Professor Sarah Vickerstaff joined the University of Kent in 1984. She completed her PhD in Sociology, passed without revision, at the University of Leeds and her BSc in Sociology with First Class (Honours) at the University of Leicester. She is a Fellow of the Gerontological Society of America and a Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences.

In addition to her academic record she has significant managerial and wider HE sector experience. She was Head of the School of Social Policy, Sociology and Social Research at Kent 2012-2016. She is currently the University of Kent lead for Athena SWAN, the gender equality charter. She is also a member of the Strategic Advisory Network of the ESRC and has undertaken grant review work for a range of UK and international organisations including, Nuffield, Leverhulme, the Finnish Academy of Science, the Swedish Research Council for Health, Working Life and Welfare, and the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research. She is an ACAS trained arbitrator. 

Research interests

Professor Vickerstaff’s main research interests are in the changes to the relationship between paid work and the life course, in particular at the beginning and end of working life. She is an internationally recognised Professor and researcher into paid work in later life. In the last 15 years her research on older workers and retirement has been funded by research councils, charities and the UK Government. She recently led an Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC)/MRC funded research consortium undertaking a mixed method study of: Uncertain Futures: Managing Late Career Transitions and Extended Working Life. She has published 3 books, 5 reports, and in excess of 20 journal articles and many book chapters in this field.

She is just starting a new ESRC funded project with Dr Mariska van der Horst: Internalised and gendered ageism and disableism and its consequences for labour market participation of older workers: a mixed method study (2019-2020). 

For detail of Professor Vickerstaff's research funding, see her CV.


Professor Sarah Vickerstaff's main areas of teaching are qualitative methods and education and training policy.


Professor Vickerstaff has supervised 16 PhDs to completion so far. She is interested in supervising research in the following areas: 

  • The management of older workers and the process of retirement 
  • Older workers experience of working 
  • The domestic context of retirement. 

Her own research is based on qualitative methods, case studies and historical policy analysis and it is research using such methods that she feels best qualified to supervise.  


Professional Memberships

  • Arbitrator, ACAS Panel of Arbitrators
  • Social Policy Association
  • British Sociological Association
  • Association Gerontological Society of America
  • British Society of Gerontology 

Cost Action video

 An AgeingBites video
from The British Society of Gerontology 46th Annual Conference

Think Kent lecture video

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