Karen Rowlingson


Karen Rowlingson joined the Department of Social Policy and Social Work in February 2007 as Professor of Social Policy.  She is currently Chair of the Social Policy Association (from 2019), and Member of REF 2021 sub-panel for Social Work and Social Policy (UoA 20). From 2016-2017 she was the Specialist Advisor to the House of Lords Select Committee on Financial Exclusion.  After studying Modern History at Oxford University and Sociology at the LSE, Karen then worked at the Policy Studies Institute in London before becoming an academic at the Universities of Derby and then Bath.  From 2010-2012 she was the Vice Chair of the ESRC's Research Committee and Chair of its Grants Delivery Group.  Karen was Founding Director of CHASM (the Research Centre on Household Assets and Savings Management) in 2010 and Deputy Head of College for the College of Social Sciences from 2017-2019.

Research interests

Karen's research interests lie within the field of social policy and focus on the financial security of individuals, families and households including: assets and asset-based welfare; poverty, wealth and inequality; social security policy; financial capability and education (including savings, pensions, credit and debt).  As well as looking at individual behaviour in relation to personal finance she is interested in the role of the state, the financial services sector, employers and the third sector in delivering financial security.  Her research is strongly empirical involving a broad range of rigorous research methods. She has a particularly strong methodological expertise in designing quantitative surveys and mixing qualitative with quantitative methods.

Education/Academic qualification

  • Doctor of Philosophy, University of Bath

    Social Policy

  • Master in Science, London School of Economics and Political Science


  • Bachelor of Arts, University of Oxford

    Modern History

Willingness to take PhD students


PhD projects

poverty, wealth, inequality, social security, personal finance

Sustainable Development Goals