Menu Close
Professor of Social Work, University of Birmingham

Sue qualified in social work at the University of Leeds in 1984. She worked as local authority social worker and manager, mainly in statutory child care, until 1995, when following doctoral studies, she moved to an academic post at the University of Manchester, leaving in 2002 to become Professor of Health and Social Care at the University of Huddersfield and in January 2007, Professor of Social Work at Lancaster. Sue joined the Institute for Applied Social Studies, at the University of Birmingham in August 2010

For the past two years Sue has been involved in the social work reform process in England. She served on the Social Work Task Force, was a member of the College of Social Work Development Group and the Social Work Reform Board. She is currently a member of reference group for the Munro Review of child protection services in England.

Sue is currently Chair of the Association of Professors of Social Work and Editor in Chief of Child and Family Social Work,

Sue's primary research interest is in the sociological analysis of professional judgement and decision-making with an emphasis on understanding how science, formal knowledge, rhetoric, moral judgement, emotion and subjectivity interact in professional practice, particularly in child health and welfare. Her research has focused principally on the analysis of professional talk in a range of health and welfare settings. However, she has also undertaken evaluative and applied research for central and local government, NHS and non-statutory organizations. Sue's most recent Economic and Social Research Council projects, 2004-2006 (Tracking Children and Accomplishing Risk: e-Assessment Systems in Child Welfare, ESRC e-Society Programme, graded Outstanding) and 2006-2009 (Error Blame and Responsibility: The Problematics of Governance in an Invisible Trade, ESRC Public Services Programme, graded Outstanding) have been influential in informing policy developments and the reform of social work. They have also aroused her interest in socio-technical systems design. You can find details of these projects on the ESRC Society Today site


  • –present
    Professor of Social Work, University of Birmingham