Doctoral Research

CRAG provides opportunities for postgraduate research in a supportive and intellectually stimulating research environment.  Potential PhD and MPhil students from the UK and overseas are encouraged to join the doctoral programme.  Please contact Sara Arber ( for further information.  PhD students currently working on CRAG-related research include:

Paula Aubrey: ;
This qualitative doctorate on the social and organisational factors influencing organ and tissue donation from within Accident and Emergency Departments.  Indepth interviews were conducted with bereaved families whose relative donated organs after dying in the Emergency Department.  The aim is to produce effective healthcare policies to increase organ and tissue donation from Emergency Departments.

Gagan Dahl:
This doctoral research is studying the retirement experiences of the middle class in India.  It uses qualitative interviews to examine gender differences in the social impact of retirement by focusing on the everyday lives, and social and family relationships of retired middle class men and women in their 60s.

Andrea Darling:
This multidisciplinary PhD combines aspects of Sociology, Chronobiology and Nutrition to examine Vitamin D levels and sleep among older South Asian and White women. The sociology aspects include qualitative interviews with 15 South Asian and 15 White older women focusing on their attitudes, beliefs, perceptions and behaviours surrounding sun exposure (as low sun exposure leads to poor vitamin D status). Also, the sociological influences on sleep disruption in South Asian and White women are examined.

Richard Green:
This Doctoral Training Centre (DTC) funded PhD is jointly supervised by Royal Holloway London (Prof Jon Gabe) and by CRAG/Sociology at University of Surrey. It focuses on prostate cancer among men in their 50s and 60s, examining how perceptions of risk influence decision-making about treatment options. It involves indepth interviews with men with prostrate cancer and clinicians working in this area.  

Eva Martinez:
This DTC funded research is analysing gender inequalities in pensions by comparing the impact of recent pension reforms in Spain and the UK on women’s and men’s pension position. It involves both analysis of policy documents from Spain and the UK, and secondary analysis of large-scale datasets, such as the BHPS/Understanding Society and the Spanish European Household Panel study.

Seham Salamah: ;
This is a qualitative study of social and family relationships, social and health care, and quality of everyday life among older women who are no longer married living in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.   Qualitative interviews are being undertaken with older women who live alone or who live with adult children or other relatives to examine the impact of living arrangements and household structure on women’s quality of life.     

CRAG Awarded Doctorates

Rajaa Al-Gahatani:
Rajaa was awarded her PhD in 2012, which was a qualitative study of older women in Abha, Saudia Arabia, focusing on the impact of change in Saudi society on women at different stages of their life course.

Emanuela Bianchera
Emanuela was awarded her PhD in 2011 based on a study of sleep among mid-life and older women (age 40-80) in Italy. This study focuses work-life balance and how state care provision impact on Italian women's sleep.

Theresa Ellmers
Theresa's PhD, awarded in 2011, on understanding Sleep in Care Homes formed part of a project on optimising sleep quality in older people funded by the ESRC under the New Dynamics of Ageing research programme. This study used qualitative methods to understand the experience of ‘sleep' in four care homes for older people.

Ingrid Eyers:
Ingrid was awarded her doctorate in 2003. Her thesis, Meeting the needs of older people? A comparative study of care home staff in England and Germany, focused on the impact of care worker skills on the quality of care provided. Following completion of her thesis, Ingrid completed a 12 month ESRC Postdoctoral Research Fellowship (PTA-026-27-290) at CRAG.

Eiman Fatani
Eiman was awarded her PhD in 2008 on the impact of end-state renal failure on women in Saudi Arabia, focusing particularly on women's family roles and relationships

Gwyn Grout
Gwyn obtained her PhD in December 2007 for her evaluative study of mental health service provision to older people in general hospitals. (Surrey Hampshire Borders NHS Trust). 

Jenny Hislop
Jenny was awarded her doctorate in 2004. Based on research conducted on the EU-funded Sleep in Ageing Women project, Jenny's thesis, The social context of women's sleep: perceptions and experiences of women aged 40 and over examined the interrelationship between social context and the structuring of women's sleep. Jenny is continuing her research into sleep on the ESRC-funded Negotiating Sleep: Gender, Age and Social Relationships amongst Couples project in addition to her responsibilities as Co-Director of CRAG.

Dorothy Horswill
Dorothy was awarded her doctorate in 2005 with a thesis on the health of Chinese and English women in middle life. Her research focused on how work stress and family relations impact on the control of everyday diet and health.

Helen Lewis: 
Helen was awarded her PhD on gender differences in the impact of end-stage renal failure on different aspects of the transition to adulthood, including issues of disclosure, identity and self-esteem.

Rebekah Luff
This joint sociology and psychology doctorate is examined the role and provision of emotional labour by different groups of care staff to older people living in care homes in the UK (ESRC funded).

Rob Meadows:
Rob was awarded his PhD in December 2008. This study of men, masculinities and sleep examined the ways in which men engage and grapple with sleep on a day to day basis and whether or not this differs from women.

Colin Norris:
A study which examined financial knowledge and decision making among women and men in mid and later life, with particular reference to decisions about pensions. Colin was awarded his PhD in April 2014.

Debora Price
Debora's PhD was awarded in 2005 for her assessment of the differential impact of divorce on the pension provision made by men and women (by secondary analysis of large-scale government data sets), and the role of the legal profession in perpetuating these gender differences (by interview with a sample of practising lawyers). (ESRC funded)

Richard Sindall:
Richard was awarded his PhD in 2006 on a qualitative study of roles, relationships, self-esteem, choices and gender issues among middle class early retired men and women. (ESRC funded)

Victoria Staples (nee Vaughan)
Sleep among older people: circadian timing and light. Vicky held an ESRC/MRC interdisciplinary studentship between Sociology and Neuroendocrinology (SBMS). Her PhD examined how increasing age is associated with a shift towards morningness.

Susan Venn: 
Susan was awarded her PhD in 2011. Her research formed part of a multidisciplinary ESRC funded project (SomnIA) on optimising sleep quality in older people, under the New Dynamics of Ageing research programme. As part of this study, she undertook qualitative and quantitative research on the meanings and experiences of poor sleep amongst older people living in the community, together with the coping strategies they may undertake to deal with poor sleep.

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