Image of Professor Nathan HughesProfessor Nathan Hughes

Head of Department

Professor of Adolescent Health and Justice

(BA(Hons), MA, PhD)

Telephone: 0114 222 6439 (external) 26439 (internal)
Room: Elmfield, G31


Nathan joined the Department of Sociological Studies in 2017. He was previously senior lecturer in social policy and social work at the University of Birmingham, having completed his PhD at the University of Warwick.

Nathan is also visiting senior fellow at the School of Government of the University of Melbourne, and honorary researcher at the Murdoch Children’s Research Centre, Melbourne.


Nathan’s research is at the interface between social policy, criminology and developmental sciences. It considers the explanations for patterns of offending apparent in emerging understandings of typical and atypical adolescent neuromaturation, and their implications for policy and practice. His work is uniquely interdisciplinary within his field, drawing on developmental psychopathology and adolescent developmental science to support biosocial modelling of patterns of offending and desistance, and applying this to a critical analysis of criminal justice practices and interventions. In particular, he focuses on practices and interventions that discriminate against and criminalise young people as a result of neurodevelopmental disability, and those that engage young adult offenders.

Date Sponsor Details
2015 - 2017

College of Policing

Police Knowledge Fund

Examining the use of indicators of adverse childhood experiences to support police engagement.
2013 - 2016

Marie Curie International Outgoing Fellowship

European Commission FP7 Framework

This fellowship supported two years based at the Centre for Adolescent Health and the Australian Centre for Child Neuropsychology Studies at the Murdoch Childrens Research Institute, and the School of Government at the University of Melbourne. Specific projects included:

  • Analysis of a 21-year longitudinal study of children admitted to hospital as a result of traumatic brain injury, examining behavioural trajectories into young adulthood.
  • Analysis of an annual census of health, well-being and behaviour of over 50,000 students starting school in Victoria, examining risk factors for comorbid communication and emotional or behavioural problems in the early years, and utilizing data linkage to understand impact on educational attainment.
  • Qualitative research with community criminal justice service providers regarding understandings of and responses to traumatic brain injury.
  • Systematic reviews regarding the prevalence of traumatic brain injury among young people in custody, and the effectiveness of school-based and community-based interventions following pediatric traumatic brain injury.
2010 - 2014

International Research Staff Exchange Scheme

European Commission FP7 Framework

Understanding and Supporting Families with Complex Needs: a comparative study of family-minded policy and practice in social work, health and education in Europe and Latin America .


Office of the Children’s Commissioner for England

Prevalence of neurodevelopmental disorders amongst young people in custody.

2011 Barrow Cadbury Trust

Maturity and offending amongst young adults.

2009 Leverhulme Study Abroad Fellowship

Comparing anti-social behaviour policy in the UK, Western Australia and Victoria.

2007 - 2008 Ministry of Justice

Access to Justice for Vulnerable Groups.

Postgraduate supervision

Nathan supervises PhDs in issues related to youth and young adults, crime and criminalisation, and childhood neurodevelopmental disability.

To find out more about our PhD programmes, go to:
Studying for a PhD in Sociology



Peer reviewed journal articles

Hughes, N., Chitsabesan, P., Bryan, K., Borschmann, R. Swain, N., Lennox, C. and Shaw, J. (2017) Language impairment and comorbid vulnerabilities among young people in custody. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry,

Hughes, N., Scibberas, E. and Goldfeld, S. (2016) ‘Family and community predictors of language, socioemotional and behavior problems at school entry’ PLOS One, 1(7): e0158802

Hughes, N., Clasby, B., Williams, W.H. and Chitsabesan, P. (2016) ‘A systematic review of the prevalence of fetal alcohol spectrum disorders among young people in the criminal justice system’ Cogent Psychology, 3: 1214213

Hughes, N. and Strong, G. (2016) ‘Implementing the evidence on young adult neuromaturation: the development of a specialist approach in probation services’ The Probation Journal, 63(4): 452–459

Hughes, N. and Pierse-O’Bryne, K. (2016) ‘Disabled Inside: neurodevelopmental impairments among young people in custody’ Prison Services Journal, 226: 14-21

Hughes, N., Munoz-Guzman, C. (2016) ‘Understanding and Supporting 'Families with Complex Needs: An Editorial’, Social Sciences, 4(4): 1335-1339

Hughes, N. (2015) ‘Understanding the influence of neurodevelopmental disorders on offending: utilizing developmental psychopathology in biosocial criminology’, Criminal Justice Studies: A Critical Journal of Crime, Law and Society, 28(1): 39-60.

Hughes, N., Williams, W.H., Chitsabesan, P., Walesby, R., Mounce, L.T.A. and Clasby, B. (2015) ‘The Prevalence of Traumatic Brain Injury Among Young Offenders in Custody: A Systematic Review’, Journal of Head Trauma Rehabilitation, 30(2): 94-105

Ryan, N.P., Hughes, N., Godfrey, C., Rosema, S., Catroppa, C. and Anderson, V. (2015) ‘Prevalence and Predictors of Externalizing Behavior in Young Adult Survivors of Pediatric Traumatic Brain Injury’, Journal of Head Trauma Rehabilitation, 30(2): 75-85

Hek, R, Hughes, N and Ozman, R. (2012) ‘Safeguarding the needs of young refugees and asylum seekers: addressing past failings and meeting future challenges’, Child Abuse Review, 21 (5): 335–348.

Hughes, N. (2012) ‘Apoyo a las familias con necesidades complejas: modelos y enfoques en la política y la práctica’, Trabajo Social

Hughes, N. Wainwright, S and Cresswell, C. (2012) Enhancing and supporting the role of academic tutors in developing undergraduate writing skills: reflections on the experiences of a social work education programme, Learning and Teaching 5(2): 27-48.

Hughes, N. (2011) 'Young people 'as risk' or young people 'at risk': comparing discourses of anti-social behaviour in England and Victoria', Critical Social Policy 31(3): 388 – 409.

Hughes, N, Ward, N and Wainwright, S. (2011) ‘Developing the writing skills of social work students: connecting academic and professional expertise’, Journal of the European Association for the Teaching of Academic Writing, (1): 54-60.

Hughes, N (2010) ‘Models and approaches to family-focused policy and practice’ Social Policy and Society, 9(4): 527-532.

Clarke, H and Hughes, N (2010) ‘Introduction: Family Minded Policy and Whole Family Practice – Developing a Critical Research Framework’ Social Policy and Society, 9(4): 545-556.

Galvani, S and Hughes, N (2010) ‘Working with Alcohol and Drug Use: Exploring Knowledge and Attitudes of Social Work Students’ British Journal of Social Work, 40(3): 946-962.

Farrow, K, Hughes, N, Paris, A and Prior, D. (2010) ‘New occupations in community justice: inventing the professional curriculum for community safety and anti social behaviour officers’ British Journal of Community Justice 8(2).

Hughes, N and Beirens H (2007) ‘Enhancing educational support: towards holistic, responsive and strength-based services for young refugees and asylum seekers’, Children and Society, 21 (4), 261–272.

Beirens, H, Hughes, N, Hek, R and Spicer. N (2007) ‘Preventing Social Exclusion of Refugee and Asylum Seeking Children: Building New Networks’, Social Policy and Society, 6:2, 219-229.

Hughes, N and Evans, R. (2007) ‘Some Useful Sources: Networks, Connectedness and resilience’. Social Policy and Society, 6:2, 275-278.

Blackburn, C. Read, J and Hughes, N. (2005) ‘Carers and the digital divide: factors affecting Internet use among carers in the UK.’ Health and Social Care in the Community. 2005 May; 13(3):201-10.


Davies, M.B. and Hughes, N. (2014) Doing a Successful Research Project. Palgrave Macmillian.

Book chapters

Hughes, N. (forthcoming) ‘Offenders with cognitive disorders’, in Morgan, R.D. (ed) Sage Encyclopaedia of Criminal Psychology, Sage.

Hughes, N., Chitsabesan, P., Williams, W.H. (forthcoming) ‘Neurodevelopmental impairment among young offenders: a focus on of foetal alcohol syndrome, learning disability, communication impairment and traumatic brain injury’ in Bailey, S. and Chitsabesan, P. (eds) Forensic Child and Adolescent Mental Health, Cambridge University Press.

Chitsabesan, P. and Hughes, N. (2015) ‘Psychiatric and Neurodevelopmental Disorders Amongst Young Offenders’ in Winstone, J. (ed) Mental Health, Crime and Criminal Justice: Responses and Reforms, Palgrave Macmillan.

Hughes, N. and Morris, K. (2014) 'Family Minded Policy and Practice: A critical analysis of contemporary approaches to vulnerable families'. In Hessle, S. (ed.) Social work – social development Vol III: global social transformation and social action: The role of social workers. Aldershot: Ashgate, pp. 128-131.

Hughes, N. (2012) ‘Antisocial youth and asocial communities: are British youth intolerant or intolerable?’ in Pickard, S. Nativel, C. and Portier-Le Cocq (eds) Les Politiques de jeunesse en mutation : désaffection, répression et accompagnement à la citoyenneté au Royaume-Uni et en France, Paris: Presses de la Sorbonne Nouvelle.

Hughes, N (2011) ‘Intolerant or Intolerable? Antisocial youth in asocial communities’ in Katherine Doolin, John Child, John Raine and Anthony Beech (eds) Whose Criminal Justice? Regulatory State or Empowered Communities? Hatfield: Waterside Press.

Hughes, N (2009) ‘Managerialism Subverted: exploring the activity of the ‘street-level bureaucrat’’ in Barnes, M. and Prior, D. Subversive Citizens. Bristol: Policy Press.

Clarke, H, Hughes, N and Morris, K (2008) ‘Whole Family Approaches: Responding to and Engaging with Complex Social Lives’ in Canali, C, Vecchiato, T and Whittaker, J.K. (eds) Assessing the Evidence Base of Intervention for Vulnerable Children and Their Families, Fondazione E. Zancan: Italy.

Hughes, N and Prior, D (2007) ‘Delivering youth justice through partnership working’ in Morris, K (ed) Social work and multi-agency working: Challenges and opportunities, Bristol: The Policy Press.

Hughes, N. Mason, P. and Prior, D. (2007) ‘Socialisation of Crime Control?’, in Centre for Crime and Justice Studies (2007) Social Justice and Criminal Justice. CCJS: London. pp. 216-231.


Hughes, N. (2016) The Burgeoning Influence of Developmental Neuroscience on Policy-Making: contrasted tales of pitfalls and potentials. Issues Paper Series. Melbourne School of Government: Melbourne.

Hughes, N. and Chitsabesan, P. (2015) ‘Justice Matters: Support for young people with neurodevelopmental impairments’, Centre for Crime and Justice Studies Working Paper, CCJS: London.

Hughes, N. (2015) ‘Neurodisability in the youth justice system: recognising and responding to the criminalisation of neurodevelopmental impairment’, Howard League for Penal Reform, What is Justice? Series.

Hughes, N, Williams, H, Chitsabesan, P, Davies, R. and Mounce, L. (2012) Nobody Made the Connection: The prevalence of neurodisability in young people who offend. London: Office of the Children’s Commissioner.

Prior, D, Farrow, K, Hughes, N, Kelly, G, Manders, G, White, S, and Wilkinson, B (2011) Maturity, young adults and criminal justice: A literature review. London: Transition to Adulthood Alliance / Barrow Cadbury Trust.

Mason. P and Hughes, N (2009) Access to Justice for Vulnerable Groups. London: Ministry of Justice.

Commission for Social Care Inspectorate (Hughes, N. and Clarke, H) (2009) Supporting disabled parents: A family or a fragmented approach? London: CSCI.

Morris, K., Hughes, N., Clarke, H et al (2008) Think Family: a review of whole family approaches. London: Cabinet Office. ISBN: 0711504814

Hughes, N and Fielding, A. (2006) Children’s Fund Approaches to Targeting Social Exclusion. London: DfES.

Beirens, H, Spicer N, Hughes N, Mason P and Hek R (2006) Preventative Services for Asylum Seeking Children. London: DfES.

National Evaluation of the Children’s Fund (2006) Working to Prevent the Social Exclusion of Children and Young People: Final Lessons from the National Evaluation of the Children’s Fund, London: DfES