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DPhil Supervision

My research interests are around disability (particularly learning disability and autism), qualitative research, experiences of health and social care, self advocacy, activism, patient safety and working with marginalised groups. 

Sara Ryan


Senior Research Lead

My background is in sociology and anthropology with a PhD in Health and Social Care from the University of Warwick. My research focuses on learning disability, autism, health and social care experiences and working with marginalised groups. More recent research interests involve scholar activism and patient safety issues.

Research funders include NIHR (Research for Patient Benefit, School for Primary Care Research and Health Service and Research Design), General Medical Council, Wellcome Trust and Department of Health funded Policy Research Units (Quality and Outcomes of Person-centred Care Policy Research Unit and Policy Research Innovation Unit).

I have considerable experience in qualitative research methods, particularly in-depth interviewing, focus groups and re-analysis of existing data. I have extensive learning and teaching experience on the Qualitative Research Methods module on the MSc in Evidence-Based Health Care and I oversee the HERG portfolio of qualitative methods courses.

I'm External Examiner for the Disability Studies undergraduate degree course, University of Northumbria. I set up and co-convened the British Sociological Association (BSA) Disability Studies Group between 2011-2016 and am a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy. 

My academic work has become fused with activism since the preventable death of my son, Connor Sparrowhawk in 2013. I've been centrally involved in the #JusticeforLB campaign which sought to gain accountability for Connor's death and raise awareness of the impoverished treatment of learning disabled people in the UK. This campaign led to the identification of systematic failings in investigating the unexpected deaths of learning disabled people/people with mental ill health. In 2016, the campaign was awarded a Liberty Human Rights 'Close to home' award. I was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Science by Oxford Brookes University in June 2019.


Recent publications

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