School of Education and Social Work

photo of Denise Turner

Dr Denise Turner

Post:Lecturer In Social Work And Social Care (Social Work and Social Care)
Location:ESSEX HOUSE EH 208

Telephone numbers
UK:01273 873409
International:+44 1273 873409

Research expertise:
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Current Role: I am a Lecturer in the Dept of Social Work and Social Care at the University of Sussex (see Research Interests). I have a strong track record of innovative teaching having been the recipient of a University of Sussex, Excellence in Teaching Award 2015, a University Teaching Innovation Award 2015 and a Technology Enhanced Learning Award for 2015/16. Additionally I was awarded four Student Led Teaching Awards for 2015/16. My teaching methods are characterised by digital practices and co-construction with service  users.

Backgound:  I am a qualified Social Worker, completing the MSW at Sussex  University in 1989. I have worked within various statutory settings, including as Duty Social Worker within a  Children and Families Team and within Mental Health and Probation.I have also worked widely within the voluntary sector, with homeless people, sex offenders and the elderly. 

I have worked at the University since 2007 initially as an Associate Tutor; a Teaching Fellow and ultimately as  a full time Lecturer.

My major research area is encapsulated by the concepts of loss and change. Within this I am interested in the ways in which digital practices and methodologies are transforming the world and in the positive relational opportunities of this. I am also passionate about using creative digital practices in my research and teaching. My PhD and initial research interest was in the experience of and cultural responses to child death. This interest has broadened into a wider interest in death/dying and the impact of digital technology, together with cultural constructions of loss. I am also interested in family practices and how digital affordances are disrupting more traditional notions of family. A strength of my teaching and my research has been working with service user testimony which invokes often painful feelings, but as one of my students said 'If you can stay with the painful feelings you do the best work.' My collaboration with service users on module design and assessment has been some of my best work.

My experiences of disseminating my research have brought me into close contact with both mainstream and social media and consequently I now act as a member of the University Peer to Peer Impact Support Network, advising others whose work may create media interest:

I have a developing reputation for work in the field of social media and social work (see Research, publications) and am particularly interested in how the rapidly developing landscape of social media is changing traditional notions of boundaries, including those between life and death. I hold a number of art/craft qualifications and have used these within previous practice , most particularly in an acute mental health setting. I am very interested in creative ways of working within social work practice and education and both my teaching and my research are characterised by this creativity and innovation.

I am a Board Member of 'Social Work Education, the International Journal' and a peer reviewer for The European Journal of Social Work, Ethics and Social Welfare and Children and Society.

Contact: Twitter: @DeniseT01

Further details see 'Role'; Other Activities and Research Interests.


Lecturer in Social Work and Social Care. Admissions Tutor (Social Work and Social Care) (see Research Interests and Other Activities).

Community and Business


My experiences of disseminating my research have brought me into close contact with both mainstream and social media and consequently I now act as a member of the University Peer to Peer Impact Support Network, advising others whose work may create media interest:

I am a Member of the International Network of Narrative Medicine and of the Association of Psychosocial Studies. I am also a Founding Member of the U.S Centre for Narrative Practice.

In keeping with my key research interest in death and dying I am am a member of the  Association for the Study of Death and Dying  (ASDD).

I am on the Editorial Board of Social Work Education, The International Journal and Guest Editor for a  Special Edition on Social Work and Social Media.

My digital work has involved me closely with the Sussex Innovation Centre and a partnership with local business Vivid Digital: 

I am a peer reviewer for several publications including The Journal of Social Work Practice; Ethics and Social Welfare; Children and Society as well as Social Work Education.



BA (2:1) English Literature, University of Sussex, 1984

MA Social Work, University of Sussex, 1989

PhD Social Work and Social Care, University of Sussex, 2014

PGCert Higher Education 2016 ( Distinction). Member of the Higher Education Academy



Media Activities

2011 - Guest on BBC Radio 4's 'Woman's Hour' discussing research into   sudden, unexpected child death.

2012 - Comment is Free 'Parents of Children who die suddenly   & unexpectedly should not be treated like criminals' 'Guardian online'

2014 - Feature in The Guardian Family Section (Joanna Moorhead)

2014 - Podcast for the National Centre for Research Methods   (NCRM) - 'Telling the Untellable': researching emotionally sensitive topics:   Podcast -

Conference Activities

Invited Keynote Speaker: Child Bereavement Trust (2010)

Coroner's Support Service (2011)

Somerset Local Safeguarding Children's Board (2011)

Joint Social Work Education Conference 2013:

'Collective consciousness through creative Connectivity' (Joint   Keynote address) and Contributor to JSWEC promotional video:

Keynote Speaker for Centre for Social Work Practice, Tavistock,   March 2015

'Sudden Unexpected child death: learning about practice from   parental experience

Organised Conference Activities:

Autoethnography: Learning from Stories. A joint conference with the University of Brighton (2015)

'My Relation to My Research: A one day conference with Keynote   from Professor Wendy Hollway (2013)

'Connected and/or protected?:' Exploring digital boundaries and   Social Work (2014)


JSWEC 2015 (Education and Research Across Boundaries):

Workshop (with Tish Marrable): Discussing Death online

Workshop (with Jill Scholl): Tackling Unspeakable Trauma

'Staring Myself in the I: When personal stories make public impact' for Autoethnography, Learning from Stories. University of Brighton (2015)

Association for Psychosocial Studies, December 2014, 'Why the   Warning'

European Research Institute for Social Work(ERIS)   October 2014: Challenging the myth of vulnerability: Insider perspectives and   implications for practice within experience near research on sudden,   unexpected child death

Guest Speaker at 'Feminist Cultures' (October 2014) - University   of Sussex Cultural Studies Event:  

MELSIG 2014, University of Sussex; From boundary transgressions   to live twitter sessions: The challenges and opportunities of social media   for social work education and practice

JSWEC 2014:   'But I'm still a human being': Exploring the implications of social media   connections within social work practice, education and research.


'Exploring the potential of psychosocial research: What happens   when we look beneath the surface?

(2014) : Telling the Untellable: Researching emotionally   challenging and sensitive topics. St Catherine's College, Oxford. ESRC   Research Methods Festival 2014.

Podcast here:

(2014) Telling the Story: An experience of researching sudden,   unexpected child death for :

Pain, Illness, Trauma and Death in Childhood :University of   Greenwich, Centre for the Study of Play and Recreation, with the Society for   the Study of Childhood in the Past and the London Network for the History of   Children

Joint Social Work and Education   Conference, 'Positive Practice in Hard Times' - London, Uk July 2013 :   Dangerous Knowledge?' A personal experience of the service user role in   social work education'  

'A Narrative Future for Healthcare' Kings College, London, Uk .   June 21 - 21. 'Telling the Story' : An experience of researching sudden,   unexpected child death.

'Discourse, Power and Resistance', Greenwich, UK, 2013

University of Sussex, Doctoral Conference, 2012

NSPCC: New Horizons in Safeguarding Children (Manchester, 2012)

University of Sussex, Doctoral conference, 2011

International Autobiography Association (UK) 2010

Peer Reviewed Publications: For up to date list see Sussex Research Online:

“Research You Cannot Talk About”: A Personal Account of   Researching Sudden, Unexpected Child Death Illness, Crisis & Loss (2015)1054137315587642,   first published on May 29, 2015 as doi:10.1177/1054137315587642 T

Turner, D (2015) Pyschosocial aspects of engagement in social   media and digital technology: personal thoughts from the frontier. Chapter in   SMART LEARNING. Middleton, A (Ed) Melsig   publication

'Memories are made of this': personal reflections on the   creation and maintenance of memorials and mementoes : Bereavement Care   (2014) 33 (3)

Creating #teamturner: An autoethnography of connection within   social work education . Chapter within Social Media in Social Work Education   (Critical Publishing (2014).

Turner. D & Webb.R (2012) "ethics and/or Ethics in   Qualitative Social Research: Negotiating a Path around and between the   Two" Journal of Ethics & Social Welfare:

Online Publications:

Turner, D (2015) I’m Deeply Concerned about the future:  

Turner, D (2015) Lack of clear social media guidance is creating   anxiety and alienation:

Turner, D (2015) Connected/ Protected: Can Social Media be a   part of Social Work practice?  

Society Central (2014) The death of a child: Are we still   failing to balance suspicion with sensitivity?

Sage Research methods Cases. Parents' Experience of the   Professional response to sudden, unexpected child death: Narrative Approaches   in telling the Story (2013)

Reviews: I am a   Member of the Editorial Board for the journal 'Social Work Education' :

I am a Peer reviewer for 'Ethics and Social welfare,' 'Children   and Society,' 'The Journal of Social Work Practice', Social Work Education   and Child and Family Social Work