About our Social Work and Social Policy research

We look at how our high-quality research seeks to improve the quality of life for marginalised and excluded groups. We have an international reputation with our research with older people, children, crime and justice because inclusivity and social justice is at the heart of our work.

The strength of our research is founded on an interdisciplinary team with backgrounds in social policy, social work, criminology, demography, urban studies, dementia studies and social gerontology. We work closely with policy-makers and practitioners to tackle contemporary global societal problems and challenges.

Find out more about our research groups and PhD opportunities.

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Research highlights

Our focus on outward-facing, interdisciplinary collaborative has contributed widely to social policy and social work research on ageing, children, criminal justice, addictions research, applied policy research and methodological innovations in social science.

We are a UK leader in ageing and dementia with international collaborations in Japan, India  and countries in sub-Saharan Africa. Our research delivers wider social impacts in building design and social care services. 

The Stirling and Clackmannanshire City Deal includes a £7m investment in an Intergenerational Innovation Hub providing a new context to deliver and demonstrate our research in social and physical environments for ageing and dementia, with an emphasis on sustainability.  

We're exploring how the pandemic has impacted children, carers, support workers, people with an alcohol or drugs dependency, those experiencing homelessness, and the wide community. 

Our research focuses on looked after children and social care in the context of family violence. This research will also link to the City Deal’s aims of improving lives through social and economic regeneration.  

We are exploring new ways of supporting people with people who have intersecting mental health, substance use, homelessness and physical health challenges. Key to this work is our continuing partnership with the Salvation Army, the Scottish Drugs Research Network, and our contributions to advancing policy and practice to address the extreme social problem of drugs deaths in Scotland. 

Our research on adult support and protection has developed new models of understanding risk and protecting human rights in an under-research area of social work practice. Our research in child protection has informed practice with working with families, and using child translators, respectively.

A recent evidence-synthesis of care at home for people with dementia for the Scottish Care Inspectorate led to training for inspectors to enhance practice in health and social care inspection.  

We are also working in penal policy and people-trafficking.


The success of our research is based on a wide network of collaboration and partnership with key organisations across government, the police, university centres and voluntary sector organisations.

We are working with the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations to develop data literacy in the voluntary sector through a series of webinars and the creation of new datasets; and addictions, which has used investment from the Salvation Army to ensure that the latest research on addictions, substance use and recovery is available for practitioners.

We work closely with the Salvation Army, as partners in the City Deal, and with other agencies at the front line of addictions services.

We are also linked to a number of multi-University collaborative centres:

Research Spotlights

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Research Spotlight

Dementia and ageing research

How we're addressing the challenges of ageing and dementia, and finding innovative solutions that enable older people to live independent lives for longer.