Prof Paul Higgs

Prof Paul Higgs

Professor of Sociology of Ageing

Mental Health of Older People

Division of Psychiatry

Joined UCL
1st Oct 1994

Research summary

Paul Higgs is professor of Sociology of Ageing at UCL. His research interests stem from work he conducted with Dr Chris Gilleard which has been published in four books 'Cultures of ageing: Self citizen and society' (2000) and 'Contexts of ageing: Class, cohort and community' (2005).  From 2005 -2008 he directed an ESRC/AHRC funded project 'From passive to active consumers: Older people's consumption 1998-2001'. He also co-authored a book 'Medical sociology and old age' (2009) with Ian Rees Jones of Cardiff University as well as a book on social class and later life edited with Marvin Formosa (2013). Another three books with Chris Gilleard have been published in recent years:   'Ageing, corporeality and embodiment (2013) ; 'Rethinking old age: Theorising the fourth age (2015) and 'Personhood, identity and care in advanced old age'  (2016). In 2020 he will publish a book on social divisions in ageing, again with Chris Gilleard.   From 2009 to 2011 he was a co-organiser of an ESRC funded seminar series on 'new ageing populations' with Karen Lowton.. He was a co-investigator on two 5 year NIHR/ESRC projects (MARQUE and PRIDE)investigating the social aspects of dementia which ran until 2019. A new programme of work on these themes (APPLE-tree) has begun in 2019.  He is also a collaborator on the EU funded INDUCT and DISTINCT international training networks examining the role of technology in dementia. Professor Higgs is also an editor of the journal' Social Theory and Health' as well as  co-editor of the 2017 'Sociology of Health and Illness' monograph which addresses the topic of dementia and the social mind.He also co-edited an issue of the University of Toronto Quarterly on 'Ageism : A health humanities approach' in 2021. He has published extensively in social gerontology, medical sociology and  mainstream sociology journals.

Teaching summary

I teach medical sociology on the undergaduate medical degree at UCL and on the social theory course in the BSc Population Health. I supervise six PhD students as first supervisor. on topics ranging from brain training and social exclusion through to well-being and Sufism.


University of Kent
Doctorate, Doctor of Philosophy | 1988
Polytechnic of North London
First Degree, Bachelor of Science (Honours) | 1982


I studied for a BSc in Sociology at the Polytechnic of North London and for a PhD in Social Policy at the University of Kent. Before I moved to UCL in 1994 I was the Eleanor Peel Lecturer in Social Gerontology at St George's Hospital Medical School, London. At UCL I was variously Lecturer, Senior Lecturer and Reader in Medical Sociology. I am currently Professor of the Sociology of Ageing and was elected a fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences in 2012 and a fellow of the Gerontological Society of America in 2013. I also received a 50th Anniversary Outstanding Achievement Award from the British Society of Gerontology in 2021.