Prof. Nigel Thomas

Professor of Childhood and Youth Research

School of Social Work, Care and Community

+44 (0) 1772 89 4514

Nigel Thomas's research with children and young people includes child welfare, children’s rights and theories of childhood, with a particular focus on children and young people’s participation. He has worked with children in care, young carers, school pupils and members of youth councils, using a range of innovative methods. He is co-director and co-founder of The Centre for Children and Young People’s Participation. For seven years he co-edited the journal Children & Society, whose editorial board he now chairs. He is internationally known for his work on children and young people’s participation, and recently featured in the book Key Thinkers in Childhood Studies. He is an Adjunct Professor in the Centre for Children and Young People at Southern Cross University, New South Wales, and a Fellow of the Institute of Welsh Affairs.

Read more about the Impact and Outcomes of Independent Advocacy .pdf (1MB)


Nigel is Research Lead in the School of Social Work and chairs the School Research Committee and Research Strategy Group. He currently supervises six research students, three as Director of Studies and three as co-supervisor. Previous research students include Vicky Johnson, Cath Larkins and Simon Newitt. He is co-director and co-founder of The Centre for Children and Young People’s Participation, and also a founding member of the International Research Group on Ombudspersons for Children.

Nigel is a member of the Children, Young People and Families Research Group.

Recent Research Projects

Children in Care Councils: the London Picture, with Barry Percy-Smith and colleagues for London Councils, 2010.

Good Practice in Social Care for Asylum Seekers and Refugees, with Karen Newbigging and colleagues for Social Care Institute for Excellence, 2009-10.

Promoting Positive Mental Health and Recovery in Young People: Evaluation of the UThink Project, with David Pilgrim for Rethink, 2009-10.

Steps to effective engagement with children and young people, with Sarah Callaghan for Lancashire Children’s Trust Partnership Board, 2009.

‘How’s my worker doing?’ The Young People’s Appraisal and Assessment Project , with Andy Bilson and Lancashire Children’s Rights Service for Children’s Workforce Development Council, 2008-9.

Evaluating the Children’s Commissioner for Wales, with Mandy Cook and others for the Children’s Commissioner for Wales, 2005-8.



Thomas, N. (2017) ‘Turning the Tables: Children as Researchers’ in Christensen, P. and James, A. (eds) Research With Children: Perspectives and Practices (3rd edition), Routledge.

Thomas, Nigel, Crowley, Anne, Moxon, Daniel, Ridley, Julie, Street, Cathy and Joshi, Puja (2017) Independent advocacy for children and young people: developing an outcomes framework. Children and Society . ISSN 0951-0605


Thomas, Nigel, Graham, Anne , Powell, Mary Ann and Fitzgerald, Robyn (2015) Conceptualisations of children’s wellbeing at school: the contribution of recognition theory. Childhood . ISSN 0907-5682


Thomas, Nigel (2013) ‘Children and Politics’ in Montgomery, Heather (ed.) Oxford Bibliographies in Childhood Studies, New York: Oxford University Press.


Thomas, Nigel (2012) Love, rights and solidarity: studying children's participation using Honneth's theory of recognition. Childhood, 19 (4). pp. 453-466.

More publications

Teaching Activities

Nigel is actively involved in supervising research students, and he contributes to teaching on social work and social policy degrees.


  • PhD Applied Social Studies, University of Wales, 1999
  • AdvDipEd in Child Development, Open University, 1996
  • MSc in Applied Social Studies (CQSW), University of Oxford, 1976
  • BA in Philosophy and Politics, University of Oxford, 1971

Membership of Professional and Learned Bodies

British Association of Social Workers