Dr Helen   Pringle
Senior Lecturer

Dr Helen Pringle

PhD MA Princeton University, BA (Hons) Australian National University

Arts,Design & Architecture
School of Social Sciences

Helen Pringle is a Senior Lecturer at the School of Social Sciences, Faculty of Arts, Design & Architecture, UNSW.

Helen’s research interests are in human rights and justice (with a focus on questions of sex and women's rights), and in political theory (with a focus on 17th and 19th centuries). She is working on a project concerning the place of pornography within considerations of free speech, entitled ‘Practising Pornography’, and on a project concerning the regulation of religious speech. Helen is also involved in an international research project on ethnography, including a consideration of sexual slavery in early 20th century Queensland.

Research Areas

Human rights and justice (with a focus on questions of sex); Political theory (with a focus on 17th and 19th centuries; Freedom of speech

Current Research Projects

Practising Pornography
A project concerning the place of pornography within considerations of free speech, which works by taking the notion of speech-acts seriously. Parts of the research project concern discrimination in the workplace, child pornography, and “ethno-pornography” in Australia.

John Stuart Mill and freedom of speech
This project reconsiders Mill’s classic defence of freedom of speech in light of his concerns about subordination and slavery.

Blasphemy and religious speech
This project involves a revisioning of the regulation of religious speech in Western secular contexts through laws against blasphemy and blasphemous libel, and anti-vilification provisions of discrimination laws.

Postgraduate Research Supervision

Areas of Supervision
Human rights, sex and women's rights (discrimination, abortion, pornography, prostitution and trafficking, sexual violence and assault), freedom of speech, ethics in public life, religion and politics, political theory and intellectual history (17th and 19th centuries in particular)

Recent Postgraduate Research Completions

  • Bagus Hartono, PhD Social Sciences 2020: A study of decentralized local government in promoting good governance: The case of Sleman Regency, Special Province of Yogyakarta, Indonesia 
  • David Sadler, PhD Social Sciences 2019: Beyond 9/11: Developing the concept of cumulative extremism via politics, policies and publicity in the war against Islamic terrorism
  • Roya Sahraei, MA Humanities 2016: Contemporary Iranian feminism: The Iranian women's movement from the secular feminist perspective of Noushin Ahmadi-Khorasani
  • Ashley Barnwell, PhD Social Sciences 2014, Living truth: A reading in social and sociological hermeneutics
  • Ramona Vijeyarasa, PhD Social Sciences 2013: Challenging the assumptions about victims of trafficking: A critical examination of the mainstream framework based on findings from Ukraine, Vietnam and Ghana
  • Alison Orr, PhD Politics 2013: Democracy and the internet
  • Kanyanattha Ittinitiwut, PhD Social Sciences 2012: The promotion of international women's human rights in Thailand: A case study of CEDAW and the 'Senior Executive' female cvil servants in Thailand, 1995–2008
  • Florence Chiew, PhD Social Sciences 2012, Systematicity: The human as ecology
  • Scott Denton, PhD Social Sciences & International Studies, 2010, Laboring to win: The ALP’s defeat at the Cunningham by-election (2002)
  • Noela Davis, PhD Sociology 2010, Material subjectivity: The performative entanglement of biology within sociality
  • Peter Balint, PhD Politics & International Relations 2009, Respect, toleration and diversity: Protecting individual freedom in liberal societies
  • Pongprad Soonthornpasuch, PhD Politics & International Relations 2007, Sexual harassment: Perceptions, measures and laws in Thailand
  • Kate Gleeson, PhD Politics & International Relations 2006, Consenting adults in private: In search of the sexual subject
  • Stephen Mutch, PhD Politics & International Relations 2004, Cults, religion and public policy

Current Postgraduate Research Supervision

  • Florim Binakaj: The entrenched political limitations of Australian refugee policy: A case study of the Australian Labor Party (2007–2013)
  • David Saliba: The RSPT [Mining Tax] and the ALP
  • Milla Khodai: The practice of Bacha Posh in Afghanistan
  • Sandra Amankavičiūtė: Sexual objectification
  • Lexi Quinton: Prisons under Covid-19


Helen has received a number of awards and honours for teaching, including the Minister for Education & Training and Australian College of Educators NSW Quality Teaching Award (2010), UNSW Lecturer of the Year (2008), and the UNSW Vice-Chancellor’s Award for Teaching Excellence (2007 and 1998)

Teaching areas
Sex, human rights and justice; freedom of speech; political theory

Current teaching
ARTS2845 Sex, Human Rights and Justice
ARTS3843 Modern Political Thought
POLS4000 Honours Seminar in Politics, Law and Justice

+61-2-9065 5302
142 Morven Brown



Teaching Awards & Honours

  • Australian Awards for University Teaching, Citation for Outstanding Contribution to Student Learning 2011
  • Minister for Education & Training and Australian College of Educators NSW Quality Teaching Award 2010
  • Unijobs UNSW Lecturer of the Year 2008
  • UNSW Vice-Chancellor’s Award for Teaching Excellence 2007
  • UNSW Vice-Chancellor’s Award for Teaching Excellence 1998