Dr Cynthia Okpokiri

Senior Lecturer and Course Leader, MA Social Work

Faculty:Faculty of Health, Education, Medicine and Social Care

School:Education and Social Care

Location: Cambridge

Areas of Expertise: Social Work and Social Policy

Research Supervision:Yes

Cynthia is a qualified social worker with wide-ranging knowledge and practice in children and families social work.



Cynthia worked in child protection in several children and families teams across Greater London before commencing her doctoral research at University of Sussex. During the PhD, Cynthia took on teaching roles with social work undergraduates and practice educators, as well as first year doctoral researchers.

Cynthia has also been engaged as an independent social work/social care consultant with various local authorities including, Thurrock, Barking and Dagenham, and Southwark, where she has provided research-informed child protection and parenting training to health and care practitioners and managers.

Cynthia is actively engaged in research theorising Black parenting within Western and African contexts. 

Spoken Languages

  • English
  • Igbo

Research interests

  • Children and family dynamics
  • Child protection; privileging children
  • Parenting; privileging parents/carers
  • Efficacy of social work
  • Migration, social cohesion, and ‘Ubuntu’
  • Well-being, equality and social justice
  • Theories of Social Science/Social Work
  • Alternative knowledges and epistemologies

Areas of research supervision

Cynthia currently supervises doctoral students, and has been an External Examiner for PhD research. 

Cynthia will welcome students for supervision in the following research areas:

  • Children and families social work
  • Social work practice education
  • Well-being, equality and social justice
  • Migration, difference, and group dynamics
  • Theories of social work and social sciences


Cynthia teaches the following social work courses, in addition to dissertation supervision:

  • Well-being Across the Life Course
  • Knowledge, Values and Skills in Social Work
  • The Application of Theory to Social Work Practice
  • Analytical Thinking and Decision Making 


  • PhD Social Work/Social Care
  • MSc Social Research Methods
  • MSc Social Work
  • PGCert Learning & Teaching in Higher Education
  • BSc (Hons) Sociology and Anthropology

Memberships, editorial boards

  • Higher Education Academy, Fellow (FHEA)
  • British Association of Social Workers, Member
  • Health and Care Professions Council, Member

Research grants, consultancy, knowledge exchange

ESRC Doctoral Research Award – 2011-2015

  • Southwark Children and Family Services - 'Assessment with Black African Children and Families', Sep 2016
  • Barking and Dagenham Children and Family Services - 'Alternative Childrearing Practices', Apr 2016
  • Thurrock Children and Family Services - 'Effective and Comprehensive work with Black African Children and Families', Nov 2014

Recent presentations and conferences

Okpokiri, C. 2020. How racism complicates Black parenting. The Conversation. (Available online at: https://theconversation.com/how-racism-complicates-black-parenting-140782).

TV presentation on BBC1 News Look East/West, Mon 8th June 2020 - discussing social changes relating to the racist murder of African American George Floyd (Available online at: BBC News -  Interview)

Research: An exploration of the strengths in trans-national social work research and knowledge exchange: A UK-Nigerian partnership, 2019 – current
Associate Expert Court Witness (Practising Associate Member): The Academy of Experts.

Conference Paper: ‘No second chances: theorising Black parenting. Anglia Ruskin University Inclusivity Networks Conference, Mar 2020.

University of Cambridge, Cambridge Centre for Housing and Planning Research - Panel contribution, 'Housing issues facing non-resident parents: Recommendations for policy and practice', Nov 2018.

Anglia Ruskin University, FHSCE Annual Research Conference - Presentation, 'A third way: bridging the gap between social services and minority ethnic parents experiencing child welfare concerns in England', Sep 2018.

University of Oxford, ESRC Doctoral Conference - Poster presentation, 'Nigerian Immigrant Parents and Child Welfare Issues', Apr 2015.

University of Sussex, Centre for Cultural Studies - Paper presentation, 'Multiculturalism', Mar 2014.

University of Swansea, Wales - Paper presentation, 'Nigerian Immigrant Parenting in the UK', Feb 2014.

University of Sussex - Doctoral Students' Conference, Organiser/Convener, Jul 2012