Ongoing and concluded PhDs

PhD researcher or student information

Laura Scheinert

Link to website with profile:

Discipline: Sociology

Degrees BA: Sociology


MA Sociology and Social Research

PhD Research Information

Training judges in refugee status determination

Brief description:

Over the past years, the movement of people including that of persons forced to flee has reached new heights, and – while the overwhelming majority of those seeking refuge have been hosted by countries in the Global South – applications for asylum have risen in European Union (EU) countries. Especially following the years 2015/2016, an increased number of decisions on RSD had to be made. Appeals against initial decisions are also at high levels. Judges thus play an important role in RSD. They are both “corrective” to first instance asylum decisions and “guarantor” for the correct application of international, EU, and national laws governing RSD. This area of law is complex, and keeping on top of the interplay of its different levels, of changing legislation and guidelines, as well as of “soft” judicial skills requires continuing training. The need for such judicial training has been increasingly recognised, not least as a way of ensuring the judiciary’s on-going competence, and thereby its perceived legitimacy and public trust. This prompts wider questions around the provision, contents, and modalities, as well as around participants and their perception of training. The proposed PhD project sets out to tackle this timely topic, by seeking to empirically illuminate and to theoretically anchor the investigation of judicial training in RSD. The project’s overarching aims are 1) to map the status quo and perceptions of available judicial training relating to RSD, 2) to critically explore the concepts of professional socialisation, discretion and andragogy through the lens of judicial RSD training, and 3) to identify interventions that support RSD training development – with the overall objective of providing pointers for improving RSD training for judges.


The project proposes a comparative mixed methods approach combining quantitative and qualitative methods of data collection and analysis. The purpose is to arrive at a well-rounded picture of training availability, contents, methods, and participants’ perceptions, in different jurisdictions. The cases envisaged for comparison are England & Wales and Germany, as well as selected institutions offering EU-wide training. These cases are relevant as they represent both central and often-compared differences in legal systems and legal frameworks, as well as commonalities in regards to training frameworks. Quantitative elements concern the textual analysis of training materials, and laws and regulations on RSD, investigating which contents (e.g., concepts, case law) trace through the training materials. Qualitative elements include the observation of training sessions, as well as interviews with participants (judges; with whom also focus groups are envisioned) and trainers, and with those responsible for training curriculum design, to observe the training methods applied and to tease out the personal views on training issues, effects, and needs of those involved in training. The methods will be integrated such that they will inform each other. The novelty in the proposed approach lies in making a new field fruitful for text mining and mixed methods analysis.

Keywords: refugee status determination, judicial training, Germany, England

Language(s) of writing: English

Country: UK

Home University:

University of Exeter


Department of Geography

Supervisor: Nick Gill
Start date: 23-09-2018
PhD current status: PhD Ongoing
PhD research funded by: ESRC
Name of grant: +3 Award in Advanced Quantitative Methods in Social Sciences
Added to catalogue on: 11-07-2019

Additional information: