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Professor Catherine Donovan

Head of Department

Head of Department in the Department of Sociology
Head of Department, Professor of Sociology in the Department of Sociology


Catherine joined the Department of Sociology in September 2018 as Professor of Sociology after spending 23 years at the University of Sunderland. Catherine gained her BA Social Studies at the University of Newcastle, her Masters in Women’s Studies at York University and her PhD at Edinburgh University. She is also a Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy. At Durham she is co-convening the Postgraduate option module Gender, Violence and Abuse (SOCI4060) and convenor for the Undergraduate option module Sociology Community Placement (SOC13511).

Catherine’s current research interests are the use of violent and abusive behaviours by lesbians, gay men, bisexual women and men and/or trans people in their intimate relationships; the implications of love for making sense of and addressing domestic violence and abuse; hate crime/incidents and hate relationships and student safety. She is also currently developing a research project to explore elder abuse of LGB and/or T people.

Catherine welcomes enquiries about supervision from students who want to write an undergraduate, masters or doctoral dissertation on any of these topics as well as, more broadly topics exploring gender and sexuality.

Selected Grants

Co-Investigator, (2017-2018) Be the Difference, Pilot Active Bystander Project and evaluation, Funder: HEFCE Catalyst Fund and the University of Sunderland (£82,000).

Principal Investigator (2017-2018) Evaluation of Breaking the Cycle, Blackburn Changing Lives, Funder: Changing Lives (£15,000)

Principal Investigator (2006-2017) Three International Seminar Series showcasing research and best practice from around the world, Funder: NRF and University of Sunderland (£51,000)

UoS three month Graduate Internship in Partnership with Advocacy Centre North (2016) evaluating Partners in Health Advocacy Service (£15,000 pro rata)

Co-Investigator (2014-16) ‘Evaluation of the Selfies Project: Informal Sex and Relationships Education for LGBT Young People’, Funder: Projects Galore (£8,000)

Co-Investigator (2015-2016) Two public engagement events in the ESRC Social Science Festival on LGBT sex and relationships education Funder: ESRC (£2,000)

Principal Investigator (2014-15) Rape Crisis Tyneside and Northumberland, Funder: RCTN (£10,000) undertaking a service evaluation of the Northumberland and Tyneside services.

Principal Investigator (2014) ‘Speaking Out: Trans Experiences of Violence and Abuse’ Funder: CASS (£8,000)

Principal Investigator (2014-1015) The Ace Project: Developing an Agenda for Change for Young LGBT People At Risk Of Sexual Exploitation, Funder: NRF (£7,000)

Principal Investigator (2014-2016) The Emerald Project: Exploring Student Safety, Funder CASS and FES (£7,500)

Co-Investigator (2014-2016) ‘Disability and Hate Crime in the North-east of England’ Funder CASS and FES (£8,600)

Principal Investigator (2014) ‘Evaluation of Sunderland City Council New Customer Services Network’ Funder: Sunderland City Council (£5,000)

Principal Investigator (2012-2014) ‘Exploring the Abusive Behaviours of Partners in LGBT Relationships’ Funder: ESRC (£270,000)

Principal Investigator (2014) ‘Evaluation of North East Domestic Abuse Project’ Funder: NRF (£5,000)

Principal Investigator, (2011-13) Impact of the Cuts, two year longitudinal study of the impact of the Coalition Government’s comprehensive spending review on the School’s partner agencies across the North East, Funder: CASS (£8,000)

Principal Investigator (2009-10) Exploration of reasons why so few LGB and or T victim/survivors of domestic violence and abuse are referred to multi-agency risk assessment conferences, Funder: Gateshead Domestic Abuse Partnership and University of Sunderland (£3,000)

Co-Investigator (In collaboration with a colleague in Community and Youth Work) an audit of services for LGBT citizens of Sunderland Funder: City of Sunderland Council (£2000). Output: Report written February 2008

Principal Investigator (2005-2010) ‘Evaluation of NRF Domestic Abuse Intervention Programme’ Funder: NRF (£500,000)

Principal Investigator (2004-2006) ‘Comparing Love and Violence in Heterosexual and Same Sex Relationships’ Funder: ESRC (£195,000)


Authored book

Chapter in book

Edited book

Journal Article

Other (Print)



Supervision students