Entry requirements

An upper second-class honours degree and a pass at MSc/MA level (or equivalent experience/qualification).

See international equivalent qualifications on the International Office website.

Months of entry

January, September

Course content

A PhD in Social Work equips students with the skills and experience to apply social research methods and tools to critically examine some of the most pressing contemporary issues in social work practice, policy and education. Students are encouraged to develop a topic of interest that directly relates to their own practice experiences or is of wider interest and relevance to the delivery of social work services and support to disadvantaged individuals and groups, either in the UK or overseas.

Students will be supported to develop research questions and design a study that enables them to rigorously research their topic of interest and make an original contribution to the knowledge base of social work. Topics may directly explore practice issues or contribute more broadly to social work knowledge, working with specific groups and communities and addressing systems of inequality and social disadvantage. Where appropriate, students are encouraged to work in collaboration with relevant organisations and user and interest groups to ensure their research outputs and key findings can directly inform social work practice and service delivery.

We are a multidisciplinary, research-intensive school which brings together theory, policy and practice. Our research engages with and influences national and international policy. Our policy experts come from a wide variety of backgrounds in social policy research, social work, sociology, gender violence, childhood studies, disability studies, health and social care, history, human geography, economics, psychology, physical activity, nutrition and health sciences, urban studies, and poverty, based within seven specialist research centres.

Supervisors in social work bring diverse interests across child and family social work (for example, looked after children; adoption and fostering; supporting parents with substance misuse or learning disabilities; domestic violence responses and interventions) and adult social care (for example, disabled adults' social care needs; housing and homelessness; mental health social work; social work with older people and carers; inclusive service provision for LGBTQ+ individuals).

The school is an exciting environment for postgraduate studies; we welcome students from the UK and abroad to join our diverse and highly-rated research team. We particularly welcome applications on topics with direct relevance to national and international social work and policy concerns.

Information for international students

See international equivalent qualifications on the International Office website.

Fees and funding

The Faculty of Social Sciences and Law has an allocation of 1+3 and +3 ESRC SWDTP scholarships. Applicants may also be interested in applying for funding from the University of Bristol scholarship fund and the alumni PhD scholarship fund.

For details and deadlines of ESRC PhD studentship applications, please visit the SWDTP website.

Further information on funding for prospective UK and international postgraduate students.

Qualification, course duration and attendance options

  • PhD
    part time
    96 months
    • Campus-based learningis available for this qualification
    full time
    48 months
    • Campus-based learningis available for this qualification

Course contact details

Senior Postgraduate Admissions Administrator