Research themes in the School of Human and Health Sciences

Our key research themes are indicated below under each of our Research Centres which are:

  • Applied Criminology and Policing Centre
  • Centre for Applied Childhood, Youth and Family Research
  • Centre for Citizenship, Conflict, Identity and Diversity
  • Centre for Applied Research in Health
  • Centre for Applied Psychological Research

We welcome applications for postgraduate research related to any of the themes listed below. We strongly advise that you discuss your proposal with academic staff before applying, using the contacts listed below who will also be able to direct you to other academic staff as appropriate. You can also find out about staff working in topic areas by following the links for each Research Centre below or by searching for individual staff and topics within the University’s research portal.

Applied Criminology and Policing Centre

The Applied Criminology and Policing Centre (ACPC) undertakes quality research that is of practical use to police and other criminal justice professionals, policymakers and security service personnel. Our research, enterprise and consultancy services seek to advance the understanding of crime, its reduction and prevention, alongside its policing and detection. Our research is effectively communicated through academic and professional publications, conference presentations, teaching and professional training.

We are particularly interested in postgraduate research applications in the following areas:

1. Evidence-Based Policing

Nudge psychology is an increasingly popular approach to reducing different policing related problems. Further research is welcome which explores how it can be applied to other areas of policing and crime prevention.

Contact: Dr Mel Flynn and Dr Michelle Rogerson

2. Police decision-making in criminal investigations

Although research on investigative decision-making by police has increased in recent years, there is still a paucity of research exploring how criminal investigators make decisions in real time. Research exploring different aspects of police decision-making (e.g. use of discretion, investigative decision-making) is welcome.

Contact: Dr Jason Roach

3. Self-Selection Policing

Self-Selection Policing (Roach,2007; and Roach and Pease, 2016) is an approach by which active, serious offenders, are identified by specific minor offences they commit. Research advancing the development and application of the Self-Selection Policing approach is welcome.

Contact: Dr Jason Roach and Dr Mel Flynn

4. Designing out and preventing crime

Designing out and preventing crime are key themes of the ACPC. Research focusing on designing out crime and/or promoting prosocial behaviour is welcome.

Contact: Prof Rachel Armitage

5. Green Criminology

Research in the field of green criminology, particularly that focusing on nonhuman animal harm, wildlife crime and conservation. Projects may take a criminological, enforcement or socio-legal perspective and multi-disciplinary studies involving other Schools within the university are also welcomed.

Contact: Dr Mel Flynn

6. Counter-terrorism

Research in any area of counter-terrorism is welcome, particularly that focusing on countering and preventing radicalisation and risk and threat assessment.

Contact: Dr Mark Littler and Dr Kris Christmann

Centre for Applied Childhood, Youth and Family Research

Areas in which the Centre for Applied Childhood, Youth and Family Research welcomes applications for postgraduate research:

1. Child protection research/ social work with children and families

The centre has a long-standing reputation for cutting edge research in child protection, in particular in reimagining child protection and family support. We are therefore particularly interested in critical perspectives on, and development of, thinking in relation to policy and practice that can make a difference in the real world. We therefore welcome proposals for post graduate study in the following areas:

  • Child protection policy and practice/safeguarding,
  • Gender issues in child protection – role of fathers, working with men and boys
  • Child welfare inequalities and poverty
  • Children looked after/in alternative care/adoption and leaving care
  • Children and parents living apart
  • Children and family service development and professional learning
  • Emotional and psychological well-being of children in care

Main contact: Prof Brid Featherstone

2. Child abuse, sexual exploitation and domestic/gender-based violence

The Centre has an international reputation for research into interpersonal violence and abuse including child sexual abuse and exploitation, sexual offending, domestic and gender-based violence. Interests are focused on understanding better the underlying causes of abuse and violence in the context of interpersonal relationships, socio-cultural drivers as well as preventing violence and implications for policy and practice, sex offender reintegration, and education programmes including the innovative use of pro-social games to generate awareness, empathy and non-adversarial conflict resolution skills among young people. Project proposals are welcome that contribute to these key areas:

  • Child sexual abuse / exploitation / and sexual offending
  • Online abuse
  • Gender based violence in families/violence against children
  • Professional understandings and responses to child abuse and exploitation

Main contact: Dr Bernard Gallagher

3. Child and family health and well being

The child and family health and well-being group focuses on research that supports and understands the social, physical, emotional and psychological health needs of children, young people and families across interdisciplinary groups to promote health and well-being. Specific research interests focus on reproductive and maternal health, breastfeeding, community-based health care support / health visiting, child and adolescent mental health, the voice of the child in health care decisions, shared decision making and support for children with long-term conditions. We welcome applications for post graduate study in the following three key areas:

i) Infant and maternal health and well-being and health visiting

Breastfeeding, Midwifery, Intrapartum care/labour ward

Main contact: Dr Joyce Marshall

ii) Children and acute pain care

Proposals for studies looking at the following would be welcomed: strategies for improving pain care including involving children and parents in assessment and decision making; aspects of consent and refusal amongst children, and the contribution of children’s rights perspectives in health care setting. Studies looking at how nurses/practitioners develop and maintain competence would be welcome.

iii) Studies exploring family-centred care in neonate/child settings;

Main contact: Dr Jacqueline Vasey

4. Participation and active citizenship of children and young people

Recent developments in child and youth participation have given rise to a broadening of focus beyond more conventional ‘political’ participation and decision making contexts to embrace participation in everyday life contexts and new forms of youth participation such as activism, alternative social movements and self organised activities. These in turn ask questions about citizenship education and how young people develop agency as active citizens. We therefore would welcome applications for studies that contribute to developing discourses in any of the following areas interest:

New forms of political participation, alternative styles and spaces of youth participation, youth activism (in particular what motivates young people), youth campaigning, discourses of youth empowerment, intergenerational dimensions of participation and adult-child/youth relationships to participation, the role of social media, young people and urban counter cultures, participation in new social movements, youth sub-cultures and participation, self-organising and autonomy in everyday contexts, young people’s involvement in protest movements, children and young people as researchers and children and young people’s involvement in local planning and decision making.

Main contact: Prof Barry Percy-Smith

5. Child and Youth transitions and exclusion

As a result of austerity, increasing house prices and changing labour market conditions transitions to independent living are becoming ever more problematic for young people. This poses particular problems for young people who are socially disadvantaged or excluded such as care leavers and young people who under achieve in school, single mothers etc. and gives rise to increasing numbers of young people who are not in education, employment or training (NEET). Applications are welcome for studies that extend understanding of the experiences and realities of young people who are NEET and their transitions to independent living and labour market participation. We particularly welcome studies that intersect with issues of mental health and the use of novel qualitative and ethnographic approaches as well as studies that contribute new understandings about innovative interventions and professional roles.

Main contact: Prof Barry Percy-Smith

6. User involvement and service development

As an applied research centre our focus is on research that makes a difference in the real world to services and in the lives of children and families. We are particularly interested in participatory approaches to evaluation and development both with professionals as well as involving service users as experts by experience. We particular welcome post graduate study in the following areas:

  • Participatory research and development with children, youth and families
  • Involving service users and carers
  • Action Research / reflective action inquiry approaches to public service improvement
  • Developing cultures of learning and participation in children and family services
  • Integrating and embedding children and youth participation in public service systems
  • Developing multi agency capacity in responses to child and family needs
  • Studies that explore issues concerning user involvement and service development in relation to other areas of research priority in the centre as outlined above.

Main contact: Prof Barry Percy-Smith

Centre for Citizenship, Conflict, Identity and Diversity

Areas in which the Centre for Citizenship, Conflict, Identity and Diversity welcomes applications for postgraduate research:

1) Emerging Geometries of Youth Citizenship

We would welcome applications to explore new research agendas focusing on youth democratic engagement and participation, democratic education, voting age reform, and intergenerational modes of citizenship. Of particular interest are the radicalisation of Higher Education, and the potential to explore the impact of constitutional reform, devolution, and Brexit on how young people form and express civic identities and how this influences and shapes youth citizenship and youth activism.

Contact: Dr Andrew Mycock

2) Terrorism, Radicalisation and Conflict Resolution

Our staff have internationally-recognised expertise in the fields of terrorism, political violence, extremism and conflict resolution. We welcome proposals that address topics such as: the dynamics of political violence and terrorist groups; radicalisation and counter-radicalisation policies (including in the higher education sector); religion, ethnicity and conflict; Islamophobia; conflict resolution and peace processes (especially in Northern Ireland/Europe); and collective memory in conflict and post-conflict societies.

Contact: Prof Jim McAuley

3) Equality, Diversity and Citizenship

We would welcome applications to explore new research agendas in the (emerging) areas of rights, equality, and (youth) citizenship and public engagement. Of particular interest are social diversities including age, generation, gender assigned at birth, sex (including intersex), sexual identity, race and racialisation, ethnicity, social class, and (dis)ability, and feminist/feminism studies.

Contact: Prof Surya Monro

4) Gender and sexual identities

Society is currently witnessing a proliferation of gender and sexual identities and social understandings of these. At the same time, key areas of challenge regarding gender and sexuality remain, including issues of gender, transphobia, and feminisms. We welcome applications regarding these or related areas within the broad umbrella of ‘identities and sexualities’.

Contact: Prof Surya Monro

5) Children, young people and sexuality

Following recent scandals around sexual abuse/grooming of children and young people (CYP) and ongoing concerns over the perceived sexualisation of CYP, we would welcome applications to explore new research agendas in the broad fields of children, young people and sexualities.

This research could explore:

· How, when, or if, CYP should learn about sex, relationships and/or sexuality.

  • Understanding and responding to CYP‘s sexualities.
  • CYP, (sexual) agency and sexual abuse/exploitation.

Contact: Dr Jo Woodiwiss

6) The sociology and politics of Brexit

This theme will focus on the relationship between Brexit and social and political identities. The aim is to examine the extent to which the leave/remain binary enters into identity construction, and the ways in which it is informed by other social identities such as age and class.

Contact: Dr Andrew Mycock

7) Exploring / narrating social life

We welcome applications that explore key contemporary issues, including experiences of ageing, intimacy and relationships, wellbeing, illness, and death and dying, as well as experiences of conflict and crime. Of particular interest are the ways in which key aspects of social life are understood, talked about, represented, and ‘narrated’ from the perspective of individuals with personal experience of these. The theme is broad and applications are invited to explore the issues outlined and/or others of interest.

Contact: Prof Surya Monro

Centre for Applied Research in Health

The Centre for Applied Research in Health welcomes applications for postgraduate research in:

1) Supporting Self-Management of Health Problems

This theme is concerned with supporting self-management for people with long term physical and mental health conditions, and common health problems such as depression, anxiety, and muscular skeletal problems. The research could take place in various settings, such as hospital, community, occupational health, primary care, and mental health services.

We are particularly interested in applications which include understanding how people manage their health problems, how services and professionals can support self-management and the role of peer support. We would also be interested in proposals which look at the health and well-being benefits of community-based projects.

Theme lead: Professor Mike Lucock

2) Work and Health

This theme is concerned with the work-health relationship, exploring how to reduce sickness absence and work loss from common health problems. We are particularly interested in applications improving the links between health and employment systems, and knowledge exchange research aimed at reducing the evidence-policy-practice gap.

Theme lead: Dr Serena Bartys and Professor Kim Burton

3) Promoting Person-Centred Care

This theme focuses on person-centred care, which recognises the individual as a ‘whole’ person with a unique set of values, preferences, beliefs, concerns and expectations. This approach to healthcare forms the foundation of health professional practice. The research we do centres upon healthcare provision for adult patients living with long term conditions such as cardiovascular disease.

We would like to invite prospective students to join our team to help us to identify evidence-based approaches that encourage and enable patients, and those close to them, to become more involved in their healthcare. We also welcome students who want to study patient and family ‘experiences’ of healthcare (primary and secondary care) and apply these to drive improvements in health services.

Theme lead: Professor Felicity Astin and Dr Emma Harris

4) Physical Activity and Health

This theme is concerned with the impact of physical activity (including sport, exercise and recreational activity) on physical and mental health and how we can better promote physical activity. We take a collaborative approach and work with many different academic and practitioner partners including YOHPAKE (Yorkshire and Humber Physical Activity Knowledge Exchange).

We are interested in applications which are focused on enhancing health through physical activity, in particular novel physical activity interventions for older populations, such as walking football/netball.

Theme lead: Dr Kiara Lewis

5) Wound care

In collaboration with the University’s Institute for Skin Integrity and Infection Prevention we also invite applications for research related to wound care.

Wound care continues to be an important area in healthcare and remains a major clinical, financial and patient burden. An estimated 2.2 million patients are thought to be living with a chronic wound (Guest et al, 2016) contributing to a related annual healthcare cost estimated at £5.3 billion (Guest et al, 2015). A significant amount of this expenditure is associated with the cost of delayed healing wounds and in particular, the cost of treating Health Care Associated Infections (HCAIs), particularly surgical site infections (SSIs), which has been estimated to represent a further £1 billion (Guest et al., 2015). We work with a range of industry partners and NHS organisations to deliver innovative research, which has a specific focus around key areas of wound care including biologics, infection prevention and treatment, the applications of metrology, innovations of assisted technologies and patient experience and health outcomes, including Health-related quality of life (HRQoL). The importance of staff education and training is also integral to our work.

Theme lead: Professor Karen Ousey

Centre for Applied Psychological Research

The Centre for Applied Psychological Research welcomes applications for postgraduate research with our academic staff researching in a number of areas:

1) Cognition and neuroscience

Researchers in this topic area study the neural, cognitive, and behavioural components of learning, thinking and decision making. This is applied to phenomena such as face recognition, learning and memory, lie detection, addiction, spatial cognition and mental imagery.

Contacts: Dr David Peebles and Dr Chris Street

2) Psychology of Health and wellbeing

People working in this topic areas investigate the psychological aspects of care, therapy, and well-being, including mental health and mental disorders, health behaviour and forensic mental health.

Contacts: Prof Nigel King and Dr Susanna Kola-Palmer

3) Criminal/Forensic Psychology

Researchers in this area investigate a wide range of criminal and forensic psychology phenomena, including psychopathy, criminal social identity, restorative justice practices, and the justice process, offender profiling, modelling crime, deviant/atypical sexual expression, including serial offending and murder.

Contacts: Prof Daniel Boduszek and Dr Nadia Wager

4) Development through the lifespan

Our developmental psychologists study cultural differences in development, music and dementia, and transitions between life stages (for example moving from school to university).

Contacts: Dr Kagari Shibazaki and Dr Jane Tobbell

5) Social psychology

Our social psychologists apply a range of methodological approaches to investigate topics such self-perception and self-esteem, gender and sexual identity, mental toughness and resilience, and the relationship between nature and wellbeing. A particular focus is how individual subjectivity and experience are framed by cultural and societal factors.

Contacts: Prof Viv Burr and Prof Peter Clough

Before applying

If you are a University of Huddersfield graduate applying under the Vice Chancellor’s Scholarship scheme you should obtain the written support of two members of academic staff before applying. These should be people whose research is relevant to one of the research themes above and who would have the capacity to supervise your proposal. Applicants for the ps or for self-funded study are strongly encouraged to contact staff in advance of an application but are not required to obtain their written support.