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Dr Sophie Hope

  • Overview



    Dr Sophie Hope joined the department in September 2010. She has worked on the MA Arts Policy and Management since then, teaching on the core module and developing modules in curating, critical theory and urban development. Sophie co-developed and leads a network of practice-based research students at Birkbeck, called Corkscrew. She chairs the School of Arts Disability Committee and is a member of the Peltz/Arts Space Steering Committee, Birkbeck Institute of Gender and Sexuality (BIGS) and Centre for Museum Cultures Research Centre Steering Committee.

    Prior to working at Birkbeck full time, Sophie worked in a curatorial partnership with Sarah Carrington, as B+B (2000-2006) and as an independent evaluator of public and socially engaged art. She was awarded an AHRC grant in 2007 to carry out a practice-based PhD at Birkbeck, which she completed in 2011. The title was: Participating in the Wrong Way? Practice-based research into cultural democracy and the commissioning of art to effect social change

    Since completing her PhD and moving into academia, Sophie has pursued a number of practice-based projects which explore histories, theories and  geographies of cultural democracy, community arts and socially engaged art practice (1984 Dinners and with Owen Kelly); physical and emotional relationships to work (Manual Labours with Jenny Richards) and criticality, governance and intersubjectivity in the socially engaged art economy (Cards on the Table, Social Art Maps, and Beyond Participation?).

    Sophie is a UCU union rep for her department and works on issues of inequality and social justice in higher education and cultural sectors, developing ethical work placements for postgraduate students, for example.



    • PhD, Birkbeck, University of London, 2011
    • MA, Goldsmiths, University of London
    • BAHons, University of East Anglia

    Web profiles

    Professional memberships

    • Fellow, Higher Education Academy

    Honours and awards

    • Public Engagement Award, Birkbeck, December 2020


  • Research


    Research interests

    • Socially engaged art, public art, community art
    • Practice-based and participatory research methodologies
    • Histories of cultural democracy in policy and practice
    • Cultural labour and precarious working conditions

    Research overview

    Sophie uses practice-based action research to explore criticality in and as work, drawing on fields of research such as cultural policy, cultural studies, art history and labour studies.

    Her current projects include investigating the histories, influences and potential futures of cultural democracy in British and international contexts (drawing on her 1984 Dinners work and Meanwhile in an Abandoned Warehouse podcast series with Owen Kelly). 

    Sophie explores the ways in which socially engaged art is commissioned, funded and experienced from different perspectives (drawing on her previous work developing Social Art Maps and a card game called Cards on the Table). She is currently evaluating a large scale EU funded project called BE PART, using experimental, participatory research methods to understand better the meanings of participation and co-creation across ten arts organisation in Europe and beyond. 

    Sophie has collaborated with Jenny Richards as Manual Labours since 2013 on a series of residencies, commissions and exhibitions to investigate physical and emotional relationships to work. Their work has received funding from the Arts Council of England and the Birkbeck Wellcome Trust Institutional Strategic Support Fund (ISSF). Jenny and Sophie were awarded the Engaged Practice Birkbeck Public Engagement Award in 2020 for their work. Their recent lockdown Global Staffroom Podcast was purchased by the University of Edinburgh Art Collection

    Sophie also writes on the ways practice is used as a research methodology and co-developed and leads a network of practice-based research students and staff at Birkbeck, called Corkscrew, which aims to provide a reflexive space for researchers to develop their practice in the context of research. She is currently developing a podcast series with people who have completed practice-based PhD about their careers post-PhD.

    Research Centres and Institutes

  • Supervision and teaching

    Supervision and teaching


    I welcome PhD applications from students interested in the following topics::

    • Socially engaged, participatory and public art
    • Cultural policy, commissioning processes and evaluation practices
    • Labour conditions in the arts and creative industries
    • Community art histories in the UK
    • Practice-based research in interdisciplinary contexts

    If you are interested in pursuing research in any of these areas, you should first read our advice on how to apply for MPhil/PhD research before submitting an application.

    Current doctoral researchers


    Doctoral alumni



    Teaching modules

    • Research/Placement Project and Report MA Film and Screen Media (AHVM043S7)
    • Researching Arts and Media (ARMC125S5)
    • The Inside Out of Culture: Theories and Institutions (ARMC160S7)
    • Comparative Cultural Policies (ARMC221S7)
    • Understanding Arts Policy and Management (ARMC251S7)
    • Arts Policy and Management Work Placement (FDAP003S7)
    • Masterclass in Social Research (SSPO019S7)
  • Publications





    Book Section