Sue Westwood

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Dr Sue Westwood
BSc (Hons), MSc (Geront), GDL, PGDip (Gender, Sexuality & Human Rights), PhD (Law), FHEA


I am a feminist socio-legal scholar and a critical gerontologist, interested in how age(ing), gender and sexuality intersect and interact with law. I have taught undergraduate and postgraduate law at: Keele Law School; Coventry Law School; the Open University; and the Southwest University of Political Science & Law (SWUPL), Chongqing, China. I have been a visiting scholar at Beasley School of Law, Temple University, Philadelphia, USA and at Emory Law School, Emory University, Atlanta, USA. I have previously been a research fellow at the University of Leeds, University of Oxford, University of Southampton and University of Surrey.

My monograph, Ageing, Gender and Sexuality: Equality in Later Life (2016, Routledge) won the Socio Legal Studies Association (SLSA) Early Career Book Prize for 2017.

I am in the process of completing a Masters in Education.



I am a member of York Law School's Health and well-being and Law, justice and power research clusters.

My PhD thesis explored, from a feminist social justice perspective, how ageing, gender and sexuality intersect to influence (in)equality in later life within UK regulatory contexts. I focussed on older lesbian, gay and bisexual individuals and non-labelling individuals in same-gender relationships (LGBN). My argument was that temporality and spatiality intersect to produce uneven outcomes in later life by informing the discursive and performative production of ageing, gender and sexuality. These in turn influence unequal access to resources, recognition and representation in older age contexts, particularly relating to housing, health and social care provision.

I have been Co-Investigator/ Principal Investigator on the following funded research projects:

  • 2018 - The place of companion animals in care homes (Prof Marie Fox and Prof Mo Ray) (Dunhill) (CI)
  • 2017 - "LGBT 'elder abuse': Scoping future research possibilities" research network event (Keele Law School Internal Research Grant/ Keele Centre for Ageing Research Grant) (PI)
  • 2017 - ‘A Right to Die?’ – Socio-legal perspectives’ research network event (Keele Law School Internal Research Grant) (PI)
  • 2015 - The Multiple Sclerosis Society Models of Excellence Literature Reviews (with N. Carey, et al), PI on 'Information Advice and Advocacy' arm (MS Society)
  • 2015 - SAFE Housing - Older LGBT Housing in Later Life and HomeSafe projects (with Prof Andrew King, University of Surrey) (CI)
  • 2015 - Intersections of Ageing, Gender, Sexualities (IAGES) project (Centre for Research on Ageing, University of Surrey) (CI)
  • 2013-5 ESRC-funded seminar series on Gaps in Knowledge about LGBT Ageing (with Professor Andrew King, Professor Kathryn Almack and Professor Yui-Tung Suen) (CI) 

 Other research projects on which I have been involved as project researcher/ research fellow include: 

  • The Care Initiative at Green Templeton College, University of Oxford (Prof Mary Daly)
  • Public Health & Feminism (Prof Michael Thomson & Prof Marie Fox, AHRC)
  • Duties to Care Dementia (Prof Rosie Harding & Prof Elizabeth Peel, British Academy);
  • Revaluing Care Project (Prof Rosie Harding & Dr Ruth Fletcher, AHRC);
  • Gender & International Law (Dr Zoe Pearson & Dr Sari Kouvo, Routledge);
  • Geographical Space & International Law (Dr Zoe Pearson, Keele University).
  • The AaRK project (Academic award and Recontextualising Knowledge) (Prof Helen Allan).


Older people’s rights in closed care contexts (PI)

In collaboration with Prof Caroline Hunter (York Law School), Prof Yvonne Birks (Social Policy Research Unit, University of York), Dr Jed Meers (York Law School) and Prof John Williams (University of Aberystwyth), I am developing a Dunhill research grant proposal for a project which will explore older people’s rights in closed care contexts.

Older LGBT people: health and social care inequalities in UK regulatory contexts (PI)

I have applied for University of York pump-priming funding to develop a large-scale proposal aimed at Wellcome, exploring older LGBT people’s health and social care inequalities in relation to healthcare rights, human rights and the Equality Act 2010. This project is in collaboration with Prof Yvonne Birks (Social Policy Research Unit, University of York), Prof Julie Fish (deMontfort University), Dr Paul Willis (University of Bristol).

Religious and Sexual Orientation Rights Tensions in Older Age Care Spaces (PI)

In collaboration with Prof Nancy Knauer (Beasley Law School, Temple University, Philadelphia, USA), Prof Mark Hughes (Southern Cross University, Queensland, Australia) and Dr Alisa Grigorovich (University of Toronto, Canada), I am putting together an ESRC research grant proposal for a project which will explore how staff and organisations with faith-based objections to same-sex relationships approach and provide care for older lesbian, gay and bisexual service users. This will be considered in relation to equality and human rights legislation and care regulations.

LGBT ‘Elder Abuse’ in UK regulatory contexts (PI)

I am developing an AHRC research grant application with Prof Catherine Donovan (Durham) to explore how older LGBT people experience abuse in later life and the ways in which they understand law affords them adequate protection and support.

‘Death Rights’

I am currently editing a volume entitled ‘Death Rights: Regulating the ending of life'. With contributions from leading academics, the book critically interrogates the UK’s current prohibitions on assisted dying and euthanasia.


I am happy to consider supervision of PhD dissertations in the following areas: 

  • Ageing, diversity and (in)equality
  • Ageing, gender and sexuality in regulatory contexts
  • Chronological age as a regulatory too
  • Feminist socio-legal methodologies
  • Health, care and social justice
  • Law, death and dying

Please get in touch if you would like to discuss a proposal.


Selected publications

Please see a full list of my publications, other outputs and activities in the York research database


  • Westwood, S. (Ed) (2018). Ageing, Diversity and Equality: Social justice perspectives. Abingdon: Routledge. [Successfully nominated by Routledge for the Knowledge Unlatched Open Access scheme] 
  • Westwood, S. (2016) Ageing, Gender and Sexuality: Equality in Later Life. Abingdon: Routledge. [Winner of the Socio Legal Studies Association (SLSA) Early Career Book Prize for 2017]
  • Westwood, S and Price, E. (Eds) (2016) Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Trans* (LGBT*) Individuals Living with Dementia: Concepts, practice and rights. Abingdon: Routledge.

Book Chapters:

  • Westwood, S. (2018). Older Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual People: Socio- legal perspectives on healthcare inequalities in later life. In M.A. Jacob and A. Kirkland (Eds) Research Handbook on Law, Medicine and Society, part of Law and Society series directed by Austin Sarat (Amherst, US) and Rosemary Hunter (Queen Mary, London), London: Edward Elgar Publishing.
  • Westwood, S. (2018). Which ageing ‘families’ count? Older lesbian, gay and bisexual family forms – relational legal in/exclusions in (older age) family law. In J. Herring and B. Clough, (Eds) Ageing, Gender and Family Law. Abingdon: Routledge.
  • Westwood, S. and Lowe, J. (2017). The hidden sexualities of older lesbians and bisexual women. In C. Barrett and M. Gott (Eds.). Addressing the Sexual Rights of Older People: Theory, Policy and Practice, pp 56-69. Abingdon: Routledge.
  • Westwood, S. (2016) ‘Institutions, they’re very straight. My god I hope I don’t have to go into a care home’: Spatial inequalities anticipated by older lesbians and gay men. In: R. Harding, R Fletcher and C Beasley (Eds) ReValuing Care in Theory, Law & Policy: Cycles and Connections, pp 215-232. Abingdon: Routledge.
  • Westwood, S. (2016) Ageing Sexualities in UK Regulatory Contexts. In E. Peel and R. Harding (Eds) Ageing and Sexualities: Interdisciplinary Perspectives, pp. 33-52. Aldershot: Ashgate.

Peer-reviewed journal articles:

  • Westwood, S. (2017) Older Lesbians, Gay Men and the ‘Right to Die’ debate - ‘I always keep a lethal dose of something, because I don’t want to become an elderly isolated person’. Social and Legal Studies, 26(5), 606-628
  • Westwood, S. (2017). Religion, sexuality, and (in) equality in the lives of older lesbian, gay, and bisexual people in the United Kingdom. Journal of Religion, Spirituality & Aging, 29(1), 47-69.
  • Westwood, S. (2017) Gender and Older LGBT* Housing Discourse: The marginalised voices of older lesbians, gay and bisexual women. Housing, Care and Support, 20(3), 100-109. 
  • Westwood, S. (2016). LGBT* ageing in the UK: spatial inequalities in older age housing/care provision. Journal of Poverty and Social Justice, 24(1), 63-76. 
  • Westwood, S. (2015) Constructing Kinship in Succession Law (England and Wales): An analysis of older lesbians’ and gay men’s Will-writing. Feminist Legal Studies. 23:181–197. 
  • Westwood, S. (2015) ‘We See it as Being Heterosexualised, Being Put into a Care Home’: Gender, sexuality and housing/care preferences among older LGB individuals in the UK. Health and Social Care in the Community, 24(6), e155-e163.

Education-related scholarship:

  • Westwood, S. (2018) Education students’ experiences of transition to Higher Education. London: Middlesex University
  • Westwood, S. (2018) Innovative approaches to CPD in nursing, public and other sectors. London: Middlesex University
  • Westwood, S. (2016) Gender Equality Policy Initiatives in Higher Education. Oxford: Department for Social Policy and Intervention, University of Oxford.

External activities


  • Member of the Socio-Legal Studies Association

  • Member of the Law and Society Association

  • Member of the British Society of Gerontology

Other Activities

  • Reviewer for: NORA - Nordic Journal of Feminist and Gender Research; BPS Psychology of Sexualities Review; Ageing and Society; British Journal of Sociology; Journal of Nursing Ethics;  Social Theory and Health; Journal of Academic Development and Education (JADE); and Hart Publishing.

  • Reviewed factsheet on LGBT people and dementia for Alzheimer’s Society (2017).

  • Provided Stonewall Housing with legal position briefing paper relating to specialist older LGBT housing and the Equality Act 2010 (2017).

  • Associate Lecturer in Law (p/t) with the Open University.



I am a fellow of the Higher Education Academy and currently teach on the following courses:

  • UG Dissertation
  • UG Introduction to Law and Society
  • UG Private Law and Judicial Process
  • UG Year 1 Foundations in Law
  • UG Year 2 Foundations in Law

Contact details

Dr Sue Westwood
York Law School

Tel: +44 (0)1904 32 5815