Dr Tarsem Singh Cooner

Department of Social Work and Social Care
Associate Professor of Social Work

Contact details

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

Tarsem is an Associate Professor of Social Work and Director of Social Work programmes. His recent research has been funded by the Economic and Social Research Council. Tarsem has been part of a team working on a project entitled ‘Organisations, staff support and the dynamics and quality of social work practice: A qualitative longitudinal study of child protection work’. As part of this study, Tarsem has created a 360-degree video package to disseminate the research findings. Tarsem has also been instrumental in helping practitioners, managers, educators and students explore some of the ethical issues of using Facebook in child protection practices by creating freely accessible learning resources such as this trigger video entitled ‘Facebook: An unethical practice or an effective tool in child protection practice?

For social work Tarsem has been instrumental in developing innovative digital learning approaches to help social workers explore how to navigate the ethical issues of using social media in social work. Also, this short film outlines a learning design he developed using Facebook to help students develop the skills and knowledge required to use social media as social work practitioners. Further details of these can be found in his publications listed below.

Tarsem was been awarded a Birmingham University Teaching Fellowship in recognition of his wide ranging and significant interventions in learning and teaching across the institution. In this work he has served on the Board of the Valuing Teaching at Birmingham initiative, the University Learning Environment Group and the University Massive Online Open Courses (MOOC) Steering Group. As part of his responsibilities at the Centre of Excellence in Interdisciplinary Mental Health Tarsem was also instrumental in developing the Designing for Enquiry-based Blended Learning (DiBL) for cross University staff development training programmes. Tarsem has also represented the College of Social Sciences on the University's Learning Environment Group and the Information and Technology Infrastructure Group.  He was also responsible for co-writing the College of Medical and Dental Sciences e-Learning strategy.


  • PhD
  • AdCertPT
  • MSocSc
  • CQSW
  • BA (Hons)


Tarsem teaches on the postgraduate and undergraduate Social Work programmes.  He currently teaches on the Social Work Skills, Values and Approaches, Enhancing Skills for Social Work Practice and Advanced Practice modules. Tarsem is also an academic tutor and MA dissertation and PhD supervisor.

Other activities

Currently, Tarsem is working with a local authority to create a set of 360-degree training apps for policy makers, managers, social work practitioners and students involved in child protection work. This project aims to develop apps based on research to encourage individuals and organisations to create cultures and approaches that enable relationship-based child protection approaches in practice. This work builds on Tarsem’s previous history of championing the effective use of digital materials in social work practice and teaching. For example, he has been a member of the Social Care Institute for Excellence's e-Learning Materials Advisory Group; a member of the Steering Group as well as CEIMH co-investigator for the JISC funded SWAPBox Social Work and Social Policy Open Educational Resources Project.  Tarsem has also been a member of the steering panel for the Community Justice National Training Research into Open, Distance and e-Enabled Learning and Assessment, and a member of the e-Learning Sub-group for the Reform of Social Work Education and Training Practice Learning Project Group. He has also contributed to the Open University's Enhancing Learning and Teaching through Technology podcast series. Tarsem has also been a member of the British Journal of Social Work and the Social Work Education Journal's editorial boards.


Recent publications


Cooner, TS 2023, 'Creating sensory-rich experiences to convey qualitative research messages: using 360-degree video as part of an experiential relationship-based practice learning design', Social Work Education. https://doi.org/10.1080/02615479.2023.2257717

Warwick, L, Beddoe, L, Disney, T, Ferguson, H & Cooner, TS 2022, 'The power of relationship-based supervision in supporting social work retention: a case study from long-term ethnographic research in child protection', Qualitative Social Work. https://doi.org/10.1177/14733250221113015

Beddoe, L, Ferguson, H, Warwick, L, Disney, T, Leigh, J & Cooner, TS 2021, 'Supervision in child protection: a space and place for reflection or an excruciating marathon of compliance?', European Journal of Social Work, pp. 1-13. https://doi.org/10.1080/13691457.2021.1964443

Ferguson, H, Disney, T, Warwick, L, Leigh, J, Cooner, TS & Beddoe, L 2020, 'Hostile relationships in social work practice: anxiety, hate and conflict in long-term work with involuntary service users', Journal of Social Work Practice: Psychotherapeutic Approaches in Health, Welfare and the Community, pp. 1-19. https://doi.org/10.1080/02650533.2020.1834371

Ferguson, H, Warwick, L, Disney, T, Leigh, J, Cooner, TS & Beddoe, L 2020, 'Relationship-based practice and the creation of therapeutic change in long-term work: social work as a holding relationship', Social Work Education. https://doi.org/10.1080/02615479.2020.1837105

Leigh, J, Disney, T, Warwick, L, Ferguson, H, Beddoe, L & Cooner, TS 2020, 'Revealing the hidden performances of social work practice: the ethnographic process of gaining access, getting into place and impression management', Qualitative Social Work. https://doi.org/10.1177/1473325020929067

Ferguson, H, Warwick, L, Cooner, TS, Leigh, J, Beddoe, L, Disney, T & Plumridge, G 2020, 'The nature and culture of social work with children and families in long‐term casework: findings from a qualitative longitudinal study', Child and Family Social Work, vol. 25, no. 3, pp. 694-703. https://doi.org/10.1111/cfs.12746

Ferguson, H, Leigh, J, Cooner, TS, Beddoe, L, Disney, T, Warwick, L & Plumridge, G 2019, 'From snapshots of practice to a movie: researching long-term social work and child protection by getting as close as possible to practice and organisational life', British Journal of Social Work. https://doi.org/10.1093/bjsw/bcz119

Cooner, TS, Beddoe, L, Ferguson, H & Joy, E 2019, 'The use of Facebook in social work practice with children and families: exploring complexity in an emerging practice', Journal of Technology in Human Services, vol. 38, no. 2, pp. 137–158. https://doi.org/10.1080/15228835.2019.1680335

Disney, T, Warwick, L, Ferguson, H, Leigh, J, Cooner, TS, Beddoe, L, Jones, P & Osborne, T 2019, '“Isn't it funny the children that are further away we don't think about as much?”: using GPS to explore the mobilities and geographies of social work and child protection practice', Children and Youth Services Review, vol. 100, pp. 39-49. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.childyouth.2019.02.029

Knowles, A & Cooner, T 2016, 'International Collaborative Learning Using Social Media to Learn About Social Work Ethics and Social Media: International Collaborative Learning using Social Media', Social Work Education. https://doi.org/10.1080/02615479.2016.1154662

Cooner, T, Knowles, A & Stout, B 2015, 'Creating a mobile app to teach ethical social media practices', Social Work Education, vol. 35, no. 3, pp. 245-259. https://doi.org/10.1080/02615479.2015.1042361


Beddoe, L & Cooner, TS 2023, The use of Facebook in Social Work Practice with Families: Safeguarding or Surveillance? in AL Peláez & G Kirwan (eds), The Routledge International Handbook of Digital Social Work. 1st edn, Routledge International Handbooks, Routledge, pp. 230-239. https://doi.org/10.4324/9781003048459-23

Cooner, TS 2022, My journey into social work in three stories: identity, growing and creativity. in V Cree (ed.), Becoming a Social Worker. 3 edn, Student Social Work, Routledge, United Kingdom, pp. 110-114. https://doi.org/10.4324/9781003181989-20


Kaur, H, Wagstaff, C & Cooner, TS 2022, 'Suicide in Women of Sikh Heritage: Working with a Warrior Belief System', 12th Hong Kong International Nursing Forum cum 1st Asia-Pacific Qualitative Health Research Network (AQUHN) Conference, 30/11/22 - 2/12/22.

View all publications in research portal