Professor Mark Priestley

Professor Mark Priestley


My initial academic training was in Philosophy and Politics (BA), followed by a Masters in Social and Public Policy (MA). My doctoral thesis (PhD) involved a study of disability politics in the implementation of independent living and community care policy. I have worked in the School since 1997, as a research fellow, lecturer and senior academic.

I was formerly Head of the School of Sociology and Social Policy (2011-2014), and Pro-dean for Research in the Faculty of Education, Social Sciences and Law (2004-2007). I am a Fellow of the  Academy of Social Sciences and administrator of the international online discussion forum disability-research.

From 2008-2019 I was Scientific Director of the European Commission's Academic Network of European Disability experts (ANED) and have a continuing role in providing expertise in this area. My research focuses on disability policy and politics, mostly in European and international comparative contexts, using both quantitative and qualitative methods, which translate into policy relevant analysis. 

I am often engaged in policy advice to government departments in the UK and internationally.

Mark Priestley presents evidence to a European Parliament Committee room

Presenting evidence to the European Parliament Committee on Petitions


  • School research impact champion

Research interests

My research interests include international and comparative perspectives on public policy, particularly disability policy and notably in Europe, as well as issues of policy process, monitoring and governance, for example in relation to international human rights policies. I am particularly interested in research that links social, political and economic inequalities with the political claims of the disabled people's movement, and with methods of evidencing the progressive realization of rights in different societies. My research involves mixed and comparative methods, including policy analysis and indicator development.

 My current projects include collaboration in the provision of European Disability Expertise (EDE) to the European Commission and the EU Marie Curie training network project ‘Disability Advocacy Research in Europe’ (DARE). More information about the former research programme and outputs of the Academic Network of European Disability experts is available on the ANED website.

For example, our collaborative research on disability assessment systems in European countries (for ANED) was utilized both in an open access academic paper and by the European Disability Forum, in dialogue with the UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. 

Further links:

<h4>Research projects</h4> <p>Any research projects I'm currently working on will be listed below. Our list of all <a href="">research projects</a> allows you to view and search the full list of projects in the faculty.</p>


  • BA hons Philosophy and Politics (Leeds 1984)
  • MA Social and Public Policy (Leeds 1993)
  • PhD (Leeds 1997)

Professional memberships

  • Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences
  • Fellow of the Higher Education Academy
  • Member of the Social Policy Association

Student education

I am a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy and have been teaching adults since 1986. My teaching spans mainly across the areas of social and public policy and disability policy studies, as well as research methods. 

Research groups and institutes

  • Centre for Disability Studies

Current postgraduate researchers

<h4>Postgraduate research opportunities</h4> <p>The school welcomes enquiries from motivated and qualified applicants from all around the world who are interested in PhD study. Our <a href="">research opportunities</a> allow you to search for projects and scholarships.</p>