Dr Johanna O'Shea

Applied Social Studies, ALL Institute

Assistant Professor/Lecturer

Auxillia, North Campus, Maynooth University
Level 1


Johanna O' Shea is an assistant professor in social work. She has been lecturing in social work since 2009. Johanna joined Maynooth University in 2019, having previously worked at Ulster University and at Belfast Metropolitan College. Johanna is currently the programme director for the MSc in Social Sciences (Social Work) at the Department of Applied Social Studies, which has 80 places.

Johanna's broad area of research is probation work. Her PhD studies critiqued the social construction of risk assessment and notions of public protection in the justice system, against a backdrop of protecting human rights. Her thesis was nominated for the award of best PhD in the Faculty of Social Sciences at Ulster University (academic year 2023-24: decision pending).

Johanna has a keen interest in individuals experiences of the justice system, in particular their experience of social work services within it. Prior to her academic career, Johanna gained extensive practice experience working as a probation officer, in both Germany and Northern Ireland.  

Research Interests

Criminal Justice and the Probation Role

User Involvement of 'hard to reach' groups in Social Work and in Social Work Education

Research Methodology

Research Ethics

Peer Reviewed Journal

Year Publication
2022 McGinnis Emma and O' Shea, Johanna (2022) 'Lessons Learned in Meaningful Collaboration With Justice Involved Young Adults'. 3 (3).
2020 McKenna, D.; O Shea J.; Tanner, L; (2020) 'The Heart of Living and Dying: Upstreaming Advance Care Planning into Community Conversations in the Public Domain in Northern Ireland'. Journal of Social Work in End-of-Life and Palliative Care, . [DOI] [Full-Text]
2019 O’Shea J.; McGinnis E. (2019) '‘Do you really want me to tell ya!’ critical learning in engaging young people in contact with the justice system as peer educators with social work students'. Social Work Education, . [DOI] [Full-Text]
2019 Pollock, E., O’ Shea, J. & Killick, C. (2019) 'Risk Factors for Self-Harm: Narratives from a Sample of Young People in Northern Ireland'. Child Care in Practice, . [DOI] [Full-Text]

Book Chapter

Year Publication
2024 Johanna O Shea (2024) 'The potential for Q-Methodology in promoting human rights and social justice: a case of social workers in practice research' In: Rights and Social Justice in Research Advancing Methodologies for Social Change. Bristol : Policy Press.

Conference Contribution

Year Publication
2022 Johanna O' Shea and Emma McGinnis (2022) European Conference for Social Work Research What Works in Participatory Social Work Research with 'hard to reach' Groups - Messages from the Field Amsterdam, 06/04/2022-08/04/2022.
2021 Johanna O' Shea (2021) European Conference for Social Work Research How should I put it? Q-methodology as an innovative means of engaging social workers in research on organisational policy and practice Bucharest, 05/05/2021-07/05/2021. [Full-Text]
2021 Johanna O' Shea (2021) Q Conference organised by International Society for the Scientific Study of Subjectivity (ISSSS) Q-methodology as an innovative means of promoting human rights and social justice by engaging social workers in research on their organisational policy and practice Nantes, France, 16/09/2021-17/09/2021. [Full-Text]
2021 Johanna O' Shea (2021) Public and Patient Involvement (PPI) Conference organised by PPI Ignite Network Ireland ‘Learning from Young Adults in Prison’ Galway, 28/04/2021-. [Full-Text]
2016 Johanna O'Shea and Emma McGinnis (2016) North South Criminology Conference, Maynooth University ‘Young People as Educators Project’ Involving Service Users as peer educators in social work training Maynooth University, .
2016 Johanna O'Shea (2016) European Social Network Workshop Young People as Educators Project Athens, Greece, .
2016 Johanna O'Shea (2016) ESRC Festival of Social Sciences Event involving social work students co-presenting their project ‘Young People as Educators’ Derry, .
2014 Johanna O'Shea (2014) Evidence Based Practice “Ulster’s involvement and experience of the ESRC funded project ‘Making Social Work count” Brighton, England, .
Certain data included herein are derived from the © Web of Science (2024) of Clarivate. All rights reserved.

Honors and Awards

Date Title Awarding Body
01/11/2017 Times Higher Education Award Finalist 'Widening Participation and Outreach Initiative of the Year' Category Times Higher Education
09/11/2023 Best PhD of the Year (Nomination - decision pending) Ulster University


Start date Institution Qualification Subject
01/09/2011 Ulster University Postgraduate Certificate in Education (Further Education) Knowledge skills and values underpinning education at 3rd level
01/09/2010 Ulster University Postgraduate Diploma in Social Research Skills Research methodology and specialising in studying poverty and inequality


Employer Position From / To
National University of Ireland Maynooth Assistant Professor / Lecturer in Social Work 01/10/2019 -
Ulster University Lecturer in Social Work 01/12/2012 - 30/09/2019
Belfast Metropolitan College Lecturer in Social Work 01/09/2009 - 30/11/2012

Editorial / Academic Reviews

Amount Role From / To
Critical Publishing Reviewer 01/10/2023 -

Outreach Activities

Organisation Type Description
Travellers Justice Initiative, St. Stephen's Green Trust Civic Society Board Member [Link]

Professional Associations

Description Function From / To
NAPO National Professional Association and Union for Probation Officers in the UK (Northern IrelandBranch) 09/07/2002 -

Teaching Interests

Research Methods for Social Work

Social work in the Justice System

The social construction of Risk (PhD focus) and assessments in social work

Critical Skills in 3rd level Education (Study Skills) 

Engaging with people who have lived experiences of health, social care and justice systems and ensuring their contributions are reflected in social work education and social work practice