Stephanie has a BA (Open) in science, maths, economics and statistics, and a First Class Honours LLB and PhD from the University of Hertfordshire.
She worked in the Academic Team at ILEX Tutorial College (now CILEx Law School) for six years before becoming a freelance academic author, tutor and editor.
Stephanie was an Associate Lecturer with The Open University from 2008–2013, teaching students on two introductory law modules. She joined the Law School as a full-time Lecturer in November 2013, and was promoted to Senior Lecturer in 2018. Stephanie achieved Fellowship of the Higher Education Academy in August 2014, and Senior Fellowship in June 2017.
The highlight of Stephanie's teaching career was winning an individual Open University Teaching Award for Excellence in Supporting Students in 2019, and being the OU's nominee for an AdvanceHE National Teaching Fellowship.
Stephanie has a range of research interests, reflecting her strong belief in justice in all areas of life. She is a member of the Feminism, Gender and the Law research cluster.
She has delivered numerous papers at niche, national and international conferences, and has published extensively, with some of her most important papers covering neuroimaging and decision-making for people with prolonged disorders of consciousness, pedagogy, the classification of delegated legislation and its relevance to Brexit, and the treatment of litigants in person in the civil justice system.
Stephanie's current research focuses on aspects of civil marriage. The article in Child and Family Law Quarterly (CFLQ) on the content of civil marriage ceremonies in England, which she co-wrote with Professor Rebecca Probert, presents and discusses the results of a ground-breaking investigation into the vows and rituals that couples request, and registrars permit, in civil ceremonies.
Since Rebecca's secondment to the Law Commission as Academic Adviser for its Weddings project, Stephanie has undertaken the first exploration of the work of independent 'wedding celebrants', who conduct non-legally-binding celebration ceremonies; her findings are presented and analysed in the June and September 2020 issues of CFLQ. She has also investigated the cost and availability of civil weddings, and her findings were published in two articles in the Law Society Gazette.
Stephanie and Rebecca are currently investigating into the effects of theCOVID-19 pandemic on weddings in England and Wales.
Stephanie's main teaching interest is in making the law accessible to as many people as possible. She is the longest-serving member of the Module Team for W101 An Introduction to Law, and has played a significant role in developing the module.
She wrote the 12 Introductory Steps to Law, a set of online materials designed for students who begin their Law studies at Level 2. The Steps provide the essential legal knowledge from the OU's Level 1 law modules. The first Step is publicly available, free of charge, on OpenLearn. Stephanie's article about the Steps, which was published in The Law Teacher in 2018, illustrates the symbiosis between her research and teaching interests.
Stephanie supervises a PhD student who is researching the Court of Protection's role in end-of-life decision-making for people with prolonged disorders of consciousness.
Stephanie is responsible for all the module and assessment guides that support students through their LLB studies. She also has ownership of two Law websites – Law Study Home and Law Postgraduate Home – that are available to everyone who can access the OU intranet.
Stephanie's University-wide responsibilities include membership of the Human Research Ethics Committee and the Referencing Project Implementation Group, and she is the Law School's academic lead for decisions relating to the recognition of potential students' prior learning.
Stephanie and Professor Rebecca Probert's Child and Family Law Quarterly article on the content of civil marriage ceremonies has led to a change in practice within the Registration Service. Her body of work on civil marriage and related projects, will be made known to the Law Commission as part of its Weddings project. This may, in due course, lead to a change in the law of England and Wales.
Stephanie contributed two Open Justice blog posts about her experience as a self-represented litigant, with the aim of increasing awareness of the stress that involvement in the civil court system can cause.
In January 2019, Stephanie contributed a 'Brainteaser' for the OU's social media platforms. This had a reach of 177,751, and a 'meaningful engagement' rate of 8%, which is four times what is regarded as 'good'.
Stephanie collaborates with Professor Rebecca Probert from the University of Exeter, who is the leading authority on marriage law in England and Wales.
Stephanie contributed two chapters – one solely authored, and one co-authored with Paul Catley – to the 2015 edition of Jahrbuch für Wissenschaft und Ethik.
In 2019, she presented a paper at the 36th International Congress of the International Academy of Law and Mental Health in Rome.