• United Kingdom

    Accepting PhD Students

    PhD projects

    I welcome Ph.D. enquiries in any of my specialisms. Enquiries are particularly welcome in relation to projects that consider the complexity of language and/or law in safeguarding and child protection.

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    Personal profile

    Contact Details

    Email: l.devine@aston.ac.uk

    Telephone: +44 (0) 121 204 3789

    Room: N918A


    LL.B.(Hons), Barrister, Master of Laws, M.A., Ph.D., P.G.Cert.H.E.

    University of the West of England PG Cert HE

    University of Birmingham Ph.D (Law)

    University of Birmingham   M.A (Research Methods)

    University of Bristol Master of Laws

    Inns of Court School of Law Bar Finals

    University of the West of England LL.B. (Hons)

    Funding Applications and Awards

    I have led/co-led research projects amounting to around £1m.  My work has been funded by Research England, The Economic and Social Research Council and the Nuffield Foundation.

    Media Contributions

    I am an experienced, invited media commentator with significant experience of working with the press, TV and radio.  I and have completed the Economic and Social Research Council's media training.  I have appeared on Channel 4 News, the BBC (local and national TV and radio), the Big Questions, the Victoria Derbyshire Show and my work has featured in the Guardian, the Times, the Telegraph and in professional publications such as 'Community Care' and 'Professional Social Work'.  I am also an experienced media consultant, advising on programme content and structure.

    Membership of Professional Bodies

    Fellow of the Higher Education Academy

    Barrister of the Honourable Society of the Inner Temple

    Available PhD Studentships

    Inviting applications for a fully funded Ph.D Studentship in an area of language and/or law relevant to any area of child protection and safeguarding.

    Key research projects

    2019-2022: Co-Investigator of ‘The Risk of Risk’ funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (Grant number ES/R00983X/1 £250,000).  The project considers the probity of risk assessment in cases of suspected child abuse and evaluates the accuracy of algorithmic risk prediction tools used by Local Authorities. 
    2017-2021: Principal Investigator of ‘The Care Cases Crisis’ funded by the Nuffield Foundation (Grant number JUS/43090 £350,544).  The project investigates the reasons for the increases in care order applications despite the government’s measures to reduce child abuse.  The project uses a mixed methods approach including grounded theory, qualitative interviews, quantitative data analysis and theoretical hypothesis testing.
    2014 – 2016: Principal Investigator of ‘Rethinking Child Protection Strategy’ funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (Grant number ES/M000990/1 £202,487), meeting the criteria of ‘genuinely transformative research at the frontiers of social science’.  This project evaluates the evidence base for child protection and safeguarding strategy and policy in England. 
    2015 (ongoing): £3,000 start-up funding from HEFCE & UnLtd to develop an impact case study activity via an social enterprise project, Solutions for Safeguarding CIC.  SfS CIC works uniquely with ‘the triad’ (referrer/referee/local authorities) facilitating better relationships and better intervention outcomes.  This Initiative fills a gap in national and international provision as local authorities are tied to a dual welfare/policing role once a referral is made, and thus cannot provide advice and support to the referred families.  The SAFER Initiative is now part of Solutions for Safeguarding CIC.
    2014 - 2016: Co-Investigator and Consultant to the project ‘Crime Scene to Court in Virtual Worlds’ which was awarded £11,400 by University of the West of England’s Teaching and Learning Fellowship Scheme Award.  This project, featured by the BBC in 2016 engages non-law students who may work within the criminal justice system as experts with the courtroom process using VLE technology.
    2012-2014: Principal Investigator of ‘Safer Children?’ (Early Career Researcher Grant £15,224) This project evaluated how the duty to safeguard children translated into child protection referrals, looking at training effectiveness and outcomes in an education setting.  The project successfully produced policy recommendations concerning the referral process in schools, identified the need for family support following referral, and led to a successful, major funding bid to the ESRC for ‘Rethinking Child Protection Strategy’


    Professor of Language and Law, Deputy Director Aston Institute for Forensic Linguistics, Director Centre for Law and Language.


    • K Law (General)
    • HN Social history and conditions. Social problems. Social reform
    • BJ Ethics
    • P Philology. Linguistics
    • J General legislative and executive papers


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