School of Sociology and Social Policy

Laura Anne Hickman

ESRC DTC PhD Researcher,


Teaching Summary

Laura Hickman (AFHEA) has taught seminars on the following modules:

  • Understanding Contemporary Society (First year undergraduate)
  • Investigating Social Worlds (First year undergraduate)
  • Foundations in Qualitative Methods (Postgraduate)

Research Summary

Current Status

PhD (full-time) - thesis pending

Research Topic Title

The experiences of front-line staff working directly with benefit claimants

Research Summary

Laura's PhD research is a qualitative project looking at the experiences of staff employed by the Department for Work and Pensions, Local Authorities and in the voluntary sector who work face-to-face or over the telephone with benefit claimants. The study investigates what these roles involve, what effects this type of work has on staff and explores whether social security reforms and changes to working environments have altered staff interactions with claimants. She aims to find out how staff manage any difficult interactions at work and whether they feel there is enough support offered by their employer and is particularly interested in uncovering how changes as a result of the Welfare Reform Act 2012 may have impacted staff as they are required to be the face of the benefit reforms and are currently experiencing a period of major upheaval in their workplaces.

Research Supervisors

Primary Funding Source

ESRC Doctoral Training Partnership

Research Centre Memberships

International Centre for Public and Social Policy

Identities, Citizenship, Equalities and Migration Centre

Conference Presentations

WORK2019: 'Real Work in the Virtual World' (University of Helsinki, 14-16th August 2019) - ''Digital by default' on the front line: The experiences of UK benefit advisors during the implementation of social security reforms'

CERIC Doctoral Conference 2019: The Changing Nature of Work (University of Leeds, 22nd May 2019) 'Austerity on the front line: the experiences of benefit advisors during the implementation of social security reforms'

Teaching and Learning Conference 2019 (University of Nottingham, 3rd May 2019) - ''Getting in is one challenge but staying there is a whole different ballgame': the experiences of students from low-income backgrounds at The University of Nottingham'

Past Research

In January 2019 Laura completed a research report funded by the Students' Union for the University of Nottingham's Teaching and Learning Board exploring the experiences of students from low income backgrounds at the University of Nottingham, focusing on their experiences of belonging and inductions, academic support and careers guidance.

School of Sociology and Social Policy

Law and Social Sciences building
University of Nottingham
University Park
Nottingham, NG7 2RD

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