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The University of Southampton
Economic, Social and Political Sciences
(023) 8059 5367

Dr Rosalind Willis BSc, MSc, PhD

Associate Professor in Gerontology, Faculty Director of Graduate School

Dr Rosalind Willis

I joined the Centre for Research on Ageing in 2010, and I teach and conduct research on the topics of ethnicity, care and support, and dementia.

Although ethnicity and culture shape how we think about care in later life, all groups are united by a dedication to support family and friends.

I am interested in research on support and care in later life, and much of my work has a focus on ethnic diversity. I am originally from County Meath in the Republic of Ireland, and my experience as a first generation migrant to Britain has influenced my research interests. Questions I have considered in my research include: What are the determinants of informal support, and what evidence is there for or against the stereotypes surrounding ethnicity and care? How do people from different ethnic groups talk about motivations for providing care? Why do people from minority ethnic groups report lower satisfaction levels with social care services than people from white groups? My research aims to provide recommendations to policy makers and practitioners to ensure services meet the needs of the whole community.

Other research interests include mental health and ageing, dementia, schizophrenia and personality disorder. I have a particular interest in service evaluations, and equality of access to services. My evaluation of the Croydon Memory Service informed the development of England’s National Dementia Strategy in 2009. I was a co-applicant on the University of Southampton’s Doctoral Training Centre in Dementia Care, funded by the Alzheimer’s Society, which launched in 2015. My research into the understandings of dementia in Pakistan provided important new data from a low-and-middle-income context.

I teach on the MSc in Gerontology, the MSc in Gerontology (Distance Learning), and MSc in Global Ageing & Policy (Distance Learning), and I supervise PhD students. I also provide qualitative methods and NVivo software training. I am the Faculty Director of Graduate School, and I have conducted research on the emotional impacts of research on PhD students.

I am a member of the British Society of Gerontology, and I was the Treasurer of the BSG Executive Committee (2014-2017). I chaired the University of Southampton’s conference organisational committee in 2014 when we hosted the 43rd BSG annual conference.

Research interests

My research interests include critically exploring how ethnicity patterns experiences in later life, especially in terms of informal care, social support, social care service use, and equality of access to services.  I am also interested in the mental health of older people (especially dementia), and experiences of carers for people with mental health problems. Recognising that research can have an emotional impact on the researcher, I have also investigated the emotional impacts of PhD research on students.

Research Projects

Emotions in PhD research

Funded by the Centre for Higher Education Practice at the University of Southampton, this project investigated the ways in which Doctoral research students can be emotionally affected by their research. The project was carried out by Dr Rosalind Willis (PI), Dr Ruben Sanchez-Garcia, and PhD students Heather Mulkey and Paul Lewzey.

Dementia in Pakistan

Funded by Age UK, Age International, HelpAge International, and Alzheimer’s Disease International, this project aimed to explore the understandings and perceptions of dementia in Pakistan. Led by Prof Asghar Zaidi, this project involved a collaboration between Dr Rosalind Willis at Southampton, colleagues at Brighton and Sussex Medical School, and Aga Khan University in Pakistan.

Ethnic group differences in satisfaction with social care

Funded by the NIHR School for Social Care Research, this project explored the reasons for lower levels of satisfaction with social care services among South Asian groups.  Dr Rosalind Willis (principal investigator) and colleagues (Professor Maria Evandrou, Dr Pathik Pathak, and Dr Priya Khambhaita) investigated the experiences with social care services among South Asian and White British groups, as well as the views of social service staff members on the reasons behind low satisfaction levels. Recommendations were made for the design of social care services for enhanced satisfaction.

Modelling future health and social care need

The EPSRC-funded project called The Care Life Cycle developed a suite of models reflecting the supply and demand for health and social care in the UK. The multidisciplinary project involved colleagues from the Centre for Research on Ageing, the ESRC Centre for Population Change, the Centre for Operational Research, Management and Information Systems, and the Institute for Complex Systems Simulation.

Faculty Director of Graduate School

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Book Chapters



Working Papers

  • GERO6018 Perspectives in Gerontology / GERO6010 Perspectives in Gerontology (DL) / GERO6026 Global Perspectives in Gerontology (DL)
  • GERO6017 Researching Ageing Societies / GERO6013 Researching Ageing Societies (DL)
  • GERO6020 Ageing, Health & Wellbeing / GERO6011 Ageing, Health & Wellbeing (DL)
  • GERO6014 Quantitative Research Methods (DL)
  • GERO6015 Qualitative Research Methods (DL)
  • GERO6023 Mental Health & Ageing (DL)
  • GERO6025 Policy Evaluation for Ageing Societies (DL)
  • RESM6003 Qualitative Research Methods 1
  • RESM6305 Mixed Methods
  • STAT2009 Research Methods in the Social Sciences
Dr Rosalind Willis
Reception Building 58 University of Southampton Southampton SO17 1BJ United Kingdom

Room Number : 58/4111

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