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Research Profile

Prof Tom Horlick-Jones 

Career Profile

Professor Tom Horlick-Jones has a personal chair in sociology at Cardiff School of Social Sciences. He is also a visiting scientist at CIEMAT-CISOT in Barcelona, and an honorary senior research associate in the Department of Science and Technology Studies at University College London. He has research degrees in Mathematics (M.Sc, Wales) and Sociology (PhD, Surrey). Over a period of some twenty-five years he has specialised in investigating risk-related behaviour, and associated reasoning, communication and decision-making processes. This experience includes a decade spent as a senior policy adviser in public sector administration, during which time he was awarded a Winston Churchill Fellowship for his work on emergency planning and disaster management. He previously held academic posts at the London School of Economics and the University of Surrey.

He has advised, and acted as a consultant for, many organisations, including: the World Health Organization, European Commission, European Fusion Development Agreement (EFDA), UK Environment Agency, UK Food Standards Agency, UK Health & Safety Executive, H.M. Nuclear Installations Inspectorate, UK Home Office, the Post Office Group, Railtrack, Railway Safety & Standards Board, Science Museum, Welsh Assembly Government, Sciencewise and UK Department of Business, Innovation and Skills.  In 1998, he was summoned to provide oral and written evidence to the House of Commons Select Committee inquiry into railway safety. In 2000, he was summoned to provide evidence to the Ladbroke Grove rail crash inquiry. During 2000-02, he acted as an adviser to the Mayor of London’s strategic review of the safety of the Notting Hill Carnival. In 2001-02. he was appointed (together with a health specialist) by the Economic & Social Research Council and Medical Research Council to carry out a research review on Risk and Health. In 2002-04, he led the independent, and officially accredited, evaluation of the GM Nation? public debate on the possible commercialisation of transgenic crops in the UK

He has produced over 100 publications, including the books Natural Risk and Civil Protection (lead editor, Spon, 1995), Social Amplification of Risk: the Media and the Public (co-author, HSE Books, 2001) and The GM Debate: Risk, Politics and Public Engagement (lead author, Routledge, 2007; paperback 2009).

Teaching Profile

Although engaged primarily in research work, he supervises a number of postgraduate students, at masters, professional doctorate and doctorate level, and contributes occasional lectures to a number of courses.

He is particularly interested in supervising research concerned with:

  • Risk, knowledge and practical reasoning
  • The governance and communication of risk, and risk-related practices in government, regulatory and business organisations
  • The roles of reasoning, knowledge and talk in the accomplishment of professional practice
  • Assumptions about human behaviour in policy-making
  • Stakeholder engagement, deliberative dialogue, problem structuring and decision-making processes
  • The experience of serious illness, and the phenomenology of symptoms and bodily awareness

He would welcome informal inquiries from prospective research students.

At present, Tom is supervising postgraduate research into the practical accomplishment of professional work in two distinct areas:

Clare Kell


- Clare Kell’s Professional Doctorate on the training of physiotherapists

Lorenzo Marvulli


- Lorenzo Marvulli’s PhD on knowledge work in policy-making for sustainability

SOCSI School Research Ethics Committee (SREC)

Tom is currently Chair of the SOCSI School Research Ethics Committee (SREC), and is the SOCSI Ethics Officer. He is also a member of the Cardiff University Research Ethics Committee (UREC).