Hannah Jane Thompson

Hannah Jane Thompson

Master of Criminology and Criminal Justice student

She is passionate about social justice and bringing attention to injustices, says Hannah Jane Thompson who came to AUT as an international student from the United Kingdom to study a Master of Criminology and Criminal Justice.

“I have a bachelor’s degree in criminology from the University of Manchester in the UK, and I’ve always wanted to complete postgraduate study in the subject. I’ve loved sociology and criminology since the age of 16 when I first started studying it.”

When she decided to come to New Zealand for postgraduate study, AUT’s Master of Criminology and Criminal Justice soon caught her attention.

“The Master of Criminology and Criminal Justice at AUT stood out amongst the other criminology programmes available to me in Aotearoa New Zealand because it immediately discussed intersectionality and the disproportionate representation of Māori and Pacific Island people in the criminal legal system. It was never the case of just getting my master’s degree; it was all about why it's important that we do this work.”

Enthralling research
For her master’s degree research, Hannah is focusing on intersectionality in sex work.

“Because I’m from Great Britain, I come from a background of working in the criminal legal system where sex work is partially criminalised. I’ve worked hard in the last few years under this constrained legal model to raise awareness around safety in sex work and promote the rights of sex workers. In Aotearoa New Zealand, sex work has been decriminalised for twenty years and it’s within this sociopolitical landscape I want to focus my research.

“Decriminalisation, when viewed through an intersectional lens, reveals that not all sex workers are protected equally under the Prostitute Reformation Act (PRA) 2003 and literature has highlighted that discrimination exists for Māori and transgender sex workers. Section 19 of the PRA also excludes non-resident migrants from being protected under the legislation, meaning they continue to be exposed to criminalisation and exploitation. The focus of my research is the extent to which ‘risk’ and ‘safety’ are intersectional in sex work and challenging who is protected under the PRA.”

She is already enthralled with her research subject.

“The content is powerful, and I’m open to grappling with difficult and heavy topics. The staff are wonderful and supportive. I wouldn’t be able to accomplish my task without their continued encouragement and invaluable council.”

Advice for other students
While she is still in the early stages of her studies, Hannah already has some great advice for other students.

“Don’t just be another student at university studying because you think you need to. Dare to be different; dare to engage with your course and enjoy it! Don’t be afraid to grab hold of opportunities, stand out and be passionate about what you do.”

She wouldn’t hesitate to recommend the Master of Criminology and Criminal Justice.

“Studying this programme isn’t solely about getting a master’s degree – we need more strong voices in this space determined to ‘go beyond’ the discipline. We need passionate and creative researchers willing to uproot the harmful structures that persist in our society. I’d absolutely recommend this programme. The teaching staff are there to support you and want to do so, and the staff are researching and publishing across many different criminological areas.”