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Dr Emily Nicholls

Senior Lecturer

Emily Nicholls


I am a Senior Lecturer in Sociology and Course Leader for Sociology at the University of Portsmouth. My research interests are in gender, femininity, alcohol and sobriety. I'm also a convener of the Sobriety, Abstinence and Moderation research cluster and a member of the British Sociological Association (BSA) Alcohol Study Group.

In 2019, I published a book on the topic of negotiations of femininity on a 'girls' night out' with Palgrave Macmillan. In 2018 I contributed a chapter on femininities, class and alcohol consumption for a volume published by Routledge as part of the BSA’s Sociological Futures Series.

While a Research Associate at the University of Sheffield, I worked on a collaborative funded project with Sheffield Podiatry Service. The project, 'If the Shoe Fits: Enabling Patient-Centred Podiatry' focused on footwear and identity. We received a Council for Allied Health Professions Research (CAHPR) Public Health Research Award for our work and the project was shortlisted for a Medipex Innovation Award.

I've published many journal articles on risk, alcohol use and femininity, and in 2015 I was shortlisted for the Feminist and Women’s Studies Association Student Essay Prize.


I joined the University of Portsmouth as a Lecturer in September 2015, and was promoted to Senior Lecturer in 2017.

In 2008, I graduated with first-class honours in a BA in Politics and Philosophy from the University of Leeds. In 2009, I completed an MA with distinction in Gender Research at Newcastle University.

After completing my MA, I worked for North Yorkshire County Council for 2 years as part of the National Graduate Development Programme (NGDP – a graduate scheme in local government). This involved placements across the council, but I was mostly based in the Social Inclusion team where I worked on policy and projects around domestic abuse and supporting children in care.

I began my PhD at Newcastle University in 2011, while working as a teaching assistant and continuing to work on a consultancy basis for the Council. I completed my thesis in 2015. It examined the ways that young women embody 'appropriate' femininities in their everyday practices on a 'girls' night out' and in the Night Time Economy (NTE) more widely.

Research Interests

My main research interests are in gender, femininities and identities. I'm specifically interested in how:

  • gender and identity are performed in everyday contemporary contexts, such as the Night Time Economy (NTE)
  • gender intersects with class, age and sexuality, particularly in the context of alcohol consumption
  • drinking practices – and more recently, sobriety – are negotiated in the construction of feminine identities

I'm currently researching the experiences of women navigating the early stages of sobriety. My particular focus is on the stories women share of their 'journeys' to sobriety and any changes to their sense of self and identity they experience when they stop drinking.

I also welcome opportunities to continue to build on the success of the ‘If the Shoe Fits’ project through future collaborative work with academic and NHS partners.

I welcome enquiries and applications from Masters and PhD students in areas related to or combining:

  • gender
  • postfeminism
  • alcohol studies
  • sobriety
  • the Night Time Economy
  • femininities and their intersection with class, sexuality and age

Teaching Responsibilities

I am module co-ordinator for the second and third-year module 'Gender and Sexuality', and module co-ordinator for the second-year core module 'Risk and Society'. I also teach on various core first-year modules, including research methods and study skills.

I act as a personal tutor for undergraduate students and supervise undergraduate, Masters and professional doctorate in education (EdD) students. I'm also the Admissions, Recruitment and Induction Lead for the School of Education and Sociology.

Media Availability

Emily is available to talk to the media about alcohol, gender and sobriety.

I am happy to take emails from the media on my research, and am aware of the need to respond to journalists in a timely manner. Please contact me by email at You can also call me on +44 (0)23 9284 2229, however email is preferred as I often work away from the office.

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