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Dr Sara Ramshaw

Dr. Sara Ramshaw - Queen's University Belfast Research Portal - Research Directory & Institutional Repository for QUB
Sara Ramshaw

Dr Sara Ramshaw


Phone: +44 (0)28 9097 3588

For media contact email
or call +44(0)2890 973091.

Research Interests

Dr Sara Ramshaw joined the Queen’s University Belfast (QUB) School of Law as a lecturer in 2005. After receiving her B.A. (Honours) (With Distinction) from the University of Toronto, with majors in Women’s Studies and Ethics, Society and the Law, Sara obtained both a LLB and a LLM from the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada. She then clerked at the Ontario Court of Justice (General Division) and was called to the Bar of the Law Society of Upper Canada in 2000. Sara worked as a Research Lawyer at the Superior Court of Justice, Family Court in Toronto, Ontario before commencing postgraduate studies at Birkbeck School of Law, University of London, England, where she was also employed as a Sessional Lecturer of the Law of Obligations I (Contract Law). Sara’s doctoral thesis, completed in 2007, examined the legal regulation of jazz musicians in New York City (1940-1967) through the lens of poststructural theory informed by feminism, critical race theory and musicology.


During the 2008-2009 academic year, Sara was a Postdoctoral Fellow with the Social Science and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) Major Collaborative Research Initiative (MCRI) Project ‘Improvisation, Community and Social Practice’ (ICASP) in partnership with Centre de recherche en éthique de l’Université de Montréal (CRÉUM), Montréal, Québec, Canada.


Sara's monograph Justice as Improvisation: The Law of the Extempore was published in February 2013 and was nominated by Routledge for the Socio-Legal Studies Association (SLSA) Hart Book Prize 2014.


Along with Dr Paul Stapleton, sound artist, improviser and lecturer at QUB Sonic Arts Research Centre (SARC), Sara is the Project Research Group leader of the QUB Institute for Collaborative Research in the Humanities (ICRH)'s Translating Improvisation Research Group (TIRG), which brings together approximately 20 QUB academics and graduate students from areas as diverse as law, history, anthropology, sonic and creative arts, medical education, drama and ethnomusicology, along with several international experts and members of the local legal and musical community, the purpose being to explore the possibility of translating improvisational practices, discourses and pedagogies from the musical realm to other disciplines in the humanities.  


Sara is also the Principal Investigator on the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) research grant (with Paul Stapleton as Co-Investigator) entitled 'Into the Key of Law: Transposing Musical Improvisation. The Case of Child Protection in Northern Ireland' (£189,728). This project investigates the utility of applying improvisational language (i.e., discourses, techniques and pedagogies) to the area of child protection law.    


For more information on the AHRC research grant and TIRG, see  


Sara is willing to supervise postgraduate projects in areas of legal theory (particularly feminist legal theory, poststructural theory, and/or critical race or postcolonial theory), family law and music or improvisation and the law.

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Contribution to conference papers, events and activities

ID: 42122