Professor Thomas Shakespeare


of disability research

Keppel Street
United Kingdom

0207 612 7872

Trained in social and political sciences at Cambridge University, I subsequently studied for an MPhil and Phd.  I have taught and researched at the Universities of Sunderland, Leeds, Newcastle and East Anglia.  From 2008-2013, I was a technical officer at the World Health Organisation, Geneva, where I co-authored and co-edited the World Report on Disability (2011) and International Perspectives on Spinal Cord Injury (2014).  My books include: the Sexual Politics of Disability (1996); Disability Rights and Wrongs (2006; 2014); Disability - the Basics (2017).  I was a member of Arts Council, England (2003-2008) and Nuffield Council on Bioethics (2013-2019).  I am currently chair of Light for the World - UK, and vice-chair of Light for the World International.

I have always been engaged with communications, including science communications, and have been a regular contributor to BBC Radio for a dozen years.  I also write regularly  for The Lancet.


Faculty of Epidemiology and Population Health
Department of Population Health


Centre for Maternal Adolescent Reproductive & Child Health (MARCH)


I teach on disability and development, including disability rights, sexual and reproductive health of disabled people, disability and mental health etc.  I have contributed to all the MOOCs developed by ICED at FutureLearn.   I supervise four PhD students.


I am co-director of the International Centre for Evidence in Disability at LSHTM, with Professor Hannah Kuper.  My qualitative social research has been with disabled people, in UK and Africa, exploring social and economic consequences of impairment and illness.   Specific projects have been about: disabled people's sexual and reproductive rights; disabled childhoods; resilience and success for disabled people in Africa; independent living and social care; rights-based rehabilitation; mental health recovery.  I also have an interest in bioethics as it pertains to disabled people, specifically prenatal testing and end of life and assisted dying.  

With Professor Hannah Kuper, I am currently co-director of the PENDA programme of impact analyses of interventions to improve the lives of disabled people in LMICs.  With Dr Morgan Banks, we have begun research about the impact of Covid-19 on disabled people in Ghana, Zambia, India, Bangladesh and with Syrian refugees in Turkey.  Both these programmes are funded by FCDO.

With colleagues in the Global Mental Health Programme, I am PI of SUCCEED, a project to co-produce and evaluate multi-disciplinary approaches to psychosis in four AFrican countries, also funded by FCDO; I also contribute a disability lens to ACCESS, a collaboration led by IPPF to address SRHR in the development-humanitarian nexus, collaborating with Professor Cicely Marston and team; I supervise a team evaluating the LCD-led i2i disability employment programme in Kenya and Bangladesh.  All these research programmes are funded by FCDO. 

Most recently I have started the Disability Evidence Portal (, which aims to provide 100 evidence briefs on disability for policy-makers.  In 2020-1, I have been PI of a UKRI-funded programme gathering qualitative evidence about impact of Covid-19 on disabled people in England and Scotland.

Research Area
Complex interventions
Health inequalities
Human genetics
Sexual health
Social and structural determinants of health
Evidence use
Global Health
Impact evaluation
Mixed methods
Public understanding
Qualitative methods
Reproductive health
Social Sciences
Social Policy
Disease and Health Conditions
Non-communicable diseases
United Kingdom
Sri Lanka
Sierra Leone
South Africa
European Union
South Asia
Sub-Saharan Africa (developing only)

Selected Publications

Interventions for adolescents and adults with psychosis in Africa: a systematic review and narrative synthesis
Hunt X; Abdurahman H; Omobowale O; Afolayan A; Munetsi E; Dzapasi L; Mokaya N; Koroma A; Barrie I; Ogunmola O
Global mental health
Sexual behaviours and sexual health among middle-aged and older adults in Britain.
Khan J; Greaves E; Tanton C; Kuper H; Shakespeare T; Kpokiri E; Wang Y; Ong JJ; Day S; Pan SW
Sexually Transmitted Infections
Adapting Disability Research Methods and Practices During the Covid-19 Pandemic: Experiences from the Field
Morgon Banks L; Willan S; Inglis-Jassiem G; Dunkle K; Ganle J; Shakespeare T; Shahpar Khan R; Hameed S; Machisa M; Watson N
IDS Bulletin
Covid-19 and the Crisis in Social Care: Exploring the Experiences of Disabled People in the Pandemic
Pearson C; Watson N; Brunner R; Cullingworth J; Hameed S; Scherer N; Shakespeare T
Social policy and society
Participatory Visual Methods with caregivers of children with Congenital Zika Syndrome in Colombia: A case study
Reichenberger V; Smythe T; Hameed S; Rubiano Perea LC; Shakespeare T; Penn-Kekana L; Kuper H
Wellcome Open Research
'Do they ever think about people like us?': The experiences of people with learning disabilities in England and Scotland during the COVID-19 pandemic
Scherer N; Wiseman P; Watson N; Brunner R; Cullingworth J; Hameed S; PEARSON C; Shakespeare T
Critical Social Policy
See more Publications