Erasmus+ Visit to Karlova University, Prague

At the beginning of May, Dr Em Temple-Malt – Post Graduate Course Leader in Sociology – travelled to Prague to teach at Karlova University, on an Erasmus exchange.

I had the great pleasure of returning to Karlova University (Charles University) in May 2018. Karlova University is one of our Erasmus exchange universities. I went out there to give guest lectures to undergraduate students and to deliver a talk as part of a Sociology Department Seminar Series.

The last time I was in Prague, February 2017, was to establish an exchange programme for our Sociology and Criminology students, and I stayed in the very touristy and beautiful Old Town square.

This time I stayed in the Herrmes hotel, Joninice, which was most excellent (thank you to the travel team for arranging me to stay at this hotel!). The hotel was situated two minutes from the tram stop – which transports you easily and quickly to many parts of the city. I was also five minutes from the Joninice campus, where I was teaching and close to the Sociology staff.

I found myself easily getting into a rhythm with the tram system, especially the B line. A 24kc ticket, stamped with a time code, allowed a 30-minute period of travel, which allowed me to get to and from my destinations. There was lots of construction work, meaning I became familiar with the dash, and crush in the lifts to the town.
In my short stay, I became a regular at the TGI Friday’s, in Andel. Having had a busy day of teaching and intellectually stimulating conversations, visiting different Czech restaurants and the buzz of Czech conversations, I found the restaurant and the same staff each night comforting; it was also really close to the hotel, which was excellent.

On the Wednesday, I got to teach students studying the module ‘Anthropology of Kinship’, the focus of this talk centered on my doctoral research – particularly, civil partners’ reasons for getting married and then breaking the news to significant others. Knowing the importance of interactive and memorable activities, I introduced students to the Channel 4 programme that focused on ostentatious weddings, Big Fat Gypsy Wedding and a clip from the TV series, Don’t Tell the Bride, to illustrate the gendered work within British weddings. These clips stimulated conversations and comparisons about the practicalities and organisation of Czech weddings. There was lots of laughter and interesting conversations; centering on the brides’ evident disappointment with the dress her fiancé had selected for her, which she felt made her hips look ‘massive’ and was devastated that the dress had buttons running the full length of the dress.

Thursday was a busy day, the second lecture focused on the way the UK is currently responding to domestic abuse and how services for male perpetrators could be improved based on a recent research project. The module introduction to gender and sexuality, was taken by all female students. We had really interesting and thought-provoking conversations. One student posed me a really challenging question, when she asked why is it that men are always more dominant than women in society? I burbled, speechless, I suspect she is still waiting for an eloquent answer!

One student enjoyed my lecture so much that she gave this feedback about my session: “I wanted to thank you for presenting and speaking about domestic violence. Unfortunately, a lot of people know very little about this issue, which is why I admire your bravery for openly talking about your own experience as well. I know that it can be difficult, especially if you are speaking about such a still largely stigmatized topic.
Today, people are mostly introduced to a black and white type of image about domestic violence. They don’t know the Whys and Hows, nor its forms. I liked that you mentioned the psychological aspect of domestic violence and how it affects both, the victim and the abuser. Speaking of victims and abusers, you also stated that both, women and men, may belong to both categories and that abused men have a harder time seeking help, due to their so called ‘masculinity’ etc. I found it interesting that you took another approach by speaking about the perpetrator and his or her experience. It is very important for me to understand every aspect of a situation and your presentation helped me gain insight into the mind of the abusers.

It was a shame that we did not have more time, because the topic cannot be possibly presented in its full complexity in 80 minutes. I was personally interested in for example the influence of a violent past, the exercises that the abusers tried out etc. Also, I wanted to note that you should not worry about our activity. I believe that many of us had a lot to say, but students are often shy to speak out, especially if they are doubting their English skills”

Thursday afternoon, I had the great opportunity to deliver preliminary findings from my most recent pilot project, ‘displaying unhealthy relational practices education’ project. The seminar was attended by academics and Sociology doctoral students who followed us to the Mont Martre pub, for several pints of beer and to continue very interesting conversations.

Colleagues and friends can be forgiven for thinking that the entire four days was spent indulging in good food and tasty Czech beer, as these were mainly the subject of my Facebook posts!

I was struck by how warm and generous the Czech academics were with their time. My host, Ema Herzonva met me for coffee (recognised my preference for tea and accommodated this), took me for lunches at some of her favourite restaurants. I opted to spend more time with the academics – than doing touristy things. It was a privilege learning about Czech stories of women, gender inequality, communism and socialism’s approach to celebrating the ‘working man’.

Another highlight on this trip to Prague, was catching up with three of my L5 students (Josh Stanley, Jess Silva Freitas and Dana Wade) who had taken up the opportunity to study at Karlova university for a semester. They wowed me with their adventures, and explained how they were enjoying their studies, opportunities to study subjects not available at Staffordshire University (e.g. Jazz, Digital Sociology), and little stories about some of their favourite lecturers. We finished our evening with a trip to my favourite haunt, TGI Fridays, in Andel.


Researching Intimacy and Sexuality – a Guest Lecture by Jacqui Gabb

On 22nd March, Sociologist Professor Jacqui Gabb, from the Open University, delivered a guest lecture to our level 5 Sociology and Criminology students about qualitative research methods and researching sexualities and intimacy.

Dr Em Temple-Malt, Post Graduate Course Leader in Sociology and Criminology organised the lecture for the students:

During the lecture [Jacqui] captivated us with insightful stories drawn from three of her research studies: ‘Perverting Motherhood?’, ‘Behind Closed Doors’ and ‘Enduring Love?

Lessons were learned about thinking carefully through our recruitment practices. The way we write ourselves and who we are looking for into our research project advertisements might unintentionally exclude and silence certain people from coming forward to tell their family stories, because they don’t feel they quite fit what we are looking for in a research participant.

I am a massive fan of creative research methods and using elicitation tools and techniques in my own qualitative research projects. Thus, I personally loved hearing the motivations behind weaving different methodological techniques together in order to bring about multi-sensory and more holistic stories which might not otherwise emerge if only one research method technique was used.

I concurred with Jacqui’s conclusion that as researchers, we need to be braver and push ourselves to use the data that emerges when we embed elicitation techniques into conventional interview methods.

“It was great to meet another researcher and get an insight into adaptations of research methods we have already been taught. it emphasised that research is not a one size fits all type of thing, and that sometimes you need to adapt methods and yourself to achieve greater results” – Nat Campbell, BA (Hons) Sociology.

For many of us, and I am guilty of this too, the well-trodden path of analysing certain forms of data is all too easy to replicate. We insert materials into our interviews to encourage a participant to tell more detailed, richer stories (e.g. time line, weekly-diary, task-grid, photos, concentric circles, collage or sketch etc) and then only analyse the narrative told within the interview transcript, for example, rather than analysing the work that the participant does with this additional elicitation material. This point has certainly inspired me to be braver in future work I do with elicitation techniques.

“Personal is Political”

She also reminded us about the capacity of our research to be political and to make a difference. The personal is indeed political and where possible, it is crucial to take up those opportunities to tell decision makers and stake holders about the lives of those who we are researching.

A memorable quote: “What does it cost to keep a relationship together? The cost of a cup of tea”

While the lecture was brilliant, I would imagine that the biggest highlight for the student audience was the workshop activities. Jacqui provided small examples of data from the Enduring Love study and, in small groups, the audience were invited to drill down and analyse key aspects of the data. Engaging in such tasks meant students were left with an appreciation of the extraordinary efforts and ‘relationship work’ that some research participants were undertaking, in order to make quite difficult, intimate relationships work.

“What does it cost to keep a relationship together? The cost of a cup of tea”

The final part of the workshop invited students to have a go at making their own emotion maps with colourful emoticon stickers.

“Having Jacqui speak to us not only gave us the opportunity to ask any questions about her research, but also gave me more ideas on how to use multiple data collection techniques in my own research.” – Jack Whalley, BA (Hons) Sociology, Criminology and Deviance

They then had the opportunity to feedback to Jacqui how they might use this particular approach within their own dissertation research projects.

Using emotion maps in research

I have followed Jacqui’s research with a keen and passionate interest since I started my academic studies in 2006. One of the reasons her work is so compelling and satisfying is the equal amount of attention she gives to the research methods used to elicit the ‘messy’ stories of relational, emotional practices of queer families and relationships.

Her approach to qualitative research methods is inspirational – and I’ve attempted to instill this passion for research methods into my teaching of my undergraduate students. I won’t lie, this is one of the proudest moments in my career to date. I am immensely proud of my undergraduate students and the research projects that they are pursuing, and I got to introduce my fabulous level 5 students to Professor Jacqui Gabb!


Thinking like a Sociologist and Criminologist at the National Justice Muesum

Professor James Treadwell and Dr Jo Turner took Level 4 Sociology and Criminology students to the National Justice Museum in Nottingham, in February.

Jo Turner said “the venue was excellent and the whole day was so well organised. In the morning, the students had a tour of the museum/old prison, with a focus on capital punishment, and in the afternoon the students enacted a Freedom of Religion court case in the court room there.”

One student said

“the pics are amazing and remind me of a great day we all had. [It was] a real, valuable experience. It also got me excited about university and my degree… It was nice to be out of the surroundings of a “class room” and see first hand how the criminal system would run. It also (I feel) makes you connect more and appreciate how much we have developed our criminal justice system to how we used to treat people. Definitely made me appreciate and [be] proud of how the individuals were brave enough to be a voice and to make a change for humanity.”

Another student said:

“I enjoyed the trip to the National Justice Museum in Nottingham. It was fascinating and very informative. I particularly enjoyed being able to go inside the old cells and women’s facilities from long ago. Also, seeing the gallows and the old trap doors used for capital punishment was very interesting, albeit somewhat morbid!

“It really got me thinking about my stance on capital punishment, and it has certainly confirmed my opposition to it. Our group (appellants) thoroughly enjoyed the mock court case and were pleased to have won it on the grounds of Human Rights  The trip was very well organised and everything ran smoothly. The whole day was most useful for our upcoming assignments and it was some real food for thought for us future Criminologists/Sociologists!”


Connecting and Learning with Local Organisations

Staffordshire University works in partnership with Expert Citizens C.I.C. and VOICES; a local Big Lottery funded project in the national Fulfilling Lives: supporting people with multiple needs programme. Customers of VOICES experience a combination of homelessness, mental ill-health, substance misuse and offending. Their lives have been seriously affected by events and conditions over a prolonged period and, as a result, may present frequently at emergency health care facilities, drug and alcohol services, homelessness or mental health services.

Recently, Anna Mather (VOICES) and Lee Dale (Expert Citizens C.I.C.) joined our Sociology and Criminology undergraduate students to talk through the Solution Focused and Asset Based Approach that they use with customers. Students had the opportunity to learn from customers about their experiences of substance misuse and they found out about services at VOICES and in Stoke-on-Trent that have helped them to significantly change their life.

VOICES and expert Citizens C.I.C. use customer stories to help to improve services across the City and to educate people in the issues faced by customers experiencing multiple needs.

The group of Sociology and Criminology students – from within the School of Law, Policing and Forensics at Staffordshire University – who attended the session with VOICES, are on an option module (“working with drug users”) learning how to work with people who experience substance misuse within the criminal justice system and community. This module offers theoretical knowledge alongside skills development in delivering drugs education and therapeutic interventions. Learning from best practice from local service providers assists our students in being work ready.

VOICES and Expert Citizens C.I.C. also have a work ethos that staff and volunteers have lived experience of the needs that customers face as well as training their customers as Expert Citizen Educators that deliver training. This means that students get to learn from people who have personal experience of overcoming issues, as well as working with others to address their problems. Students enjoyed being able to ask questions and learn from the experiences that Anna and Lee have had in working with substance misuse. People’s stories are powerful educational tools. To hear stories from VOICES click here.

Scarlett, one of the second-year students, stated “I found the session really interesting and beneficial. Hearing Lee’s story was inspiring and makes you realise the importance of support work for substance abusers.”

Lauren, a third-year student, commented that “having VOICES in class today was super intriguing and stimulating. Listening to Lee’s story was inspiring and practical that presented the enormous lengths people can come with the correct support being given”.

Sarah Page, Senior Lecturer in Sociology and Criminology at Staffordshire University, commented “it is great having external organisations come onto campus and share with students about their work and experience. It inspires students and helps them to envisage future career paths, as well as helping them to think about work placement and dissertation research opportunities. The asset-based approach to working with substance misuse is a positive way to engage people in making significant life changes. VOICES have used this approach successfully with their customers and hearing a real-life success story gave students a better appreciation for what can be achieved. VOICES and Expert Citizens C.I.C. provided a brilliant lecture today and we look forward to continuing to do work with them. ”

What You Can Expect on Our Offer Holder Days

We had our third Offer Holder Day, on Saturday 17th February, for our 2018 entry applicants. The School of Law, Policing and Forensics applicants met our staff, a few of our students, and experienced taster sessions of what they can expect if they choose to study at Staffordshire University.

Chemistry is a part of the School of Law, Policing and Forensics, and is new for 2018. Our Chemistry applicants had hands on experience in our labs, where they conducted some paracetamol analysis and calculations .

Law applicants on a mixture of our Law courses, including the new BA Criminal Justice with Offender Management, got involved in two interactive sessions.

Louis Martin and Anna Garland used real life case studies and encouraged interactive discussions. Louis focused on serial killers and Criminal Law and Anna discussed the core areas of Legal study that students can expect to learn about (Contract Law, Tort Law, Constitutional Law, Property Law, Equitable Remedies, EU Law and Criminal Law), using a few of the following examples:

Donoghue v Stevenson (1932)
The Conjoined Twins: Surgical Separation (2001)
Jolly v Sutton LBC (2000).

Former Senior Investigating Officer for Staffordshire Police and Course Leader of our Policing and Criminal Investigation courses, Phil Lee, briefed our applicants and then took them to the crime scene house; they took the role of Senior Investigating Officers, where they used body cameras and recorded evidence.


Professor James Treadwell encouraged our Sociology and Criminology applicants to think like a Sociologist and Criminologist when discussing topical images. Applicants were then given the opportunity to speak to one of our current Sociology students and ask questions.

Forensic Science and Forensic Investigation applicants were suited in protective clothing and had practical experience of crime scene processing and evidence analysis – at our crime scene house and labs.

Our next Offer Holder Day will take place on Wednesday 14th March. Find out more on our website.

Learning Outside of the Lecture

Students explored archive material that depict democracy at varying times in history. 

On Friday 17th November, Staffordshire University’s level five Sociology and Criminology students went on a course trip to the People’s History Museum in Manchester.

Students participated in a rage of activities that introduced them to some interesting archival material on the Russian Revolution; they also explored various artifacts and political propaganda posters.


The People’s History Museum describes itself as ‘the national museum of democracy’ that ‘aim[s] to engage, inspire and inform diverse audiences by showing “there have always been ideas worth fighting for”.’

Sociology Research into Breastfeeding Gets Recognition at Conference

Staff and students from Sociology and Criminology were delighted to get joint 2nd place at the CHAD Symposium, on Thursday 9th November 2017, for their research poster presentation on the Attitudes of Adolescents Towards Breastfeeding.

The poster gave detail on the current research project and outlined the research process for data collection. Two undergraduate students, Joni Wilson and Sarah Johnson, are working on the project and attended the conference. Sarah Johnson said “yesterday was a very eye-opening day for me to understand fully the impact that social research can have on addressing social barriers in society. I met some truly inspirational people who have made me excited to work on this coming project and getting second place solidified the belief that the research I’m taking part in will make a positive difference”. Joni also enthused about the event and stated that she was enjoying gaining invaluable experience by working on the project.

Students, Joni Wilson and Sarah Johnson

‘This research is being carried out for Public Health at the City Council and the Stoke-on-Trent Breastfeeding Steering Group. The project is funded by CHAD (Centre for Health and Development). On a sociological level we are interested in how people respond to breastfeeding. Legislation supports breastfeeding in public and yet breastfeeding mums have reported in the media being harassed for feeding their children in public places. We are exploring what young people think about breastfeeding and how breastfeeding could become more normalised in society here in the UK.

Increasing breastfeeding rates would help to reduce poverty, as breastmilk is free in comparison to the cost of formula milk and affiliated paraphernalia. Breastfeeding also has been proven to improve the health and wellbeing of both mother and baby. Despite the positive impact of breastfeeding the UK have the lowest rates in Europe. We are consulting with young people to find out what needs to happen to change this and to cultivate a breastfeeding culture within Stoke-on-Trent and more widely in the UK. We will also be finding out professionals’ points of view on the ideas that young people have, in order for the Stoke-on-Trent Breastfeeding Steering Group to prioritise future action.’

Students, Jonie Wilson and Sarah Johnson with Senior Lecturer, Sarah Page and Andrea Muirhead (Public Health)

Sarah Page (Senior Lecturer in Sociology and Criminology and principle researcher for this project) said that “I am really excited that we are able to explore this topic and employ students to work on professional research in partnership with colleagues from Public Health from the local authority and health. The experience students get by working on projects like this is fantastic and sets them up for future employment really well. There is a lot of satisfaction in knowing that your research makes a real difference in society. Having a research partnership where findings influence how a budget is spent and how work is prioritised in a City, is a great way to link research to improving practice. We are thrilled that our research poster was so well received at the CHAD Symposium and that leaders in the field voted for us.”

If you want to find out more about this research please contact

Join in The Conversation

Keep up-to-date with current academic and research news with Staffordshire University’s Law, Policing and Forensics topical contributions to The Conversation 

Aidan Flynn

Aidan Flynn, Lecturer in Law at Staffordshire University has contributed an article in The Conversation, titled ‘How the authorities can prosecute IS fighters who return to Britain – explained’. Read the full article here.




Professor James Treadwell

James Treadwell, a Professor in Criminology here at Staffordshire University, discusses the issue of ‘Why So Many Young British Men are Choosing to Carry Knives’, on The Conversation





How the idea of ‘modern slavery’ is used as political click bait‘ is an article Elizabeth A Faulkner, Lecturer in Law, has written for The Conversation



What a Welcom(ing) Week it was to Start the Academic Year

Follow us on Twitter: #proudtobestaffs

The academic year has gotten off to a fantastic, albeit busy, start. Welcome Week saw the arrival of new and returning students and LPF staff were delighted to begin teaching.

LPF first year students were introduced to our staff


For our first year students, the week commenced with enrolment and welcome talks from the Vice Chancellor, Liz Barnes, individual subject talks, safety talks from Staffordshire Univeristy Police, the societies and clubs fair and exciting activities – allowing students and staff to get to know one another.



Students had the opportunity to chat to staff over a warm drink and biscuits and receive one of the departmental hoodies.

Students enjoyed a few activities to ease them into the academic year…

Students linking pipe cleaners together to represent increasing their social capital and networking

Criminal Justice and Forensic Science quiz winners: 1st Rebecca Wheeler & Hannah Blackburn. 3rd place Kathryn Davis.

… and the week ended with a mock court trial at Hanley Court.

The jury taking notes

Teaching is now well underway and our students are working hard and are eager to learn. Returning students are already getting involved with various assements, projects, and mentoring.

Course mentors for Level Four Criminal Justice and Forensic Science Students

Preparing the Crime Scene House for a practical














The Law Society

The Forensic Dive Club








Here is to a wonderful academic year: 2017-2018! #proudtobestaffs



Graduates of 2017

Proud friends and family members cheered as our – School of Law, Policing and Forensic – graduates received their much-deserved certificates, yesterday afternoon in Trentham gardens.

Guests were not alone in celebrating the success of our graduates. Staff, dressed in their gowns which demonstrate their academic achievement, applauded the achievement of their former students. Speeches were given by the Vice Chancellor, Professor Liz Barnes, our Dean of Law Policing and Forensics, Sean Curley, and the Student Union Vice-President, Swetha Reddy.

Nigel Meadows, Senior Coroner of Manchester City and former LLB Law graduate of Staffordshire University was awarded the Honorary Doctor of Laws. He is also a member of the group for the National Enquiry into suicide and homicide by people with mental illness, a Director of Training for Coroners for the National Judicial College and a representative of the Coroners Society on the Forensic End Users Group.

Kayleigh Sheppard and Alison Davidson, one of Staffordshire University’s own Specialist Skills Technicians, were award their PhDs.

Kayleigh Sheppard, PhD, with the Vice Chancellor, Professor Liz Barnes

Kayleigh’s thesis was titled ‘An evaluation of the use of 360 degree photographic technology in a forensic context’.

“My thesis explored the use of 360 degree photographic technology for recording and presenting crime scenes in the courtroom and sought to validate such technology for use within criminal investigations. In addition, the research sought to adapt the existing camera technology to incorporate lighting systems to allow the detection and visualisation of biological fluids at crime scenes [and] to make such camera technology systems more versatile within criminal investigations.”

Alison Davidson, PhD

Alison’s thesis was titled ‘A study of the Potential Evidential Value of Perfumes, Antiperspirants and Deodorants in Forensic Science’.

“I was interested in whether the aroma chemicals we apply to our skin and clothes every day can tell investigators who we are and what we do, and whether, if a suspect leaves a garment at a crime scene it could be matched to the suspect later by the smelly chemicals on the clothes and skin. As I’m still working in the Analytical Methods Laboratory I’ll be continuing to research the human chemical profile and what it can reveal about our lifestyle.”


After the ceremony, celebratory drinks were had and there was no shortage of places to have a celebratory bite to eat. The sun had finally made an appearance and many took the opportunity of taking momentous photos in the scenic grounds of Trentham. The Staffordshire University merchandise also proved a great success.




Overall it was wonderful day and university staff and current student ambassadors enjoyed sharing the day. Congratulations graduates of Law, Policing and Forensics!