MSc Social Work Research

Social work, both in the UK and internationally, has been defined as a profession that ‘promotes social change, problem solving in human relationships and the empowerment and liberation of people to enhance social justice.

Social work takes a variety of forms and engages with a broad range of individuals, groups and communities. The scope of social work research is equally broad and requires researchers to be aware of, and able to engage with a variety of disciplines in a range of settings, often working alongside those with different ideas of what social work and social work research are and what each is intended to achieve (Economic and Social Research Council, 2006).

Social work research, in other words, does not simply concern the work of social workers. It may also be concerned, for example, with programmes of community development in the context of poverty or interventions to tackle domestic violence and programmes for young offenders. It may focus on the needs of a particular group, for example disabled children or people with severe and long term mental illness, whether or not they receive social work services. It may draw on theories and research methods from any of the social sciences, including economics, from law and philosophy.

This programme is designed to build on the links between research and practice in a range of settings in developing the particular skills and capacities needed by practice-based professionals and postgraduate students interested in carrying out social work and social care research.

Who is the programme designed for?

The programme is aimed at UK/EU students and international students who:

  • wish to develop a career in social work research, with particular relevance to social work and social care services;
  • are funded by international governments and universities and who wish to move on to doctoral studies in Social Work and university teaching positions which require a PhD;
  • are social work practitioners who want to develop skills in practice-relevant research;
  • are research commissioners and managers in local authorities and voluntary organisations;
  • are ESRC-funded, through SWDTC PhD Studentships in social work.

You do not have to be a professional social worker to undertake this programme and a professional qualification in social work is not a requirement for admission. Social work in this context refers to the academic discipline.

For further information please contact our postgraduate admissions team on or +44 (0)117 394 1649.

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Enquiries Team:
+44 (0)117 394 1649

School for Policy Studies
University of Bristol
8 Priory Road
Bristol, BS8 1TZ

Find out more about MSc Social Work Research

Social Work Research flyer (PDF, 303kB)

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