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Dr Sam Murphy

Profile summary

Professional biography

I joined the Open University in June 2010 to work on K260, Death and dying. Up until then I had been a lecturer in the Department of Sociology at the University of Westminster.

Since joining the OU I have worked on modules at all levels of the undergraduate programme in Health and Social Care as well as our Masters in Advancing Healthcare Practice. I have been academic adviser on several co-productions (with both the BBC and Channel 4) including the BAFTA-nominated documentary How to Die: Simon's Choice.

I was appointed Assistant Head of the Department of Health and Social Care in November 2015 and, since August 2016 I have been Head of the Health and Social Care Curriculum Area. 

My specific interest in the area of death and dying is pregnancy loss and my ESRC-funded doctoral research, undertaken at the University of Surrey, was a sociological exploration of parental experiences of stillbirth.  I am also a member of the Association for the Study of Death and Society and the British Sociological Association.


Research interests

All forms of reproductive loss

Teaching interests

Death and dying, sociology of health and illness, communication.

Research groups

NameTypeParent Unit
Birth & Death Research GroupGroupFaculty of Health and Social Care


Externally funded projects

Willen Hospice PhD co-funding for issues related to the end of life in MK
RoleStart dateEnd dateFunding source
Lead01 Oct 201630 Sep 2019Willen Hospice

What is the role of the environment and culture of the hospice in MK that means that people choose this over dying at home?


Researching perinatal death: managing the myriad of emotions in the field (2021)
Jones, Kerry and Murphy, Sam
International Journal of Social Research Methodology ((Early access))

Unpacking sensitive research: a stimulating exploration of an established concept (2020)
Mallon, Sharon; Borgstrom, Erica and Murphy, Sam
International Journal of Social Research Methodology ((Early Access))

New understandings of fathers’ experiences of grief and loss following stillbirth and neonatal death: a scoping review (2019-12)
Jones, Kerry; Robb, Martin; Murphy, Sam and Davies, Alison
Midwifery, 79, Article 102531

“I'd failed to produce a baby and I'd failed to notice when the baby was in distress”: The social construction of bereaved motherhood (2019)
Murphy, Samantha
Women's Studies International Forum, 74 (pp. 35-41)

Learning from deaths: Parents’ Active Role and ENgagement in The review of their Stillbirth/perinatal death (the PARENTS 1 study) (2017-10-02)
Bakhbakhi, Danya; Siassakos, Dimitrios; Burden, Christy; Jones, Ffion; Yoward, Freya; Redshaw, Maggie; Murphy, Samantha and Storey, Claire
BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth, 17, Article 333

The psychological, social, and economic impact of stillbirth on families (2017-06-30)
Murphy, Samantha and Cacciatore, Joanne
Seminars in Fetal and Neonatal Medicine, 22(3) (pp. 129-134)

Case study: what supports students to improve their grades? (2016-06-03)
Sieminski, Sandy; Messenger, Julie and Murphy, Sam
Open Learning: The Journal of Open, Distance and e-Learning, 31(2) (pp. 141-151)

Analytics4Action Evaluation Framework: A Review of Evidence-Based Learning Analytics Interventions at the Open University UK (2016-01-19)
Rienties, Bart; Boroowa, Avinash; Cross, Simon; Kubiak, Chris; Mayles, Kevin and Murphy, Sam
Journal of Interactive Media in Education, Article 2(1)

Women's experiences of termination for fetal abnormality in a United Kingdom hospital setting: a systematic review protocol (2015-09)
Newton, Victoria Louise and Murphy, Sam
JBI Database of Systematic Reviews and Implementation Reports, 13(9) (pp. 159-167)

By the way knowledge: grandparents, stillbirth and neonatal death (2014-09-30)
Murphy, Sam and Jones, Kerry
Human Fertility, 17(3) (pp. 210-213)

Stillbirth and loss: family practices and display (2013-02-28)
Murphy, Sam and Thomas, Hilary
Sociological Research Online, 18(1)

Finding the positive in loss: stillbirth and its potential for parental empowerment (2013-01)
Murphy, Samantha Louise
Bereavement Care, 31(3) (pp. 98-103)

Reclaiming a moral identity: stillbirth, stigma and ‘moral mothers’ (2012)
Murphy, Samantha
Midwifery, 28(4) (pp. 476-480)

Lost Futures: Stillbirth and the Social Construction of Grief (2010-06-26)
Murphy, S. L.
ISBN : 9783838345840 | Publisher : Lambert Academic Press | Published : Saarbrücken, Germany

Bereaved parents: a contradiction in terms? (2013-01)
Murphy, Samantha
In: Earle, Sarah; Komaromy, Carol and Layne, Linda eds. Understanding Reproductive Loss: Perspectives on Life, Death and Fertility. (pp. 117-128)
ISBN : 978-1-4094-7241-4 | Publisher : Ashgate | Published : Farnham

Who shouts the loudest? The demographics of research into child bereavement (2015)
Murphy, Sam
In : Death, Dying and Disposal 12 (2-6 Sep 2015, “1 Decembrie 1918” University of Alba Iulia, Romania)

The Good Stillbirth (2014)
Murphy, Sam
In : Canadian Sociological Association Annual Meeting 2014 (26-30 May 2014, Brock University, St Catherines, Canada)