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Karen Broadhurst supervises 6 postgraduate research students. If these students have produced research profiles, these are listed below:

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Professor Karen Broadhurst

Professor of Social Work

Lancaster University

Bowland North



Tel: +44 1524 594126

PhD supervision


I have over 20 years experience in research focused on child and family justice. I am an elected Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences (since 2020). I have been awarded funding from the Nuffield Foundation, ESRC, NIHR, the Australian Research Council, British Academy, and national and local government. My research has improved the lives of parents and children at the sharp-end of children's services by providing the first estimates of parents' vulnerability to repeat involvement in the family courts and thereby, catalysing new bespoke prevention programmes. I led the development team which supported the Nuffield Foundation to establish the Nuffield Family Justice Observatory (2016-2019). I designed and led the high-profile Born into Care Series which is driving more humane and compassionate practice in child protection at birth.

I am currently serving as ADR UK Ambassador (ESRC), championing the use of large-scale organisational data for applied policy and practice focused research. I Chair the Board of Trustees for the organisation REFORM which aims to improve the lives of mothers living apart from their children. I also serve as trustee for Positive Action in the Community (PAC) Lancashire. I recently served as expert advisor to the Independent Review of Children's Social Care and advisor to the President of the Family Division's Public Law Working Group. 


Teaching and Postgraduate Supervision

I bring a wealth of experience to my teaching and lead both curriculum development and delivery regarding social work and children and families, including law and policy.

I bring an intersectional lens to my teaching, and place central the experience of children, youth and families involved with services.

I have extensive experience of PhD supervision, and supported multiple students to secure funding for their research and completion of their studies. I have also supported a number of students to secure competitive post-doc funding.

Data Science

I am Co-Director of Lancaster University's interdisciplinary Data Science Intitute, reflecting my expertise in the safe/ethical use of controlled data for social research. 

I am currently Principal Investigator (with the SAIL Databank, Swansea University) for the £2.2M data arm of the the Nuffield Family Justice Observatory, which is delivering planned and responsive analyses of novel linked datasets. I am member of the Academic Advisory Group for the UKRI ESRC funded Data First Programme, led by the Ministry of Justice. I have served as funding panel chair for successive ESRC fellowship schemes linked to this programme. I am a member of the Research Committee for the Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service.

 Centre for Child and Family Justice Research

In 2015, and following my return to Lancaster I established the Centre for Child and Family Justice Research, which is an interdisciplinary research centre working in close collaboration with policy and practice partners, families and communities. The Centre is home to researchers, national and international doctoral students and visitors. 

Open Access Articles and Reports

Urgent Care Proceedings at Birth: Time for a Fundamental Review. International Journal of Law Policy and the Family. https://academic.oup.com/lawfam/article/36/1/ebac008/6540595

"Born into Care" - read our statistics on newborn babies in care proceedings in England.

Listen to Radio 4 Today Programme coverage of this issue


Current Research Projects

 With colleagues in Australia and the US, I am collaborating in the SIB (State Intervention with Babies) project funded by the Australian Research Council. 


Birth Mothers in Recurrent Care Proceedings

Project articles and reports are available from the Nuffield Foundation funded study of birth mothers and recurrent care proceedings - many are free to download

Watch our Turning Points  film here - what helps women to turn their lives around?

Final conference slides and papers are also free to download


PhD Supervision

I have extensive experience of doctoral research and currently supervise a cohort of students funded by the ESRC. I welcome applications from students interested in pursuing studies broadly relating to state support for families, child protection, the family courts, therapeutic court models; children and young people in and leaving care.

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