Dr Nathan Hughes

Dr Nathan Hughes

School of Social Policy
Senior Lecturer in Social Policy and Social Work / Marie Curie Research Fellow, Murdoch Children’s Research Institute, Melbourne

Contact details

Department of Social Policy and Social Work
Muirhead Tower
University of Birmingham
B15 2TT, United Kingdom

Nathan is Senior Lecturer in Social Policy and Social Work at the School of Social Policy, and Marie Curie Research Fellow at the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute, Royal Children’s Hospital, Melbourne, Australia. He is currently undertaking a programme of research examining the applications of neuroscience to social policy and the law.


Currently seconded to the Centre for Adolescent Health at the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute, Melbourne, Nathan is undertaking a programme of research concerned with the application of neuroscience to law and social policy. In particular, Nathan’s research considers the explanations apparent in emerging understandings of neuromaturation of patterns of offending amongst young adults and those with neurodevelopmental difficulties, and explores the implications of these emerging understandings for policy and practice within the criminal justice system.

Nathan is also the Coordinator of the international research exchange programme, 'Understanding and supporting families with complex needs', seeking to explore family-focused policies and practices across social care, education and health.  Participant universities include:  University of Birmingham (as lead partner); Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore (Italy); Bodo University College (Norway); Umeå University (Sweden); Unversidad Nacional de Córdoba (Argentina); Unversidad Católica de Chile (Chile); Universidad Autónoma de Nuevo León (Mexico); and the University of Nottingham (UK)


  • Family-focused policy, practice and research methods
  • Anti-social behaviour policies and discourses
  • Youth policy and youth services
  • International comparative research
  • Policy implementation through professional practice
  • Complexity theory and its application to social policy research

Selected research projects:


Journal articles

Hek, R, Hughes, N and Ozman, R. (2012) ‘Safeguarding the needs of young refugees and asylum seekers: addressing past failings and meeting future challenges’, Child Abuse Review, 21 (5): 335–348.

Hughes, N. (2011), 'Young people 'as risk' or young people 'at risk': comparing discourses of anti-social behaviour in England and Victoria', Critical Social Policy.

Clarke, H. and Hughes, N. (2010), 'Whole Family Approaches: understanding and responding to complex needs', Social Policy and Society, 9(4): 527-531, doi:10.1017/S1474746410000242

Hughes, N. (2010) 'Models and approaches in family-focused policy and practice', Social Policy and Society, 9(4): 545-555, doi:10.1017/S1474746410000266.

Galvani, S. and Hughes, N. (2008) 'Working with Alcohol and Drug Use: Exploring the Knowledge and Attitudes of Social Work Students', British Journal of Social Work, Advance Access published on 20 October 2008; doi:10.1093/bjsw/bcn137.

Selected book chapters

Hughes, N. (2012) ‘Antisocial youth and asocial communities: are British youth intolerant or intolerable?’ in Pickard, S. Nativel, C. and Portier-Le Cocq (eds) Les Politiques de jeunesse en mutation : désaffection, répression et accompagnement à la citoyenneté au Royaume-Uni et en France, Paris: Presses de la Sorbonne Nouvelle.

Hughes, N. (2011) 'Intolerant or intolerable? Antisocial youth in asocial communities' in Doolin, K, Child, J, Raine, J and Beech, A (eds) Whose Criminal Justice? Regulatory State or Empowered Communities? Winchester: Waterside Press.

Hughes, N. (2009) 'Managerialism Subverted: exploring the activity of the 'street level bureaucrat' in Barnes, M. and Prior, D. (eds) Subversive Citizens. Bristol: Policy Press.

Reports and other publications

Hughes, N, Williams, H, Chitsabesan, P, Davies, R. and Mounce, L. (2012) Nobody Made the Connection: The prevalence of neurodisability in young people who offend. London: Office of the Children’s Commissioner.

Prior, D, Farrow, K, Hughes, N, Kelly, G, Manders, G, White, S and Wilkinson, B (2011) Maturity, young adults and criminal justice: A literature review. London: Transition to Adulthood Alliance/Barrow Cadbury Trust.

Morris, K. Hughes, N. Clarke, H. et al (2008) Think Family: a review of whole family approaches. London: Cabinet Office.