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Siobhan McAlister

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

Direct phone: +44 (0)28 9097 5918

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

Research Statement

My research interests are in the broad fields of youth, social justice and criminal justice. I have a particular interest in in-depth qualitative research with marginalised groups, including those who have experience of care and/ or justice systems. Over the past five years I have completed a range of projects including:

  • Action on Hearing Loss commissioned research on the transitions of young people with hearing loss. This examined the barriers young people face in making the transition from school to further or higher education, training or employment. The research involved collecting the views and experiences of young people, service providers and policy makers and was carried out with Bronagh Byrne
  • Childhood in Transition – This entailed an examination of the legacies of the Conflict on children and young people in six communities across Northern Ireland. It involved collecting the views of over 200 children and young people and 65 adults and was carried out with Deena Haydon and Phil Scraton.

My current research projects include:

  • Moving on: A study of young people’s experiences as they transition from Woodlands Juvenile Justice Centre - Funded by the Youth Justice Agency, and carried out with Nicola Carr this project involves following a small group of young people as they leave the Juvenile Justice Centre. Through life history interviews it examines their transitions into and out of custody and is particularly interested in examining their experiences of the supports available on leaving the Centre. Preliminary findings have been presented at a number of conferences and an article on some of the data has been published in the journal Youth Justice.
  • Identifying and challenging the negative media representation of children and young people in Northern Ireland - Funded by the ESRC Knowledge Exchange programme this is a partnership project between Include Youth and the Childhood, Transition and Social Justice Initiative (Prof. Phil Scraton and Dr Faith Gordon). Alongside skills and knowledge exchange between the partner organisations, the Project will:design, facilitate and deliver workshops with children and young people to explore their experiences of media representation and inform their rights;produce resources which can be used to challenge discrimination through rights compliance and inform the practice of those working with children and young people.
  • Experiencing rights, risks and justice? Young people in a transitional society - Funded by Leverhulme/ British Academy this project examines young people’s experiences with/ of ‘paramilitary style groups’ in three locations across Northern Ireland. In the context of their lives it examines: the risks they experience within their communities, how they perceive and negotiate these; their understanding of the concept of ‘justice’ and their experiences of informal justice; the mechanisms in place to protect their welfare and rights. In doing so it examines ‘paramilitary style’ threats and attacks through the lens of child protection and children’s rights, and aims to critically examine the State’s responsibility to uphold its human rights obligations. This project is being carried out with Nicola Carr and Clare Dwyer.


I am a Programme Director for the DgDip/ MSc in Youth Justice, and teach on and convene a number of modules on this course, including:

  • Youth and Social Justice
  • Qualitative Research in Childhood and Youth
  • Childhood and Youth Research in Practice
  • Perspectives in Childhood and Youth
  • Youth Justice Dissertation

I also contribute to a range of Criminology, Sociology and Social Policy modules within the School and convene the level 2 undergraduate module 'Crime and the Media'.


Adminstrative Duties and Membership

Co-director of the PG Dip/MSc in Youth Justice

Member of the School Research Ethics Committee

Member of the Childhood, Transition and Social Justice Initiative

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Frequent Journals

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Contribution to conference papers, events and activities

ID: 28282