Manchester Metropolitan University

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Research Centre for Applied Social Sciences

Critically-engaged research informing and transforming local and academic communities together.

Introduction to RCASS


The Research Centre for Applied Social Sciences (RCASS) at Manchester Metropolitan University brings together researchers belonging to the departments of Sociology, Geography, InfoComms and Languages. Hosted by the Faculty of Arts and Humanities, the aim of RCASS is to produce critically-engaged, high quality research that challenges common-sense ways about how we think about the world and our place in it.
The Centre provides an inter-disciplinary home for critical research that contributes to policy-making debates and decision-making, while genuinely impacting upon the work and strategies of local organisations and communities. This work builds upon the excellent result in the Research Excellence Framework 2014 in which 67% of the Sociology (UoA23) submission was deemed of 3 or 4* quality.
The Centre houses the work of The Policy Evaluation Research Unit (PERU), The Manchester Centre for Youth Studies (MCYS), the Manchester Q Step Centre and the Crime & Well-being Big Data Centre. Other areas of expertise include criminology, multi-media journalism and human geography. High quality PhD supervision is available in all these areas.
It is this combination of social scientific disciplines, expertise and a determination to shed critical light on the most important ‘real world’ issues of the day that makes RCASS what it is: a Research Centre designed to have a real policy impact at a local, regional, national and global level and one that isn’t afraid to make a bit of a ruckus along the way.

Centre Contacts

Our expertise

Research Group

Global Change and Social Transformations Group

Group Lead

This network group is based around inter-related themes on global and social transformations, focussing particularly on the socio-cultural, economic and gender dimensions in a comparative and international framework.

The network focuses on the following research themes:

  • Global socio-economic inequalities
  • International Migration and Inter-cultural communication (China, India, Latin America, Europe and the UK)
  • Global Girls: Bodies, Ethnicity and Gender
  • Gender and Sexual Harassment at Work (UK, Africa and South Asia)
  • Global Work , Economy and Enterprises (China, EU; East Africa)

Visit the group website


Manchester Centre for Youth Studies

The Manchester Centre for Youth Studies (MCYS) was established in 2014 and brings together researchers from across the university – including the humanities, social sciences and education – to explore how the meanings, experiences and representations of youth have changed over time.‌Our vision is to become world leaders in enabling and creating youth-informed, youth-led research which will positively impact on young people’s lives and increase academic understanding. MCYS aims to examine the competing conceptualisations of childhood and youth, while providing an opportunity to develop novel perspectives and new approaches to historical and contemporary understandings of youth. In so doing, it encourages opportunities to compare and contrast trends - regionally, nationally and internationally - in a variety of contexts.

Group Contacts



Q-Step Centre

The Q-Step Centre is a centre for excellence in quantitative methods and was established in 2013.  It is joint funded by the Nuffield Foundation-ESRC-HECFCE to develop innovative pedagogies to engage, enthuse and upskill students, across the educational lifecourse, in quantitative methods.  The Q-Step centre is home to the Numeracy Project which supports students across the institution.  The Q-Step Centre is in partnership with over 25 locally based organisations, including Manchester United, Barnardos, British Red Cross, National Football Museum, and HMI Probation. This partnership facilitates knowledge exchange between the University, students and organisations through placements, academic enterprise, and CPD training.  Seven researchers are based in the Q-Step Centre.

Visit the group website

Research Group

Substance Use and Addictive Behaviours (SUAB)

SUAB brings together academics from a wide range of disciplines within Manchester Metropolitan University, as well as nationally and internationally. Expertise includes:

  • Substance use, social care education and practice
  • User-led and involved research
  • Novel psychoactive substances, including chemical and forensic analysis
  • Substance use and co-existing health and social issues, such as mental health and domestic abuse
  • Substance use and criminal justice interventions
  • Drug markets
  • Evaluation of provider initiatives
  • Substance use across the life course including addictive behaviours in older age
  • Substance use and acute hospital care, managing pain after surgery/trauma
  • Substance use in sport and exercise

Group Contacts


Phone +44 (0) 161 247 2579

Twitter @SUABManMetUni

Research Group

Digital Transformations Network

Group Lead

This cross-faculty interdisciplinary research group brings together staff actively working on social and cultural effects of digital technologies. Our members’ expertise ranges from art and design, to architecture, social sciences, education, media and digital humanities. Our aims are to enhance, enrich and promote high-quality research on digital technologies and communication, in dialogue with the Digital Innovation initiative but through critical scholarly activities. Our main aim is to foster research, internal and external collaborations, and knowledge exchange, in the areas of social and cultural effects of digital technologies on individuals, communities, the industry and the society.

Area of expertise

Human Geography and GIS

Within the the Human Geography and GIS group, research includes work on health, embodiment and sexualised space; cosmopolitan urbanism and urban image-making; the politics and practices of mobility including tourist practices; transnational and national identity with particular reference to the mundane and popular culture; materialities including industrial ruins and wasteland; the contested politics of creativity and play within urban regeneration; modelling spatial patterns of urban growth and inequality within urban areas; geographies of young people and subcultures.


Research Group

Sexualities and Gender

Research on sexualities and gender focuses on the sociology of personal and intimate life – couple relationships, polyamory and non-monogamy. Our work examines the politics of gender sexuality, and political economy, focusing on issues of class, race/ethnicity and racism. Our research on sexualities and gender takes place in a wide range of geographical scales and contexts in the UK, Europe, South Asia and southern Africa. We are concerned with the gender and sexual politics of globalisation, including transnational feminist and LGBTQ activist networks and organisations. As such our research has included work on ICT, gender and work in developing countries and on feminist and queer solidarities in queer European film festivals.

Research Project


Manchester Metropolitan University are partners on MYPLACE, a €7.9million European Commission funded project, which explores how young people’s social participation is shaped by the shadows (past, present and future) of totalitarianism and populism across 14 European countries. The project has sought to map the relationship between political heritage, current levels and forms of civic and political engagement of young people in Europe, and their potential receptivity to radical and populist political agendas. Facing three ways, to the past, the present and the future, lends the project a distinctive dynamic traction; it understands youth civic and political engagement as firmly rooted in its structural context while recognising that young people themselves are active agents of that change.

Research Project

Crime & Well-Being Big Data Centre

At the Crime & Well-Being Big Data Centre, we lead the way with the interrogation of Big Data relating to the interplay between the causes and outcomes of crime and health and well-being. Experts in data science, we use data mining, predictive analytics, statistics and visualisation and modelling techniques to support the interpretation of statistics and evidence based research to bring data to life and make it easy to understand and apply to strategy and operations. The BDC comprises a multi-disciplinary team with expertise in criminology, geography, social policy, computing, data science, advanced quantitative methods and evaluation.

Professor Jon Bannister



Research Project

The Policy Evaluation and Research Unit (PERU)

The Policy Evaluation and Research Unit is a multi-disciplinary team of evaluators, economists, sociologists and criminologists. It specialises in evaluating policies, programmes and projects and advising national and local policy-makers on the development of evidence-informed policy. We work in the UK and Europe for clients and funders including UK government departments, local government, the voluntary sector and the European Commission. Staff also work with policy-makers and researchers to support the development of policy evaluation as a discipline.

Professor Chris Fox



Research Project

Space, Place and Culture

Focusing on high quality, internationally-leading research on the intersection of place and space, this group of world-leading researchers are interested in a variety of processes including identity, culture, social and economic change, politics and governance, urbanisation and rurality. Expertise includes that in the governance of urbanisation and hazards, urban creativity, lighting and 'place-making'; geographies of faith and religion; sonic geographies; socio-cultural theory; trans-national sexual politics and citizenship; geographies of post-socialist transformation; modernism and architecture; New Towns and death and the dead body.

Dr. Julian Holloway



Our Research