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Dr Sarah Bryan O'Sullivan

Profile summary

Professional biography

Sarah is a Senior Lecturer in Law at The Open University Law School, specialising in criminal law and criminal justice.

Having completed a BCL and LLM(Criminal Justice) in University College Cork (Ireland), Sarah studied for a PhD in Law in Trinity College Dublin. Sarah is an Irish Research Council Awardee having secured a Government of Ireland Postgraduate Scholarship in 2013.

Upon the completion of her PhD in 2016, she worked as a Legal Researcher in the Office of the Attorney General of Ireland. Before joining The Open University Law School, Sarah also worked as the Programme Director of Postgraduate Law at Griffith College Dublin and as an Adjunct Assistant Professor with Trinity College Dublin.

Research interests

Sarah’s PhD research considered the issue of personal cross-examination of the complainant by the defendant in rape and sexual offence trials and examined the potential for prohibiting or restricting such cross-examination in Ireland.

Since the completion of her PhD, Sarah has continued her research in the area of criminal law, criminal justice, criminology and gender and crime. Due to her experience and background in law and criminology, she is particularly interested in research of an interdisciplinary nature.

At present, Sarah is co-authoring a book with Dr Lynsey Black of Maynooth University (Ireland), which is due for publication with Clarus Press in 2022. Entitled Crime, Criminal Justice and Gender in Ireland, the text will bring together criminal law, criminal justice, criminological research and scholarship to explore how gender affects crime, victimisation, trial, and punishment.

Sarah is also currently working on a number of criminal law reform projects. 


PhD supervision

Sarah is happy to discuss potential PhD projects in any of her areas of research interest. Preferred areas include, but are not limited to:

  • Criminal law/Sexual offences
  • Violence against women
  • Gender and crime
  • Victims’ rights


Teaching interests

Sarah holds a commitment to high quality academic teaching at undergraduate and postgraduate level. In 2021, she was nominated for a Teaching Hero Award by the National Forum for the Enhancement of Teaching and Learning and the Union of Students Ireland.

Currently, Sarah is working on the following modules:

  • W102 Law: concepts and perspectives
  • W111 Criminal law and the courts
  • W203 Public law and criminal law
  • W350 Exploring legal boundaries
  • W820 Exploring legal meaning

Prior to joining The Open University, Sarah managed a range of undergraduate and postgraduate modules including:

  • Introduction to law and legal skills
  • Criminal law
  • Criminology
  • Advanced legal research and writing
  • International criminal law