The International Centre for Lifecourse Studies (ICLS) is designed to observe the connections between the different stages of a person's life. Using a life course perspective and longitudinal data to investigate the relationship between the social structure and social processes on the one hand and people's health and wellbeing on the other.

The four main themes of the Centre's programme of research have been selected for their scientific interest and policy relevance. They are:

  • education, health and social participation
  • health and labour force participation
  • social integration and wellbeing
  • ageing and retirement.

There will be at least three projects within each theme, all using longitudinal data sets to follow large numbers of people through time. The Centre's programme of research covers the whole life course, from birth to middle and older ages, thereby promising a new level of understanding of each person's journey through life and the identification of factors, be they social or biological, that lead to the development and maintenance of long, happy, productive lives.

The UK, due to the foresight of its scientists and funding organisations, is rich in birth cohort and other longitudinal studies that collectively cover life in Britain since the middle of the twentieth century. These studies have followed groups of citizens all the way from birth to middle age and older, with detailed information on everything from their mother's pain relief during labour, through their schooldays, to having children of their own and the details of their working lives. The Centre aims to ensure, via training new social science researchers, that these longitudinal data will continue to be analysed, to the benefit of health and social planning initiatives.