School of Social and Political Science

Professor John Devaney

Job Title

Centenary Chair

John Devaney's photo

Room number


Building (Address)

Chrystal Macmillan Building

Street (Address)

15a George Square

City (Address)


Country (Address)


Post code (Address)



I qualified as a social worker in 1988, practising in statutory services firstly with children and adults with learning disabilities, before moving into services for children and families, primarily in relation to child protection and cared for children. During this period I held practitioner and then management positions. In 2004 I was awarded a PhD from Queen's University Belfast for a study on chronic child abuse, and in 2006 I took up a lectureship in social work at Queen's University Belfast.

During 2012 I was awarded a Fellowship by the Winston Churchill Memorial Trust to study work in Norway and Canada with individuals who use violence and abuse within their intimate relationships. This formed the basis for a book with my colleague Anne Lazenbatt on Domestic Violence Perpetrators - Evidence informed responses.

Between 2012-2015 I was the chair of the Board of Trustees of the British Association for the Study and Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect (now the Association of Child Protection Professionals This is the largest multi-disciplinary body in the UK for professionals and academics working on issues related to the protection of children from maltreatment.

From 2012-2016 I returned to work part time in practice alonsgide my academic appointment when the Northern Ireland Minister of Health appointed me for four years to chair the Case Management Review Panel of the Safeguarding Board for Northern Ireland ( The Panel reviews cases involving the death or serious injury of children through maltreatment.

In January 2018 I took up the position of the Centenary Chair of Social Work at the University of Edinburgh. 

I am a member of the British Association of Social Workers, the Association for Child Protection Professionals and the Association of Professors of Social Work.


I am very privileged to have the opportunity to teach both students who are new to the profession, and those who are returning to study while in practice. My teaching focuses specifically on issues relating to the exercise of professional duties around support and protection, child maltreatment, domestic violence and abuse, research methodologies, and leadership in social work. I am a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy.

Curent Supervision of Doctoral Students

Lauren Lamberton - New challenges in mental health provision: e-mental health support

Luke Power - Health inequalities for care experienced adults

Chantelle Toner-Boyce - Exploring the role and influence of close friends and families on a survivors' decision to report, or not report, sexual violence to the police: a personal network analysis

Ariana Zane - Risky decision-making: multi-agency working with victims experiencing high risk domestic abuse

Research interests

Research interests


My research focuses mainly on the broad area of family violence, with a particular focus on child homicide, child maltreatment, child welfare policy, domestic violence, and the impact of adversity in childhood across the lifecourse. I have an interest in comparative social policy, evaluations of practice and interventions, and policy development. My research spans both qualitative and quantitative methodologies. I have undertaken a range of research studies in both the UK and internationally, funded by research councils, government departments and philanthropic organisations.

A full list of publications and other research activity is available at:

Current Research Projects

2020-2021 Barnahus commissioned research for the Northern Ireland Commissioner for Children and Young People. Funded by the Northern Ireland Commissioner for Children and Young People.

2020-2024 Evaluation of the Child’s House for Healing – Scotland’s first Barnahus. Funded by the Children's Postcode Lottery.

2020-2021 The mental health and wellbeing of youth in care and care-leavers: Development of a national collaborative research agenda. Funded by the Medical Research Council.

2020-2022 A feasibility study of a prison-based parenting programme (Families Matter). Funded by the Nuffield Foundation.

2019-2023 Young people bereaved by domestic homicide: Understanding home, relationships and identity. Funded by the Australian Research Council.

2019-2023 Developing the evidence base for innovation in social care for children and families affected by domestic abuse. Funded by the ESRC.

2019-2022 Children living with domestic violence – understanding the effects on children’s wellbeing using longitudinal data. Funded by the Nuffield Foundation.

2019-2022 Addressing the trauma-related distress of young people in care: A randomised feasibility trial across social-care and mental health services. Funded by the NIHR.

2018-2021 The national evaluation of the NSPCC Speak Out, Stay Safe Programme. Funded by the NSPCC.

2017-2021 Identifying and Responding to the Trauma of Maltreated Children: a screening study and a feasibility trial of trauma-informed cognitive therapy. Funded by the NSPCC and ESRC.

Child protection, Child Welfare, Domestic and gender based violence, Social work interventions, Child and Adolescent Development

Topics interested in supervising

I am interested in supervising students who wish to pursue doctoral level studies in the areas of child maltreatment; child welfare; childhood adversity; domestic violence and abuse; social work practice; evaluations of practice and interventions; adolescent mental health.

If you are interested in being supervised by John Devaney, please see the links below (opening in new windows) for more information:

Works within

Staff Hours and Guidance

By appointment