Department of Social & Policy Sciences

Research themes

Diversity in disciplinary perspectives and methodological approaches are hallmarks of our cutting-edge research.  Most of our substantive interests fall under five broad themes, which have important interconnections. Some of this research is further organised within our research centres.

Children, young people, and families

Woman and child sitting on a bench

Our national and international research under this theme embraces the richness and complexity of contemporary childhood, youth, and family life, engaging with issues of governance, poverty, employment, and the fluidity and diversity of family relationships.

Lifelong health and wellbeing


Departmental research on wellbeing offers new ways to assess policy outcomes and their impact on people’s lives. This links to a positive health agenda, looking beyond the treatment of illness to consider connections across different areas and stages of life.

Work, welfare, and poverty

Homeless man and a dog

This research contributes to major policy and academic debates regarding policies as vehicles for addressing poverty and social exclusion; gender and other group inequalities in paid and unpaid work; and the quality of work and its contribution to wellbeing.   

Global transformations and insecurity


This is a multifaceted theme, entailing research in global reconfigurations of powers and actors; access to and regulation of a variety of global markets; and the modelling and measuring of global changes in identity, inequalities, employment, and related policies.

Governance and policy design

Downing Street sign

The research within this theme explores the ethical and normative frameworks that shape public policy, who helps to make it, processes of change and innovation, and policy implications in different social contexts across the global North and South.