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DPhil Supervision

My research interests are around disability (particularly learning disability  and autism), qualitative research and health experiences. I'm also interested in exploring ways of including people who are 'seldom heard' in research.

Sara Ryan


Senior Research Lead

I have a background in sociology and anthropology, a PhD in health and social care from the University of Warwick, and my research focuses on disability, autism, and, more broadly, health experiences. My particular interests lie in understanding and engaging with the health (and life) experiences of people labelled as learning disabled or autistic, and to contribute to the participation of, and engagement with, people who are typically excluded from research practices.  

I have undertaken work funded by the General Medical Council, Research for Patient Benefit, the Wellcome Trust, the School for Primary Care Research, and two Policy Research Units funded by the Department of Health: the Quality and Outcomes of Person-centred Care Policy Research Unit (University of Kent, the London School of Economics (LSE) and University of Oxford); the Policy Research Innovation Unit (London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, LSE and Imperial College).

I have considerable experience in qualitative research methods, particularly in-depth interviewing, analysis and re-analysis of existing data. I have been very involved in teaching qualitative approaches, including the Qualitative Research Methods module on the MSc in Evidence-Based Health Care, which I coordinated between 2010-2012, and the Health Experiences Research Group (HERG) portfolio of courses.

I’m the External Examiner for the Disability Studies undergraduate degree course, University of Northumbria and an Associate Editor for Disability and Society. I set up and co-convened the British Sociological Association Disability Studies Group between 2011-2016 and am a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy. 

Since 2013, I have been centrally involved in the #JusticeforLB campaign which has sought to gain accountability for the death of my son, Connor Sparrowhawk, and raise awareness of the poor treatment of learning disabled people in the UK. This campaign has led to the identification of systematic failings in investigating the unexpected deaths of learning disabled people/people with mental ill health. In 2016, the campaign was awarded a Liberty Human Rights 'Close to home' award. 


Direct Entry Research Degrees