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Mandi MacDonald

Lecturer in Social Work

School of sociology, social policy and social work Queens University Belfast

Room 06.01.012

028 9097 3179

BA (Hons) Queens University Belfast (1991)
Diploma in Social Work – QUB (1996)
Masters in Social Work – QUB (1996)
Post Qualifying Award in social work (1999)
Practice Teaching Award (2001)
Masters in Social Research Methods - QUB (2008)

After qualifying as a social worker in 1996 I worked for 11 years in child and family services in the Belfast Health and Social Care Trust, as a social worker in family support and child protection teams, senior social worker in family support and then as senior social worker for permanence and adoption.


I joined Queens as a Phd student in 2008 and as a lecturer in social work in 2010.

I am a member of the Family Policy and Child Welfare research cluster at Queens University and a member of the British Association for Adoption and Fostering (BAAF) research group.

Research Interests

My main research interests are in respect of Looked After Children, specifically the care planning process, permanence planning, and social work interaction with the Courts; the needs and rights of looked after children; contact with birth family for children in permanent placements; support for permanent placements; adoptive parenting; kinship care.

I am interested in the use of qualitative research methods, particularly the development of Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis in social work research.

Current Research

I am currently undertaking doctoral research with Dr Dominic McSherry, Institute of Child Care Research, Queens University, BAAF NI, and the 5 HSC Trusts in Northern Ireland. This is a qualitative study looking at the impact of birth family contact on adoptive parenthood, based on in-depth interviews with adoptive parents, analysed using Interpretative Qualitative Analysis.

Teaching Interests

I convene the practice learning modules for level 2 students on the Undergraduate and Relevant graduate routes of the BSW (SWK2001, SWK2010). I also contribute to teaching on the Preparation for practice learning modules, the social work with children and families module and tutor on the social sciences for social work module of the BSW.


MacDonald, M. and McSherry, D. (2011) Open adoption:  adoptive parents’ experiences of birth family contact and talking to their child about adoption Adoption & Fostering Vol 35:3
MacDonald, M (in press) Attachment issues among children with multiple caregivers in Bettmann-Schaefer, J. (ed) Cross-cultural social work practice:  case studies from a global context Routledge

Conference Papers

Centre for research on families and relationships, Edinburgh University, May 2011,  Love is all you need? The challenges of adoptive parenting in the UK.
After Adoption, Cardiff. April 2011, Poster presentation, Post-adoption contact and adoptive parents’ experience of parenthood.