Jonathan Dickens


  • 1.13 Lawrence Stenhouse Building

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Personal profile

Areas of Expertise

Child care law and care proceedings; social work and social policy; international aspects of developing social work services for children and families.


Teaching Interests

BA and MA in Social Work

Social Policy and Social Work Law

Research Supervision

Jonathan is a supervisor for research students working on any of his three main areas of interest – child care social work and the law, social work and social policy, and the international dimensions of professional social work, especially child care work.

We welcome UK and international students and Jonathan has experience of supervising PhD students from the UK, Zimbabwe, Ethiopia and Jordan.

[If you are interested in completing a research degree in the areas outlined above, please click here]



Jonathan Dickens is Head of the School of Social Work. He joined the School in 1998.  Before coming to UEA, Jonathan worked in London as a local authority Social Worker and then as a Legal Officer, advising and acting on behalf of the local authority in court proceedings relating to children.  From 1994 to 1997 he lived and worked in Romania, as a trainer and consultant to teams of Romanian social workers.  His special interests include child care law and the social policy contexts of social work, particularly the international dimensions of these issues. 

Jonathan is the author of two leading textbooks for social work students, both published by Routledge: 'Social Work and Social Policy: An Introduction' (2nd ed 2016) and 'Social Work, Law and Ethics' (2013). He has also written numerous research reports and papers - see the publications section for more information.






Key Research Interests

Jonathan Dickens main research interests are in the fields of child care social work and the law; social policy and social work; and the development of professional social work, especially child and family work, in its international context.

The first interest – child care social work and the law – arises out of his professional background as a Social Worker and Child Care Legal Adviser.  Jonathan is especially interested in the inter-professional relationships between local authority social work staff and lawyers in child care cases, and he has a number of publications on this topic.

His interest in the social policy contexts of professional social work has its origins in a long-standing interest in philosophy (what is ‘equality’ or ‘justice’? What do we mean by notions such as ‘the good society’?), Jonathan's experiences as a social work practitioner, and his time working in Romania as a Social Work Trainer and Consultant. Prof Dickens' books on Social Work and Social Policy, and Social Work, Law and Ethics, explore such ideas and apply them to contemporary social work in England.

Jonathan's time in Romania was the starting point for his third area of research, the international aspects of social work, especially services for children and families. He has written on the development of social services for children in Romania, the re-establishment of professional social work in that country, and the complex impact of inter-country adoption on Romania’s child welfare system.

Current and recent research projects:

Establishing Outcomes of Care Proceedings for Children Before and After Care Proceedings Reform (2015-18)


Track and evaluate the outcomes of the Triborough care proceedings pilot (2015-16)


Legitimacy and fallibility in child welfare services (four country study)


Investigation of care planning and the role of the IRO (2012-14)

Evaluation of the Tri-Borough Care Proceedings Pilot (2012–2013)

Partnership by Law? The Pre-Proceedings process for families on the edge of care proceedings (2010–2012)

Looked after children partnership project (2000-03)




Recent external collaboration on country/territory level. Dive into details by clicking on the dots or