Research excellence at the University of Kent

Social Work and Social Policy (UOA 22)

Kent submitted to this REF unit of assessment research undertaken by the School of Social Policy, Sociology and Social Research in the Faculty of Social Sciences.

Key highlights

Research by the School of Social Policy, Sociology and Social Research was ranked 2nd for research power in the UK. It was also 3rd for research intensity, 5th for research impact and 5th for research quality (GPA).

  • An impressive 94% of our research-active staff submitted to the REF.
  • 99% of the research submitted was judged to be of international quality.
  • The School’s environment was judged to be conducive to supporting the development of world-leading research, gaining the highest possible score of 100%.


Overall quality profile

You can find more about the REF, its assessment critera and marking scheme on our What is the REF? page.

% 4* % 3* % 2* % 1* % u/c FTE
50 38 11 1 0 54.58


Sub-profiles % 4* % 3* % 2* % 1* % u/c
Outputs 25.6 55.8 17.1 1.5 0
Impact 93.3 6.7 0 0 0
Environment 100 0 0 0 0



The following are summaries of the impact case studies submitted to demonstrate Kent research making a difference.

Informing drug policy

Informing drug policy

School of Social Policy, Sociology and Social Research: Professor Alex Stevens

Research on the effects of drug decriminalisation in Portugal by Alex Stevens has shifted the international debate. Stevens’ research, in collaboration with Dr Caitlin Hughes (University of New South Wales), argues that decriminalisation is a viable and non-harmful approach to substance misuse.
Evaluating social care

Evaluating social care

Personal Social Services Research Unit: Professor Ann Netten

Thanks to research at Kent, it is now easier to measure the improvements that social care can provide. A new robust method measures the quality of life for adults in social care by identifying factors such as dignity, control over daily life, safety, personal cleanliness, social participation, occupation, and food and drink. This led to the development of the Adult Social Care Outcomes Toolkit (ASCOT), which the Guardian described as a ‘new and valuable tool that would ‘shake up adult social care’.

Living in community settings

Living in community settings

Tizard Centre: Professor Jim Mansell, Dr Julie Beadle-Brown

Pioneering research at Kent by the late Jim Mansell and Julie Beadle-Brown has shown that small-scale, dispersed community settings provide the best quality of life for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD).
managing challenging behaviour

Managing challenging behaviour

Tizard Centre: Professor Peter McGill, Professor Glynis Murphy

Even if most people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) could be resettled into the community, the established view used to be that those exhibiting challenging or criminal behaviour would have to remain in hospital or prison. However, studies by a Kent team led by Peter McGill and Glynis Murphy contradicted this widely-held belief.

paying for social care

Paying for social care

Personal Social Services Research Unit: Professor Julien Forder

The demand for adult social care in England is predicted to rise as a result of the ageing population and trends in chronic diseases. Awareness of the challenge ahead has led to criticism of the current system of care funding. To address the pressing issue of cost and the need to reform the care system, Kent’s Julien Forder and José-Luis Fernández (London School of Economics) developed a full simulation model of the social care economy.
Million pound donors

Million-pound donors

School of Social Policy, Sociology and Social Research: Dr Beth Breeze

Research at Kent has provided valuable new data on charitable giving, as well as some revealing insights into how rich donors make their decisions. Beth Breeze’s research into rich donors in the UK revealed that most charitable-giving decisions are taste-based, rather than needs-based. People tend to support causes that they have a personal interest in, or connection to, rather than backing the most objectively ‘worthy’ causes.

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The University of Kent, Canterbury, Kent, CT2 7NZ, T: +44 1227 764000

Last Updated: 20/04/2015

Banner photo (c) Simon Tollington, DICE