Institute for Ageing

Staff Profile

Professor Thomas Scharf

Prof of Social Gerontology


I am Professor of Social Gerontology in the Institute of Health & Society and lead the theme on ‘Ageing: economic and social impact’ within the Newcastle University Institute for Ageing (NUIA).  I joined Newcastle at the start of 2016, having previously been Director of the Irish Centre for Social Gerontology, NUI Galway, Ireland. I completed my undergraduate studies in Combined Honours (German and Politics) at Newcastle University in 1985, before moving on to Aston University where I was awarded a PhD in Political Science in 1991. I have since held teaching and research posts at Bangor University, Keele University and the University of Applied Sciences in Worms, Germany.

I am currently President Elect of the British Society of Gerontology, and will be President from 2019 to 2022. I am a Fellow of the UK Academy of Social Sciences and have held visiting professorships at NUI Galway, the University of Manchester, Keele University and the University of Vienna. I sit on the Advisory Board of the German Ageing Survey (DEAS) and have held a similar position on The Irish Longitudinal Study of Ageing (TILDA). 

Areas of expertise

  • Ageing and Social Policy
  • Environments of Ageing
  • Social Inclusion and Exclusion in Later Life
  • Inequalities in Later Life

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My research addresses issues relating to social inclusion and exclusion in later life, often with a focus on the spaces and places in which inclusion and exclusion arise and on the policy responses to forms of exclusion. My work has been supported by major grants from the Economic and Social Research Council, the New Dynamics of Ageing programme, the Irish Research Council, and The Atlantic Philanthropies. Research findings have been published in such journals as Journal of Gerontology: Social Sciences, the European Journal of AgeingAgeing and Society, and the Journal of Rural Studies. My most recent book is From Exclusion to Inclusion in Old Age: A Global Challenge (2012, co-edited with Norah Keating and published by The Policy Press). With Chris Phillipson and Toni Calasanti, I currently co-edit the Ageing in a Global Context book series for Policy Press.

In 2017, working in collaboration with colleagues at ILC-UK, I led a team commissioned by Centre for Ageing Better to produce a scoping review on inequalities in later life. This work highlights the persistent and deep-seated nature of inequalities affecting people aged 50 and over in England.

Postgraduate Supervision

I welcome applications from potential doctoral candidates who are interested in social aspects of ageing. Specific areas of interest concern: dimensions of inclusion/exclusion in later life; ageing in urban and/or rural communities; age-friendly cities and communities; social relationships in later life; civic participation; poverty and material deprivation; intergenerational relations.

Past PhD students

Rahmah Mohd Amin ‘The health of older Malays in Britain: a qualitative exploration’ (PhD awarded 2005)
Allison E. Smith ‘The geographical experience of older people living in deprived urban neighbourhoods of England and Canada’ (PhD awarded 2006)
Charles Simpson ‘Older people’s engagement with neighbourhood renewal’ (PhD awarded 2010)
Jackie Reynolds ‘Social inclusion in later life: the role of arts and culture’ (PhD awarded 2011)
Christine FitzGerald ‘Exploring behavioural change in community meals provision for older people’ (PhD awarded 2015)
Marie Hanmore Cawley ‘Intergenerational learning: collaborations to activate young children’s civic engagement in Irish primary school’ (PhD awarded 2015)
Caroline Finn ‘The inter-relationship between poverty and gender across the life course’ (PhD awarded 2016)
Alison Herbert ‘What are the perspectives on ageing of mid-life women in rural Ireland?’ (PhD awarded 2017)
Mary Greene ‘Energy biographies: careers of domestic practice over the life course’ (PhD awarded 2017)

Current PhD students

Bernard McDonald ‘Implementing an age-friendly county programme in Fingal: a qualitative study exploring multiple perspectives on challenges, strategies and outcomes’
Emily Loughlin ‘Exploring independence across the life course’
Libby Morrison ‘Co-ordinating for age: an assessment of intergenerational justice and rural disadvantage in Northumberland’
Arlind Reuter ‘Social connectedness of ageing adults’