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Professor Jonathan Scourfield DipSW PhD

Professor Jonathan Scourfield



+44(0) 29 2087 5402
+44 (0)29 2087 4175
sbarc|spark, Maindy Road, Cathays, Cardiff, CF24 4HQ
Welsh speaking
Media commentator
Available for postgraduate supervision


I am Professor of Social Work and Deputy Director of CASCADE, the Children's Social Care Research and Development Centre.

I am Co-Director of Research in the School of Social Sciences and speciality co-lead for social care research in Wales


I am a registered social worker who before becoming an academic worked as a secondary school teacher, group worker in a therapeutic community and probation officer. My academic background is a History degree at Cambridge, teacher training in London and social work qualification and PhD at Cardiff.

I started my academic career as an exclusively qualitative researcher, doing an ethnographic PhD, and then later moved to doing more quantitative, evaluative research after training in Epidemiology. I have taught on various social work programmes since 1996 when I started working at Cardiff University.

From January 2018 to May 2021 I was seconded to the Welsh Government as specialist policy adviser to the Minister responsible for social care. I am a trustee of the Family Rights Group.

Honours and awards

  • Fellow of the Joint Universities Social Work Association
  • Senior Research Leader, Health and Care Research Wales, 2022-25

Professional memberships

  • Fellow of the Higher Education Academy
  • Registered social worker (Social Care Wales)
  • Member of British Association of Social Workers
  • Member of the Association of Professors of Social Work
  • Member of European Social Work Research Association

Academic positions

  • 1996-1999: Tutorial fellow, Cardiff
  • 1999-2005: Lecturer, Cardiff
  • 2005-2009: Senior lecturer, Cardiff
  • 2009-2011: Reader, Cardiff
  • 2011-present: Professor, Cardiff

Speaking engagements

  • Society for Social Work and Research conference, New Orleans (2017)
  • European Social Work Research Association conference, Edinburgh (2018)
  • European Social Work Research Association conference, Leuven (2019)
  • European Social Work Research Association conference, Amsterdam (2022)
  • European Social Work Research Association conference, Milan (2023)

Committees and reviewing

  • Senior member of ESRC Peer Review College
  • Past member of commissioning panels for AHRC and ESRC research programmes
  • Grant reviewer for several other countries' research councils
  • Past member of ESRC recognition panel for doctoral training in social work
  • Chair of the Health and Care Research Wales social care grants panel (and Deputy Chair of fellowships panel)
  • Reviewer for 30+ journals in social work, sociology and suicide research
  • Chair of the organising group for the Joint Social Work Education and Research conference 2021
  • Editorial board member, Journal of Social Work































  • Social Work Research in Action (Doctor of Social Work and MSc Social Science Research Methods)
  • Lectures and workshops on various topics, including research in government, experimental design, family support and working with fathers

My research has covered several different aspects of social work, including:

  • Child and family services
  • Working with men
  • Social work education
  • Research capacity-building

I have also done other research which is not directly related to social work, on:

  • The social context of suicide and self-harm
  • Identity and religion in children

I have used a wide range of research methods, usually through collaborating with people who have more expertise than me in those methods. As well as the most commonly used social science methods such as interviews, focus groups and surveys, I have used ethnography, discourse analysis, photo elicitation, simulated practice, randomised controlled trial, quasi-experiment, systematic review, analysis of cohort and panel study data, linkage of routine administrative data, and machine learning.

My research has been funded by various bodies, including the Economic and Social Research Council, Arts and Humanities Research Council, National Prevention Research Initiative, Department for Education and Department for Health (UK Government), National Institute for Health Research, Health and Care Research Wales, Nuffield Foundation, Big Lottery and other charities.

Current research projects are:


I am interested in doctoral supervision on the topics listed under the 'research' tab and on the effectiveness of social work in any field. I currently supervise Femi David, Angela Endicott, Katy Johnstone, Rebecca Messenger, Rachel Parker and Richeldis Yhap.

Past projects

  • Hannah Burgon - equine-assisted therapy
  • Dan Burrows - ethnography of hospital social work
  • Cynthia Charnley - people with learning disability as volunteers
  • Ali Davies - the voice of the child in multi-agency child sexual exploitation work
  • Charalambos Dionatos - national identity of Greek primary school children
  • Jeremy Dixon - supervision of mentally disordered offenders
  • Martin Elliott - variation in rates of looked-after children
  • Rhiannon Evans - a school-based social and emotional learning programme
  • Stephen Gethin-Jones - outcome-based social care for older people
  • Wahida Kent - Black and minority ethnic parent carers of children with life-limiting conditions
  • Nina Jacob - people bereaved by suicide in young men
  • Jacqui Lee - whole-family approach 
  • Colette Limbrick - discourse around murder-suicide
  • Lee Quinney - men with personality disorder
  • Tom Slater- social work role in suicide prevention
  • Andrew Smith - probation supervision of sex offenders
  • Lee Sobo-Allen - men who take on the care of children through the child protection process
  • Alex Vickery - men's help-seeking for mental health problems
  • Roz Warden - Islamic social work