Skip to content

Toggle service links

Coronavirus: Please be aware it may take us slightly longer to respond than usual. Find out about our coronavirus response and current contact hours.

You are here

  1. Home
  2. Ms Alison Higgs

Ms Alison Higgs

Profile summary

Professional biography

After completing her first degree in English Language and Literature, Alison worked in community-based mental health and housing projects for several years before training as a social worker. Initially she worked in child protection before moving into the health sector and working in a pioneering hospital team for adults and children affected by HIV and AIDS.  She subsequently spent several years working in two tertiary NHS hospitals with individuals, families and children living with cancer, cystic fibrosis and other heart and lung conditions. Alison was also seconded for one year to establish a schools-based social work service for an inner London local authority.  As a social worker, Alison developed her teaching interests, designing and delivering education and training courses for medical, nursing and home care staff and leading seminars for medical students at King's College London.  She began working as an Associate Lecturer for the Open University on K260 (Death and Dying) and K100/KZX100 and K101 (An Introduction to Health and Social Care).

In 2004 Alison moved into full-time lecturing and began teaching on a social work programme in an inner London University, before joining the OU as a central academic in 2008.

Alison is now a lecturer on the OU social work programme, based at Walton Hall. She chairs the level 3 social work practice module (K315) and led the production of a recent rewrite of the module. Alison leads on practice and suitability issues for the social work team at the OU.  She is a member of the OU Human Research Ethics Committee, having also served on NHS Research Ethics Committees since 2005, including City and the London and the Institute of Psychiatry.   Currently Alison serves as a member of the Riverside Research Ethics Committee.  

Research interests

Health care ethics

Black and minority ethnic students' experiences in practice placements

Student writing and scholarship

Professional identity

Death and dying/living with life-threatening illness


Teaching interests

Multi-agency and interprofessional working


Palliative Care

Working with Life-threatening conditions

Impact and engagement

Alison has acted as an External Examiner and external validator for undergraduate and postgraduate health and social care and social work programmes for fifteen years.

Languages: French and Italian


The England degree apprenticeship: a lens to consider the national and international context of social work education (2021)
Higgs, Alison
Social Work Education ((Early Access))

Social work education through distance learning: the challenges and opportunities (2018-07)
Vicary, Sarah; Copperman, Jeanette and Higgs, Alison
Social Work Education; The International Journal, 37(6) (pp. 685-690)

‘At What Cost? the Impact of UK Long-term Care Funding Policies on Social Work Practice with Older People’: A Literature Review (2018)
Higgs, Alison and Hafford-Letchfield, Trish
Ethics and Social Welfare, 12(3) (pp. 229-243)

Editorial (2015-08-24)
Higgs, Alison and Twomey, Mary
Ethics and Social Welfare, 9(3) (pp. 223-224)

E-learning, ethics and 'non-traditional' students: space to think aloud (2012)
Higgs, Alison
Ethics and Social Welfare, 6(4) (pp. 386-402)

Social justice (2015-02-16)
Higgs, Alison
In: Bell, Linda and Hafford-Letchfield, Trish eds. Ethics, Values And Social Work Practice (pp. 112-121)
ISBN : 335245293 | Publisher : Open University Press | Published : Maidenhead

Social justice (2015-02-01)
Higgs, Alison
In: Bell, Linda and Hafford-Letchfield, Trish eds. Ethics, Values And Social Work Practice (pp. 112-121)
ISBN : 335245293 | Publisher : Open University Press | Published : Maidenhead

Teaching ethics for social work: whose values? (2016-07)
Higgs, Alison and Martin, Anne
In : Joint Social Work Education and Research Conference (JSWEC) 2016 (15 Jul 2016)

Effective Feedback in Blended learning (2015-09)
Higgs, Alison
In : The Future of Education: 5th Conference Edition (11-12 Jun 2015, Florence)

Changing identities changing contexts: the roles and identities of expert patients, service users and volunteer school governors (2015-07-15)
Higgs, Alison; McCormick, Mick and Sieminski, Sandy
In : JSWEC Joint Social Work Education and Research Conference 2015: Social work education and research across boundaries (15-17 Jul 2015, Open University, Milton Keynes)

The ethics of e-learning: exploiting the potential benefits, avoiding harm and thinking about intent (2010-07)
Higgs, Alison
In : ICERI 2010 (International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation) (15-17 Nov 2010, Madrid, Spain)

Changing identities in the student group: using creative writing (2009-07)
Higgs, Alison
In : JSWEC 2009 (8-10 Jul 2009, University of Hertfordshire)