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Dr Samantha Burns

Lecturer in Sociology

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Lecturer in Sociology in the Department of Sociology  


I have just moved into the role of Lecturer in Criminology within the Department of Sociology. I currently co-convene on the Violence and Abuse module with Geetanjali Gangoli and contribute to teaching on the introduction to Criminological Theory, and Research Methods in Action modules.


Prior to working at Durham University, I was studying Social Policy and Criminal Justice at York University. Then I completed my PhD within the department of Social and Behavioural Sciences at City University in Hong Kong where I conceptually explored participation and co-production within local child and youth services using an ethnographic approach. This was an immensely exciting and challenging experience living and researching in a new sociocultural and political context, which deepened and re-shaped my world views.


I have also worked as a Research Associate at Newcastle University, working collaboratively in public health on a range of research projects which explored different services and interventions to improve outcomes for children, young people, and families informing policy in health, social care, education, and criminal justice sectors.


Alongside my role at Durham University, I am currently Deputy Chair of the National Association of Youth Justice (NAYJ), an organisation focusing on strategic change in justice services for children and young people alongside partnership working with agencies who campaign for improving youth justice policy and practice ( Other roles include being an advisory board member for Peer Power Youth ( and member of the Risk Work in Young Lives network (


My research interests have been primarily focused on looking critically at aspects of the youth justice system, particularly around children and young people’s participation and co-production, which has been fuelled from both my academic learning and work experience. I have worked in a variety of dynamic and engaging roles across education and youth work in both statutory and voluntary organisations. A prominent role which influenced my research interests was being a project coordinator for a regional Youth Commission on Police and Crime. This role gave me first hand insight into both the opportunities and barriers of children and young people being able to influence governance, policy and practice across police and other local services. I draw on my lived experience as both a young person and professional to influence my research and teaching. Methodologically, I am really interested in co-production and participatory action research (PAR), ensuring that lived experience is valued and contributes to social change.

Research interests

  • • Youth justice policy and practice
  • • Children and young peoples’ participation and co-production
  • • Vulnerability, deviance and power/control
  • • Exploring theory and application of risk in young people’s lives
  • • Social care and justice response to children, young people, and families

Research groups

  • Criminal Justice, Social Harm and Inequalities