Social work is recognised internationally as “a practice-based profession and an academic discipline that promotes social change and development, social cohesion, and the empowerment and liberation of people” (International Federation of Social Workers 2014).
Social workers aim to promote positive change for individuals, groups and communities, drawing on principles of social justice, respect for diversities, and human rights.
Social work programmes at Queen’s are taught by academics who are themselves qualified and registered social workers. All staff are actively involved in research across a range of social issues and are very engaged with practice development, to promote best outcomes for individuals, families and communities.
Over 88% of research submitted by colleagues from Criminology, Social Policy, Sociology and Social Work to the Social Policy and Social Work Unit of Assessment (UoA) was judged to be World Leading or Internationally Excellent. An endorsement of the quality of our research and its impacts in areas such as the penal system, mental health and trauma; work once again achieved through work undertaken in partnership with the health, social care and criminal justice sectors. We are delighted that Social Work and Social Policy (including Sociology and Criminology) has been ranked at 12th in the UK (Times Higher Education Social Work and Social Policy UoA table).
What is Social Work?
BSW graduate Aoife explains why she studied to be a Social Worker and talks about her career since graduating.
Social work is a profession that engages with people and groups in society facing challenges, trying to help and enable them to seek solutions to the difficulties they face. It involves working with complex social problems and understanding needs, rights and risks. Taking a strengths-based perspective, it aims to support, empower, and promote the rights of marginalised and/or vulnerable individuals and groups.
BSW (Undergraduate Route and Relevant Graduate Route):
The qualifying level BSW degree equips students with the knowledge, values and skills required for effective social work practice across the life course. We have developed effective partnerships with service user and carer organisations across Northern Ireland who assist us in these important aspects of teaching and learning
If you are interested in finding out more about social work, visit The Northern Ireland Social Care Council has created an online resource on social work and applying to the degree.
Cognitive Behavioural Psychotherapy | PG Diploma
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (Trauma) | MSc
Mental Health and Mental Capacity Law | PG Diploma
Mental Health and Mental Capacity Law | MSc
Palliative Care | PG Diploma
Substance Use and Substance Use Disorders | PG Certificate
Substance Use and Substance Use Disorders | PG Diploma
Substance Use and Substance Use Disorders | MSc
Systemic Practice and Family Therapy | MSc
Systemic Practice and Family Therapy | PG Certificate
Systemic Practice and Family Therapy | PG Diploma
Systemic Psychotherapy | MSc
We also welcome applications from suitably qualified applicants for PhD study.
We are committed to research that enhances understanding of the needs of vulnerable individuals and groups within our society, supports the development of effective responses at individual, family and/or community levels, and promotes empowerment, rights, and social justice. Members of the Social Work Subject group are involved in research addressing the following areas:
Social Work academics also contribute to wider interdisciplinary research groupings at Queen’s, including the Drug and Alcohol Network, the Disability Research Network and the Centre for Children’s Rights.
|Name||Area of Expertise||Telephone|
Cognitive Behaviour Therapy
|Dr Paul Best
(on sabbatical Aug-Dec 2023)
The use of immersive and digital technologies, such as VR and 360 video for therapeutic practice as well as professional social work training; The application of cognitive behavioural therapy for conditions such as PTSD/cPTSD, Social Anxiety Disorder, Panic Disorder and Depression; New approaches to coproduction and participatory analysis.
||+44 (0)28 9097 3256|
|Professor Lisa Bunting||Child welfare and maltreatment with specific interests in the impact of childhood adversity across the life-course; The experiences of child victims/witnesses within the criminal justice system; UK child protection and criminal justice firstname.lastname@example.org||+44 (0)28 9097 1482|
|Professor Anne Campbell||Mental health and substance use including adult opioid use, young people and polydrug use, alcohol and related disorders; Complex co morbidities; Drug use and homelessness; New benzodiazepines and use of technology to address opioid email@example.com||+44 (0)28 9097 5990|
|Dr Patricia Carlisle||Research: religion and spirituality in mental health, the interfaces of religion and spirituality, faith based organisations and mental health firstname.lastname@example.org||+44 (0)28 9097 1379|
|Dr Stephen Coulter||
Trauma informed care; Systemic Psychotherapy; Impact of Trauma in Childhood experiences.
|email@example.com||+44 (0)28 9097 3236|
|Professor Gavin Davidson||Mental health; Mental health social work and the effectiveness of mental health services; The social determinants of mental health; Human rights and mental health/mental capacity firstname.lastname@example.org||+44 (0)28 9097 3151|
|Professor Joe Duffy||Service user involvement in social work education and policy development; Social work and political conflict; Social inclusion and social email@example.com||+44 (0)28 9097 5909|
|Dr Michael Duffy||Mental health linked to trauma and conflict; The development of evidence based psychological interventions, in particular cognitive therapy for conflict related PTSD.||firstname.lastname@example.org||+44(0)28 9097 3298|
|Professor Davy Hayes||Service user experiences of the child protection and criminal justice systems; Involvement of family members in child protection and child welfare processes and methods; Practice and experiences of professionals who operate the child protection system; Social work assessment and decision making in child email@example.com||+44 (0)28 9097 5971|
|Professor Kathryn Higgins||Substance use and addictive behaviour; Programme evaluation/implementation firstname.lastname@example.org||+44 (0)28 9097 5286|
|Professor Berni Kelly
(on sabbatical Aug-Dec 2023)
|Disability; child and youth identities; children in care and leaving care; participatory email@example.com||+44 (0)28 9097 1486|
|Dr Mandi MacDonald||
Children and young people in alternative care and adopted from care; Supporting the families of children in need; Collaboration with practitioners and families to translate research into innovative practice solutions; Interpretative qualitative research methods.
|firstname.lastname@example.org||+44 (0)28 9097 3179|
|Dr Danielle Mackleemail@example.com||+44 (0)28 9097 1245|
|Dr Gerry Marshall||
Children and young people who are looked after especially with respect to residential child care; Identity formation of young people growing up in children's homes and leaving care facilities; The interface between children's rights and delivery of child care services.
|firstname.lastname@example.org||+44 (0)28 9097 3220|
|Dr Paul McCafferty||Decision-making, knowledge acquisition and utilisation, children’s rights, and social work email@example.com||+44 (0)28 9097 3310|
|Dr Danielle McIlroyfirstname.lastname@example.org|
|Dr Lorna Montgomery||
Adult safeguarding including elder abuse, the criminal investigative processes, legislation and policy development; The development of culturally competent interventions; Therapeutic interventions for bereavement; Mental health and mental capacity; Parenting capacity assessments; Social work education and practice experience.
|email@example.com||+44 (0)28 9097 1480|
|Dr Suzanne Mooney||
Systemic practice and systemic family psychotherapy in different contexts; trauma informed care; improving services for care experienced children and young people, their families and caregivers; the impact of adversities and inequalities on the lives of children, adults and families; child welfare social work; living with illness and supportive healthcare; action, participatory and narrative research methodologies.
|firstname.lastname@example.org||+44 (0)28 9097 3641|
Children in care; Family support; Education of children in care; Cultural competence in Social Work; Multi-agency working in children’s services; Early intervention and safeguarding of children
|Dr Maria Pentaraki||
Gender-based and intimate partner violence; The neoliberal transformation of the welfare state, austerity measures and the response of the social work profession; International social work; Critical social theory.
|email@example.com||+44 (0)28 9097 5312|
|Professor Audrey Roulston||
Palliative Care Social Work including living with life-limiting illness, decision-making, advance care planning, and supporting communication at end of life. Bereavement assessment, interventions, and practice standards. Student well-being, mindfulness, supervision, values-based recruitment and failing students.
|firstname.lastname@example.org||+44 (0)28 9097 5966|
|Professor Karen Winter||
Children in care and their rights, needs and wellbeing; communication and relationships with children in care; support services for families and children known to social services; innovative qualitative methods.
|email@example.com||+44 (0)28 9097 3917|
|Dr Nina O'Neill||Randomised Controlled Trials; clinical drug trials; exploratory research with mixed methods firstname.lastname@example.org|
KEY RESEARCH PROJECTS
The Drugs and Alcohol Network (DARN) worked with Dr Li Guo (University of Manchester) on a study, designed in collaboration with service users, to co-develop, co-refine and test ‘wearable’ devices for opioid overdose. The wearable technology is an established device developed previously for the elderly population by Dr Guo, designed to monitor respiratory rate and blood oxygen in order to create a machine learning algorithm of a pattern of behaviour.
The DARN study assessed the feasibility of ‘wearing’ the device within a sample of a homeless hostel population. The individuals wore it whilst in the homeless shelter (for participant protection), under the supervision of hostel staff. Focus groups were held with individuals in Maghaberry prison and Hydebank College to ascertain the views of those who are at risk of opioid overdose on return to the community.
This feasibility study aimed to:
- Test acceptability and practicality of wearing a device.
- Obtain an overview of workers’ experiences of the protocol in the hostel in a general overdose situation and their views on the service users wearing a device.
- Refine the wearables in view of the results from the co–production work with opioid users in prison and in a homeless hostel in Belfast.
- Assess whether the data recorded on the device can be successfully transferred to a server at University of Manchester.
- Create an algorithm of a pattern of behaviour that can be determined by respiratory rate and blood oxygen.
Preliminary results from interviews and focus group discussion indicate that the wearables were welcomed by service users. They felt that they should be discreet devices, smaller than the current prototype, that would not have a re-sale value. They also said that it was important to make clear to potential wearers that it is not a ‘tracking device’ and that GPS linked to emergency services is only activated if blood oxygen indicates a risk to life. A tailored education campaign should accompany the launch of the wearables in phase two of the project.
The study report, including analysis of the server data and the qualitative results, will be launched in January 2022.
The Mental Capacity Act (Northern Ireland) 2016 was partially implemented in December 2019 and full implementation is planned. In order to inform this process, this study will recruit 200 in-patients in the Royal Victoria Hospital, to assess their ability to make decisions about their treatment. The findings will provide evidence for service development and workforce planning.
This project will scope the potential of digital technology for developing innovative, safe and engaging modes of birth family contact for children adopted from care. It will explore the adaptability of digital media communication to the needs of adopted children who have experienced trauma. The is an international collaboration between Queens University and the Research Centre for Children and Families at University of Sydney, Australia. It will draw on the experiential wisdom of adopters, adoptees and birth relatives in Northern Ireland and New South Wales, two regions with particularly high rates of post-adoption contact and will engage inter-disciplinary stakeholders in developing an action research agenda.
The Just US collaborative research project aimed to identify and reduce barriers to accessing justice and support for victims of sexual violence and abuse who have a learning disability. The project was led by Positive Futures in collaboration with Compass Advocacy Network, Informing Choices NI (formerly FPA), Nexus NI, the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI), the Public Prosecution Service (PPS) and QUB.
The project followed a co-production model whereby four advocates with a learning disability co-led and delivered the project. Consultations were held with people with a learning disability to evaluate their awareness of criminal justice processes and support services and with police and public prosecution service professionals on their experience of working with people with a learning disability. Outputs from the project include: a screening tool to support first response officers and call handlers to identify if a victim (or suspect) has a learning disability; a Just US card for people with a learning disability to share their communication preferences with criminal justice professionals; and an accessible guide and short animated video summary on the criminal justice system for people with learning disabilities.
A pilot counselling programme for victims of sexual violence and abuse who have a learning disability was simultaneously delivered by Nexus with and evaluated by QUB. The findings of this evaluation were largely positive highlighting the benefits of inclusive counselling programmes for people with learning disabilities and the barriers to accessing therapeutic support. For more information about this project visit justusni.org
We have strong links with the Health & Social Care Trusts, voluntary sector organisations, Education Authority, Youth Justice, Probation and criminal justice and work closely with the Northern Ireland social work regulator, the Social Care Council.