Stephen was born in Edinburgh and grew up in Glasgow, Scotland. He studied English Language and Literature at the University of Glasgow, graduating with a first class degree in 1993 and obtaining a PhD in 1997.
After training and working as a librarian in the late 1990s, Stephen re-entered higher eduction in 2000, taking up the post of Lecturer in Communication Studies at Glasgow University's Crichton Campus. In 2005, he moved to Portsmouth to take up his current post.
Stephen research interests span radical politics, contemporary British television and media representations of mental distress.