Faculty of Education, Social Sciences and Law

Sociology and Social Policy

Professor Bren Neale

Professor of Life Course and Family Research

I was awarded a doctorate from the University of Leeds in 1985 for an ethnographic study of couples undergoing the transition to marriage, and have since specialised in policy-related research on the dynamics of family life, childhood and intergenerational relationships.

As Director of the ESRC Timescapes Initiative, I have contributed to advances in Qualitative Longitudinal (QL) research methods across academia, government and the voluntary sector. I set up an infrastructure for the archiving and secondary analysis of QL datasets (The Timescapes Archive) which has received ESRC funding through to 2014 (ESRC Changing Landscapes, with Kahryn Hughes). My empirical research under Timescapes focused on the changing lives of young people.

In 2010 I set up the Following Young Fathers study, which I co-direct with Carmen Lau Clayton (ESRC 2012-15). I am a founding editorial board member of a new international journal: Families, Relationships and Societies (Policy Press. 2012- ). In 2010, I was elected as a member of the Academy of Social Sciences in recognition of my work in developing Timescapes.


I have delivered numerous invited keynotes, seminar presentations, master classes and workshops on QL methodology throughout the UK and internationally (Maynooth, Germany, Lisbon, Amsterdam and Lithuania)

I teach on the MA in Social Research and contribute to an ongoing Training programme on Qualitative Longitudinal Methods organised in the School of Sociology and Social Policy.


PhD Supervision

I supervise seven doctoral students (three  successfully completed, four ongoing), and provide mentoring for early career researchers at the University of Leeds, and internationally from Germany, Poland and Wisconsin USA.

Key Publications

Neale, B. Henwood, K and Holland, J (2012) Researching Lives through Time: An introduction to the Timescapes Approach. Qualitative Research Special Issue 12 (1).

Neale, B. and Morton. S (2012) Creating Impact through QL research. Timescapes Methods Guide Series, No 20.

Neale, B. and Bishiop, L. (2012). The Ethics of Archiving and Re-using QL data: A stakeholder approach. Timescapes Methods Guides Series, No. 18.

Neale, B. and Bishop, L (2012). The Timescapes Archive: A stakeholder approach to archiving QL data Qualitative Research. Special Issue 12 (1): 53-65.

Neale, B and Hanna, E. (2012). The Ethics of QL Research Timescapes Methods Guides Series, No. 11.

Neale, B. (2012) Qualitative Longitudinal Research: An introduction Timescapes Methods Guides Series, No. 1.

Neale, B. and Lau, C (2011) Following Young Fathers: the lived experience of young fatherhood. Timescapes Policy Briefing Papers (No. 2).

Neale, B. (2011). ‘Qualitative Longitudinal Research’. In S. Becker, A. Bryman and S. Ferguson (Eds) Understanding Research for Social Policy and Social Work. Bristol:  Policy Press.

Neale, B. (2008) Linking Questions and Data in Longitudinal Research: Strategies for the development of ‘mixed’ longitudinal methods. Briefing paper for the ESRC Research Resources Board.

Neale, B and Flowerdew, J. (2007) ‘New Structures, New Agency: the dynamics of child-parent relationships after parental divorce’. International Journal of Children’s Rights  15(1): 25-42

Neale, B. and Flowerdew, J. (2003). ‘Time Texture and Childhood: the contours of qualitative longitudinal research’. International Journal of Social Research Methodology: Theory and Practice. 6(3),  pp.189-199.

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