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Dr Mary Sawtell
UCL Institute of Education, University College London
20 Bedford Way
London
WC1H 0AL
Dr Mary Sawtell profile picture
Appointment
  • Associate Professor
  • IOE - Social Research Institute
  • UCL Institute of Education
Biography

I have a background as a nurse and health visitor having gained a First Class BA(hons) degree in Nursing Studies and a distinction in my Health Visiting diploma in the 1980s. I practiced as an NHS health visitor until 2019, often working both part-time as a clinician and as an academic. I have been employed as a health visitor in refugee camps for an NGO in Africa and as a health visiting lecturer in London and Sheffield.  I gained an MSc in Medical Sociology in 1996 and a PhD at UCL in 2018. I was a research assistant on cancer studies at UCL in the 1990s and joined the Institute of Education in 1999 as a research health visitor.  Since then I have developed multi-methods research skills and have managed randomised controlled trials of social interventions with integrated process evaluations as well as smaller, mixed methods observational studies. 

My PhD is in practitioner/ researcher collaboration on randomised controlled trials of complex interventionsMy unique positioning at the interface of research and allied health practitioner practice provides me with significant insights and opportunities which continue to be beneficial in terms of production of high quality co-produced nationally important evidence, and research-enabling activities.

I am a fellow and research champion for the Institute of Health Visiting.

Research Summary


I am a Research Officer/trial manager at the Social Research Unit, UCL Institute of Education. As an academic, who has also practiced until 2019 as an NHS allied health practitioner, I have a distinctive clinical/research profile.  I have over 20 years’ experience working on both large and small-scale evaluations in health and education.  In particular I have applied mixed method approaches to the design and delivery of complex intervention trials. My health research has included studies of; antenatal and maternity care; neonatal care; parenting; postnatal depression; teenage pregnancy; domestic violence; homelessness; health education for young people with diabetes as well as a range of programmes to improve the health, well-being and life chances of disadvantaged young people.  I am currently trial manager on a large NIHR funded programme of research of community health interventions focused on antenatal care (The REACH programme).  I am also currently providing qualitative research and PPI expertise on the neoWonder study which aims to improve the lifelong health and wellbeing of preterm babies by using routine data to evaluate the long-term impact of neonatal interventions. My education research has included RCTs of education interventions for the Education Endowment Foundation: the use of handheld feedback devices; the teaching of foreign languages; the impact of chess lessons in primary schools.  My research has informed national and local policy and practice.


Personal country knowledge
  • Japan

Teaching Summary

I lead the dissertation module for three masters programmes in the SRI.  These are MSc Social Policy and Social Research; MSc Social Policy and Social Research (with Systematic Reviews) and MSc Social Research Methods.

I also co-lead the 4 week introduction to qualitative interviewing course for the IOE doctoral school. This course runs three times a year.

In addition, I teach on the undergraduate module Understanding Social Policy and the masters programme ‘Infancy and early Childhood Development’. I supervise students completing their masters degree and PhD students.

I supervise qualitative masters dissertations and doctoral studies.

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