The School of Applied Social and Policy Sciences (ASPS) is a substantial multi-disciplinary, cross campus centre of research with members working on a wide range of cutting edge methodological, theoretical, empirical and policy related issues. It is distinguished by its applied, interdisciplinary research that draws on national and international comparative methods, to develop innovative and significant impact-centred work which pushes the disciplinary boundaries and promotes important changes within society.
ASPS has developed an international reputation for:
Pioneering theoretical ideas that change the way in which policy, governance, criminology and social work are conceptualised.
Developing cutting-edge research methodologies which produce unique, internationally significant data-sets.
Designing a range of innovative analytical tools that help reform and guide social practice.
Disseminating research outputs to a range of stakeholder groups in order to strengthen, and critically reflect upon, policy and practice.
ASPS welcomes applicants interested in researching social policy, criminology and justice, politics, policing, prisons, public policy, social work, poverty, language policy, disadvantage, migration and welfare.
The strength and rigour of ASPS' research has been registered in successive research assessment exercises. In the most recent research assessment exercise, 'REF 2014', seventy percent of ASPS' research has been graded world-leading or internationally excellent, with a 160% increase in world-leading research since the 2008 assessment exercise. ASPS ranks 12th in the UK for outstanding research impact (4*) and 20th for world-leading research (4*).
ASPS distinguishes itself through a long-standing commitment to researching and shaping governance, policy, and practice in divided societies dealing with the legacies of violence and conflict. This focus is being expanded and enriched through strategic diversification into new applied research streams that inquire into, and confront, challenges presented by racism, inequality, economic marginalisation, institutional reform and the crimes of the powerful. Furthermore, the school aims to address blind-spots and lacunas in governance, policy and service delivery which conflict and transition can create, in areas such as gender, disability, ageing, health, criminal justice, and ethnic minorities. These streams are enhanced through transnational research that draws on growing international linkages to better understand how regional and global distributions of power, wealth, infrastructure, resources, and knowledge, impact on governance, policy, and practice on a variety of scales.
The school's research priorities are supported by a vibrant, aspirational culture that supports scholars to develop and pioneer innovative methodologies, analytical tools, and theoretical concepts that can sensitively and rigorously build evidence based, conceptually rich understandings of the complex processes that shape reform, accountability and service delivery. We embrace interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary research that harnesses diverse tools and approaches to enhance our response to field-specific challenges.
The school aims to formulate and execute our research collaboratively, and share our findings through innovative mechanisms that cater to the precise needs of diverse user-group. ASPS has also demonstrated a preparedness, when needed, to confront injustice and significant failures in policy and governance in a robust manner, often with significant effect. This distinctive research agenda is operationalised through five research groups:
Criminology and Justice
Public Policy and Government
Youth and Community studies
The research group has a focus on supporting the youth work profession; community development; restorative practice and work within prisons. Embedded in communities, the research takes place in the distinctive context of a contested and transforming society. A significant body of knowledge exists about the philosophy of education and community development on which practice builds. Drawing upon real experiences, the group develops theoretical frameworks and evidence-based models. In collaboration with young people and communities, the group moves to create developmental, associative, democratic, social education practice.
Key research themes include:
Grassroots experience of post-conflict transition and transitional justice studies
Gender studies in conflict and Youth Work
The impact of disadvantage and widening participation
Adult education transforming individuals and communities
Community Relations and peace building with young people
Suicidology and young people's mental health
Professional development in community youth work and community Development
Prison officer development in Northern Ireland
Community and statutory restorative justice
Informal Education and Youth Work processes and outcomes