Dr Liam Foster
Senior Lecturer in Social Policy & Social Work
(BA, MA, PhD)
Telephone: 0114 222 6434 (external), 26434 (internal)
Room: Elmfield, LG26
Liam joined the staff team in the department in January 2007 as a University Teacher in Social Policy and Research Methods having completed his PhD within the department in 2006 under the supervision of Professor Alan Walker. In 2008, Liam was appointed as a Lecturer in Social Work within the Department and in 2015 he was appointed Senior Lecturer in Social Policy and Social Work. He had previously conducted his undergraduate and postgraduate MA degrees at the University of Leeds. In 2006 Liam spent time teaching at Leeds Metropolitan University in the Health Sciences Department and was employed as a postgraduate teaching assistant within the Department of Sociological Studies at the University of Sheffield throughout his PhD (2002-06).
Liam's research interests are as follows: gender and pension provision, gender inequality in the workplace, funeral provision and poverty, extending working lives, ageing research, theories of ageing, and the sociology of sport.
Liam's research largely focuses on inequalities in later life and policy implications, particularly in relation to funerals, pensions and pension planning. This has often included a gendered focus. He also has an interest in theories of ageing, including the application of active ageing and the political economy of ageing. This has led to work on the comparative policy approaches to the implementation of active ageing measures. Liam's latest work is part of a large-scale project four country study funded by the Swedish Research Council for Health and Working Life (2019-22), focused on exclusion and inequality in late working life.
Liam has commented on retirement planning in the media, advised unions (TUC), been involved in projects with pension providers (AXA and Prudential), charities (The Fawcett Society) and been referenced by political parties (Labour’s Older Women’s Commission) in relation to pensions. He has presented his research at a variety of national and international conferences and has been an invited speaker at the Department for Work and Pensions (x2), Department for Education, the European Parliament in Brussels, the House of Lords and the UN in New York as a world leading expert on ageing.
Liam is a member of the UK Social Policy Association Executive Committee. He is also the Managing Editor of Social Policy and Society. He has authored over 50 publications in peer-reviewed journals and book chapters, and authored or edited five books.
Liam teaches and supervises students at both undergraduate and postgraduate levels. Much of his teaching is driven by his research interests, skills and experience which incorporate quantitative and qualitative approaches. At all levels Liam encourages learning through inquiry and seek to expose students to the most up-to-date research and techniques. In Liam's methods teaching students are encouraged, both in lectures and seminars, to conduct and analyse research, learning first-hand the vital contribution of empirical and grounded knowledge. For instance, in order to enhance student’s quantitative skills workbooks including student activities are employed. These were developed jointly with Dr Tom Clark initially with the assistance of a CILASS grant award and then with a HEA Grant Award. These are used as a teaching resource by the HEA. Liam was awarded the first University of Sheffield Teaching Excellence in the Social Sciences Award in 2013/14.
Liam has written popular methods books which are used in teaching. These include: 'Beginning statistics for social scientists' (with Sir Ian Diamond and Dr Julie Jefferies), 'How to do your social research project or dissertation' (with Dr Tom Clark and Prof Alan Bryman) and is currently updating the 6th edition of the best-selling methods book 'Social research methods' (with Prof Alan Bryman, Dr Tom Clark and Dr Luke Sloan).
Liam currently convenes the following undergraduate modules:
See our Undergraduate Degree pages.
He is also involved in the supervision of students taking extended essays and dissertations at undergraduate and postgraduate levels, and undertakes teaching on other postgraduate modules in social work and sociology.
See our Taught Masters Degrees pages.
Liam is currently involved in supervising (first, second or joint) supervising four students working on topics which include: research on family care for older people in Trinidad and Tobago, perceptions of disability, workfare policy in Hong Kong and global pensions.
Liam welcomes applications to study full-time or part-time with him for MPhil or PhD research degrees that are related to his activities and experience.
To find out more about our PhD programmes, go to:
Publications since 2005
Bryman, A., Clark, T., Foster, L. and Sloan, L. (forthcoming) Social research methods. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Clark, T., Foster, L. and Bryman, A. (2019) How to do your social research project or dissertation. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Foster, L. and Woodthorpe, K. (eds) (2016) Death and Social Policy in Challenging Times. Basingstoke: Palgrave MacMillan.
Foster, L., Brunton, A., Deeming, C., and Haux, T. (eds) (2015) In Defence of Welfare 2. Bristol: Social Policy Association with Policy Press.
Foster, L., Brunton, A., Deeming, C., and Haux, T. (eds) (2015) In Defence of Welfare 2 – Selected Readings. Bristol: Social Policy Association with Policy Press.
Walker, A. and Foster, L. (eds) (2014) The Political Economy of Ageing and Later Life: Critical Perspectives. Cheltenham: Edward Elgar.
Foster, L., Diamond, I. and Jefferies, J. (2014) Beginning Statistics: An Introduction for Social Scientists (2nd Edition). London: Sage.
Yu, S. Foster, L., Chau, R. and Pun, Y. (forthcoming) Defamilisation/Familisation Measures and Pensions in Hong Kong and Taiwan. Journal of Aging and Social Policy.
Foster, L., Heneghan, M., and Wijeratne, D. (forthcoming) Women millennials’ perceptions of pension savings through the use of Automatic Enrolment in the UK pension system. Journal of Women & Aging.
Holman, D., Foster, L. and Hess, M. (forthcoming) Inequalities in women's awareness of changes to the State Pension Age in England and the role of cognitive ability. Ageing and Society.
Foster, L., Tomlinson, M., & Walker, A. (2019) Older People and Social Quality - What difference does income make?. Ageing & Society, 39(11): 2351-2376.
Foster, L., Woodthorpe, K. and Walker, A. (2019) From Cradle to Grave?: Policy Responses to Death, Mortality. 24(1): 1-16. doi: 10.1080/13576275.2017.1414776.
Foster, L., Chau, R. and Yu, S. (2017) The impact of defamilisation measures on gender and pensions: A comparison between the UK and seven other European countries. Journal of Poverty and Social Justice. 25(3): 199-217. doi: 10.1332/175982717X14999284090397
Yu, S., Foster, L., Chau, R. and Lee, A. (2017) An investigation of defamilization/familization measures to assist women to save pension income and strengthen the adult worker model—The case of Hong Kong, Asian Social Work and Policy Review. 11(3): 234-243. doi: 10.1111/(ISSN)1753-1411.
Foster, L. and Heneghan, M. (2018) Pensions planning in the UK: a gendered challenge’. Critical Social Policy. 38(2): 345-366. doi: 10.1177/0261018317726639.
Chau, R., Yu, S. Foster, L. & Lau, M. (2017) Defamilisation and Leave Policies – a Comparative Study of 14 East Asian and Non-East Asian Countries. Journal of Asian Public Policy. 10(3): 318-333. doi: 10.1080/17516234.2017.1322286.
Clark, T. and Foster, L. (2017) ‘I’m not a natural mathematician’: Inquiry-based learning, constructive alignment and introductory quantitative social science. Teaching Public Administration. 35(3) 260-279. doi: 10.1177/0144739417711219.
Foster, L. and Gunn, A. (2017) Special Issue on Social Science Research Methods Education. Teaching Public Administration. 35(3): 3-6. doi: 10.1177/0144739417708839.
Foster, L. (2018) Active ageing, pensions and retirement in the UK. Journal of Population Ageing. 11(2): 117-132 doi: 10.1007/s12062-017-9181-7
Chau,, R., Yu, S. Foster, L. & Lau, M. (2017) Defamilisation Measures and Women’s Labour Force Participation – A Comparative Study of Twelve Countries. Journal of International and Comparative Social Policy. 33(1): 73-86. doi: 10.1080/21699763.2017.1288157
Chau, C., Foster, L., Yu, S. W. K., & Pun Yu, Y. (2017) Defamilisation/Familisation Measures and Pension Income of Women – the case of Taiwan. Asian Social Work and Policy Review. 11(2): 116-123. doi: 10.1111/aswp.12118
Chau, C. M., Foster, L., & Yu, S. (2017). The Effects of Defamilisation and Familisation Measures on the Accumulation of Retirement Income for Women in the UK. Journal of Women and Aging. 29(6): 551-561. doi:10.1080/08952841.2016.1256737
Foster, L. (2017). 'Young people and attitudes towards pension planning'. Social Policy and Society, 16(1): 65-80. doi: 10.1017/S1474746415000627
Chau, R. Foster, L. and Yu, S. (2016) 'Defamilisation and familisation measures – can they reduce the adverse effects of pro-market pension reforms on women in Hong Kong and the UK?' Critical Social Policy, 36(2): 205-224. doi:10.1177/0261018315621989.
Tomlinson, M., Foster, L. and Walker, A. (2016) ‘Social Quality and Work: What Impact Does Low Pay Have on Social Quality?’, Journal of Social Policy, 45(2): 345-371. doi:10.1017/S0047279415000732.
Foster, L. and Boxall. K. (2015) ‘People with learning disabilities and ‘active ageing’’, British Journal of Learning Disabilities, 43(4): 270-276, doi:10.1111/bld.12144.
Foster, L. and Walker, A. (2015) ‘Active and Successful Ageing: A European Policy Perspective'’, Gerontologist, 55(1): 83-90. doi: 10.1093/geront/gnu028
Foster, L. (2015) ‘Financial planning and the reality and requirements of retirees with private pensions’ Journal of Retirement, 3(1): 115-127. doi: 10.3905/jor.2015.3.1.115
Foster, L. (2014) ‘Women's pensions in the European Union and the current economic crisis’, Policy and Politics, 42(4): 565-580. doi: 10.1332/030557312X655774
Foster, L. and Smetherham, J. (2013) ‘Gender and Pensions: An analysis of factors affecting women’s private pension scheme membership in the UK’, Journal of Aging and Social Policy, 25(3): 197-217. doi: 10.1080/08959420.2013.791783
Foster, L. and Walker, A. (2013) ‘Gender and active ageing in Europe’, European Journal of Ageing, 10(1): 3-10. doi: 10.1007/s10433-013-0261-0
Foster, L. and Woodthorpe, K. (2013) ‘‘What Cost the Price of a Good Send Off?’ The Challenges for British State Funeral Policy’, Journal of Poverty and Social Justice, 21(1): 77-89. doi: 10.1332/175982712X657145
Foster, L. (2012) ‘Active ageing and pensions in the EU’, Journal of Comparative Social Welfare, 28(3): 223-234. doi: 10.1080/17486831.2012.753022
Foster, L. (2012) ‘Using a Political Economy and Life Course Approach to Understand Gendered Pension Provision in the UK’, Sociology Compass, 6(11): 883-896. doi: 10.1111/j.1751-9020.2012.00504.x
Foster, L. (2012) ‘‘I might not live that long!’ A study of young women’s pension planning in the United Kingdom’, Social Policy and Administration, 46(7): 705-726. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-9515.2012.00854.x
Foster, L. and Woodthorpe, K. (2012) ‘A Golden Silence? Acts of Remembrance and Commemoration at UK Football Games’, Journal of Sport and Social Issues, 36(1): 50-67. doi: 10.1177/0193723511433866
Foster, L. (2011) ‘Privatisation and pensions – What does this mean for women?’, Journal of Poverty and Social Justice, 19(2): 103-115. doi: 10.1332/175982711X573978
Foster, L. (2011) ‘Older People, Pensions and Poverty: An Issue for Social Workers?’, International Social Work, 54(3): 344-60. doi: 10.1177/0020872810396253
Foster, L. (2010) ‘Towards a new political economy of pensions? The implications for women’, Critical Social Policy, 30(1): 27-47. doi: 10.1177/0261018309350807
Foster, L (2008) ‘Do women teachers get a fair deal? An assessment of teachers' pensions’, Social Policy and Society, 7(1): 41-52. doi: 10.1017/S1474746407003995
Walker, A. and Foster, L. (2006) ‘Caught between virtue and ideological necessity - a century of pensions policy in the UK’, The Review of Political Economy, 18(3): 427-448. doi: 10.1080/09538250600797990
Foster, L. and Ginn, J. (2018) Unequal Ageing: Women, pensions and poverty in later life in Shaver, S. (forthcoming) International Handbook on Ageing. Routledge: Abingdon.
Foster, L. and Woodthorpe, K. (2016) ‘Introduction’, in Foster, L. and Woodthorpe, K. (eds) Death and Social Policy in Challenging Times. Basingstoke: Palgrave MacMillan.
Foster, L. and Woodthorpe, K. (2016) ‘Conclusion’, in Foster, L. and Woodthorpe, K. (eds) Death and Social Policy in Challenging Times. Basingstoke: Palgrave MacMillan.
Foster, L. and Woodthorpe, K. (2016) ‘Funeral welfare to the grave’, in Foster, L. and Woodthorpe, K. (eds) Death and Social Policy in Challenging Times. Basingstoke: Palgrave MacMillan.
Foster, L. and Ginn, J. (2015) Pensions and the Coalition: A New Way Forward? in Foster, L., Brunton, A., Deeming, C., and Haux, T. (eds) (2015) In Defence of Welfare 2. Bristol: Social Policy Association with Policy Press, pp. 72-75.
Woodthorpe, K. and Foster, L. (2015) Funerals and the State: An Uneasy Relationship, in Foster, L., Brunton, A., Deeming, C., and Haux, T. (eds) (2015) In Defence of Welfare 2. Bristol: Social Policy Association with Policy Press, pp. 135-138.
Foster, L. and Ginn, J. (2015) Pensions and the Coalition: A New Way Forward?, in Foster, L., Brunton, A., Deeming, C., and Haux, T. (eds) In Defence of Welfare 2 – Selected Readings. Bristol: Social Policy Association with Policy Press, pp. 26-29.
Foster, L. (2014) ‘Towards a fairer pension system for women? Assessing the impact of recent pension changes on women’, in Irving, Z., Ramia, G. and Farnsworth, K. (eds) Social Policy Review 26, Bristol: The Policy Press, pp. 29-46.
Walker, A. and Foster, L. (2013) ‘Active ageing: Rhetoric, Theory and Practice’, in Ervik, R. and Skogedal Lindén, T. (eds) The Making of Aging Policy: Theory and Practice in Europe. Cheltenham; Edward Elgar, pp. 27-52.
Foster, L. and Clark, T. (2013) ‘An Inquiry-Based Approach to Teaching Quantitative Secondary Survey Methods in Sociological Studies’, in Andrews, J., Clark, R. and Thomas, I. (eds) Compendium of Effective Practice (2nd edition). York: HEA, pp. 55-57.
Clark, T., Foster, L., Warren, L. and Farnsworth, K. (2013) ‘Research methods teaching in the social sciences: An integrated approach to inquiry-based learning and curriculum development in Sociological Studies’, in Andrews, J., Clark, R. and Thomas, I. (eds) Compendium of Effective Practice (2nd edition). York: HEA, pp. 45-47.
Walker, A. and Foster, L. (2006) ‘Ageing and social class. An enduring relationship’, in Vincent, J., Phillipson, C. and Downs, M. (eds) The Futures of Old Age, London: Sage, pp. 44-53.
Non-Refereed Abstracts, Reports & other Publications
Foster, L., Heneghan, M., Olchawski, J. and Trenow, P. (2016) Fawcett Society Closing the Pension Gap: Understanding Women’s Attitudes to Pension Saving.
Foster, L. (2015) ‘Eradicating inequalities in pension provision in the UK and beyond: The case of women’, Report for the United Nations on the 2030 sustainable Development Goals. http://www.un.org/esa/socdev/egms/docs/2015/sd-agenda2030/LiamFosterPaper.pdf
Foster, L. (2013) ‘Pension reform needs to focus on women’, Poverty and Social Exclusion.
Foster, L. (2012) Forward – AXA Cost of Living in Retirement Report. Basingstoke: AXA Wealth, pp. 5-6.
Samuel, F. and Foster, L. (2011) Report – RIBA Student Destination Survey 2011. Architecture Press, pp. 1-2.
Foster, L (2009) Teaching-only contracts – but what about the research? Network, Issue 101, Spring 2009, Newsletter of the British Sociological Association.
Foster, L. (2007) ‘Gender, the life course and pension provision in the UK – Doctoral research report’, Generations Review, 17(2).
Foster, L. (2006), Conference Report – BSG Conference Keele 2005, Generations Review, 16(1): 27-28.
Foster, L. (2019) Review of: Elana D. Buch, Inequalities of Aging: Paradoxes of Independence In American Home Care, New York University Press, New York, 2018, Ageing and Society. 39(12): 2778-2780.
Foster, L. (2016) Review of: Marvin Formosa and Paul Higgs (2013) Social Class in Later Life, Bristol: Policy Press. Journal of Social Policy, 45(1):167-168.
Foster, L. (2015) Review of: Andrea Principi, Per Jensen and Giovanni Lamura (2014) Active Ageing and Voluntary Work in Europe, Bristol: Policy Press. Journal of Ageing and Social Policy, 27(2): 192-194.
Foster, L. (2014) Review of: Chris Phillipson (2012) Ageing, Cambridge: Polity Press. Practice, 26(1): 73-75.
Foster, L. (2013) Review of: Malcolm Carey (2012). Qualitative Research Skills for Social Work, Farnham: Ashgate. British Journal of Social Work, 43(1): 191-192.
Foster, L. (2013) Review of: Jeffrey Longhofer, Jerry Floersch, and Janet Hoy (2012). Qualitative Methods for Practice Research, Pocket Guides to Research, New York: Oxford University Press. British Journal of Social Work, 43(2): 417-18.
Foster, L. (2012) Review of: Sally French and John Swain (2011). Working with Disabled People in Policy and Practice, Basingstoke: Palgrave. British Journal of Social Work, 42(2): 388-389.
Foster, L. (2010) Review of: Miriam Bernard and Thomas Scharf (eds.) (2007). Critical Perspectives on Ageing Societies. Bristol: The Policy Press. International Journal of Ageing and Later Life, (2009) 4(2): 1-4.