Portsmouth Law School

Our PhD students

Sarah Atkins

  • Role Title: PhD student
  • Address: Richmond Building Portland Street Portsmouth PO1 3DE
  • Telephone: tbc
  • Email: sarah.atkins@port.ac.uk
  • Department: School of Law
  • Faculty: Portsmouth Business School


Nationality:                             Supervisor:  Dr Panos Kapotas/Charles Leddy-Owen         Year of graduation:

Sarah Atkins, BA LL.B is a solicitor qualified to practise both in Ireland and in England & Wales. She currently works as a full-time senior teaching fellow at the University of Portsmouth’s School of Law. Sarah is Unit Coordinator of Public international law, and on the teaching teams of the Family & Child Law and the Equality & Human Rights units. She previously worked as a solicitor in private practice in Portsmouth in the area of private client and prior to that for the Legal Aid Board in Ireland in the areas of civil litigation, medical negligence, child protection and family law. Sarah now specialises in family law, human rights, ethics and asylum law. During 2014 Sarah was part of a funded research project tendered by the Irish Human Rights & Equality Commission [IHREC] into Direct Provision and delays in the Irish asylum system.  In Ireland she has lectured family law and professional ethics at Griffith College Cork and is a graduate of University College Cork.

Provisional thesis title:

Asylum Seeker and refugee reception conditions: impacts on children and families

My PhD focuses on asylum seeker and refugee children and the laws that protect them. This part-time Compilation PhD will combine socio-legal analysis and doctrinal research, by investigating how host States’ poor and inconsistent reception conditions detrimentally impact on those who have fled persecution, especially children and their families. The background to this research interest is that socio-economic living conditions of asylum seekers across Europe is extremely varied, despite many of the States having equal international or regional legal obligations, such as under the Geneva Conventions, International Convention on Civil and Political Right, the International Convention on Social and Economic Rights, etc. These legal obligations on States are especially in evidence on a European level with European Convention on Human Rights and case law from the Strasbourg court. Furthermore, for EU Member States, both the EU Charter on Fundamental Rights and the Common European Asylum System (should) provide further standardisation of asylum procedures, as well as refugee standards of living. However, despite these legal obligations the lived realities of such vulnerable individuals remains unstable and inadequate, sometimes for years on end. In researching this area the concepts of gender, vulnerability, narrative, ‘politics of belonging’ and ‘othering’ occupy a central role. The work will also argue that where there are indications of State-sponsored ethnocentric discrimination, which can constitute a form of xenophobia and even racism.