Siân Thomas

Siân Thomas, Teaching Fellow

Department of Social Work and Social Care

Contact details

Muirhead Tower
University of Birmingham
B15 2TT

Siân teaches on the Step Up to Social Work programme, and conducts research in the areas of migration, sexual and gender-based violence, and child welfare and protection. She is a member of the Institute for Research into Superdiversity (IRiS), a University of Birmingham research centre focused on the study of migration and diversity.

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  • PGDip Post-Qualifying Social Work with Children and Young People, their Families and Carers (Distinction), University of Birmingham
  • PGCert Academic Practice (Distinction), University of Birmingham
  • PGDip Social Research (Distinction), University of Birmingham
  • MA Social Work (Distinction), University of Birmingham
  • MA Understanding and Securing Human Rights (Merit), Institute of Commonwealth Studies, School of Advanced Study, University of London
  • BA (Joint Honours) French and Russian (2:1), University College London


Siân is a practitioner and social researcher with a background in human rights and social work, and research interests in migration, child welfare and protection, transformative justice and gender-based violence. 

She is a qualified social worker and has experience working with adults in the voluntary sector and with children, young people and families in the statutory sector. In her research and practice, she has worked with a range of groups including refugees, undocumented migrants, victims of trafficking and gender-based violence, and survivors of torture and other human rights violations. 

Siân currently teaches on the qualifying social work programmes at the University of Birmingham with a particular focus on children and families, practice skills, gender-based violence and research methods.


Siân teaches on the Step Up to Social Work programme, coordinating modules on Social Work Skills, Values and Approaches, and Advanced Practice. She also contributes to modules on the MA and BA Social Work programmes, the BA module New Migration and Superdiversity and the MRes Gender and Sexuality research teaching.

Postgraduate supervision

Siân has supervised postgraduate dissertations for the MA Social Work, MA Post-Qualifying Social Work, and MRes Gender and Sexuality programmes in the following topic areas:

  • Migration, including unaccompanied asylum seeking children and No Recourse to Public Funds (NRPF)
  • Sexual and gender-based violence, including child sexual exploitation and domestic abuse
  • Child welfare and protection, including looked after children, fostering and adoption, and child protection systems
  • Sex work, including legal frameworks

Doctoral research

PhD title
Transforming Justice: Responding to sexual and gender-based violence in the refugee journey (ongoing)


Siân’s research interests are focused in the following areas:

  • Migration and displacement, including child migration, irregular migration, and impacts of borders and citizenship
  • International child welfare and protection, including trafficking and exploitation, unaccompanied children, comparative protection approaches, and impact of conflict, terrorism and displacement on children and families
  • Sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV), including access to justice, international justice mechanisms and transformative justice approaches
  • Sex work, including rights-based approaches and constructions of agency

Current projects

Principal Investigator, Emotional Health and Wellbeing of Undocumented Children in London

Research project commissioned by Barnardo’s looking at the prevalence, demographics and emotional health and wellbeing needs of undocumented children in London to inform service development.

Co-Investigator, Early Action Charter Programme

Evaluation commissioned by Refugee Action of an early intervention approach adopted in partnership with seven refugee support organisations across England aimed at capacity-building and embedding early action approaches in the sector. 

Co-Investigator, London’s Children and Young People who are not British Citizens

Research project commissioned by Greater London Authority to explore the numbers and status of children and young people in London who are not British citizens. 

Co-Investigator, Transforming Pathways Out of Care

Project commissioned by Birmingham City Council to evaluate an innovative programme of accommodation and support for care leavers with complex needs. 

Doctoral Researcher, Sexual and Gender-Based Violence in the Refugee Crisis (SEREDA)

Collaborative project with partner universities in Australia, Turkey and Sweden which aims to understand the nature and incidence of sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) experienced by refugees who have fled the Levant region; doctoral research project focuses on access to justice for survivors of SGBV in this context.

Other activities

  • Fellow of the Higher Education Academy
  • HCPC-registered social worker
  • Member of the British Association of Social Workers (BASW) and of their Immigration, Asylum and Trafficking Special Interest Group
  • Peer reviewer for the Qualitative Social Work journal


Glasby, J. and Thomas, S. (Forthcoming) Understanding and Responding to the Needs of the Carers of People with Dementia in the UK, the US and Beyond. Birmingham: University of Birmingham/Walgreen Boots Alliance 

Goodson, L., Darkal, H. and Thomas, S. (2018) Monitoring and Reporting Incidence of Sexual and Gender-Based Violence across the Refugee Journey. IASFM Conference: Whither Refugees? Restrictionism, Crises and Precarity Writ Large. University of Macedonia, Thessaloniki, July 2018 

Thomas, S. and Goodson, L. (2017) Mass Migration, Housing and Land Use: Responses to Migration Crises in European Cities. AMPS Conference: Cities, Communities and Homes: Is the Urban Future Livable? University of Derby, June 2017 

Goodson, L., Thomas, S., Phillimore, J. and Pemberton, S. (2017) Mass Migration and Real Estate in European Cities. London: Urban Land Institute

View all publications in research portal