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Our ambition is that we will be distinguised by our research strengths and recognized globally for the social, economic and cultural benefit we deliver through our research.



Research in SSESW combines five core disciplinary strengths, in Criminology, Education, Social PolicySocial Work and Sociology, so that we proudly proclaim, and see ourselves as key advocates for, the worth and value of the Social Sciences. In addition to promoting the strength of our core disciplines, we are committed to multidisciplinary work that can address local and global challenges, and to creativity and innovation in research agendas and methodologies. We share core values of social responsibility, collegiality, inclusivity and commitment to excellent scholarship.

Much of our research is world leading and has influenced policy and practice locally, nationally and globally in many areas including education, criminal justice, the wellbeing of children, social cohesion and mental health. Research in the school is organised around five interdisciplinary research themes: Health, Wellbeing and Inclusion; Children, Young People and Families, Policy and Practice; Crime and Social Justice; Contested Societies; and Education: Advancing Understanding, Improving Outcomes.

Professor Joanne Hughes, Director of Research
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Research Excellence

87% of research in Education and 76% of research in Social Work and Social Policy was assessed in REF 2014 as either 'Internationally Excellent or World-Leading', with Education ranked 4th in the UK for Research Intensity and Social Work and Social Policy ranked 11th.

Interdisciplinary Research Themes

Health, Wellbeing and Inclusion

Health, Well-being and Inclusion

Focusing on the health and well-being of children, young people and adults in schools, the community and institutions.

Our multidisciplinary research covers issues as diverse as substance abuse, socio-economic inequality, disability and inclusion, social emotions and the formation of identity, as well as undertaking evaluations of interventions programmes designed to improve health and wellbeing outcomes, and the inclusion of people marginalised by inequality and injustice.

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Children, Young People and Families: Policy and Practice

Children, Young People and Families: Policy and Practice

Exploring the development of children and adolescents into young adulthood in their full social and structural contexts.

Our research focuses on improving social policies and social work interventions into the lives of families and young people. This multi-disciplinary research draws on a range of theoretical and methodological traditions with an overarching social justice ethos.

Crime and Social Justice

Crime and Social Justice

Exploring the antecedents of offending behaviours across the life course with an emphasis on the impact of traumatic life events and structural inequalities.

We seek to better understand the behaviours of criminal justice and other systems for their role in controlling or exacerbating this offending. The overarching social justice perspective that characterises our research situates these questions in the wider socio-political contexts in which they occur.


Contested Societies

Contested Societies

Multidisciplinary research into understanding divided societies.

We seek to understand the sources, manifestations and impact of ethno-religious, national and social divisions in divided and transitioning societies, and the nature and effectiveness of efforts to build peace. Our research particularly relates to underpinning theories of conflict, the role of religion in divided societies, the impact of growing up in a divided society, the role of education and schools in promoting more positive inter-group relations in deeply divided societies, shared education, and issues relating to identity, culture and inclusion.

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Education: Advancing Understanding, Improving Outcomes

Education: Advancing Understanding, Improving Outcomes

Focusing on education in schools, further and higher education, and on how to improve educational opportunities and outcomes.

Our research encompasses a broad range of educational issues relating to curriculum, pedagogy, assessment, inclusion and identity, and includes the effectiveness of literacy and numeracy programmes; peer tutoring and cooperative learning; teacher education; the nature of identity and authorship in higher education; teaching English to speakers of other languages and applied linguistics; digital literacy studies; children's rights; and Applied Behaviour Analysis. This research is informed by diverse and innovative research methodologies and methods such as random control trials, interventions and programme evaluations, participatory action research, writing practices and knowledge production, and systematic reviews.

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Our research centres and networks

Key to the delivery of research in SSESW are our School research Centres and Networks, and the University wide Senator George J. Mitchell Institute for Global Peace, Security and Justice.


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Drugs and Alcohol Network

Informing and Supporting Public Health

Visit the DARN website
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Disability Research Network

Collaboration in Disability Studies and Research

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Access Research Knowledge

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Centre for Children's Rights

Because Children have Rights

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Centre for Shared Education

Working together for learning

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Centre for Behaviour Analysis

Overcoming Barriers, Achieving Potential

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Mitchell Institute

Senator George J Mitchell Institute for Global Peace, Security and Justice

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Centre for Evidence and Social Innovation

Find out more about CESI

Postgraduate Study


Are you interested in doctoral study in the school of Social Sciences, Education and Social Work?

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Our research impact

Queen’s University is joint 8th in the UK for research intensity

Our REF ranking

Latest Publications