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Cambridge AHRC Doctoral Training Partnership - Student Profiles



I graduated from the University of Nottingham in 2016 with a Geography BA (First Class Honours). Here I developed an interest in both medical and historical geographies. These interests were shown in my undergraduate dissertation which focused on smallpox (variola minor) in England and Wales, 1920-35. A mixed methods approach was used to combine quantitative mapping and qualitative archival work, and I was awarded the ‘Highly Commended Prize’ by the Royal Geographical Society’s HGRG.

During a year out whilst I travelled through Latin America, I worked on two academic papers continuing to focus on smallpox.

In order to develop my skillset and widen my research interests, I recently undertook an MSc in Demography and Health at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (predicted Distinction). My curiosity for demography grew over the course of the year and led me to complete an exploratory spatial analysis of infant mortality in London, 1891-1911, for my Masters thesis. This project used data and spatial methods I plan on developing during my PhD. My PhD project will explore the variations in both infant and early childhood mortality decline in London for a longer time period (1870-1929), and will have a political emphasis.


Other Academic Interests

  • Historical Demography
  • Mixed Methods
  • Spatial Multivariate Modelling
  • Archives
  • Health Geographies
  • Economic and Social History


Key publications: 

‘Variola minor in England and Wales: the geographical course of a smallpox epidemic and the impediments to effective disease control, 1920-35’, Journal of Historical Geography, 59 (2018): 2-14.

'Variola minor in coalfield areas of England and Wales, 1921-34: Geographical determinants of a national smallpox epidemic that spread out of effective control’, Social Science and Medicine, 180 (2017): 160-169.

Department: Geography
Supervisor: Dr Alice Reid
College: Corpus Christi
AHRC Subject Area: Historical Geography
Title of Thesis: Infant and early childhood mortality decline in London, 1870-1929: a spatial and temporal analysis of its patterns, inequalities and policy impacts.
 Sarah  Rafferty