Dr Deborah Sporton

Deborah Sporton

Room number: E16
Telephone (internal): 27953
Telephone (UK): 0114 222 7953
Telephone (International): +44 114 222 7953
Email: D.Sporton@Sheffield.ac.uk

Deborah graduated with a BA in Geography from the University of Sheffield and was awarded her PhD from the University of Sheffield in 1990. Her PhD was ESRC/CNRS funded and based for a year at the Université de Paris 1. In 1989 Deborah was appointed to a lectureship in Human Geography and promoted to a Senior Lectureship in 2003. Through her research, Deborah has developed extensive international collaborative links and has held visiting positions at the Université de Paris 1, the University of Zaragoza and the University of the North West, South Africa and the University of Namibia. She is currently Director of SIIDshare. A student run NGO embedded within the Sheffield Institute for International Development Research (SIID).

Research Interests

Population Geographies; International Development; Social and Environmental Change; Migration; Social Identities and Difference.

Current research

Deborah’s research has placed strong emphasis on research co-production involving active stakeholder and policy engagement. As such she has developed strong partnerships with communities, civil society groups and NGOs as well as policy makers both in the UK and across the Globe.

Her current and evolving research interests encompass:
Population Geographies
Social Identities and Difference
Social and Environmental Change
International Development


Deborah has been involved in curriculum design and teaching at all levels. Most of her teaching has drawn on her research interests that encompass both International Development and Social/Population Geographies as well as those that embed social enterprise, engagement and internationalisation within the curriculum.

Beyond the Department, Deborah established and is the Director of SIIDshare, a student run social enterprise that operates as an NGO engaging students from across the University in International Development activities and partnerships. These activities are recognised as part of individual students’ Higher Education Achievement Record (HEAR).

Undergraduate Teaching
Deborah's specialist teaching on undergraduate courses currently includes:
GEO221 Geographies of Development.

All staff also engage in personal supervision and tutoring of individual students at all three levels in the following modules:
GEO163 (Information & Communication Skills for Geographers)
GEO263 or GEO264 (Research Design in Human or Physical Geography)
GEO356 (Geographical Research Project)

Recent Undergraduate Teaching has included:
GEO 236 Social Identities and Difference; GEO367 Development Geographies Kenya Field class.

Masters Teaching
Deborah was actively involved in the design of three postgraduate Masters Programmes in International Development on which she currently teaches. These are the MA in International Development, the MSc in Environmental Change and International Development and the MPH in Public Health and International Development co-taught with colleagues from ScHARR. These courses place emphasis on linking theory to practise enabling students to engage with the complexities of international development as played out in everyday life. The courses further place emphasis on both academic as well as professional skills training equipping students with the skills to take on key international development challenges in the workplace. Over 80% of graduates from these programmes gain employment commensurate with their Masters within a year.

As such Deborah has designed and is involved in running core field classes to Global South (currently Nepal and Kenya) providing students with practical field skills in a unique environment. She is also involved in the Masters placement-based dissertation offering students the opportunity to work within a development organisation in Europe or the Global South whilst conducting their dissertation, gaining valuable experience for future careers.

Deborah's teaching on Masters courses includes:
GEO6002 Research Design in Human Geography
GEO6801 Ideas and Practice in International Development
GEO6803 Professional Skills for Development
GEO6804 International Development Field class
GEO6805 Dissertation with Placement
GEO6808 HIV/AIDs and International development

Teaching Awards

2016 University of Sheffield Senate Fellowship - Sustained Excellence in Learning and Teaching

'There is clear evidence that Deborah is having an impact on both student experience and learning within and beyond Sheffield and an impact on communities in the Global
South. The vision and tenacity are inspirational in themselves'.

2016 University of Sheffield Senate Award for Collaborative Activities in Learning and Teaching (Global Leadership Initiative)

This is an exciting interdisciplinary development that provides unique opportunities for students. It is genuinely innovative and articulates with both employability developments and engaged curricula. The team of academics at the heart of the project is of commendable stature and demonstrates the truly multi-disciplinary nature of the collaboration.

2015 Teaching Excellence Award in the Social Sciences (Global Leadership initiative)

2011 Sheffield Students' Union Academic Awards

Deborah was awarded the Good Work Towards Employability award at the 2011 Sheffield Students' Union Academic Awards. These are awards run, nominated and given by students across the University in recognition that good teaching has an enormous positive impact on student's learning experience. Her citation for the award reads:
"Deborah's hard work and passion for the field has mobilised a year group of academically successful and employable Development students."

Deborah is also a 3EP European Entrepreneurship Educators Fellow.

Key Publications

  • Sporton, D. (2013) ‘They Control My Life’: the Role of Local Recruitment Agencies in East European Migration to the UK. Population Space and Place. 19 (5), pp. 443-458.
  • Hammett, D., and Sporton, D (2012) Paying for interviews? Negotiating ethics, power and expectation. Area, 44 (4), pp. 496-502.
  • Valentine G, Sporton D, Nielsen K B, (2009) "Identities and belonging: a study of Somali refugee and asylum seekers living in the UK and Denmark" Environment and Planning D: Society and Space 27(2) 234 – 250
  • Valentine, G., Sporton, D. and Nielsen, K.B. (2008) Language on the Move: Sites of Encounter, Identities and Belonging, Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers, 33 (3) pp. 376-387
  • Sporton, D., Valentine, G., Nielsen, K.B. (2006) Post-Conflict Identities: Practices and Affiliations of Somali Asylum Seeker Children. Children’s Geographies, 4, 203-217.
  • Sporton, D., Valentine, G. and Nielsen, K.B. (2006). Post-Conflict Identities: Practices and Affiliations of Somali Asylum Seeker Children. Children's Geographies, 4(2), 203-217.
  • Sporton, D. and Thomas, D.S.G. (eds.) (2002). Sustainable Livelihoods in Kalahari Environments: A Contribution to Global Debates. Oxford University Press, Oxford. ISBN: 978-0-19-823419-7

Other information

University and Departmental Administrative Responsibilities.
Within the University, Deborah is the Director of SIIDshare which she established as a flag ship student run NGO embedded within the Sheffield Institute for International Development. She is also on the University Careers Advisory Board and on the University’s Employer Engagement Advisory Panel. Deborah was also involved in the successful White Rose DTC bid and served on the implementation working group once awarded. She is currently a member of a University working group supporting student engagement within the Curriculum.

Within the Department of Geography, Deborah is currently the Director of Taught Masters Programmes and is also responsible for admissions on the suite of International Development Masters and responsible for Masters Student Internships. She was previously Postgraduate Research Director and was responsible for designing both the Human Geography and International Development PhD White Rose DTC Pathways.

External Affiliations
Deborah has served on the Committee of the Institute for British Geographer's Population Geography Research Group and the BSPS Council. She is on the Editorial Board for the International Journal for Population Research.

In addition to acting as an external PhD examiner, Deborah was external examiner for the University of Sussex's MA in Environment, Development and Policy, and is currently external examiner for the MA in Education, Health Promotion and International Development at the Institute of Education.

Deborah has been a Principal Investigator on major competitive grants funded by the ESRC and DFID has also undertaken consultancy and advisory work for the ONS, DWP, Home Office, Sheffield City Council, the Northern Refugee Centre and DFID.