Staff profile

Dr Rachel Rafferty

Senior Lecturer in Sociology

Rachel wearing a blue shirt, standing in a classroom, smiling


Social Sciences


College of Business, Law and Social Sciences

Research centre

Better Society





I teach and research across the fields of sociology and criminology. I teach modules at both undergraduate and postgraduate levels and my research has been published in academic journal articles and professional reports. My work engages with a broad range of topics relating to peace and security such as preventing violent extremism, supporting communities to reduce crime, addressing inequalities and social exclusion and resolving intergroup conflicts.

I have a professional background in the charity sector, including extensive experience in Northern Ireland where I designed and managed community-level projects aimed at improving trust between communities, engaging marginalised youth and preventing extremism. Building on this background, I bring a focus on policy and practice to my teaching and research.

Teaching responsibilities

I teach across three degree programmes; MSc Intelligence, Security and Disaster Management, BA Sociology and BA Criminology and Sociology. I teach about topics such as understanding radicalisation, the social impacts of war and terrorism, community solutions to crime and analysing social inequalities.

In my teaching, I aim to challenge students to think carefully and critically about the world we live in. I link academic theories to real-life case studies and support students in developing their own solutions to pressing social issues.

Research interests

Building on my professional background and my research to date, I have a strong interest in understanding why some individuals choose to engage in extremist violence and how this can be effectively prevented. I am currently developing a new line of research specifically in the area of understanding and preventing radicalisation.

Previously I have conducted research into topics such as interethnic conflict resolution, international peacebuilding and supporting refugee integration. My research has been published in international peer-reviewed journals, and in reports for governmental and non-governmental organisations.

Membership of professional bodies


Recent conferences

Experience in industry

Before I moved into an academic career I gained several years of work experience in the charity sector, including work in Northern Ireland and New Zealand and consultancy work for an international NGO based in the Netherlands. 

In my time working in Northern Ireland I designed and managed a range of community-level projects aimed at improving relationships between diverse communities, engaging with marginalised youth and reducing support for extremist violence. My experiences include facilitating group dialogues, coordinating community art projects and developing training courses for diverse sectors of society such as teachers, community police officers and youth workers. 

I have also worked with the New Zealand Red Cross in the past, coordinating youth humanitarian projects and supporting young Syrian refugees. During my time in New Zealand, I also undertook mediation training and gained experience as a volunteer mediator.

Recent publications