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Dr Adam Cooper
4th Floor
Shropshire House
11-20 Capper Street
  • Lecturer
  • STEaPP
  • Faculty of Engineering Science
UCL Principal Supervisor,UCL Subsidiary Supervisor

Dr Adam C Cooper is an applied interdisciplinary social scientist with over 10 years direct experience of the UK Civil Service. His focus is on the use of technical advice for (mainly energy) policy, and developing new field methods for socio-technical research. Adam has been a lecturer in social science and public policy at STEaPP since September 2013.  Prior to joining UCL he was the Head of Social Science Engagement at the UK government Department of Energy and Climate Change from 2011. While there he set up the first Whitehall Social Science Expert Panel, joint with Defra, and developed the department’s first Evidence Strategy.  Between 2006 and 2011 Adam was the Head of Research at the Department of Culture, Medial and Sport, where he led the Culture and Sport Evidence Programme – an interdisciplinary strategic programme of research and analysis aimed directly at informing cultural policy.  He joined the UK Civil Service in 2002 working first in the area of child poverty, before working on analysis to support the workforce development strategy for the children’s social care. He started his career as an academic at Birmingham University working in the field of cognitive neuropsychology, where he published several peer-reviewed articles. Adam holds a PhD in Cognitive Neuropsychology from Birmingham, an MSc in Cognitive Science and Natural Language from Edinburgh and a BSc in Psychology from Stirling.

Research Groups
Research Summary

I am principally involved in understanding how best to undertake technical research (engineering and physical sciences) in order to make it 'speak' more directly to public policy. My approach as a social scientist is to understand the end to end process: underlying epistemologies and ontologies, theoretic approaches and models of the world, research methods and designs, data analysis, interpretation and deployment into policy. There is a fundamental conflict between processes of research and modes of understanding and valuing elements of reality between physical sciences and public policy. I think that social sciences hold the key to driving more social elements into technical research and analysis and to that end I am developing a systematic approach to understanding what 'socio-technical' research is or could be.


Here is a list of selected research projects that I have been involved in since starting at UCL in September 2013:

  • Co-I - EPSRC Smart Meter Research Portal, from Sept 2017
  • PI - UCL Grand Challenges - Physics and Energy Social Research (Phaesr), from June 2017
  • Co-PI – DECC/RCUK CEE, UK Energy Lab Feasibility Study; Jan to Nov 2014
  • Contributing author - Lancet Commission – climate change and health; completed Jan 2015
  • PI – DECC Warm Home Discount Scheme policy evaluation advice; Oct-Dec 2014

Policy Research and Evaluation Consultancy

I am also a leading member of three UCL consortia that have successfully joined framework contracts at both the UK and EU government level:

  • A joint UCL STEaPP/Energy Institute/ISR/Economics group on the DECC-led evaluation advice framework
  • A UCL CEGE-led group for a DfT evaluation framework
  • A member of the UCL team for the EU DG ENER on energy efficiency

Teaching Summary

I am an associate fellow of the HEA and undertake mainly postgraduate teaching at UCL. I plan to get involved in providing executive education in the area of research for public policy. Here are the different teaching I have been involved in. 

Planning and development 

  • STEaPP Undergraduate Engineering Minor, Introduction to Public Policy
  • STEaPP MPA in Science, Engineering and Public Policy, curriculum design and delivery
  • MPA Scenarios oversight 
  • STEaPP DPA research in practice and policy portfolio

Teaching contributions 2014/15 

  • How to Change the World – 2 week undergraduate intensive engineering course, June 2014
  • STEPGP02: Organisations in their external environment. Course co-convener on the MPA in Science/Engineering and Public Policy, Oct 2014
  • STEPGP06: Analytic methods for policy. Course co-convener on the MPA in Science/Engineering and Public Policy, Jan-Mar 2015 Personal Tutor on MPA 2014/15 
  • BENVGEC01 – MSc in Economics and Policy of Energy and the Environment, sessions on policy research methods and practice Nov 2013, Mar 2014 
  • GEOLGR01: Integrating science into risk and disaster reduction – session on science advice Nov 2014
  • Institute of Education MSc Social Policy – session on policy case studies Nov 2014 
  • Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology training session for parliamentary research staff – Invited expert on using evidence in policy practice June 2014

16-SEP-2013 Lecturer in Policy Research and Practice Science, Technology, Engineering and Public Policy (STEaPP) UCL, United Kingdom
03-OCT-2011 – 13-SEP-2013 Head of Social Science Engagement Department of Energy and Climate Change UK Government, United Kingdom
16-JUN-2006 – 10-OCT-2011 Head of Research Department for Culture, Media and Sport UK Government, United Kingdom
03-DEC-2002 – 14-JUN-2006 Social Researcher Department for Children, Schools and Families UK Government, United Kingdom
Academic Background
1999   Doctor of Philosophy University of Birmingham
1995   Master of Science University of Edinburgh
1993   Bachelor of Science (Honours) University of Stirling
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