Bethany Nutbrown

Department of Sociological Studies

Teaching Associate

PhD Student

Full contact details

Bethany Nutbrown
Department of Sociological Studies

I joined the Department in 2017 as a part time Doctoral student after completing my MSc in Psychology (Merit, Manchester Metropolitan University, 2016), and BA in Modern History (2:1, The University of Warwick, 2015). As a keen gamer and cosplayer, I was both fascinated and involved in the gaming community and became increasingly interested in what gaming communities offer to players and the wider community, as well as the opportunities that such diverse communities afford. This led to me starting my PhD exploring video gaming communities at The University of Sheffield in the Department of Sociological Studies in 2017. Since joining the Department, I have taught on a number of undergraduate Sociology modules, including Introduction to Social Research, Doing Social Research, and Social Divisions, as well as supporting Masters students in the assessments for Researching Society. Beth has also worked on a number of projects in the Department of Education as a Research Partner and Research Assistant. These projects include: Children, Technology and Play Project with Lego Education and The University of Sheffield (June-November 2019); The FIRST LEGO League Jr Discovery Edition Programme Pilot Evaluation (November-December 2018); Social Media, Television and Children Project with The University of Sheffield (April-August 2018), BBC Children’s and Dubit, and the MakEY Project (2017-2019).

  • BA in Modern History, 2:1, The University of Warwick, Department of History, September 2012-June 2015;
  • MSc in Psychology, Merit, Manchester Metropolitan University, Department of Psychology, September 2015-August 2016.
Research interests

Research interests:

  • Video games;
  • Online and digital communities;
  • Esports;
  • Cosplay;
  • Gender and identity;
  • Research methodology.

Working thesis title: 'Toxicity, trolling and community bonding. How the League of Legends community functions and persists amidst toxicity’.

My PhD Research is investigating video game communities. What began as an examination of the ways in which players of the Multiplayer Online Battle Arena game (MOBA) League of Legends interact with the game beyond gameplay/game instances itself has evolved into an investigation into video game communities and toxicity, and how video games with what are perceived as ‘negative’ and ‘toxic’ communities keep players coming back. My research is also connected with notions of identity and belonging, internet culture and trolling, the pervasiveness of video game worlds and communities, and the discourses surrounding popular culture. My research is primarily qualitative, with quantitative elements. 

Research group


Teaching interests

I have taught on a number of undergraduate sociology modules. I started teaching in 2018, and have been a Seminar Leader for Social Research, Doing Social Research and Social Inequalities. In 2021, I am undertaking work in assessment support with Masters students on the module Researching Society. I am enthusiastic about my teaching, and have enjoyed teaching upcoming sociologists some of the core ideas in sociological research. I have also undertaken a large range of marking over the years.

Professional activities

Conference Presentations:

  • ‘Motivational Makerspace Mind-sets’, The MakEY in Libraries Conference, University of Sheffield, 7th November 2018;
  • ‘“Have you seen my bear Tibbers” Storying Video Game Artefacts’. Fantastic!, The University of Sheffield, 26-27th April 2019;
  • “Researching…”. Insider research in video game communities. Annual Sociological Studies PGR Conference. The University of Sheffield, 13th June 2018.

Engagement activities:

  • Event Helper at Festival of Social Science ‘Lost Words/Bilingualism in the City Makerspace’, 2nd November 2019;
  • Millennium Galleries and Ruskin Gallery MakEY Workshops, 16th and 25th May; 7th August 2019;
  • Creative helper at Children’s Media Conference, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 6th July 2019; Event helper at Children’s Celebration of Work from MakEY in Schools projects in the Winter Gardens, Sheffield, 26th-28th June 2018.

Marsh, J., Murris, K., Ng’ambi, D., Parry, R., Scott, F., Thomsen, B.S., Bishop, J., Bannister, C., Dixon, K., Giorza, T., Peers, J., Titus, S., Da Silva, H., Doyle, G., Driscoll, A., Hall, L., Hetherington, A., Krönke, M., Margary, T., Morris, A., Nutbrown, B., Rashid, S., Santos, J., Scholey, E., Souza, L., and Woodgate, A. (2020) Children, Technology and Play. Billund, Denmark: The LEGO Foundation., (2020), Children, technology and play. The Lego Foundation.

Marsh, J., Law, L., Lahmar, J., Yamada-Rice, D, Parry, B., Scott, F., Robinson, P., Nutbrown, B., Scholey, E., Baldi, P., McKeown, K., Swanson, A., Bardill, R. (2019) Social Media, Television and Children. Sheffield: University of Sheffield.

Marsh, J., Wood, E., Chesworth, L., , Nisha, B., Nutbrown, B., & Olney, B. (2019) Makerspaces in early childhood education: Principles of pedagogy and practice, Mind, Culture, and Activity, 26:3, 221-233.

Nutbrown, B. (2019), 'The Stories Behind Artefacts', Fantastic! Zine, 1 [Based on the paper given by Beth at Fantastic! 2019 titled '"Have you seen my bear Tibbers?" Storying Video Game Artefacts'.].

Nutbrown, B. (2018), 'No Third Place for Video Games?: A Critique of Oldenburg’s Theory'. The Sheffield Student Journal for Sociology, 2 (Communities).