)


PG Dip Medical Law, 2011. Distinction.
Northumbria University 

Postgraduate Certificate in Academic Practice, 2005. Distinction.
Newcastle University

Ph.D in Social Policy, Sociology and Law, 2002.
Newcastle University (ESRC Scholarship)

BA (Hons) in Social Policy, 1996. First.
Newcastle University




Research Interests
My research activities include work in socio-legal studies, medical sociology and qualitative research, and involve the study of topics such as reproductive loss and disordered eating. A key strand that runs through my research is a focus on aiming to understand how distressing life events are conceptualised, experienced and responded to.

Researching these topics can involve using multiple methods, but my portfolio of work to date contains a strong focus on qualitative research methods that cuts across my non-fieldwork based and fieldwork based projects, such as:
- Generative Thematic analysis
- Discourse analysis
- Conceptualisations of sensitive phenomena

Current Work
The central strand of my current research programme centres around reproductive health and reproductive loss. This programme involves research across several areas of reproductive loss, such as:
- termination of pregnancy for fetal anomaly/feticide, neonatal care, miscarriage
- viability thresholds and the fetus

Specific projects include:
(i) The MERIDIAN study, which focuses on the use of MRI to image the fetal brain, has published the clinical findings in The Lancet, and findings from the qualitative sub study in Qualitative Health Research and Sociology of Health and Illness.  The project website can be found here:

(ii) The peer reviewed NIHR report for the EACH study is published. This study focuses on the use of Array Comparative genomic Hybridisation in prenatal diagnosis, and the full report can be found here:

(iii) I also engage in research on other sensitive topics in health care, particularly in areas where mental health status can be contested.  Currently, I am collaborating with colleagues at the University of York (Steph Lawler, Pete Steggals) on a programme of work exploring relational aspects of self harm.

Dr Steggals joined Newcastle University in October 2017 to take up an REA research fellowship.

Postgraduate Supervision 

Current Supervisions:

Two postgraduate researchers joined me in October 2017 to undertake ESRC 1 3 doctoral scholarships:

Angela Plessas, on the Sociology pathway, is supervised with Dr Geth Rees and Dr Mark Casey; and
Ella Dyer, on the Social Science and Health pathway, is supervised with Dr Ruth Bell and Prof Judith Rankin. 

Recent Supervisions:
- Allison Farnworth (2016) 'A qualitative exploration of the role frontline health workers play in defining the quality of services provided to women experiencing an early miscarriage' (supervised with Prof Steve Robson).

- Danna-Mechelle Lewis (2012) 'The risk factor - an exploratory study into the assessment of risk within criminal justice practice' (supervised with Dr Elaine Campbell) 

- Liz Turner (2012) 'Reimagining criminology's public role: an inquiry into the relationship between criminological expertise and the democratic public sphere' (supervised with Dr Elaine Campbell) 

- Benet Reid (2014) 'The discourse of evidence-based healthcare (1992-2012). Power in Dialogue, embodiment and emotion' (supervised with Prof Peter Phillimore)

- Lisa Crowe (2014) 'Termination of pregnancy for non-lethal fetal anomaly: professional perspectives' (supervised with Prof Steve Robson and Prof Judith Rankin) 

Esteem Indicators

Co-editor of the journal Social Theory and Health

Peer reviewer for various journals and book proposal publishers, including:
Social Science and Medicine
Qualitative Health Research
Journal of Social Policy
Human Fertility
Open University Press
Palgrave Press

The paper 'Male rape and the careful construction of the male victim' [Social and Legal Studies, 15 (2): 187-208] was the most accessed article for the journal SLS in the year May 2006-April 2007, with 1,675 total accesses. It continues to be one of the journal's most highly cited articles.


2017 NIHR HTA Programme, (c. £2 million)
EMPOWER: EMesis in Pregnancy: Ondanestro With mEtoclopRamide
(Co-applicant, PI S Robson, Newcastle Universrity)

2016 Wellcome Trust, £45k
Connecting Wounds: nonsuicidal self injury in the context of social relations
(named collaborator, PI Steph Lawler, York University)

2015 ESRC Impact Accelerator Award (£9.5k) with Dr Mabel Lie
Patient and professional understandings of fetal MRI: an engagement programme for practitioners

2013 NIHR Knowledge Mobilisation Fellowship - Allison Farnworth
(Core member of fellow management team with Prof Steve Robson and Dr Katie Haighton)

2011 NIHR EME Programme, £1.5 million
(co-applicant, PI S Robson, Newcastle University) 

2010 Department of Health, £35k
(PI, with S Robson, J Rankin and N Embleton)

2010 Tiny Lives (UK charity), £110k
(co-applicant, PI J Rankin, Newcastle University)

2010 NIHR HTA Programme, £1.4 million
(co-applicant; PI P Griffiths, Sheffield University)

2010 Knowledge Transfer Partnership, £164k
(academic lead; co-investigator S Robson, Newcastle University)

2006 Knowledge Transfer Partnership, £120k,
(academic support; PI E Campbell, Newcastle University)

2005 Tiny Lives (UK charity), £52,949 £10,000 (in 2008)
(co-applicant, PI S Robson, Newcastle University)

2002 Wellcome Trust, £80K
(named collaborator, PI C May)

1997 ESRC Doctoral Scholarship


Module teaching

My current leadership role as Dean of Undergraduate Studies, HaSS, prevents me from making a substantial contribution to teaching at module level, but I continue to provide in-class teaching where possible as I really enjoy teaching and learning activities. This includes an annual commitment to provide:

HSC8047 'Health & Society' - two sessions per year, Faculty of Medical Sciences
An annual session on Sociology as applied to mental health, as part of a local training programme for medical practioners training to specialise in Psychiatry.

Previously I have been module leader for modules at UG and PGT level, between 2005-2015. This teaching provision primarily focused on teaching related to medical sociology and social theory.