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Sunderland Repository records the research produced by the University of Sunderland including practice-based research and theses.

Deconstructing dangerous discourse: an analysis of personal safety advice to students on UK universities’ websites

Roberts, Nicola, Doyle, Lauren and Roberts, Mark (2023) Deconstructing dangerous discourse: an analysis of personal safety advice to students on UK universities’ websites. Journal of Gender-Based Violence. ISSN 2398-6808

Item Type: Article


In a society pre-occupied with managing risks, individuals are responsibilised to ensure their own safety. In the context of higher education, this might seem useful advice because young university students are at risk of violent victimisation, and they migrate to cities with which they are unfamiliar. However, using Foucauldian discourse analysis, we analysed text about personal safety on all UK universities’ websites to draw-out the underlying discourse embedded in the safety advice. We find that students are advised where to walk, when to walk, how to walk or not to walk, and who with. In seeking to control the movements of potential victims to avoid victimisation, a victim-blaming discourse is evident. The offender is rarely mentioned. Such overt safety advice often impacts upon women more than men. It is argued that given the duplication of such advice across university websites as well as its dated nature, it is likely that universities have given little thought to how they advise their students to keep safe and the impact of this. We provide recommendations on how universities can update their personal safety advice to students to be more empowering.

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Depositing User: Nicola Roberts


Item ID: 16648
Identification Number:
ISSN: 2398-6808
Official URL:

Users with ORCIDS

ORCID for Nicola Roberts: ORCID iD
ORCID for Lauren Doyle: ORCID iD

Catalogue record

Date Deposited: 22 Sep 2023 10:05
Last Modified: 12 Jan 2024 12:15


Author: Nicola Roberts ORCID iD
Author: Lauren Doyle ORCID iD
Author: Mark Roberts

University Divisions

Faculty of Education and Society > School of Social Sciences


Social Sciences > Criminology

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