Dr Benjamin Costello BA (Hons), MA, PhD, FRSA, FHEA, FInstLM

Dr Benjamin Costello

Institute of Applied Health Research
Research Fellow

Contact details

Murray Learning Centre, First Floor
University of Birmingham
B15 2TT

Ben is a qualitative researcher with a background in mental health, social policy, applied health research, and philosophy. He is currently engaged in research in the areas of mental health, applied ethics, and female genital mutilation (FGM).


  • Fellow of the Institute of Leadership and Management, 2020
  • PhD in Philosophy, University of Birmingham, 2019
  • Fellow of the Higher Education Academic (HEA), 2019
  • Fellow of the Royal Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufactures, and Commerce (RSA), 2018
  • MA in Philosophy, University of Southampton, 2013
  • BA (Hons) in Philosophy, University of Southampton, 2012


Mental Health Policy Commission: Investing in a Resilient Generation
HEFi MicroCPD: The purpose of feedback and how to close the feedback loop

Ben obtained a First Class Honours degree and Masters degree from the University of Southampton before moving to the University of Birmingham to undertake a PhD in Philosophy, which he completed in 2019. 

Ben was Advisor and Research Associate to the Mental Health Policy Commission (2016 to 2018) for whom he co-authored the Commission’s final report. After, he joined a corpus linguistics project as Research Fellow in the School of English, Drama, and American and Canadian Studies (2018 to 2019). At the same time, he joined the Heath Services Management Centre as Research Fellow (2018 to 2019) on an NIHR funded project to investigate the contribution of the voluntary sector to mental health crisis care in England. 

Following this, Ben was appointed Research Fellow in the Institute of Applied Health Research (2019 to present) to lead on the qualitative analysis on an NIHR funded project (‘The FGM Sister Study’) to understand the preferences of FGM survivors, their male partners, and healthcare professionals for the timing of deinfibulation surgery. Ben also continues to work on other research projects on an ad hoc basis.

In addition to these research positions, Ben has undertaken a number of teaching roles at the University, including Teaching Associate in Philosophy (2014 to 2019), Academic Writing Tutor in the College of Arts and Law (2015 to 2020), and Academic Skills Advisor in the Academic Skills Centre (2017 to 2020). Ben also leads a number of training courses (Introduction to Learning and Teaching in Higher Education courses) for the Higher Education Futures Institute (HEFi).

Postgraduate supervision

Ben is interested in supervising students in the areas of qualitative research in mental health, applied health research, and ethics (including applied/practical ethics).


Other activities

Funded Research Projects

Ben is currently joint Principal Investigator on two projects funded by the University of Birmingham’s Education Enhancement Fund (EEF):

  • 'Employing corpus analysis and qualitative data analysis tools to better understand and act on free-text comments from student feedback: a mixed-methods study' (EEFP265) (with Dr Paul Thompson).
  • 'Improving belonging and inclusion for University of Birmingham BAME students: identifying barriers and inequalities using Experience-Based Co-Design to improve the education pathway' (EEFP253) (with Dr Sandhya Duggal).

Third Sector Involvement

  • Director and Trustee of Bromsgrove and Redditch Network (BARN), a local Council for Voluntary Service (CVS) and Volunteer Centre
  • Director and Trustee of Redditch Nightstop, a homelessness prevention charity

Service to the Profession


  • Q Member of the Health Foundation
  • Member of the British Philosophical Association (BPA)


Recent publications


Newbigging, K, Rees, J, Ince, R, Mohan, J, Joseph, D, Ashman, M, Norden, B, Dare, C, Bourke, S & Costello, B 2020, 'The contribution of the voluntary sector to mental health crisis care in England: a mixed methods study', Health Services and Delivery Research, vol. 8, no. 29, 08290. https://doi.org/10.3310/hsdr08290

Jones, L, Danks, E, Clarke, J, Alidu, L, Costello, B, Jolly, K, Byrne, A, Fassam-Wright, M, Latthe, P & Taylor, J 2019, 'Exploring the views of female genital mutilation survivors, their male partners and healthcare professionals on the timing of deinfibulation surgery and NHS FGM care provision (the FGM Sister Study): protocol for a qualitative study', BMJ open. <https://bmjopen.bmj.com/content/9/10/e034140.info>

Commissioned report

Burstow, P, Newbigging, K, Tew, J & Costello, B 2018, Investing in a resilient generation: keys to a mentally prosperous nation. University of Birmingham, Birmingham, UK. <https://www.birmingham.ac.uk/Documents/research/policycommission/Investing-in-a-Resilient-Generation-report.pdf>


Costello, B & Danks, E 2019, 'The FGM Sister Study: an overview', North West Central Social Care Conference, Birmingham, United Kingdom, 3/07/19.

Other contribution

Jones, L, Costello, B, Danks, E & Cross-Sudworth, F 2020, Female genital mutilation (FGM): an increasingly important healthcare challenge in the UK. The Birmingham Brief, University of Birmingham. <https://www.birmingham.ac.uk/news/thebirminghambrief/items/2020/02/female-genital-mutilation-fgm-an-increasingly-important-healthcare-challenge-in-the-uk.aspx>

Costello, B & Burstow, P 2016, A New Paradigm for Mental Health. Birmingham Perspective, University of Birmingham. <https://www.birmingham.ac.uk/research/perspective/mental-health-awareness-day-2016.aspx>


Costello, B & Taylor, N 2019, 'Exploiting Technologies to Improve the Module Evaluation Questionnaire (MEQ) Feedback-Loop', HEFi Conference 2019, Birmingham, United Kingdom, 20/06/19 - 21/06/19.

Costello, B 2019, 'Moral Sequencing and Intervening to Prevent Harm', Research Poster Conference 2019, Birmingham, United Kingdom, 19/06/19.

Costello, B & Finan, L 2015, 'Advocating Active Learning: Developments in the College of Arts and Law Bank of Assessed Work', 12th Annual Teaching and Learning Conference, Birmingham, United Kingdom, 23/06/15.

View all publications in research portal