Dr Laura Connelly (she/her)

Department of Sociological Studies

Lecturer in Criminology

1) PGR Admissions Lead;

2) Research Theme Co-Lead, Social Inequalities and Social Ordering

Laura Connelly
Profile picture of Laura Connelly
0114 222 6412
By appointment

Full contact details

Dr Laura Connelly
Department of Sociological Studies
The Wave
2 Whitham Road
S10 2AH

Laura joined the Department in December 2021 as a Lecturer in Criminology. Before joining the University of Sheffield, she was a Lecturer in Criminology at the University of Salford and was Programme Leader for three undergraduate degrees. Laura has also worked as a Teaching Fellow and Research Assistant at the University of Leeds, where she completed her funded PhD on the Governance of Sex Trafficking in England and Wales in 2016.

Research interests

Laura’s work speaks across subfields that sometimes operate in silos, to produce research on or at the intersection of gender, race, migration, and processes of criminalisation. She often explores these issues within the context of the sex industry.

She has a sustained track record of research outputs having published on a range of topics, including violence against sex workers; migrant sex work; digital sex work; human trafficking; ‘post-racial’ racisms and anti-racism; police abolition; and policing in schools and universities. She is co-author of Anti-Racist Scholar-Activism (2021, with Remi Joseph-Salisbury) which won the prestigious US Society of Professors of Education Outstanding Book Award 2023. She has also written for a variety of popular outlets including Red Pepper Magazine, Novara Media, The Independent, and The Voice Newspaper.



  • Joseph-Salisbury R & Connelly L (2021) Anti-Racist Scholar-activism. Manchester: Manchester University Press. RIS download Bibtex download

Journal articles


  • Joseph-Salisbury R, Connelly L & Mondon A (2024) An antiracist scholar-activist ethic: Working in service to racial justice In Vaughan A, Braune J, Tinsley M & Mondon A (Ed.), The Ethics of Researching the Far Right Critical Approaches and Reflections Racism, Resistance and Social Change RIS download Bibtex download
  • Connelly L (2023) Sex Work and Sex Trafficking, Gender-Based Violence: A Comprehensive Guide (pp. 399-409). Springer International Publishing RIS download Bibtex download
  • Connelly L (2021) Trafficking and Exploitation In Davies P & Rowe M (Ed.), An Introduction to Criminology (pp. 291-304). RIS download Bibtex download
  • Connelly L (2020) Disrupting the Boundaries of the Academe: Co-creating Knowledge and Sex Work ‘Academic-Activism’ In Walklate S, Fitz-Gibbon K, Maher J & McCulloch J (Ed.), The Emerald Handbook of Feminism, Criminology and Social Change (pp. 203-218). RIS download Bibtex download
  • Connelly L & Sanders T (2020) Disrupting the Boundaries of the Academe: Co-creating Knowledge and Sex Work ‘Academic-activism’, The Emerald Handbook of Feminism, Criminology and Social Change (pp. 203-218). RIS download Bibtex download
  • Connelly L (2016) Debates on Prostitution: An Introduction to Feminist Politics and Their Influence upon International Policy and Practice In Jacob F (Ed.), Prostitution: A Companion of Mankind (pp. 61-76). View this article in WRRO RIS download Bibtex download
  • Connelly L (2014) The Practice of Elite Interviewing in Politicised Policy Areas In Sage (Ed.), Sage Research Methods Cases RIS download Bibtex download
  • Connelly L & Sanders T () Prostitution/Sex Work (pp. 1-6). John Wiley & Sons, Ltd RIS download Bibtex download


  • Connelly L & English Collective of Prostitutes (2021) EU Migrant Sex Work in the UK Post-Referendum RIS download Bibtex download
  • Connelly L, Legane R & Joseph-Salisbury R (2020) Decriminalise the Classroom: A Community Response to Police in Greater Manchester Schools RIS download Bibtex download
  • Connelly L (2017) The Governance of Sex Trafficking: Anti-Trafficking Policy and Practice in England and Wales RIS download Bibtex download
  • Sanders T, Connelly L & Jarvis-King L (2015) Internet-based Sex Workers: Working Conditions and Job Satisfaction RIS download Bibtex download
  • Connelly L & National Ugly Mugs (2014) Violence Against Sex Workers RIS download Bibtex download
Research group

Laura is Chair of the Sex Work Research Hub, a large international research network that connects academics from the UK and beyond with sex workers, support projects, and other key stakeholders. 

Within Sociological Studies, she co-leads the Social Inequalities and Social Ordering research theme.


Postgraduate Supervision

Laura has supervised two students to successful completion: one examining experiences of the modern slavery National Referral Mechanism and another exploring British Muslim women’s identity, religion and clothing. She was successful in securing a WRDTP ESRC Collaborative PhD Award 2023/24 for a project entitled Sex Work, Digital Rights and Freedoms, which she supervises alongside Professor Kate Hardy (University of Leeds) and the European Sex Workers’ Rights Alliance. Laura is particularly interested in postgraduate supervision in the areas of:

  • Sex work
  • Modern slavery, trafficking and exploitation
  • Racism and anti-racism
  • Scholar-activism and social justice
  • Feminist methodologies, including participatory methods 
  • Alternatives to or the abolition of the police

Laura’s most recent grants include:



Funder and amount


Sex work, digital rights and freedoms: Creating safer online working environments across Europe (Primary supervisor) 

WRDTP ESRC Collaborative PhD Award (£66,792) 


Promoting the inclusion of and equality for sex workers: Ethical research with sex workers (P-I)

Research England QR fund(£18,000)


EU migrant sex work post-EU Referendum. (P-I with the English Collective of Prostitutes)

University of Salford Impact Award (£2,907)


Leading the global fight? Policing modern slavery in the UK (P-I)

University of Salford Internal Research Fund (£1,000)

Teaching interests

Laura’s teaching draws on her areas of research expertise, and she uses her own and others’ research to bring theory to life in the classroom. Following the critical pedagogy tradition, she believes that teaching should be engaging (for students) and engaged (in the ‘real world’). As such, she not only aims to help students cultivate more critical worldviews but also, encourages students to act on their critical thought in pursuit of radical social change. Laura currently convenes SCS359 Sex Work: Rights, Regulation and Resistance and SCS2009 The Sociology of Crime, as well as contributing to a range of other modules within the Department of Sociological Studies and the Law School. 

Professional activities and memberships

Laura sits on the Editorial Board of The Sociological Review and is an Assistant Editor of the International Journal of Gender, Sexuality and Law. She is a member of the UKRI Talent Peer Review College. Laura is External Examiner on the BA (Hones) Criminology and Criminal Justice programme at the University of Hertfordshire.

Partnerships, engagement and impact

Laura’s work is social justice oriented; she is passionate about finding pockets of possibility for social change within, and beyond, the academy. She has worked with a range of sex worker-led and voluntary sector organisations in support of the global movement for sex workers’ rights. Most recently, for example, she partnered with the English Collective of Prostitutes on a project exploring migrant sex work post-EU Referendum. She has also co-designed and delivered ‘Rights Not Rescue’ (research-informed) training for modern slavery practitioners with Basis Sex Work Project. Laura sits on the steering committee for the Northern Police Monitoring Project, and recently worked with the civil liberties organisation, Liberty, on a project on non-policing solutions to violence.