Cookies on this website

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Accept all cookies' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. If you click 'Reject all non-essential cookies' only necessary cookies providing core functionality such as security, network management, and accessibility will be enabled. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

DPhil Supervision

My research interests are around disability (particularly learning disability and autism), qualitative research, experiences of health and social care, self advocacy, activism, patient safety and working with marginalised groups. 

Research groups


Sara Ryan


Associate Professor

Background in sociology and anthropology with a PhD in Health and Social Care from the University of Warwick. My research focuses on learning disability, autism, social care experiences and working with marginalised groups. Current research interest also include scholar activism and patient safety issues.

Research funders include NIHR (RfPB, HS&DR and School for Primary Care Research), ESRC, General Medical Council and Wellcome Trust.

Experience in qualitative research methods, particularly in-depth interviewing, focus groups and re-analysis of existing data. Extensive learning and teaching experience on the Qualitative Research Methods module on the MSc in Evidence-Based Health Care and oversee the HERG portfolio of qualitative methods courses.

My academic work has been fused with activism since the preventable death of my son Connor in 2013. I've been centrally involved in the #JusticeforLB campaign which sought to gain accountability for Connor's death and raise awareness of the impoverished treatment of learning disabled people more widely. The campaign led to the identification of systematic failings in investigating the unexpected deaths of learning disabled people and people with mental ill health. In 2016, the campaign was awarded a Liberty Human Rights award.

I was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Science by Oxford Brookes University in June 2019.

Current projects:

Supporting family and professional carers to provide appropriate care and support for older learning disabled people with behaviours that challenge others NIHR HS&DR (Co-PI)

Bridging the translation gap between learning disability policy and practice in search of flourishing lives. NIHR School for Social Care Research. (PI)

Understanding and using people’s experiences of social care to guide service improvements:could an effective and efficient co-design approach be translated from health to social care? NIHR HS&DR (PI)

Meeting the transgender challenge: improving the experience of health services for gender questioning young people and their families. NIHR HS&DR (Co-PI)

Formative Evaluation of a new resource for Social Care service users, teachers, practitioners and policy makers. NIHR School for Social Care Research. (Co-app)

Learning disabilities and mental health. 3 Guineas Trust. (Co-app)

Finding and funding social care: a qualitative study of the experiences of self-funders. NIHR RfPB. (Co-app)