Skip to Content
Exit Menu
Dr Lesley Henderson

Dr Lesley Henderson
Senior Lecturer, Sociology/Communications, Director Cmcr


Lesley Henderson is a media Sociologist with specific expertise in communications and social change.

She has over 20 years of experience in research and teaching. She has published widely on media and public health, science and environmental communication. Her work has been presented as evidence to WHO, Unicef and Scottish Parliament and she has been investigator on projects supported by the AHRC; Dept. of Health; NHS; ESRC; Wellcome Trust (total value £500k). She was Co-Director, Centre for Media, Culture and Representation (Brunel, 2012-5); Deputy Director, Centre for Media, Globalisation and Risk (Brunel, 2006-8) and selected for Aurora Women Leaders in Higher Education Programme (2014). She is University Public Engagement Champion and has a strong record in capacity building for example as member of the Wellcome Trust funded London & Brighton Translational Ethics Centre (LABTEC) (£850,000). 

Lesley is one of the first researchers to explore plastics pollution in the media with a number of projects exploring socio-cultural aspects of this emerging global issue. Working in a unique interdisciplinary team of natural history film makers, eco-toxicologists and environmental scientists her research maps audiences engagement with the award winning documentary film, "A Plastic Ocean" (Netflix, 2017). She also examines how the issue is framed across diverse media and uses cutting edge qualitative and quantitative methods to identify crucial issues of trust and credibility in science reporting. Projects in development include cross cultural and trans-disciplinary research focused on plastics pollution with colleagues in Indonesia, Thailand, South Africa, India and Malaysia and also EU capacity building with colleagues at the Universities of Wageningen, Siena, Roskilde, Tromso and Northern Research Institute Norway.

She completed her PhD exploring the production context and impact of television fiction on public understandings of health and social issues in the Department of Sociology & Anthropology, University of Glasgow where she was a researcher with the Glasgow Media Group. Previous posts include Visiting Lecturer and Senior Researcher/ Grant Holder in Public Health & Policy at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine. 

Lesley first came to Brunel on a study exploring media and the role of scientific correspondents in reporting human genetics (Wellcome Trust). She was grant holder on a study of media advocacy and health inequalities (Health Development Agency) before being appointed Lecturer in Sociology & Communications (2003) and promoted to Senior Lecturer (Research Excellence, 2008). She became a member of the All Parliamentary Media Literacy Group (2009), Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (2007), Fellow of the Royal Society of Medicine (2008) and Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts (2014).

Lesley is committed to public engagement and develops outreach activities through frequent external invited talks and screenings for example at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival (2018) and Royal Geographical Society (2018). She is Contributing Editor of academic blog Cost of Living (funded by the British Sociological Association) where she writes regularly about "health in times of austerity" looking at public health issues and the media.

Lesley runs the Sociology and Communications twitter feed


  • PG Cert. In Learning & Teaching in Higher Education (Brunel)
  • PhD Sociology (Glasgow)


Lesley Henderson is Senior Tutor in the Department of Social & Political Sciences and is responsible for student experience and pastoral support for undergraduate and postgraduate students in Sociology, Media, Communications, Journalism, Anthropology, Politics and History.

Newest selected publications

Henderson, L. (2018) 'The Media and Public Health: Where next for critical analysis?'. Critical Public Health, 28 (4). pp. 373 - 376. ISSN: 0958-1596 Open Access Link

Journal article

Henderson, L. and Solman, P. (2018) 'Flood Disasters in the UK and India: A Critical Discourse Analysis of Media Reporting'. Journalism. pp. 1 - 28. ISSN: 1464-8849 Open Access Link

Journal article

Dumbili, E. and Henderson, L. (2017) 'Mediating Alcohol Use in Eastern Nigeria: A Qualitative Study Exploring the Role of Popular Media in Young People's Recreational Drinking'. Health Education Research, 32 (3). pp. 279 - 291. ISSN: 0268-1153 Open Access Link

Journal article

Henderson, L. (2017) 'Popular Television and Public Mental Health: Creating Media Entertainment from Mental Distress'. Critical Public Health, 28 (1). pp. 1 - 12. ISSN: 0958-1596 Open Access Link

Journal article

Henderson, L. and Green, C. (2017) 'Making sense of plastic pollution: A UK study of images, messages and perceptions of (micro)plastics'. Massey University, New Zealand.

Conference paper
More publications(60)