Dr Abel Ugba, SFHEA

Dr Abel Ugba, SFHEA


I am a sociologist, journalist and media scholar. I have a PhD in the Sociology of Religion and an MA in Journalism. I am a Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Authority (SFHEA).

I began journalism practice as a reporter in a regional newspaper in Nigeria. I have also worked for the media in Germany, Ireland and the UK and fulfilled various roles that included investigative reporting, feature writing, news writing and sub-editing. I was employed as an online journalist with Ireland.com, the website of the Irish Times. In Dublin, I was a publisher of Metro Eireann, Ireland's widely-read multicultural newspaper. I also served as the pioneering editor.

My experience of designing and delivering higher education curriculum has taken place in Nigeria, Ireland and the United Kingdom. Between 2005 and 2017, I was employed on the journalism programme at the University of East London (UEL). I performed various roles, including course and programme leadership. I served as a Year Tutor and provided pastoral care for students. I initiated several undergraduate modules and co-designed and validated an MA in Media, Communication and Global Development.

My contribution to teaching has included the supervision of research degree students. I have supervised several PhD students to completion and served as an external examiner for PhD oral exams in the UK and Ireland.



  • Member, Northern Notes Editorial Board

Research interests

I am currently leading the UK arm of a transnational project on Pentecostal Africans, funded by the US-based John Templeton Foundation. This project focuses on the health and healing practices Pentecostals in Uganda, Kenya, South Africa and the UK. As the lead researcher in the United Kingdom, I design and supervise data collection through semi-structured interviews, ethnographic observation, and a semiotic analysis of publications, websites and various social media. I will also oversee the data analysis and the preparation and publication of reports and articles for academic journals. 

My research has been influenced by my interdisciplinary academic background and my experience of living and working in several European countries. I am interested in the dynamics of religiosity in immigration contexts and in immigrants’ engagement with the media. I am an experienced researcher who has participated in international projects, including EU-funded ones. For fifteen years, I have studied the manifestations of transnational Pentecostalism among Europe's new African diasporas, focusing on the implications of religiosity for self-definition and the construction of social boundaries and commonalities in a precarious immigration context. 

Recently, my research has focused on media and religion and the appropriation of new media by immigrants and ethnic minorities to self-represent and self-define. I have researched media representation of Black Majority Churches in the UK and presented the findings as a book chapter, published by Routledge in 2014. In 2017, I published another chapter based on my investigation of UK media portrayal of religion and ethnicity in sports.

In 2016, I served as one of two international advisers to multinational research consortium that investigated competition and innovation among Pentecostals in Africa. The project, funded by John Templeton Foundation through the Nagel Institute in the United States, ended in June 2017.

My research and publications have enhanced my reputation as a leading scholar of transnational media, migration and religion. This is attested to partly by the numerous invitations that I have received from high profile universities and institutions in Europe and other parts of the world to contribute expert knowledge to research, public discourse, academic journals and to PhD supervision and examinations. In recent years, I have served as an academic reviewer for reputable journals and publishers, including Bloomsbury, Routledge, Wiley-Blackwell, and the Journal of International Migration and Integration.

<h4>Research projects</h4> <p>Any research projects I'm currently working on will be listed below. Our list of all <a href="https://essl.leeds.ac.uk/dir/research-projects">research projects</a> allows you to view and search the full list of projects in the faculty.</p>


  • PhD (Sociology of Religion)
  • MA (Journalism)

Professional memberships

  • Society for the Scientific Study of Religion
  • Executive Member (Treasurer), African Association for the Study of Religion
  • Association for the Sociology of Religion
  • International Association for the History of Religions
  • Communication for Development (C4D)

Student education

In session 2018-2019, I am teaching mostly on the interdisciplinary MA programme: Society, Culture and Media. I teach on the following modules:

  • Understanding Society and Culture
  • Sociology of Media and Culture
  • Dissertation

I also teach on two undergraduate modules

  • Debates in Childhood and Youth
  • Dissertation

Research groups and institutes

  • Centre for African Studies
  • Centre for Ethnicity and Racism Studies