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Ms Alison Higgs

Profile summary

Professional biography

Alison completed a degree in English before working in community mental health and housing projects.  After training as a social worker, she practised in a statutory childcare setting and then worked in a hospital team that pioneered support for adults and children with HIV and AIDS.  She subsequently spent several years working in tertiary NHS hospitals with adults and children living with cancer, cystic fibrosis and other heart and lung conditions, where she also designed and delivered courses for medical, nursing and home care staff and students.  

During this time Alison 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 she moved into full-time lecturing on a social work programme in an inner London University, before joining the OU in 2008.

Alison is a lecturer on the OU social work programme, based at Walton Hall. She chairs the level 3 social work practice module (K315) and 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.   

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)