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Professor John Carpenter

Professor John Carpenter

Professor John Carpenter
B.Sc.(Bristol), Cert. App. Soc. Studies, C.Q.S.W., C.Psychol., AFBPsS, DSc

Emeritus Professor

Social Science Complex,
8 Priory Road, Bristol BS8 1TZ
(See a map)

+44 (0) 117 954 6755


Over the last 35 years John has carried out research for the Department of Health and the NHS on de-institutionalisation, community mental health services, violent mentally disordered offenders and assertive outreach teams. For the Department for Children Schools and Families (now Department of Education), he has researched the impact of Sure Start programmes, and the outcomes and costs of family support services and interagency training to safeguard children. He has also researched for the Department of Health and the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, the lives of disabled children and young people and their experiences of social care and health services.

Since 2012, John has been leading a team from Bristol and Durham Universities evaluating the implementation, impact and costs of a therapeutic intervention for children affected by sexual abuse and their carers.  This study incorporates a large randomised control trial and economic evaluation. 

John’s other longstanding research is in the evaluation of interprofessional education and social work education. He is one of the leading international experts on these topics and is co-editor with Hilary Burgess of The Outcomes of Social Work Education: developing evaluation methods (Higher education Academy, 2010) and of a special issue of Social Work Education on outcomes research. John lead a three-year longitudinal cohort study evaluating a national programme to support children’s social workers in their first years in practice after qualification.  He completed a three year study with colleagues at Durham University on the longitudinal outcomes of postgraduate social work education programmes funded by the Department for Education, published in 2018.  Two further studies of this topic are in progress with Durham and Cardiff universities. .

Research projects


  • Letting the Future in: A therapeutic intervention for children affected by sexual abuse and their families.  (1) Economic evaluation (2) Evaluation of an adapted model for children with intellectual disabilities.
  • Evalution of Think Ahead fast track postgraduate qualifying programme for mental health social workers (with Durham University)
  • Longitudinal evaluation of Fast Track programmes for social work with children and families - Step up and Frontline (with Cardiff and Durham universities) 



John Carpenter is a registered social worker and chartered psychologist. He joined the School for Policy Studies as Professor of Social Work and Applied Social Science in 2005.  He was appointed as Emeritus Professor in 2017 and continues to work on research with colleagues in the School and at Durham University where he is an Emeritus Professor in the Department of Sociology.

John was Professor of Social Work and Director of the Centre for Applied Social and Community Studies at Durham University (1997-2005) and Senior Lecturer in the Applied Psychology of Mental Health at Kent University (1988-96). He previously worked at Bristol University as Lecturer in the Departments of Social Work and Mental Health 1979-87. He combined teaching and research with practice in child and adolescent mental health services and services for adults with mental illness between 1979 and 1996. While at Kent University, he led a team providing consultancy on the closure of long-stay mental hospitals and the development of community-based mental health services.

John is an Associate Fellow of the British Psychological Society (since 1989).  In 1999 he was elected as one of the founding Academicians of the Academy of Social Sciences in the UK.  In 2010 he was appointed as the first National School for Social Care Research (SSCR) Senior Research Fellow. He was conferred with an Honorary Professorship at the East China University of Science and Technology, Shanghai in 2011. He is an Associate Member of the School of Graduate Studies, Faculty of Social Work, University of Toronto and External Examiner in Social Work and Social Policy at the University of Malta.

John was a member of the Social Work and Social Policy sub-panel for the UK Research Excellence Framework 2014 and has been appointed to the Social Sciences panel for the Hong Kong Research Assessment Exercise 2020. 


Professor Carpenter is no longer engaged in teaching or supervising new doctoral students. 


  • Community mental health and learning disability services
  • disabled children and families; family therapy and family support services
  • outcomes of social work and interprofessional education.


Over the last eight years I have carried out research for the Department of Health and the NHS on de-institutionalisation, community mental health services, interprofessional education, family support services and disabled children. I am currently researching Sure Start programmes, custody diversion for violent mentally disordered offenders and assertive outreach teams.

  • de-institutionalisation
  • community mental health services
  • mental health
  • interprofessional education
  • family support services
  • disabled children
  • Sure Start
  • Memberships


    School for Policy Studies

    Selected publications

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    View complete publications list in the University of Bristol publications system

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