Jonathan Dickens

Emeritus Professor

  • 1.13 Lawrence Stenhouse Building

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

For many years, Jonathan taught courses on social policy for social workers, and social work law. He wrote two textbooks on these topics: 'Social Work and Social Policy: An Introduction' (2nd ed 2016) and 'Social Work, Law and Ethics' (2013), both published by Routledge.

Research Supervision

Jonathan is no longer available to supervise post-graduate research students. If you are interested in studying for a PhD in the school of social work at UEA, please see our webpage:


Jonathan Dickens is Emeritus Professor of Social Work. He worked in the school of social work from 1998 to 2023, and served as head of school from 2016-21. Before joining UEA, Jonathan had worked in Peterborough as a community worker, in London as a local authority social worker and then as a child care legal adviser (advising and acting on behalf of the local authority in court proceedings relating to children) and in Romania (1994 to 1997), as a trainer and consultant to teams of Romanian social workers. 

Jonathan has written numerous research reports and papers - see the publications section for more information.

Key Research Interests

Jonathan's main research interests were in the fields of child and family social work, social policy and the law.

Jonathan's interest in social work and the law arose out of his professional background as a social worker and child care legal adviser. His interest in the social policy contexts of professional social work had 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’?), his experiences as a social work practitioner, and his time working in Romania as a social work trainer and consultant. 

Jonathan's time in Romania was the starting point for another area of interest, 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, and the complex impact of inter-country adoption on Romania’s child welfare system. From 2012-16, Jonathan was part of a four-country study of 'legitimacy and fallibility in child welfare services', working with colleagues from Norway, Finland and the USA (California). This was a thought-provoking study of the different approaches to child protection policy and practice in the four countries, what we can learn from the other systems and the insights that cross-national research gives into one's own system.  

Over the period 2020-22, Jonathan led a joint research team from UEA and the University of Birmingham, on four studies of local reviews of serious child abuse cases in England and the learning from them. There was the final government-commissioned periodic overview of 'serious case reviews' (2017-19); an overview of the learning from all nine of the periodic overviews (covering cases going back to 1998); and the first two annual reviews of 'local child safeguarding practice reviews' (2020 and 2021 - these have replaced serious case reviews). 



Collaborations and top research areas from the last five years

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