Accepting PhD Students

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Research activity per year

Personal profile

Area of academic expertise - outline

I am an enthusiastic and motivated senior interdisciplinary researcher and a specialist in researching the social determinants of health underpinning entrenched intergenerational and postcode specific poverty and inequality and the links to drug related deaths.

I lead a successful research profile with a track record of creating positive impact on drug policy and practice.  For 31 years my clinical practice and academic research activity has centred on enhancing our understanding of how problem drug users experience discrimination in health and social care services, and how this discrimination is linked to increasing drug related deaths in Scotland.   I have researched the impact of police practices on policing the UK Misuse of Drugs Act 1971, with a clear commitment to social justice, health equity and advocacy for socio economically marginalised and vulnerable populations.

My research is applied with a focus on increasing understanding of the impact of moral and legal censure on users of drugs controlled within the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971, and in evaluating drug policy, drug treatment efficacy, and drug related deaths.  As a highly valued team player I have excellent national and international teaching and research networks.  My methodological expertise lies in mixed methods approaches in undertaking research with vulnerable and marginalised groups.  I have collaborated with staff from across UWS, with postgraduate students and with PhD students on research.  I have collaborated with interdisciplinary subject groups to research gang culture, problem drug using offenders, how illegal drugs users actively avoid contact with treatment and drug enforcement agencies, on use of controlled drugs as therapy, and with service user groups.  I actively seek opportunities to translate research into action in a variety of ways.  Due to my passion for bridging the gaps between policy, practice and research, I am increasingly invited to take part in shaping Scotland drugs policy at UK governmental level.

As a reflective practitioner I underpin my teaching with research researching pedagogical issues with international colleagues from Brazil, Sweden and Greece.

I have lectured extensively across a number of disciplines since 1996, creating the first fully online MSc in Alcohol and Drugs Studies in 2000.  My teaching expertise includes teaching into undergraduate nursing degree programmes, postgraduate careers guidance, postgraduate social work, postgraduate mental health nursing and postgraduate child protection studies.  I taught at Scottish police college Tulliallan on their specialist drug courses between 1996-2010.  My teaching expertise is recognised with my appointment to validate the Pg. Certificate in Academic Practice in to validate this through HEA and the Nursing and Midwifery Council, and the undergraduate diploma in Counselling with Glasgow Council on Alcohol, and their MSc in Counselling Psychotherapy.

Professional academic roles

1996-1999: part time Lecturer BSc Health Studies

2000-2021: Senior Lecturer MSC Alcohol and Drugs studies, School of MCS.

2017-2023: Senior Lecturer in MSc Social Sciences.

2023: I teach into several programmes across UWS.  I provide a leadership role in mentoring colleagues to deliver the UWS signature pedagogy using Inquiry Based Learning (IBL).  I provide doctoral supervision for PhD students.  I provide MSc level supervision for students from interdisciplinary subjects in Applied Social Sciences.  I am a member of The Royal Society of Arts, A Senior Fellow of the HEA, a member of Society for the study of Addiction, and a Board member of a human rights based training qualification in Advocacy with Reach Advocacy.

I presented to Scottish government at their Scotland futures forum event in 2018, and provided a submission to the Smith Commission, and a written submission to Scottish government on the recent refreshed and updated drugs strategy.  I was invited to give evidence to the Scottish Affairs Committee in June 2019 at Westminster.

I have various committee responsibilities including Senate level on the UWS student complaints committee.  I was Chair of the School of Education and Social Sciences Ethics committee, and the committee on UWS HEA fellowship scheme.  I am a member of the cross party working group on alcohol and drugs at Scottish parliament.

Current PhD research supervision

Aureol Gillan (DoS) Understanding Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) as a treatment modality and a cultural phenomenon: a mixed methods analysis.

Lee Primrose (primary supervisor) ‘exploring the identity of social actors who ‘deal’ in illicit and illegal drugs in Glasgow and Derby: A case study’.

Successful examinations

Linda J. Thomas (DoS) ‘exploring the meaning of alcohol: Use, misuse and problems among ethnic minority communities in Glasgow. (Completed)

Steve O'Rawe (DoS) 'Regulating drugs in Scotland: A qualitative investigation of the barriers to reforming the UK Misuse of Drugs Act 1971'

Des McDermott (DoS) ‘The Contradictions of the Recovery Model in Mental Health’. (Completed)

Kieran Hamilton (DoS) ‘examining the prohibition of NEPS from the perspectives of users: exploring the perceptions of existing drug laws on harm reduction’. (Completed)

Robert McLean, UWS as Assessor: Transitions from Street Gang to Organized Crime in Glasgow

Johanne Miller, UWS as Examiner: In every scheme there is a team: A grounded theory of how young people grow in and out of gangs in Glasgow

Carole Murphy Kingston University as external Examiner: 'Doing' Normal: Gaining, maintaining and reframing a non-stigmatized identity in recovery from addiction

Work in addiction and therapeutic services

I have worked within the addiction field since 1991, working in a variety of drug services and therapeutic institutions and with a range of drug users. I worked with homeless drug users, in residential rehabilitation Units, and as a drug worker in several Drugs Projects in Glasgow. 

In the mid 1990’s I was Project Leader of National Drugs Helpline (NDH) and National AIDS Helpline.

From 1998 until 2000 I worked as Drugs Development Officer for Paisley Social Work area Team.  I created specialist training for community Police officers to deliver drugs awareness training (demand reduction) to young people (12-15) in all secondary schools in the Renfrewshire area, the forerunner and prototype of the larger event now called ’Choices for Life’ at the Glasgow SCC.

I have worked in London, Glasgow and Paisley.  I act to advise Scottish and UK government, and regularly appear on BBC Radio and in print media as an expert. 

Current research activities

Post doctoral research on hidden populations.

Using mixed methods, (AAPPQ and the WHOQoL, and 1-1 interviews with key informants) this study will examine the efficacy of an advocacy intervention for improving the quality of life of people with concurrent or historic substance use disorders and mental health illness.  

In addition, the WHOQoL questionnaire  will be administered to clients who attend the REACH Advocacy service.

The two groups who will be invited to give consent to complete the questionnaire include people in recovery undertaking the Reach Advocacy Practice Award (SCQF7) and the client group seeking advocacy support.

WHOQoL questionnaire administered to (service users and attendees of the reach advocacy programme)

Adapted AAPPQ DDPPQ for educational participants

2 REACH trainers interviewed (case study ethnographic methods
focus group interview of education intervention participants
1-1 interviews with Key informants (Service providers and service purchasers)

Research on service user involvement in Glasgow, Edinburgh and Belfast, using qualitative methods in collaboration with service users networks in all 3 cities.

Writing Book on subject of researching, understanding, and giving a voice to hidden and marginalised populations of users of illegal and illicit drugs.

Desired research direction

I have created a virtual centre of excellence, the centre for hidden and marginalised populations, and this is a hub from which myself, external academic colleagues, and PhD students can disseminate research findings and papers in process of publication.             

Target collaborative organisations

I am currently seeking to fund research on drug related deaths occuring in marginalised communities in the context of social justice. 


Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-being
  • SDG 10 - Reduced Inequalities
  • SDG 16 - Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions

External positions

External Examiner, University of Limerick

25 Oct 2019 → …

External Examiner, University of Liverpool

16 Apr 2019 → …


  • H Social Sciences (General)
  • drug use
  • drug policy
  • drug related deaths
  • poverty
  • inclusive practice
  • Drug trafficking
  • drug treatment
  • Social justice
  • inequality
  • Addictions
  • addiction recovery
  • substance use disorder
  • Interventions
  • Inclusion
  • Mixed Methods Research
  • Pedagogy and Curriculum
  • Assessment


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Collaborations and top research areas from the last five years

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