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Dr Rachel Swann

Senior Lecturer

School of Social Sciences

Available for postgraduate supervision


I have been a Criminology Lecturer at Cardiff University since 2014. I hold a first class honours degree in Criminology and Social Policy (Cardiff University), an MSc in Social Science Research Methods (Cardiff University) and a PhD entitled 'Class, Status and Partying’ (Cardiff University). I am a sociological criminologist who teaches and supervises undergraduate, postgraduate and doctoral students in the School of Social Sciences. I am also senior tutor in the school.

My research interests are linked to the night-time economy and I am currently focussed on developing an understanding of pathways into prostitution.


Dr. Rachel Swann has been a full-time member of academic staff within the School of Social Sciences at Cardiff University since 2011.

Education and qualifications

2015: Fellow, Higher Education Academy

2012: PhD (socio-legal) Cardiff University

2007: MSc Social Science Research Methods, Cardiff University

2003-2006 BSc (hons) Criminology & Social Policy (!st), Cardiff University

Honours and awards

Nominated for Enriching Student Life Awards, 2018

Finalist for The Sociological Review 'Outstanding Scholarship' Prize 2017 for Exploring micro-sociality through the lens of ‘established-outsider’ figurational dynamics in a South Wales community (2016). See

Award for Outstanding Contribution 2017

Nominated for 'Exceptional Enhancement of the Student Experience' (Celebrating Excellence Awards, 2017)

Nominated for Personal Tutor of the Year, Enriching Student Life Awards, 2017

Nominated for Most Effective Teacher, Enriching Student Life Awards, 2017

Finalist for ‘Exceptional Enhancement of the Student Experience’, Celebrating Excellence Awards 2016. See

Finalist for Personal Tutor of the Year, Enriching Student Life Awards, 2015.

Finalist for Student Rep Co-ordinator of the year, Enriching Student Life Awards, 2013.

Nominated for Enriching Student Life Awards, 2016-19

Professional memberships

  • British Society of Criminology
  • European Society of Criminology
  • Fellow, Higher Education Academy
  • Member of Cardiff Sex Work Steering Group
  • Member of the All Wales Sex Work Group
  • Member Cardiff Centre for Crime, Law and Justice (CCLJ)

Academic positions

2011 - present: Lecturer, Cardiff University

Speaking engagements

  • 2019. Focus group with street sex workers to share some key themes from project findings. 27 March 2019
  • 2019. Pathways into street sex work: analysis of early risk factors. Sex work strategy group. 14 March 2019
  • 2018. Pathways into street sex work, Understanding Sex Work: Contemporary Research from Wales and ‘Beyond the GazeSwansea University, 6 June 2018
  • 2017: Gossip Girls: belonging and division in Cardiff's night-time economy, Challenging 'crime' and 'crime control' in contemporary Europe, Annual Conference of the European Society of Criminology, 13-16 September 2017
  • 2017: Pathways into street sex work, All Wales Sex Work, Swansea University, 6th July 2017
  • 2017: Cardiff after dark: women’s personal safety in the night-time economy, Gender in Wales: Then and Now Research Symposium, Swansea University, 8th June 2017
  • 2017: Contributor to the Cardiff Police BCU analysis of sex work. Cardiff, January 2017
  • 2016: Presenter to the sex worker’s steering group. Cardiff, November 2016.
  • 2016: Researching street sex workers: a progress report. Presenter at the Cardiff Centre for Crime, Law and Justice (CCLJ). May 2016
  • 2015: Class, status and Partying, British Society of Criminology: Critical Voyages of Discovery, Plymouth University, July 2015
  • 2014: Who turned the lights out? Balancing communal safety and tolerance in ‘hard’ places and ‘austere’ times, Towards a Micro-Sociality of Austerity Community and Possibilities for Localism', conference 14th April 2014, Cardiff University's School of Social Sciences

Committees and reviewing

  • Member, Cardiff Centre for Crime, Law and Justice (2011 – present)
  • Senior Personal Tutor Network





  • Swann, R. and Hughes, G. 2018. Community crime prevention. In: Mendez Ortiz, E. and Tenca, M. eds. Handbook of Crime Prevention and Citizen Security. Ediciones Didot, pp. 171-208.




I teach across the undergraduate and postgraduate programmes in the school.  All of my teaching is informed by my pedagogic interests in the interrelationship of theory, method and data.

Current Undergraduate Teaching

I teach across the Criminology programme at undergraduate and postgraduate levels.

PhD Supervision

I welcome PhD applicants to work on topics related to:

  • Violence and women as victims and perpetrators
  • Sex workers
  • Eliasian figurational sociology
  • Night time economy
  • Community studies

I have a broad range of interests and am currently a supervisor for three students in the school;

Chris Wilson (restorative justice and sex offenders);

Fryni Kostara (regulation and the night-time economy) and

Steve Meredith (Eliasian study of a British ‘sink’ estate).

I have a broad range of interests and am currently involved with the following research areas:

Night time economies. I have researched women’s self-regulation, violence and safety in Cardiff’s night-time economy. I have also recently been awarded a book contract and that is due to be published in 2020.

Taxis and safe egress from the night-time economy. In keeping with my interest in safety and night-time economies, and at the request of Cardiff Council, I am currently working with my colleague, Adam Edwards, and a group of dissertation students on taxi’s and safe egress from the NTE.

Street sex workers’ pathways into prostitution. Working with Safer Wales I am currently undertaking a large scale project that aims to identify risk factors that led to (predominantly women) becoming street sex workers in Cardiff. The current phase of the research project aims to develop an understanding of the early experiences of street sex workers in Cardiff and the nature and extent of their engagement with the local authority’s children’s services. Developing an understanding of how many of the sex workers are ‘known’ to social services and what, when and why they are/were clients of social services when they were children is critical in terms of identifying the presence of known risk factors. Existing research has highlighted a number of key risks and vulnerabilities during childhood that have been disproportionately experienced by sex workers. However, whilst these have all been consistently identified as early risk factors there is insufficient understanding of the nature and extent to which these and other risk factors co-exist in the same ‘cases’ and neither is there currently sufficient understanding of how, when and why these risk factors may be particularly significant. As part of this broader aim, this particular part of the research relates to undertaking an exercise that explores the nature and extent to which the clients of ‘Streetlife’ are/were known to children’s social services in Cardiff. It will provide empirical evidence relating to the number of women known to the statutory service and will map whether the women had been identified as a child in need (CIN) and/or flagged as a child protection (CP) case. The current phase of this research is funded by Public Health Wales and a report will be submitted in June 2019.

Eliasian figurational sociology. Together with Prof. Gordon Hughes, we would argue that Norbert Elias’ work has significant potential for illuminating ‘Criminological’ problems, yet his contribution remains under-utilised. His work has been used in my PhD research exploring women’s participation in Cardiff’s night-time economy and the community study undertaken alongside Prof Hughes and published in the Sociological Review.


I am particularly interested in supervising PhD students in the areas of:

  • Night time economy
  • Sex work/prostitution
  • Eliasian sociology

Past projects

Co-Supervisor for Steven Meredith - Established as Outsiders? Figurational ‘Binds’ and ‘Bonds’ in a Welsh Working-Class Community. (awarded pass class 1, April 2018)

Areas of expertise