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Mrs Sophie Michell

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Professional biography

I am a part-time post-graduate researcher, working in the History department. 

My PhD is titled "Dynamics of Death: Peterborough's Coroner's Court 1856-1905", and is funded by the Open-Oxford-Cambridge Doctoral Training Partnership.

I aim to look at the interpersonal dynamics of the coroner's court - between the coroner, his jury, the witnesses and the deceased. I hope to demonstrate how personal relationships and community ties affected the verdicts of inquests, and therefore the administration of justice. 

I have a BSc in Health and Social Care, from the Open University (2016) and a Masters of Arts in Local and Regional History, also from the Open University (2019). My PhD is a continuation of my MA dissertation, which focused on neonatal inquests and infanticide. 

Research interests

My research has two main focal points - the investigation of sudden or violent death in the nineteenth century, and the Victorian inquest as a function of justice.

This encompasses a wide variety of themes, including interpersonal violence; history of medicine; suicide; health, safety and risk; local government; policing and the wider criminal justice system; the overlapping of the domestic and legal spheres within the coroner's court; and the professionalisation of legal and medical careers. 

Impact and engagement

I am a member of Open Thanatology, the British Association for Local History, and the Social History Society.


Historical Infanticide Through An Interdisciplinary Lens (2021)
Michell, Sophie
Postgraduate Research Poster Competition, The Open University