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  • 5th

    in the UK for research

    Source: Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2021 (Social Work and Social Policy unit of assessment)

  • 93%

    of our research outputs rated world-leading or internationally excellent

    Source: Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2021 (Social Work and Social Policy unit of assessment)

  • Global influence

    We partner with organisations worldwide and have alumni in nearly 50 countries from our distance-learning and in-person graduate programmes


About the Department of Gerontology

As the only gerontology department in UK higher education, we lead the way in advancing the study and understanding of ageing. Our mission is to combine world-leading research with high-quality teaching to address the challenges and harness the opportunities brought about by population ageing. 

Our interdisciplinary research uncovers critical connections between individual behaviour, socio-economic structures and policy environments in shaping experiences in later life.

We study a range of issues relevant to gerontology in different national contexts. These include caregiving, pensions, diversity and health.

Our courses

Our postgraduate degree courses address major challenges such as:

  • meeting long-term care needs sustainably
  • behaviours over the lifecourse that contribute to healthy ageing
  • addressing socioeconomic inequalities on a global scale
  • mental health and wellbeing

Our flexible MSc courses welcome students from all disciplinary backgrounds to study on campus or by distance-learning. We also run optional modules open to all Southampton undergraduates. We provide outstanding teaching and support, and we get consistently positive feedback from students.

Graduates go on to work in a variety of fields, such as academic and private-sector research, government departments, non-governmental organisations, health and social care management, social work, and medicine and allied health services.

Read how an online master’s graduate is advocating for older people

We also offer a range of continuing professional development (CPD) courses.

Our impact

Gerontology staff and alumni shape public understanding about ageing and later life by challenging stereotypes through empirical evidence. We share our findings in a variety of formats, including:

  • animated short films, virtual art galleries and videos
  • interactive workshops with communities
  • financial literacy training in schools

We turn research into real-world impact by working closely with stakeholders such as:

  • HelpAge International
  • AgeUK
  • the UK Office of National Statistics
  • World Health Organization (WHO)
  • International Federation on Ageing (IFA)
Elisabeth Schroeder-Butterfill interviews two Indonesian women as part of her research. They are sitting on benches and smiling.
Dr Elisabeth Schroeder-Butterfill, right, carries out interviews as part of her research into the realities of caregiving in Indonesia.

Research expertise

Gerontology is the scientific study of ageing. Gerontologists are interested in individual-level changes as people get older, and in how societies respond to the challenges and opportunities of population ageing.

Gerontology is a highly interdisciplinary field. Our department members have backgrounds in social policy, public health, demography, psychology, sociology, geography, social anthropology, statistics and economics.

In the most recent Research Excellence Framework (REF 2021), 93% of our research outputs were judged world-leading or internationally excellent. The Unit of Assessment to which we contributed, Social Work and Social Policy, was 5th in the UK.

Our expertise covers a range of areas relevant to policy. Examples include:

  • long-term, informal and community care for older people
  • older people's contributions to families, societies and the economy
  • ethnic differences across the life course
  • pension protection
  • intergenerational relationships
  • dementia
  • mental health and wellbeing in later life
  • active and healthy ageing

We have advanced methodological expertise in:

  • quantitative analysis (including longitudinal analysis) of survey data from the UK, China, India and
  • Sub-Saharan Africa
  • spatial analysis
  • thematic analysis
  • ethnography and participant observation
  • documentary analysis and literature reviews
  • mixed methods

Our research is funded by highly competitive funders such as the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), National Institute of Health Research (NIHR), Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) and Research England.

Impact and knowledge exchange

We promote public understanding of ageing and later life by challenging stereotypes with empirical evidence.

How we’re achieving impact

By working closely with non-academic partners, our research helps to inform policies and practices in a variety of settings. These are some examples of how we’re achieving impact:

  • As part of an ESRC project on pensions, we’re delivering training in financial literacy to pupils at Cantell School, Southampton. We are also working with colleagues in the Department for Work and Pensions to improve data collection on financial security among minority ethnic groups.
  • A collaboration with Compassionate Cuppa will tackle the obstacles that older adults in Southampton face in accessing mental health support.
  • Research on the impact of the menopause on employment among UK women was quoted in the New York Times and discussed in the House of Commons.
  • Research on satisfaction with social care services among ethnic minority groups was used as evidence towards the NICE Guideline 86 on Improving Service User Experience in Social Care.
  • Research on hearing health led to the development of a policy brief on integrating hearing care into health strategies.
  • Research on the role of community volunteers in supporting informal carers of older people in Indonesia led to the development of a training handbook for volunteers and the delivery of training courses in Indonesia. Watch Elisabeth’s YouTube video about caregiving in Indonesia


We maintain active collaborations with local, national and international stakeholders.

Local collaborations

In Southampton and Hampshire we work with:

  • AgeUK Southampton
  • Southampton City Council
  • Hampshire County Council
  • Citizen’s Advice Southampton
  • Hansard Gallery
  • Cantell School
  • Communicare
    Compassionate Cuppa
  • Portsmouth City Council
  • Solent Adult Mental Health Services
National collaborations

We work with many organisations across the UK, including:

  • Institute for Fiscal Studies
  • Department for Work and Pensions
  • Runnymede Trust
  • UK Hearing Conservation Association (UKHCA)
  • Royal National Institute for Deaf People (RNID)
  • National Health Service (NHS)
  • Irish in Britain
  • London Irish Centre
International collaborations

Our global partners include:

  • World Health Organisation (WHO)
  • International Federation on Ageing (IFA)
  • HelpAge International
  • Asian Development Bank
  • United Nations Economic Commission for Europe
  • HelpAge Kenya
  • Gerontological Society of America (GSA)

Presentations and keynote speeches

We are frequently invited to speak at conferences, campaign launches, symposiums and other events. This is a great way for us to communicate impact, influence policy and build networks.

Events we have spoken at include:

  • Global Conference on Ageing
  • the World Health Organization's Make Listening Safe campaign launch
  • a Department for Work and Pensions conference about possible futures for welfare delivery
  • Metropolitan Police's National Inclusion Week
  • Social Protection Conference, Kenya

Sector influence

We have a significant influence on the gerontology community nationally and internationally.

Our staff members publish in leading journals such as:

  • Ageing and Society
  • Journals of Gerontology, Series B
  • The Gerontologist
  • Journal of Social Policy
  • Social Science & Medicine
  • Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies
  • Social Policy and Administration

Our members play important roles in scientific endeavours devoted to gerontology and social policy, including:

Professor Maria Evandrou:

  • Member of the ESRC Inclusive Ageing Grants Panel
  • Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences
  • Expert adviser for the Living Pension Project Advisory Group and the Resolution Foundation

Christoph Heuser:

  • Book review editor for Ageing and Society
  • Treasurer for the British Society of Gerontology’s Emerging Researchers in Ageing (BSG-ERA)

Dr Elisabeth Schroeder-Butterfill:

  • Editorial board member, Ageing and Society
  • Editorial board member, Journal of Cross-Cultural Gerontology
  • Joint leader of the British Society of Gerontology’s Special Interest Group on Ageing in Africa,Asia and Latin America

Dr Dalia Tsimpida:

  • Committee member of the World Health Organization's World Hearing Forum
  • Chartered Psychologist and Associate Fellow of the British Psychological Society (BPS)
  • Faculty Advisor for the University of Southampton's Student Chapter of the Gerontological
  • Society of America (GSA)
  • Associate Editor, Ageing & Society

Professor Athina Vlachantoni:

  • Deputy editor, Ageing & Society
  • Editorial board member, Journal of Social Policy
  • Chair of the ESRC Grant Assessment Panel A
  • Chair, Wellcome Trust Discovery Panel (Social Sciences)
  • Director, ESRC South Coast Doctoral Training Partnership

Dr Rosalind Willis:

  • Advisory panel member for studies on: women with dementia and pelvic organ prolapse; and on inter, intra-generational and transnational caring in ethnic minority communities
  • Former treasurer, British Society of Gerontology

Equality, diversity and inclusion

We have a diverse and international staff and student body. We foster a vibrant and inclusive community where varied perspectives enrich our collective learning experience.

Our Athena SWAN Bronze Award highlights our commitment to gender equality.

Our courses


Learn more about the work of our expert academics, and the difference it’s making to people all over the world.

Our research community

These are the research centres we contribute to within the wider University.


Gerontology is critical for understanding the challenges and opportunities of ageing societies. Our interdisciplinary research informs our world-leading teaching programmes to equip future generations of leaders.
I am collaborating with local stakeholders in Southampton to assess and improve mental health support pathways for older adults.
Lecturer in Gerontology
Tutor support is essential in developing academic skills in gerontology and research methods. My role is to assist students in reaching their full potential.
Senior Tutor and Teaching Fellow

Work with us

  • Two social sciences students chat together in a university cafe

    Jobs at Southampton

    From teaching to research, find out about roles at the Department of Gerontology and the wider University.

Contact us

Talk to us, we’re happy to help

Call or email Dr Elisabeth Schroeder-Butterfill with general enquiries.
Department of Gerontology, Building 58, University of Southampton, University Road, Southampton SO17 1BJ
We’re open Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm (UK time)

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