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Dr Sophie Hallett

Dr Sophie Hallett


School of Social Sciences

(029) 208 76909
Room 2.08, Glamorgan Building, King Edward VII Avenue, Cardiff, CF10 3WA
Available for postgraduate supervision

I am a social policy academic, and my expertise falls within the area of children and young people and social care.

My specialist field is child sexual exploitation – an emergent social policy area, and one which reflects the interdisciplinary nature of my work. I have published work in this area, and I am engaged in co-developed research projects to enhance societal understanding of sexual exploitation and how best to respond. I am actively involved in developing policy and practice in this area in Wales, having recently led on the review of the Wales definition, guidance and associated protocol for CSE. I am currently Chair of the Welsh Government Task and Finish group working on putting into action the recommendations from the Review.

My intellectual interests revolve around aspects related to social policy analysis, care, welfare, childhood and youth, and my methodological approach to research is qualitative, participative, ethnographic, and discourse analytic.

My intellectual aim is to explore and understand the relationship between policy and practice – between public discourse(s), ideology, culture and lived experience, in the context of care and welfare practices, with regards to those occupying interstitial categories and marginalised spaces. I am committed to theoretically informed, empirically-driven research that is interdisciplinary, is methodologically innovative whilst sitting firmly within well-established traditions.

It is my goal to lead in research which generates public debate, interrogates societal values, its categories and assumptions, and which pursues reflexive and reciprocal knowledge, with the aim of serving society and contributing to social change - primarily through influencing public service policy and professional practice


  • 2013: PhD (NISCHR funded studentship.) Cardiff University.
    Title: ‘Child sexual exploitation’ in South-East Wales: Problems and solutions from the perspectives of young people and professionals’. Examiners: Professor Amanda Coffey and Professor Karen Broadhurst.
  • 2008: MSc Social Science Research Methods - Social Policy (distinction). Cardiff University.
    Dissertation title: ‘Agency, Subjectivity and Child Sexual Exploitation: Opportunities for Social Care Practice’.
  • 2002: BA (Hons) Communication. Cardiff University.

Career overview

I previously worked as a Research Associate with CASCADE, for 3 years, after having completed my doctoral studies in 2013 at Cardiff University. I was a research associate on the TLC research project (Social Workers Talking and Listening to Children). This was a 4 UK nation ESRC funded research project, exploring the everyday practices of social workers. My role involved ethnographic research and fieldwork placements in 4 different social work teams in England and Wales. I was also involved in the Welsh Government commissioned pan-Wales LACE research project, exploring the aspirations and experiences of looked after children in education. Whilst working as a research associate I helped to establish CASCADE Voices– a research advisory group of young people with care experiences, run in partnership with Voices from Care. I was the trainer and facilitator for this group for 2 years.
Whilst a PhD student I established and was co-organiser of the SOCSI policy café, with Sara Knight, in January - June 2013. The policy cafe brought together researchers, policy-makers, practitioners and lay members, to provide opportunities to network, exchange ideas, and to encourage reflection and debate about recent social science research and its implications for policy and practice.
Prior to this, I worked as a consultant in research and policy - for SPICE, the Big Lottery Fund, Eskrigge Social Research and Third Sector First. I have also worked as a grants officer for the Big Lottery Fund, and as the volunteer development manager in South-East Wales for Barnardo's Cymru, serving on their senior management team for 4 years.

Honours and awards

Early Career Researcher of the Year Award. Wales Social Research Association Awards. (2017)

Research Innovation Award (team win). Wales Social Research Association Awards.  (2017)

Academic positions

  • 2016 - present: Lecturer (Social Policy), Cardiff University
  • 2015 - 2016: Research Associate (CASCADE),  Cardiff university
  • 2013 - 2015: Research Associate, Talking and Listening to Children Project, Cardiff University.

Speaking engagements

Academic conferences:

  • Hallett, S. 2016. Researching the private in a ‘public’ way: exploring the methodological and ethical tensions of video stimulated recall as a research method. European Social Work Conference, Lisbon
  • Mannay, D., Hallett, S., and Staples, E. 2016. Lights, camera, action: translating research findings into policy and practice impacts with music, film and artwork. Second Annual 2016 South West Qualitative Research Symposium, Bath University
  • Hallett, S., and Hall, T. 2015. Seeing and Being Seen: Notes from a study with looked after young people. BSA Annual Conference, Glasgow.
  • Hallett, S., and Hall T. 2015. 'Invisible Me: vulnerability, risk and the hidden child'. BASPCAN Congress, Edinburgh.
  • Hallett, S., with Holland, S., Hadfield, M., Morrison, F., Cree, V., Ruch, G., and Winter, K. 2014. 'Intimacy and distance in social workers' communication with children'. European Social Work Conference, Bolzano

Other key speaking engagements:

  • Hallett, S., and Mannay, D. 2016. Reflecting on the educational experiences and opinions, attainment, achievement and aspirations of looked after children in Wales. Looked After Children In Education: Wales National Strategic Group (NSG) launch.
  • Hallett, S. 2016. ‘Eradicating Exclusion: Is Wales able to give a fresh start to young people?’ Cymorth Cymru, Wales Conference ‘Tackling Tomorrow: How can our young people be given a hopeful future?’ Guest speaker and panel member.
  • Hallett, S. 2015. ‘The complexities of CSE: vulnerabilities, risks and responses’. Knowledge exchange conference for residential care workers and social care practitioners. CASCADE and Care Council for Wales.
  • Hallett, S. 2015. How child sexual exploitation impacts on children’s lives. Key note presentation. York County Council, CSE and child sexual abuse policy and practice guidance launch event.
  • Hallett, S. 2014. ‘CSE from the perspectives of young people’. Briefing to Jenny Rathbone AM and Welsh Government Advisors to inform the Wales Gender Based Violence and Sexual Abuse Bill.
  • Hallett, S and Hall, T. 2014. 'Invisible Me: vulnerability, risk and the hidden child'. CASCADE launch seminar, Cardiff University.
  • Hallett, S. 2013. 'CSE in SE Wales: an overview'. CSE Evidence Exchange, Children's Commissioner for Wales.
  • Hallett, S. 2013. 'CSE from the perspectives of young people' (presentation and workshop). Protecting Girls - Preventing Harm, Home Office and South Wales Police conference.
  • Hallett, S. 2012. ‘Child sexual exploitation in Wales’. Sexual objectification, sexual exploitation and sexual abuse, Children in Wales and Cardiff University School of Social Sciences co-hosted conference

Committees and reviewing

Journal reviewer: Child and Family Social Work; Qualitative Research; YOUNG

2018: Chair of the Welsh Government Task and Finish group for developing the new CSE guidance, definition and assessment processes in Wales.

2018: guest editor, Qualitative Research special edition






I teach at both Masters and Undergraduate level covering:

  • Contemporary Perspectives on Youth and Childhood;
  • Feminism and Citizenship;
  • Social Policy Analysis;
  • Introduction to Social Policy;
  • Research in Action;
  • Research with Children and Young People;
  • Children and Childhood;
  • Social and public policy: in principle and practice 9student inquiry led module). 

I am a social policy academic, and my expertise falls within the area of children and young people and social care. My intellectual interests revolve around aspects related to social policy analysis, care, welfare, childhood and youth. My specialist field is youth and child sexual exploitation, and I am committed to informing policy and practice in this area. 

Current projects

Hallett, S. (PI), Crowley, A., Deerfield, K., Rees, A., Staples, E. (2017) Review of the Safeguarding Children and young people from sexual exploitation (CSE) guidance. Welsh Government. £40.000.

Hallett, S. (PI), Forrester, D., and Verbruggen, J. (2016-18) Keeping safe? An analysis of the outcomes of work with sexually exploited young people in Wales. Health and Care Research Wales. £237,890

Hallett, S. (PI) and Hudson, K. (2016-19) ‘Gwella’: A national knowledge and practice hub preventing risk of child sexual exploitation and sexually harmful behaviours. Delivering Sustainable Social Services Grant – Welsh Government, with Barnardo’s Cymru. £219,393. (Full award £1.5 million)

Previous research funding

  • Mannay, S. (PI) and Hallett, S. (2016-17). Improving the Educational Experiences and Attainment of Looked After Children and Young People. ESRC Impact Acceleration Fund. £25,000.

  • Hallett, S. (PI) and Innes, M. (2016-17) A new child sexual exploitation policing knowledge hub: enhancing police responses to child sexual exploitation, other forms of child sexual abuse and associated vulnerabilities in adolescence. The International Centre: Researching child sexual exploitation, violence and trafficking, College of Policing and HEFCE Knowledge Fund. £21,600.

  • Mannay, D. (PI), Staples, E., Hallett, S., Roberts, L., Rees, A., Andrews, D. (2015) Understanding the educational experiences, opinions, attainment and aspirations of looked after children in Wales. DfES and Welsh Government. £60,000

  • Scourfield, J. (PI) and Hallett, S. (2014-16) Sexually exploited boys in Wales: How do we identify them and what services do they need? Barnardo’s Cymru, £3094

I am interested in supervising students whose interests see them engaging with any of the following areas:

  • child sexual exploitation;
  • care and the care experience;
  • youth and childhood theories;
  • participative and creative methodologies;
  • institutional ethnography;
  • discourse analysis.