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Laura Hepworth

Postgraduate Research Student

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Postgraduate Research Student in the Department of Sociology  


I am a first year PhD student in the Department of Sociology. I first came to Durham in 2016 as an undergraduate student, completing a BA (Hons) in Criminology. Alongside my degree, I was awarded a Laidlaw Scholarship for Research and Leadership where I researched the experiences of children raised by single fathers. I then received a scholarship from the ESRC (NINE DTP) in 2019 to complete a Social Research Methods (Criminology) masters degree, as well as three years of funded doctoral study. I have also been a Referral Order Panel Member for the County Durham Youth Justice Service since I was eighteen years old.

Research Area

My research centres around the meanings and associations with ‘victim’ and ‘survivor’ identities, as well as the implications that these labels hold for victim-survivors of unwanted sexual experiences. Artwork and photographs can function to visually display the powerful emotions behind identity and labels in a way that words simply may not fully encapsulate. My thesis utilises an arts-based framework to understand the multiple realities of identity for victim-survivors.

Research Interests
  • Sexual violence
  • Victim ideology and victimisation
  • The survivor discourse
  • Symbolic interaction and victim-survivor identity
  • Arts-based research methods and methodologies

Seminar leader for Introduction to Criminological Theory (2020/21)