Dr Harriet Thomson BA, MRes, PhD

Department of Social Policy, Sociology and Criminology
Lecturer in Global Social Policy and Sociology
Director of Postgraduate Taught Programmes

Contact details

School of Social Policy
Muirhead Tower
University of Birmingham
B15 2TT, United Kingdom

Dr Harriet Thomson is a Lecturer in Global Social Policy and Sociology in the School of Social Policy at the University of Birmingham. She is also the Director of Postgraduate Taught Programmes and the Programme Coordinator for the MA in Social Research (Social Policy), and MA in Social Policy. In addition, Harriet is an Honorary Research Fellow in Human Geography at the University of Manchester. 

Her research expertise concerns energy poverty (also known as fuel poverty) and its monitoring. She has significant policy engagement experience, and leads the European Commission funded EU Energy Poverty Observatory, working directly with Member States to implement new policy frameworks to mitigate and alleviate energy poverty.


  • PhD Social Policy, University of York, 2015
  • MRes Social Policy (Distinction), University of York, 2011
  • BA (Hons) Social Policy (1st Class), University of York, 2010


Harriet is an award winning interdisciplinary researcher, with interests spanning institutional theory, the European Union polity, comparative social policy, climate change, energy efficiency, and the issue of energy poverty (also known as fuel poverty) across Europe and globally. She is actively involved with policymaking on energy and social issues, and has influenced the development and framing of new policy approaches to address energy poverty in Europe. She is Co-Investigator and Project Manager of the European Commission funded EU Energy Poverty Observatory. This project involves directly supporting policy-makers in implementing new legislative measures to tackle energy poverty, stemming from the forthcoming Clean Energy policy package.

Before joining Birmingham in September 2017, Harriet held research positions at the University of Manchester, University of Ulster, and the University of York, working on a diverse portfolio of projects. Harriet also has practical experience working at an energy service company (ESCO) project managing local renewable energy grant schemes.

The significant policy impacts of her research have been recognised by the Economic and Social Research Council, who awarded her the 2017 Celebrating Impact Prize (Early Career category). She was later awarded the Founders’ Award for Outstanding Early-Career Academic by the College of Social Sciences (University of Birmingham), and shortlisted for the University of Birmingham Awards for Outstanding Contribution to Research Impact in 2018.


  • Global Issues – Perspectives from Policy, Politics & Economics
  • Comparative Social Policy


Research interests

  • Comparative social policy
  • Fuel poverty / energy poverty
  • The European Union polity
  • Climate change
  • Domestic energy efficiency
  • Institutional theory


  • 2018: Shortlisted for the University of Birmingham Awards for Outstanding Contribution to Research Impact, in the Outstanding Emerging Impact category
  • 2018: College of Social Sciences (University of Birmingham) Founders’ Award for Outstanding Early-Career Academic
  • 2017: Winner of the Economic and Social Research Council’s (ESRC) Celebrating Impact Prize in the Outstanding Early Career Impact category

 Current projects

  • 2017 – 2021: European Cooperation in Science and Technology (COST) scheme, ca. €520,000, with Professor Stefan Bouzarovski (Manchester) (CO-I and lead of WG 2: Implementation – Developing an operational framework)
  • 2016-2020: ‘EU Energy Poverty Observatory’, €813,000 from the European Commission to support national policy-makers in addressing energy poverty, with Professor Stefan Bouzarovski (Manchester) (CO-I and Project Manager)

Completed projects

  • 2016: Grant from Eaga Charitable Trust, ca. £10,000, to host a pan-EU energy poverty workshop (PI)
  • 2013: 'Fuel poverty measurement in Europe', £4,726 from Eaga Charitable Trust, this involved a pilot survey in eight EU Member States, and production of a trilingual toolkit for key stakeholders (PI)

Other activities

  • Honorary Research Fellow, School of Environment, Education and Development, University of Manchester, September 2017 – Present
  • Associate Editor, Energy Research and Social Science, April 2015 – July 2018
  • Member of Social Policy Association
  • Founder and Managing Editor of the EU Fuel Poverty Network, 2011-2018


Recent publications


Sareen, S, Thomson, H, Tirado-Herrero, S, Gouveia, JP, Lippert, I & Lis, A 2020, 'European energy poverty metrics: scales, prospects and limits', Global Transitions, vol. 2, pp. 26-36. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.glt.2020.01.003

Thomson, H, Simcock, N, Bouzarovski, S & Petrova, S 2019, 'Energy poverty and indoor cooling: an overlooked issue in Europe', Energy and Buildings, vol. 196, pp. 21-29. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.enbuild.2019.05.014

Snell, C, Lambie-Mumford, H & Thomson, H 2018, 'Is there evidence of households making a heat or eat trade off in the UK?', Journal of Poverty and Social Justice, vol. 26, no. 2, pp. 225-243. https://doi.org/10.1332/175982718X15200701225205

Bouzarovski, S & Thomson, H 2017, 'Energy Vulnerability in the Grain of the City: Toward Neighborhood Typologies of Material Deprivation', Annals of the American Association of Geographers, vol. 108, no. 3, pp. 695-717. https://doi.org/10.1080/24694452.2017.1373624

Thomson, H, Snell, C & Bouzarovski, S 2017, 'Health, well-being and energy poverty in Europe: A comparative study of 32 European countries', International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, vol. 14, no. 6, 584. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph14060584

Thomson, H, Bouzarovski, S & Snell, C 2017, 'Rethinking the measurement of energy poverty in Europe: A critical analysis of indicators and data', Indoor and Built Environment, vol. 26, no. 7, pp. 879-901. https://doi.org/10.1177/1420326X17699260

Liddell, C, Morris, C, Thomson, H & Guiney, C 2016, 'Excess winter deaths in 30 European countries 1980-2013: A critical review of methods', Journal of Public Health (United Kingdom), vol. 38, no. 4, pp. 806-814. https://doi.org/10.1093/pubmed/fdv184

Thomson, H 2016, 'Fuel poverty in the European Union: a concept in need of definition?', People, Place and Policy Online, vol. 10, no. 1, pp. 5-24. https://doi.org/10.3351/ppp.0010.0001.0002

Snell, C, Bevan, M & Thomson, H 2015, 'Justice, fuel poverty and disabled people in England', Energy Research and Social Science, vol. 10, pp. 123-132. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.erss.2015.07.012

Thomson, H & Liddell, C 2015, 'The suitability of wood pellet heating for domestic households: A review of literature', Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, vol. 42, pp. 1362-1369. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.rser.2014.11.009

Snell, C, Bevan, M & Thomson, H 2015, 'Welfare reform, disabled people and fuel poverty', Journal of Poverty and Social Justice, vol. 23, no. 3, pp. 229-244. https://doi.org/10.1332/175982715X14349632097764

Thomson, H & Snell, C 2013, 'Quantifying the prevalence of fuel poverty across the European Union', Energy Policy, vol. 52, pp. 563-572. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.enpol.2012.10.009


Snell, C & Thomson, H 2013, Reconciling fuel poverty and climate change policy under the Coalition government: Green Deal or no deal? in Social Policy Review 25: Analysis and Debate in Social Policy, 2013. Policy Press, pp. 23-45.

View all publications in research portal