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Social Work: People


Autumn Roesch-Marsh

Autumn Roesch-Marsh
Dr Autumn Roesch-Marsh
Senior Lecturer in Social Work and Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy
2.08 Chrystal Macmillan Building 15a George Square Edinburgh UK EH8 9LD
+44 (0)131 651 3870
Research Interests
Decision making, gender, Social Work education, Social Work, children and families social work practice, Participation, social pedagogy, Empathy, Care experience, Relationship-based practice, Risk, organizations and institutions, African security

Guidance and Feedback Hours

  • 9.30 a.m to 10.30 a.m. Wednesdays or by appointment

Current Research and Teaching Interests

I am a qualified social worker with a passion for social work education and working with children and their families.  I am a Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy and teach across postgraduate and undergraduate courses. I have a keen interest in practice and research informed teaching that is experiential and I am interested in developing scholarship in the area of learning and teaching. My teaching interests include child and family social work, community social work, and social work skills and values.  These values are reflected in the work I did with colleagues for the Review of Social Work Eduction, Inquiry Area 4:  Philosophies of Learning in Social Work Education.  My book A Guide to Therapeutic Childcare, co-authored with Dr Ruth Emond and Dr Laura Steckley, draws on my practice and teaching experiences and illustrates my practical and research informed approach to teaching and writing.

Much of my research to date has focused on developing understanding of the needs of people with care experience in Scotland and theoretical models for thinking about the dynamics and imperatives that drive social work decision making in the field of Children and Families. I have expertise in using mixed methods, action research and case studies to explore the multi-dimensional nature of many practice problems. 

I value knowledge exchange and have been invited to run workshops and seminars for Local Authorities (including City of Edinburgh, Glasgow and Fife) and for Voluntary Sector organisations (such as the Edinburgh Development Group) and Centres for social work and social policy research such as the Centre for Excellence for Looked After Children, the Centre for Youth and Criminal Justice, and With Scotland. 

I have an interest in Action Research approaches and I am keen to work in partnership with students, social work practitioners and service users to develop research.  Action research project have included the Camphill Communities Social Pedagogy Pilot Evaluation, the Engaging Children and Young People in Group Decision Making  project with partners in the City of Edinburgh Council. 

I also have an interest in transitions and integration, publications related to my Froebel Trust funded project Supporting migrant and BME children’s transitions to primary school  with partners Dr Fiona Morrison, Dr Christina McMellon and the MCFB are under development.  The project sought to develop our understanding of the needs of migrant and BME children and their families during the transtition from early years services to primary school.   

I am currently PI on a year long project funded by eNurture : Care leaver relationships, mental health and social media You can read about some of our emerging findings in the Social Work 2020 under Covid-19, link below.

Further work to support those with care experience includes a partnership Knowledge Exchange Project with Dr Pearce McCusker, Dr Christina McMellon and young people from the Who Cares? Trust.  We are currently developing mental health for residential workers, social workers and foster carers.  

I am also working with Dr Ariane Critchley and Scottish Poetry Library to develop an anthology for newly qualified social worker.  You can read more about this project at:

This project also links to the work of the Empathy Network and the Centre for Creative Relational Inquiry.  

PhD Supervision

I am currently supervising seven PhD students.  Topics include: Carer Leaver Outcomes, Poverty and Social Work Decision Making in Children and Families, Kinship Care, Adoption Disruption, Foster Care Recruitment, Therapuetic Schools in the USA and Child Protection Decision Making in Health Visiting. 

Career History

I moved to Scotland from the USA after completing my undergraduate degree at Georgetown University in Washington, DC.  I worked for a number of years in the voluntary sector before undertaking a Master in Social Work at the University of Edinburgh.  After qualifying as a social worker I worked in various child and family focused settings including residential child care, the community and schools.  I have experience of teaching in both the further education and higher education sector and completed my PhD in Social Work at the University of Edinburgh in 2011.  

Recent Publications

Roesch-Marsh, A. and Emond, R. (forthcoming)  Care experience and friendship: Theory and international evidence to improve practice and future research.  British Journal of Social Work

McGhee, K. and Roesch-Marsh, A. (2020) Bridging the digital divide for care experienced young people:  If not now, when?  CELCIS, available at:

Roesch-Marsh, A. (2020) Digital Exclusion and Care Leavers: It's time for social work to join this fight.  Social Work 2020 under Covid-19 Magazine, available at:

Critchley, A. and Roesch-Marsh, A (2020) An Uncertain Future: Poetry as a response to the impact of Covid-19 on social work.  Social Work 2020 under Covid-19 Magazine, available at:

Kirkwood, S., Roesch-Marsh, A., & Cooper, S. (2019). Evaluating social pedagogy in the UK: Methodological issues. Qualitative Social Work18(1), 8–23.

Emond, R., Steckley, S. and Roesch-Marsh, A. (2018) Parallel Processes: Getting it Write? Journal of Social Work Practice

Roesch-Marsh, A. (2018). Professional relationships and decision making in social work: Lessons from a Scottish case study of secure accommodation decision making. Qualitative Social Work17(3), 405–422. 

Roesch‐Marsh, A., Gillies, A., and Green, D. ( 2017) Nurturing the virtuous circle: Looked After Children's participation in reviews, a cyclical and relational process. Child & Family Social Work, 22: 904– 913. doi: 10.1111/cfs.12310.

Duncan, H. and Roesch-Marsh, A. (2017) The Ecology of Judgement: A Model for Understanding and Improving Social Work Judgements, The British Journal of Social Work,  47 (5): 1361–1376,

Emond, R., Steckley, L. and Roesch-Marsh, A. (2016) A Guide to Therapeutic Childcare.  London: Jessica Kingsley. 

Roesch-Marsh, A., Cooper, S. and Kirkwood, S.  (2015)  Social Pedagogy Pilot Project Evaluation Report.  Edinburgh: University of Edinburgh.

Roesch-Marsh, A.  (2013) Risk assessment and secure accommodation decision making in Scotland:  Taking account of gender? Child Abuse Review

Roesch-Marsh, A. (2012)  Behaviour as communication: understanding the needs of neglected and abused adolescents.  Stirling: WithScotland.

Mitchell, F., Roesch-Marsh, A. and Robb, L. (2012) Taking stock of alternatives to secure accommodation or custody for girls and young women in Scotland. Edinburgh: CJSW.

Roesch-Marsh, A (2012) 'Out of Control':Making Sense of the Behaviour of Young People Referred to Secure Accommodation.  British Journal of Social Work, doi: 10.1093/bjsw/bcs102.

Roesch-Marsh, A. (2011) Better Together? Learning lessons for group decision-making practice from a study of secure accommodation in Scotland.  Child and Family Social Work.

Helm, D. and Roesch-Marsh, A. (2011) Ecology of Judgement in Child Welfare and Protection: A Seminar Report Stirling: Scottish Child Care and Protection Network.

Roesch-Marsh, A., Gadda, A. and Smith, D. (2011) ‘It’s a tricky business’: The impact of identity work in negotiating research access, Qualitative Social Work.

Roesch-Marsh, A. (2010) Risky Enough? Perspectives on Responding to ‘Risky’ Behaviour.  Paper Presented at Annual Scottish Institute for Residential Childcare Conference, Aviemore, UK, 9 June 2010.

Roesch-Marsh, A. (2010) Social Work Decision Making: A systems outcome? Paper presented at the Annual British Sociological Association Conference, Glasgow Caledonian University, UK, 7 April 2010.

Roesch-Marsh, A. (2007)  Risk Discourses and the Construction of Young People Who Are Considered for Secure Accommodation in Scotland.  Paper Presented at International Conference: Working with Young People At De Monfort University, Leicester, UK, 15 June 2007.

Roesch-Marsh, A and Morton, S (2007) Impact Study: ESRC Sponsored ‘Knowledge-exchange’ Seminar Series 2006.  University of Edinburgh Child and Youth Studies Network.

Roesch-Marsh, A. (2005)  Good enough care?  Looking after sexually abused young people in residential care.  Scottish Journal of Residential Child Care, Vol. 4, No. 1, February/ March pp. 45-58.

Topics interested in supervising

I am particularly interested in supervising PhD students researching topics related to looked after children/ people with care experience, child and family social work, social work decision making and organisational culture in social service and social welfare organisations.

If you are interested in being supervised by Autumn Roesch-Marsh, please see the links below for more information:

PhD in Social Policy; PhD in Social Work; MSc (R) Social Policy; MSc (R) Social Work