Accessibility statement

Dr Carolyn Snell

BA (Hons), MA, PhD (York)

  • Reader in Social Policy
  • Chair of the Board of Examiners

Visit Dr Carolyn Snell's profile on the York Research Database to see a full list of publications and browse her research related activities.


Areas of expertise

  • Fuel Poverty 
  • Energy Policy
  • Food Aid
  • Welfare Reform
  • Disabled people  
  • Sustainable development
  • Environmental Policy
  • Public participation

Academic biography

I am a Reader in Social Policy with a multidisciplinary background and joined the Department in 2007. My career began with a degree in Politics and English Literature and was followed by an MA and PhD in Social Policy. Following this I held a research post at the Stockholm Environment Institute where I worked on the social and public policy dimensions of transport policies. Since 2011 my research and publications have largely focused on energy policy in the UK, with a particular interest in fuel poverty. In 2011 I received a grant from Eaga Charitable Trust to investigate the relationship between fuel poverty, welfare reforms and disabled people and in 2014 I received an EPSRC grant to research whether food bank recipients were facing a ‘heat or eat’ dilemma as suggested by many news reports. Research findings have been included within the National Institute for Care and Excellence’s national guidelines on Excess Winter Deaths, and have also been presented at an event in Parliament.

Professional activities

I am on the academic advisory board for the Policy Press.


My current research interests are:

  • Fuel poverty and policy 
  • Climate policy 
  • Energy policy 
  • Welfare reform 
  • Disability 
  • Environmental Attitudes
  • Education for Sustainable Development 
  • Public participation in policy development

Current research project:

The ‘heat or eat’ project investigated whether households are having to make a tradeoff between food and fuel, as suggested by recent media reports.  The final project report can be found here:

  • Heat or Eat: food and asuterity in Rural England 

Previous research:

  • Disability and fuel poverty: I was awarded a grant by the eaga charitable trust to research the relationship between disability and fuel poverty. The project has three key aims: firstly, to consolidate existing knowledge and understanding in the field; secondly, to conduct empirical work that will help to understand different dimensions of disability and fuel poverty in depth; and thirdly, to consider and assess the impact of policy changes on disabled people. Ultimately, the project will make policy recommendations that can be made to alleviate any negative or unintended consequences of policy changes.

First report

Research summary and recommendations

Research team members

I am a member of the Centre for Urban Research (CURB) and the York Environmental Sustainability Institute (YESI)

I am involved in fuel poverty research with Dr. Mark Bevan (Centre for Housing Policy) and Harriet Thomson (Department of Social Policy and Social Work).

PhD supervision

I have an interdisciplinary research background, and am trained in both quantitative and qualitative research methods.  As such I am interested in supervising a range of topics as long as they are relevant to the environment and social policy.

Supervision interests

  • All aspects of sustainable development
  • Transport policy
  • Fuel Poverty
  • Climate Policy
  • Environmental attitudes and behaviours
  • The links between social policy and the environment

Research labels:

Housing, health, social research methods, comparative and global social policy.



Ambrosio-Albala, P., Middlemiss, L., Owen, A., Hargreaves, T., Emmel, N., Gilbertson, J., Tod, A., Snell, C., Mullen, C., Longhurst, N., Gillard, R. (2020) From rational to relational: How energy poor households engage with the British retail energy market Energy Research and Social Science 70

Gillard, R., Snell, C.J. and Bevan, M.A. (2017) Advancing an energy justice perspective of fuel poverty: Household vulnerability and domestic retrofit policy in the United Kingdom Energy Research and Social Science p53-61

Middlemiss, L., Ambrosio-Albalá, P., Emmel, N., Gillard, R., Gilbertson, J., Hargreaves, T., Mullen, C., Ryan, T., Snell, C. and Tod, A. (2019) Energy poverty and social relations: A capabilities approach Energy Research & Social Science, Volume 55, Pages 227-235

Pariyar, B., Lovett, J. & Snell, C.J. (2018) ’Inequality of access in irrigation systems of the Mid-Hills of Nepal’, Area Development and Policy, vol. 3, no. 1, pp. 60-78

Thomson, H., Bouzarovski, S. and Snell, C.J. (2017) Rethinking the measurement of energy poverty in Europe: A critical analysis of indicators and data, Indoor and Built Environment, 26(7), pp.879-901 

Thomson, H., Snell, C.J. & Bouzarovski, S. (2017) Health, Well-Being and Energy Poverty in Europe: A Comparative Study of 32 European Countries International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health  14, p. 1-17 

Swaffield, J. K., Snell, C. J., Tunstall, R. K. & Bradshaw, J. R. (2017) An Evaluation of the Living Wage: Identifying Pathways out of In-work Poverty Social Policy and Society

Wand, H.R., Snell, C.J. and Liddell, C. (2016) 'Fuel poverty in the European Union: a concept in need of definition?' People, Place & Policy, Vol. 10, No. 1, pp 5-24

Snell, C.J., Lambie-Mumford, H. & Thomson, H. (2018) Is there evidence of households making a heat or eat trade off in the UK? The Journal of Poverty and Social Justice, 26, 2, p. 225-243

Snell, C.J., Bevan, M., and Thomson, H. (2015) 'Justice, fuel poverty and disabled people in England' Energy Research and Social Science 10: pp 123-132

Snell, C., Bevan, M., and Thomson, H. (2015) ‘Welfare Reform, Disabled People and Fuel Poverty’ Journal of Poverty and Social Justice (currently published as a ‘fast track’ article)

Ford-Thompson, AES, Snell, C, Saunders, G & White, PCL (2015), 'Dimensions of local public attitudes towards invasive species management in protected areas' Wildlife research, vol 42, no. 1, pp. 60-74

Snell, C. and Haq, G. (2014) A Short Guide to Environmental Policy Policy Press, Bristol**

Snell, C. and Brooks-Wilson, S. (2014) Education for sustainable development and welfare reform: a very British case study? In the International Handbook of Environment and Social Policy, Edward Elgar (2014)

Snell, C., and Thomson, H. (2013). 'Reconciling fuel poverty and climate change policy under the Coalition government: Green deal or no deal?' In: Ramia, G. and Farnsworth, K. (eds.) Social Policy Review 25: Analysis and debate in social policy. Bristol: Policy Press.

Thomson, H. and Snell, C. (2013). 'Quantifying the prevalence of fuel poverty across the European Union', Energy Policy, 52, 563-572. Available online.

Brooks-Wilson, S. and Snell, C. (2012). '"Hard to Reach" or "Accessible When Approached"? Sustainable Development Discussions with Marginalized Pupil Groups', Children, Youth and Environments, 22(2), 1-24.

Ford-Thompson, A.E.S., Snell, C.J., Saunders, G. and White, P.C.L. (2012). 'Stakeholder participation in management of invasive vertebrates', Conservation Biology, 26(2), 345-356.

Fenney, D. and Snell, C. (2011). 'Exceptions to the green rule? A literature investigation into the overlaps between the academic and UK policy fields of disability and the environment', Local Environment: The International Journal of Justice and Sustainability, 16(3), 251-264.

Lovett, J.C. Hards, S., Clancy, J., Snell, C. (2010). 'Multiple Objectives in Biofuels Sustainability Policy', Energy and Environmental Science. DOI:10.1039/C0EE00041H.

Wilson, S. and Snell, C. (2010). 'Bad for the penguins... because they need ice and that to live on’: an exploratory study into the environmental views, concerns and knowledge of socially disadvantaged young people', Journal of Youth Studies, 13(2), 151-168.

Marsden, G., and Snell, C. (2009). ‘The role of indicators, targets and monitoring in decision-support for transport’, European Journal of Transport and Infrastructure Research, 9(3), 219-236.

Snell, C. (2008). 'Climate Change and Climate Change Policy in the UK 2006-2007', Social Policy Review, 20, 69-92.

Cinderby, S., Forrester, J., and Snell, C. (2008). 'Participatory GIS and its application in governance: the examples of air and noise pollution’, Local Environment, 13(4), 309-320.

Forrester, J., and Snell, C. (2007). ‘Planning Inclusive and Sustainable Urban Regeneration: Balancing a visitor-based economy with local needs in the city of York, UK’, Journal of Urban Regeneration and Renewal, 1(1), 69-82.

Hudson, J., Lowe, S., Oscroft, N. and Snell, C. (2006). 'Activating Policy Networks: A Case Study of Local Environmental Policymaking in the UK', Policy Studies, 28(1), 55-70.

Marsden, G., Kelly, C., and Snell, C. (2006). 'Selecting Indicators for Strategic Performance Management', Transport Research Review, 1956, 21-29. This paper won the Charley V Wootan Award in recognition of a paper of outstanding merit.

Book chapters

Snell, C.J. and Nordennsvärd, J. (2016) 'Domestic Energy Efficiency and Fuel Povery in England'. In: Nordennsvärd, J. (ed), The Social Challenges and Opportunities of Low Carbon Development.Routledge.

Snell, C., and Brooks-Wilson, S. (2014). 'Education for Sustainable Development and Welfare reform: a very British case study?' in Fitzpatrick, T. (ed) The International Handbook of Environment and Social Policy. Edward Elgar.

Forrester, J., Hicks, K., Kuylenstierna, J., Simon, J., Snell, C., Chadwick, M. J., Schwela, D., and Emberson, L. (2011) 'Governance of Air Quality and Stakeholder Engagement: Lessons and Experiences from International Cases'. In: Lidskog, R. and Sundqvist, G. (2011) Governing the Air: The Dynamics of Science, Policy and Citizen Interaction. MIT Press, Massachusetts.

White, P.C.L., Ford-Thompson, A.E.S., Snell, C.J. and Harris, S. (2011) 'Economic, environmental and social dimensions of alien vertebrate species in Britain'. In: Pimentel, D. (ed.) Biological Invasions: Economic and Environmental Costs of Alien Plan, Animal and Microbe Species, 2nd edition. CRC Press, Boca Raton.

Snell, C. and Quinn, C. (2011) 'International Development and Global Poverty' in Fitzpatrick, T. (ed) Understanding the Environment and Social Policy. Policy Press, Bristol.

Encyclopaedia entries

Snell, C. (2011). 'Millennium Development Goals', Green Education: An A-to-Z Guide. SAGE Publications.

Snell, C. (2010). 'Congestion Pricing', Green Cities: An A-to-Z Guide. SAGE Publications.

Snell, C. (2010). 'Millennium Development Goals', Green Politics: An A-to-Z Guide. SAGE Publications.

Other publications

Caraher, K. and Snell, C. (eds) (2010). Government, Public Policy and Management: A Reader. Vol 2. SPSW Publishing, York. 

Caraher, K. and Snell, C. (eds) (2010). Government, Public Policy and Management: A Reader. Vol 1. SPSW Publishing, York. 

West, S. and Snell, C. (2010). ‘Historic Mapping of Tang Hall, York: Methodologies and Findings’ in Atherden, M. (ed) A Walk in the Park: Heritage and Conservation in York’s Open Spaces, PLACE, York.

Snell, C. (2009). The Impact of Local Agenda 21 in England, and the Implications for Participation Strategies. VDM Publishing House Ltd.

Published Book Reviews

Prasad, N. (2008) Social Policies and private sector participation in water supply: beyond regulation Palgrave Macmillan, Basingstoke for Journal of Social Policy and Administration.

Rogers, P. P., Jalal, K.F, and Boyd, J. A. (2008) An Introduction to Sustainable Development Earthscan, London for Sustainability: Science, Practice, & Policy.

Recent conference papers

Snell, C. (2013). 'Fuel Poverty and Disability'. Presented at Fuel Poverty and disabled people: the impact of policy change, 11th February 2013, London.

Snell, C. (2012). 'Fuel poverty and policy'. Presented at Fuel poverty in policy and practice - a postgraduate symposium, 16th November 2012, Sheffield.

Snell, C., and Thomson, H. (2012). 'Energy and fuel poverty policy: Green deal or no deal?'. Paper presented at the Social Policy Association 2012, York.

Snell, C. (2011). 'The International Decade of Education for Sustainable Development: case study evidence from the UK'.  Prepared for the 7th Social Policy International Forum and Seminar Series, Sun Yat-sen University, Guangzhou, China, 26th-28th August 2011 (Invited Speaker).

Snell, C., and Brooks-Wilson, S., (2011). 'Education for sustainable development under the coalition government?'. Paper presented at the Social Policy Association Conference, The University of Lincoln, 4-6th July 2011.

Snell, C. and Quinn, C. (2010). 'Climate Change and Social Policy: responsibility, vulnerability and mitigation in an international context', in Social Policy Innovation in the Era of Social Transformation: The Sixth International Symposium and Lectures on Social Policy: Conference Proceedings, August 27th-29th 2010, Hangzhou, China, ZheJiang University

Lund, J. and Snell, C. (2010) 'Behave yourself! An investigation of the impact of tutor behaviour on the student experience of online distance-based learning', The Higher Education Academy Annual Conference 2010, June 22nd-25th 2010, Hertfordshire, UK, Hertfordshire University.

Snell, C. (2009). 'Tacking affordability in water: findings from research studies', Centre for Consumers and Essential Services Roundtable Seminar ‘What does universal service mean and are there links with equalities and human rights concepts’, October 23rd 2009, London, UK.

West, S. and Snell, C. (2009). 'Engaging socially excluded young people with their local environment: lessons from the field', Environment, Wellbeing and Healthy lifestyle, Institute for Environment, Sustainability, and Regeneration, October 21st 2009, Stoke on Trent, UK

West, S. and Snell, C. (2009). 'Mapping the everyday: why do people make maps', Annual International Conference of the Royal Geographical Society, August 26th – 28th Manchester, UK.

West, S. and Snell, C. (2009). 'Historic Mapping of Tang Hall, York: Methodologies and Findings', A Walk in the Park: Heritage and Conservation in York’s Open Spaces,  PLACE Annual Conference, March 2009,  York, UK.

Snell, C. (2008). 'Using evidence in policy making: barriers and drivers', Air Pollution Crop Effect Network Meeting, 24th – 26th March Asian Institute of Technology, Bangkok, Thailand.

Recent research reports

Snell, C.J., Bevan, M.A. & Gillard, R. 11 Dec 2018, Policy Pathways to Justice in Energy Efficiency, UKERC.

Snell, C.J. & Bevan, M.A. 11 Dec 2018, Supporting fuel poor disabled people through energy efficiency measures: Practitioner guide by UKERC, University of York and Disability Rights UK, UKERC

Snell, C.J. & Bevan, M.A. 11 Dec 2018, Supporting fuel poor families through energy efficiency measures: Practitioner guide by UKERC, University of York and The Children’s Society, UKERC

Swaffield, J.K., Snell, C.J., Bradshaw, J.R. & Tunstall, R.K. Dec 2016, Identifying sustainable pathways out of in-work poverty: Main report on the ‘Working Life in York’ survey: ESRC Knowledge Exchange Scheme ES/L002086/1, Commissioned Report for JRF/JRHT, CYC & YSJU, 184 p

Lambie-Mumford, H., Snell, C.J. & Dowler, E. 19 Jul 2015, Heat or Eat: Food and Austerity in Rural England, 5 p, Communities and Culture Network+

Lambie-Mumford, H., Snell, C.J. & Dowler, E. Jul 2015, Heat or Eat: Food and Austerity in Rural England Final Report, Communities and Culture Network+, 77 p (Working Papers of the Communities & Culture Network+)

Snell, C., Bevan, M. and Thomson, H. (2014). Fuel Poverty and Disabled People: the impact of policy change (research summary for eaga charitable trust). Research Summary (PDF , 176kb)

Thomson, H., Snell, C., and Bevan, M. (2013). Fuel Poverty and Disability: a statistical analysis of the English Housing Survey Deliverable 1 (a report funded by eaga charitable trust). Report (PDF , 880kb)Annexes (PDF , 706kb).

Snell, C. and Wilson, S. (2010). Sustainable Schools Project: Deliverable Two (Second report for Wakefield Metropolitan District Council on the findings from the Sustainable Schools Survey).

Snell, C., Main, G., and Wilson, S. (2009). Sustainable Schools Project: Deliverable One (first report for Wakefield Metropolitan District Council on the Sustainable Schools Agenda).

Snell, C., and Bradshaw, J. (2009). Water Affordability in England and Wales: A report prepared for CC Water (final report for the Consumer Council for Water).

Snell, C. and Main, G. (2008). An Overview of Water Poverty in England and Wales (report for the Consumer Council for Water).

Snell, C., and Jones, P. (2007). Accessibility Problems in the Dearne: EPSRC DISTILLATE PROJECT Part B: Techniques for Option Generation.

Snell, C. (2007). Distillate Project C: Indicators and Targets for Sustainable Land Use and Transport EPSRC DISTILLATE PROJECT.


I coordinate three modules:

  • Sustainable Development and Social Inclusion (3rd year Undergraduate)
  • Introduction to Research Methods (MA level)
  • Advanced Qualitative Research Methods (MA level)

In addition to this I give guest lectures on the Environment and Social Policy for the Introduction to Social Policy module (Year 1), and Environmental Crime for the Victimisation and Harm module (Year 2)


National Energy Action

In recognition of the value of collaborative partnerships the Department of Social Policy and Social Work at the University of York and National Energy Action (NEA) are working together to meet common objectives regarding fuel poverty, energy  policy and research.

Given NEA's position as the leading UK fuel poverty charity, and that of the Department as a leading UK centre for teaching and research, common objectives for a partnership which is truly collaborative have been developed.

The University of York and NEA see this as an important opportunity to inform and maintain the profile and credibility of fuel poverty campaigns at a time of significant policy change and flux.

National Energy Action (logo) - Campaigning for Warm Homes

Contact details

Dr Carolyn Snell
Reader in Social Policy
Chair of the Board of Examiners

Tel: 01904 32 1249

I do my best to respond to emails but there may be delays during busy times.