School of Social and Political Science

PhD Social Policy


Ashlee Christoffersen

Photo of Ashlee ChristoffersenAshlee was the winner of the Outstanding Doctoral Thesis Award in 2020. She submitted her thesis on 14 April 2020 and passed her viva, without corrections, on 29 June 2020. 

Path-breaking work

She was nominated for the award by her supervisors, who described her thesis, The politics of intersectional practice: Representation, coalition and solidarity, as:

"...path breaking work [that] exemplifies outstanding doctoral research which innovates and constructively challenges scholarship."
– Professor Richard Freeman, Social Policy

Find out more about a PhD in Social Policy

Best thesis in gender and politics in Europe

Her thesis was subsequently named the year’s best from across Europe in the field of gender and politics, being awarded the 2021 Joni Lovenduski prize from the European Consortium for Political Research (ECPR):

READ: SPS graduate wins best PhD thesis in the field of gender and politics

The politics of intersectional practice: Representation, coalition and solidarity

We asked Ashlee about her thesis and why she chose the topic:

What was the topic of your doctoral thesis and what were your motivations for choosing it?

The topic of my thesis was the understanding and use of intersectionality (the Black feminist theory that social inequalities are mutually constituting) in equality policy and third sector practice in the UK.

This was a continuation of my previous involvement in intersectionality research, but was largely borne out of my experience as a practitioner in the same sector that I studied, the equality third sector.

What do you think made your work stand out?

My practitioner experience and participatory approach allowed me to gain access to and build good relationships with the three equality networks that participated in my research, enabling me to collect a volume of rich data.

Would you give any advice for students approaching their own thesis?

You'll likely collect much more data than you will use, and the tricky part is working out what you will argue and the specifics of what you will discuss in the thesis itself.

It helps if this is something that you are especially passionate about and interested in, and a thesis is much like a book: a strong thesis has one narrative from the beginning to the end.

How do you hope to use your research post-graduation?

I am working in the same area of research both academically and as an independent consultant.

Ultimately, I am aiming to undertake a similar project in Canada to enable comparison with the UK.

Do you have any highlights or standout moments of working on your thesis and research you’d like to share?

I was able to organise an event bringing research participants together from the three cities that I researched in, so that they could meet each other and we could discuss the findings.

This was part of a larger conference made possible by the support of many in the School of Social and Political Science (in particular Marie Storrar (SPS Communications and Engagement), who is the best).