Dr Sonya Sharma


Before completing a PhD in Women's Studies, I did outreach work, supporting families and young people from various socio-economic backgrounds in the city of Vancouver, Canada. I then worked as a Postdoctoral Research Fellow on projects that examined the negotiation of religious, spiritual and cultural plurality in healthcare at Trinity Western University, and investigated Canadian families' food practices, a project led by scholars at the University of British Columbia and Dalhousie University. Soon after, I worked with colleagues at Durham, Derby and Chester Universities exploring young people's religious identities at English universities.

Subsequently, my research has continued to take an interdisciplinary and feminist approach to investigating religion, spirituality and inequalities in healthcare settings, recently resulting in a co-authored book Prayer as Transgression? The Social Relations of Prayer in Healthcare Settings (McGill-Queen's University Press 2020). I have also been interested in gender and religion and women's changing faith lives. My work on this area has explored women, sexuality and church life, gender and career progression in Theology and Religious Studies, sisters' lateral influence on faith practices, and gender in the work of women healthcare chaplains. I was fortunate to co-edit the well-received volume Women and Religion in the West: Challenging Secularization (Ashgate 2008). I am currently co-editor of the Book Series, Bloomsbury Studies in Religion, Gender, and Sexuality. 

As an educator, I also apply an interdisciplinary approach and have collaborated with staff and students from the visual and performing arts to explore critical understandings of race and ethnicity. At Kingston, I have taught on the Sociology programme. I have received two awards for teaching excellence, Kingston's Rose Award and the Student-Led award for Most Innovative Lecturer. I was also a national finalist for a Collaborative Award for Teaching Excellence by the Higher Education Academy. 

Academic responsibilities

Associate Professor of Sociology


  • Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy, UK
  • PhD Women's Studies, Lancaster University, UK
  • Masters of Research, Lancaster University, UK
  • Baccalaureate, History and Sociology, Simon Fraser University, Canada

Teaching and learning

My pedagogical approach builds on interdisciplinary, decolonial, inclusive and student-centred approaches. I aim to acknowledge the complex identities, experiences and involvements that students bring with them and to co-create module content that ensures a range of voices are taken seriously. 

In my research as an educator, I have been interested in the student experience, especially as it relates to friendship and belonging. I have been exploring with second year students their thoughts about these issues as part of being awarded a Kingston University Teaching Fellowship.

I have also worked collaboratively with students and staff from Sociology, Dance, Drama, Music, Film, Media, and Television on a four-year interdisciplinary project that explored critical understandings of race, ethnicity and culture and was supported by the OFFA Access Agreement Fund.

Currently, I am Module Leader for:

Year 1 Introduction to Research Methods

Year 2 Researching Race and Ethnicity

Year 3 Families, Relationships, and Intimacies

I have taught across undergraduate and postgraduate levels supervising, designing, teaching and assessing on modules that focus on gender and society, religion and spirituality, consumption, cultural practices and tastes, health and lifestyle, creative societies, and the undergraduate dissertation. 

Undergraduate courses taught

Postgraduate courses taught


My research takes an interdisciplinary approach, spanning the sociology of religion, feminist and health studies, and at various points has engaged with geographies of religion and familial relations and practices. 

From 2015-18, I examined how practices of prayer can be transgressive and hence reinforce and transform experiences of in/equality between groups and individuals with colleagues based in Britain and Canada (SSHRC). Subsequently, I carried out a small project with Professor Sheryl Reimer-Kirkham (Trinity Western University, Canada) on gender and women healthcare chaplains, supported by Seed Corn funding from the British Sociological Association's Sociology of Religion Study Group (2019-20).

Currently, I am involved as a Co-Investigator on a small project examining respectability and religiosity in Muslim women's wearing of the hijab with colleagues at Kingston and De Montfort Universities. This has been supported with funding from the School's Research Development Allowance. I'm also collaborating with academics at Trinity Western University and chaplains based in Vancouver, Canada on a scoping literature review project investigating arts-based practices in spiritual care.

Doctoral Supervision:

I welcome opportunities to work with doctoral students interested in the sociology of religion, particularly in relation to inequalities, family, women's changing faith lives, and feminist and qualitative approaches.

Current and Past Students:

Alison Allen, ' An Exploration of British Millennials' Involvement in International Christian Missions', co-supervised with Sylvie Collins-Mayo, present.

Josh Bullock, 'The Sunday Assembly: The Social Phenomenon of Godless Congregations', co-supervised with Sylvie Collins-Mayo, completed.

Areas of specialism

  • Sociology of Religion
  • Women, Spirituality and Religion
  • Feminist and Qualitative Research
  • Religion and Inequalities

Scholarly affiliations

  • Book Series Editor, Bloomsbury Studies in Religion, Gender, and Sexuality
  • Association for the Sociology of Religion
  • BSA Sociology of Religion Study Group
  • International Society for the Sociology of Religion


Number of items: 27.


Sharma, Sonya, Catalano, Elena, Seetzen, Heidi, Minors, Helen and Collins-Mayo, Sylvia (2019) Taking Race Live : exploring experiences of race through interdisciplinary collaboration in Higher Education. London Review of Education, 17(2), pp. 193-205. ISSN (print) 1474-8460

Reimer-Kirkham, Sheryl, Sharma, Sonya, Grypma, Sonya, Pesut, Barbara, Sawatzky, Richard and Wolfs, Dorolen (2019) 'The elephant on the table' : religious and ethnic diversity in home health services. Journal of Religion and Health, 58(3), pp. 908-925. ISSN (print) 0022-4197

Reimer-Kirkham, Sheryl, Sharma, Sonya, Smith, Brenda, Schutt, Kelly and Janzen, Kyla (2018) Expressions of prayer in residential care homes. Journal of Health Care Chaplaincy, 24(2), pp. 67-85. ISSN (print) 0885-4726

Sharma, Sonya (2016) A lateral reading of religion : Christianity in sister relationships. Journal of Contemporary Religion, 31(1), pp. 51-65. ISSN (print) 1353-7903

Sharma, Sonya and Reimer-Kirkham, Sheryl (2015) Faith as social capital : diasporic women negotiating religion in secularized healthcare services. Women's Studies International Forum, 49, pp. 34-42. ISSN (print) 0277-5395

Guest, Mathew, Sharma, Sonya, Aune, Kristin and Warner, Rob (2013) Challenging 'belief' and the Evangelical bias: student Christianity in English universities. Journal of Contemporary Religion, 28(2), pp. 207-223. ISSN (print) 1353-7903

Sharma, Sonya and Guest, Mathew (2013) Navigating religion between university and home: Christian students' experiences at English universities. Social & Cultural Geography, 14(1), pp. 59-79. ISSN (print) 1464-9365

Reimer-Kirkham, Sheryl, Sharma, Sonya, Pesut, Barb, Sawatzky, Rick and Meyerhoff, Heather (2012) Sacred spaces in public places: religious and spiritual plurality in health care. Nursing Inquiry, 19(3), pp. 202-212. ISSN (print) 1320-7881

Sharma, Sonya (2012) Exploring acts of agency within Christian women's sexuality. Fieldwork in Religion, 7(2), pp. 134-147. ISSN (print) 1743-0615

Sharma, Sonya (2012) 'The church is ... my family': exploring the interrelationship between familial and religious practices and spaces. Environment and Planning A, 44(4), pp. 816-831. ISSN (print) 0308-518X

Sharma, Sonya, Reimer-Kirkham, Sheryl and Meyerhoff, Heather (2011) Filmmaking with Aboriginal youth for Type 2 Diabetes prevention. Pimatisiwin: A Journal of Aboriginal and Indigenous Community Health, 9(2), pp. 423-440. ISSN (print) 1705-7841

Sharma, Sonya and Chapman, Gwen (2011) Food, photographs and frames: photo elicitation in a Canadian qualitative food study. Cuizine: The Journal of Canadian Food Cultures, 3(1), ISSN (online) 1918-5480

Sharma, Sonya, Reimer-Kirkham, Sheryl and Cochrane, Marie (2009) Practising the awareness of embodiment in qualitative health research: methodological reflections. Qualitative Health Research, 19(11), pp. 1642-1650. ISSN (print) 1049-7323

Sharma, Sonya (2008) Young women, sexuality and Protestant church community: oppression or empowerment? European Journal of Women's Studies, 15(4), pp. 345-359. ISSN (print) 1350-5068


Reimer-Kirkham, Sheryl, Sharma, Sonya, Brown, Rachel and Calestani, Melania (2020) Prayer as transgression? The social relations of prayer in healthcare settings. Montreal, Quebec : McGill-Queen's University Press. 240p. (Advancing Studies in Religion, 9) ISBN 9780228001645

Llewellyn, Dawn and Sharma, Sonya, eds. (2016) Religion, equalities and inequalities. London, U.K. : Routledge. 230p. (Theology and Religion in Interdisciplinary Perspective Series in Association with the BSA Sociology of Religion Study Group) ISBN 9781472439963

Guest, Mathew, Aune, Kristin, Sharma, Sonya and Warner, Rob (2013) Christianity and the university experience: Understanding student faith. London, U.K. : Bloomsbury. 256p. ISBN 9781780936017

Sharma, Sonya (2011) Good girls, good sex: women talk about church and sexuality. Winnipeg, Canada : Fernwood Publishing. 112p. ISBN 9781552664384

Aune, Kristin , Sharma, Sonya and Vincett, Giselle, eds. (2008) Women and religion in the west: challenging secularization. Aldershot, U.K. : Ashgate. 242p. ISBN 9780754658702

Book Section

Reimer-Kirkham, Sheryl, Sharma, Sonya and Corcoran Smith, Brenda (2020) Spiritual caregiving in long-term care settings : person-centred approaches. In: Taher, Mohamed, (ed.) Multifaith perspectives in spiritual & religious care : change, challenge and transformation. Toronto, Canada : Canadian Multifaith Federation. pp. 285-292. ISBN 9781896377186

McDuff, Nona, Hughes, Annie and Sharma, Sonya (2020) The inclusive curriculum. In: Marshall, Stephanie, (ed.) A handbook for teaching and learning in higher education : enhancing academic practice. 5th ed. Abingdon, U.K. : Routledge. pp. 106-122. ISBN 9780367200817

Sharma, Sonya, Reimer-Kirkham, Sheryl and Cochrane, Marie (2013) Prayer as transgression: stories from healthcare. In: Giordan, Giuseppe and Woodhead, Linda, (eds.) Annual Review of the Sociology of Religion: Prayer in Religion and Spirituality. Leiden, The Netherlands : Brill. pp. 189-204. 4 ISBN 9789004260481

Sharma, Sonya, Reimer-Kirkham, Sheryl and Fowler, Marsha D. (2012) Emergent nonreligious spiritualities. In: Fowler, Marsha D. , Reimer-Kirkham, Sheryl , Sawatzy, Richard and Johnston-Taylor, Elizabeth, (eds.) Religion, Religious Ethics, and Nursing. New York, U.S.A. : Springer. pp. 295-312. ISBN 9780826106636

Reimer-Kirkham, Sheryl and Sharma, Sonya (2012) Intersectional analyses of religion, culture, ethics, and nursing. In: Fowler, Marsha D. , Reimer-Kirkham, Sheryl , Sawatzy, Richard and Johnston-Taylor, Elizabeth, (eds.) Religion, Religious Ethics, and Nursing. New York : Springer. pp. 113-128. ISBN 9780826106636

Reimer-Kirkham, Sheryl and Sharma, Sonya (2011) Adding religion to gender, race, and class: seeking new insights on intersectionality in health care contexts. In: Hankivsky, O., (ed.) Health inequities in Canada: intersectional frameworks and practices. Vancouver, Canada : University of British Columbia Press. pp. 112-131. ISBN 9780774819756


Reimer-Kirkham, Sheryl, Sharma, Sonya and Corcoran Smith, Brenda (2019) When prayer shows up : the social relations of prayer in healthcare. (Project Report) Langley, BC : Trinity Western University. 27 p. (Unpublished)

Guest, Mathew, Sharma, Sonya and Song, Robert (2013) Gender and career progression in Theology and Religious Studies. (Project Report) Durham, UK : Durham University. 24 p.

This list was generated on Thu Jun 30 06:47:18 2022 BST.