Profile image of Professor Bill Rolston

Professor Bill Rolston

Emeritus Professor of Sociology

Profile image of Professor Bill Rolston


Faculty of Arts, Humanities & Social Scs


Transitional Justice


Shore Road Newtownabbey Co. Antrim BT37 0QB



Bill Rolston was the Director of the Transitional Justice Institute from 2010-2014 when he was appointed Emeritus Professor.  He was also Professor of Sociology in the School of Sociology and Applied Social Sciences at Ulster University from 1977 - 2014.  He has an undergraduate degree and doctorate, both in Sociology and both obtained at Queen's University Belfast.

His research interests have been in the areas of popular political culture, in particular, wall murals; community and voluntary politics in Northern Ireland;  the mass media. Most recently his main research interests have focused on transitional justice and in particular the legacy of the Northern Ireland conflict and the complexities involved in dealing with the past. He has documented the experience of relatives of those killed by state forces and how they have embarked on a quest for truth and justice; examined the appropriateness of a truth commission for Northern Ireland; considered the attitudes of loyalist ex-prisoners and ex-combatants to truth and truth recovery mechanisms; charted the involvement of death squads in violence and their relationship to the British state through collusion; compared the process of demobilisation of combatants in Northern Ireland to that in other transitional societies; critiqued a major television series which brought together ex-combatants and victims; analysed the way in which some victims' groups see memory as a tool not merely for telling stories but for pursuing justice; and explored the ways in which murals have been transformed by and in response to the developing peace process in Northern Ireland. For further information on murals research, see