Leaders of research into children, parenting and families since 1973.
The Thomas Coram Research Unit (TCRU) is highly regarded for its policy impact. Our research projects utilise a variety of innovative social research methods, ranging from ethnographic studies of children's everyday lives to international comparisons of parental leave policies and impact studies of services for children and families. We are strongly international in our collaborations and networks. 2023 marks the 50th anniversary year for TCRU.
TCRU was established in 1973 by the psychologist Professor Jack Tizard and grew out of a critique of the institutionalisation of the care of young children in health and education settings.
We have a long history of researching those children and families that are most vulnerable to economic and social adversity. Today. TCRU’s research areas also include migration, gender, work and diverse families. Our centre has a wealth of expertise in a wide range of research methods and a particular tradition in cross-national and multi-method research designs.
We are a thriving community of over 40 staff and 54 PhD students as well as our honorary fellows and professors, research visitors and our advisory group.
The unit co-directors are Professor Mette Louise Berg and Professor Alison Koslowski and they are supported by the other unit leadership team members Professor Katherine Twamley and Dr Jenny Woodman.
We work with a wide range of community partners at local, national and international levels and are supported in this by our Advisory Group, chaired by Mavis McLean, CBE.
- Mette Louise Berg, Professor of Migration and Diaspora Studies
- Alison Koslowski, Professor of Social Policy
- Edmée Ballif - Postdoctoral Research Fellow
- Rachel Benchekroun, Research Fellow
- Susie Bower Brown, Lecturer in Social Psychology
- Claire Cameron, Professor of Social Pedagogy
- Igor Cherstich, Lecturer in Social Anthropology
- Eve Dickson, Research Fellow
- Charlotte Faircloth, Associate Professor in Social Science
- Michela Franceschelli, Associate Professor in Sociology
- Lisa Fridkin, Lecturer in Social Psychology
- David Frost, Professor in Social Psychology
- Jonathan Galton, Research Fellow
- Hanan Hauari, Lecturer in Social Research
- Katie Hollingworth, Lecturer in Social Research
- Dr Ashraf Hoque, Lecturer in Social Anthropology
- Humera Iqbal, Associate Professor in Social Psychology
- Alison Lamont, Lecturer in Sociology
- Louise McGrath Lone, Lecturer in Social Policy
- Veena Meetoo, Lecturer in Sociology
- Mehek Muftee, Lecturer in Sociology
- Ann Phoenix, Professor in Psychosocial Studies
- Katie Quy, Associate Professor in Psychology
- Jessica Rea, Lecturer
- Victoria Redclift, Associate Professor in Political Sociology
- Sonya Sharma, Lecturer in Sociology
- Katherine Twamley, Associate Professor in Sociology
- Andrea Verdasco, Research Fellow
- Jenny Woodman, Associate Professor in Child and Family Policy
- Sophie Zadeh, Associate Professor in Social Psychology
- Silke Zschomler, Research fellow
Emeriti, Honorary Researchers and Professors
- Molly Andrews, Visiting Professor
- Julia Brannen, Professor in the Sociology of the Family
- Professor Alison Clark, Honorary Senior Research Fellow
- Rebecca O'Connell, Honorary Professor
- Susan Golombok, Honorary Professor
- Sonia Jackson, Professor of Social Studies and Education
- Virginia Morrow, Honorary Professor
- Peter Moss, Professor in Early Childhood Provision
- Mavis Maclean CBE, Honorary Professor
- Margaret O'Brien, Professor of Child and Family Policy
- Charlie Owen, Honorary Senior Research Fellow
- Pamela Oberhuemer, Honorary Senior Research Fellow
- Pat Petrie, Professor in Education
- Marjorie Smith, Professor of the Psychology of the Family
- June Statham, Professor of Education and Family Support
- Ian St James Roberts, Professor in Development Psychology
Professional Support Staff
- Anjum Chowdhury, Academic Administrator
- Joanne English, Departmental Administrator and PA to Professor Toby Seddon
Study with us
We teach and supervise undergraduate, Master's, PhD and post-doctoral students across the social sciences.
Students on this course learn to understand and analyse complex global and social issues, gain multidisciplinary training in research skills, and learn how different research methods contribute to understanding real world phenomena. Students conduct an independent research project for their dissertation in the third year.
The BSc Sociology blends local and global sociological perspectives to examine contemporary social issues and transformations, ranging from environmental risks and climate change, to the intensification of inequalities, and imaginings of the future. Students will graduate with the skills and mindset appropriate to tackling the challenges of 21st century society. You will also have the opportunity to study abroad for one academic year.
TCRU offers a rich and supportive research culture for doctoral students.
Applications to undertake PhD training and research in any of our areas of interest are welcome.
Our work influences theoretical debates and public policies on:
- early childhood
- children’s health
- care and education services
- children’s agency
- young people’s identities
- intersectionality, reproduction
- motherhood and fatherhood
- gender equality and fluidity
- family diversity
- poverty including food poverty
- parental leave
- place-based inequalities
- children’s language brokering
- transnational families and practices
- social pedagogy
- work-family reconciliation
- migration experiences.
Our research adopts quantitative, qualitative and mixed methods designs including, secondary analysis of large-scale data sets and comparative cross-country policy analysis.
Particular methods cover:
- child and youth centered interviewing
- citizen science
- narrative approaches
- arts-based social research
- visual methods
- co-construction of research with marginalised communities.
Our research spans three fields:
Children’s wellbeing: services and practices
- Early Childhood Education and Care
- Social Pedagogy
- Children, Young People and Families: Care, Education, Health and Wellbeing
Gender, families and work
Migration, mobility and diversity.
TCRU staff are providing an evidence base on COVID experience, impact and recovery for families and the services that support them particularly in disadvantaged communities.
Families in Tower Hamlets: impacts of COVID-19
This research aims to explore the impacts of COVID-19 on families in Tower Hamlets. It will explore the social, economic and health impacts on family life with young children. For more information: Families in Tower Hamlets
Families and Community Transitions under Covid
Funded by the British Academy, this research project aims to gain a better understanding of the complexity of daily life for families with children during the COVID-19 pandemic. More information: FACT Covid
COVID-19 impact on children's well-being
This research uses a community sample of children aged 7-11 years, and their families, to explore children’s wellbeing during the COVID-19 crisis. For more information: Coping and wellbeing in families during the COVID-19 crisis.
The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on services from pregnancy through age five years for families who are high risk or have complex social needs
Funded by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Policy Research Programme, this project explores the COVID-19 impact on services from pregnancy through age five years for families who are high risk or have complex social needs.
Dr Jenny Woodman from TCRU is a Co-Investigator at the NIHR Children and Families Policy Research Unit and Co-Investigator on this project.
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Our staff have partnerships, knowledge exchange networks and close working relationship with a range of local, national and international partners including:
- Foundling Museum
- Child Poverty Action Group
- Donor Conception Network
- London Migration Research Group
- Fostering Network
- International Labour Organization (ILO)
- Equality and Human Rights Commission
- Gender Equalities Office
- The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD)
- Seminar series
TCRU hosts a weekly seminar series, where invited speakers present work of relevance to the research interests of the unit. Seminars take place in the TCRU library on Tuesdays during term-time, 1 - 2pm. Anyone is welcome to attend.