Research course

Social Work and Social Care

University of Sussex · School of Education and Social Work

Entry requirements

A Masters degree (normally with a dissertation at grade B+ or equivalent) in either Social Research Methods or in a relevant discipline which includes significant research methods training. A research proposal must be submitted on application

Months of entry

January, October, April

Course content

The School of Education and Social Work provides a vibrant interdisciplinary research community. Our core research themes are pedagogy of professional education, policy and practice across the life-course, theory and practice in wellbeing, professional knowledge and methodologies, and the exploration of extraordinary childhoods, digital childhoods and emotional lives.

Full-time or part-time research student registration is possible. Sussex particularly welcomes applications from those with an existing professional interest in social work who may wish to combine their studies with continuing work in relevant agencies.

For full-time research students we provide access to computing facilities supplementing those available through University IT Services. There are also research student workrooms, equipped with some PCs.

Research centres

Department of Social Work and Social Care:

The Centre for Innovation and Research in Adult Well-Being (CIRA): this is a newly developing research centre aiming to lead innovation and research to identify social innovation in developing and sustaining wellbeing. Its approach is interdisciplinary and will inform national and international agendas on lifestyle, prosperity and identity.

The Centre for Innovation and Research in Childhood and Youth (CIRCY): this is an interdisciplinary and cross-University centre bringing together research, scholarship and expertise in childhood and youth. Its membership includes researchers from the social and life sciences, arts, humanities and professional fields including social work, law, education and health. Together, we aim to create a space for dialogue, collaboration, creativity and capacity-building so as to develop new research and knowledge exchange.

The Centre for Social Work Innovation and Research (C-SWIR): a recently launched research centre to advance the international profile and impact of research on innovative interdisciplinary approaches to social work. It does this by re-articulating current trans-national, cross-disciplinary, and interprofessional social work as a distinctive mode of collaborative and participatory relationship based social action. Our aim is to promote social justice and rights, protection and development of vulnerable populations by enabling innovation in the advancement of theory, methodology and policy and practice impact at the intersection of the ‘social’, ‘psychological’ and cognate disciplinary perspectives.

Routes into doctoral study

The PhD (+3 and 1+3) benefits from research training within the MSc in Social Research Methods. This is provided by the ESRC-recognised University of Sussex Doctoral Training Centre.

Social Work and Social Care PhD research at Sussex has ESRC recognition.

PhD in Social Work and Social Care
(+3) 2-4 years full time/3-6 years part time
(1+3) 2-5 years full time/5-8 years part time

This course provides you with the support and resources necessary to complete an original and substantial piece of research, usually but not invariably with a significant empirical component.

You are normally required to take modules offered within the MSc in Social Research Methods (+3 PhD), or to complete the MSc as the first year of the 1+3 PhD. The MSc modules are supplemented by social work-specific inputs, including individual tutorial support, open research seminars and student self-support groups.

Additional entry information

Research students come from a wide variety of contexts and backgrounds, including social work practice and management, social and health care policy and practice fields, criminal justice, youth and community services, and Higher Education. Those undertaking part-time doctoral research are often in current employment in professional practice.

Assessment and progression

The research proposal developed in the first year of the PhD is reviewed by academic faculty before permission to undertake fieldwork is granted. Annual reviews of progress and training needs are conducted.

Recent PhD thesis titles

  • Against the odds? A case study of developing community participation with vulnerable innercity children and young people
  • How do social workers construct emotional abuse cases?
  • Why and how do older people choose to live in international communities in England?

Information for international students

Please see link for information on international students' entry requirements:

Fees and funding

UK students
See website for details
International students
See website for details

The University of Sussex aims to attract the most talented students to postgraduate study and offers one of the most generous scholarship programmes of any UK university. For full details of our scholarships please visit:

Qualification and course duration


full time
24-48 months
part time
36-72 months


full time
12-36 months
part time
24-48 months

Course contact details

Student Recruitment Services
+44 (0)1273 678464