Matthew Francis‎ > ‎

about-me

About me
I live in East London with my family and have, in the past, worked as a senior manager in the private sector as well as a consultant and researcher for local government, charities and faith groups. Having a non-participatory enjoyment of a number of sports I justify my love of dining through the pleasure I take in cycling.

I am a Senior Research Associate on a Research Councils UK-funded project, based at Lancaster University, where I am also associated with the Security Lancaster Centre. My research interests consolidate around the subject of religion; shaped, contested and lived by people in significant ways around the world. These interests reflect my education. My joint-honours undergraduate degree at the University of Leeds was in Philosophy and Theology & Religious Studies. I built on my interests in areas of philosophy and religion in my MA by research, where I concentrated on the works of Georges Bataille in comparison with Freud and Heidegger, addressing how these theorists might answer the problem of a lack of meaning in death in contemporary society. 

Developing this theoretical approach in my
PhD, under the supervision of Professors Kim Knott and Philip Mellor, I developed an analytical model to code public utterances made by groups and their members into a set of markers that delineated their beliefs. With the aim of understanding the move to violence in the beliefs of religious and non-religious groups I utilised a neo-Durkheimian understanding of the sacred as the theoretical backdrop to this model, with a particular focus on the sacred as a bridging concept between religious and secular positions.

Professional activities

  • I am a member of the British Association for the Study of Religion (BASR) and have presented at their national conference and that of their international congress - the International Association of the History of Religions (IAHR).
  • I am also a member of the British Sociological Association (BSA) and until recently was a committee member of their Sociology of Religion Study Group (SocRel), with responsibility for Postgraduates and also with launching their new website. I also co-organised the Religion Stream at the 2012 annual BSA conference.
  • I am one of the academic staff at Security Lancaster.
  • I am a member of the Standing Group on Political Violence, part of the European Consortium for Political Research.

Academic Qualifications

  • 2003    BA (Hons) Philosophy and Theology and Religious Studies (First), University of Leeds
  • 2004    MA by research, 'Joy before death: a Bataillean affirmation of life', (Distinction, defended without corrections), Leeds
  • 2011    PhD, 'Mapping the sacred: understanding the move to violence in religious and non-religious groups', (Defended without corrections), Leeds


For my recent activities and publications, see here.