MRes Social Work

Our Master of Research (MRes) degree in Social Work is designed to provide you with the skills to appreciate, analyse and research contemporary social issues, the nature of social need and social work responses to them.


The emphasis is on research training and on equipping students with theoretical, generic and specialist skills to carry out their own research and to come to judgements about the research of others in the social work field. A range of quantitative and qualitative approaches to data collection, analysis and interpretation are covered to an advanced level through a combination of taught courses and supervised dissertation work. The dissertation gives students the opportunity to examine by research aspects of social work in which they have a particular interest. The degree does not give a professional qualification in social work (see MA Social Work).

Who is the programme for?

The course is designed for those who want to pursue a career in social work research or who are potential Social Work PhD students or who wish to explore research methods in relation to Social Work. Most students already have a first degree, usually, but not necessarily, in social work, social policy or a related subject such as sociology, health sciences, or other social science. However, the course is also suitable for students from other backgrounds who want to obtain a highly respected specialist qualification.

Students accepted for the course are normally expected to have at least an upper second class degree or equivalent qualification. However, applicants with relevant work experience and good academic potential will also be considered.

International students are particularly welcomed to the Department of Social Policy and Social Work. Our current international students bring new perspectives to the study of social work since many have a wealth of experience in their own countries which enables others to see the subject in a context which goes beyond national boundaries. In addition, academic staff are internationally active, attending and presenting at conferences and events world-wide. York was also lead organiser of the first European Conference of Social Work and Social Care Research, which took place in March 2011.

The programme equips students for employment in a wide range of professions and occupations. These include:

  • Teaching on social work programmes in the UK or internationally
  • University research posts in the UK or internationally
  • Research strategy posts in children’s, adult and health services.
  • Senior practitioner posts
  • Policy posts in central government

Entry requirements

Upper second-class honours degree or equivalent qualification. However, if you have relevant work experience with good academic potential you may also be considered.

International students: if English is not your first language you should also read the English Language requirements 2016/17 for postgraduate study.


Themes and content

For the most part, the MRes in Social Work is based around research training modules with a broad introduction to social research methods and an overview of research within a social work context, before moving into more advanced training in both qualitative and quantitative methods in the Spring Term.  Following completion of these modules, you will embark on your own individual research project, producing a 15-20,000 word dissertation under the guidance of your own individual supervisor. You will also have the opportunity to present your research in progress to a wider audience during a programme of dissertation workshops. In addition to this research training focused content, you will complete the social work research domains module that both provides an overview of issues in key social work fields and grounds you in key theories.

Course structure

This is a 1-year, full time postgraduate programme. Part-time options are available, please contact Sharon Harrison if this route is of interest to you.

 Autumn TermSpring TermSummer Term

Introduction to Social Research Methods

Concepts & Context in Social Work Research

Advanced Qualitative Methods

Advanced Quantitative Methods

Graduate Dissertation Workshops

Dissertation Research Project (extends through Summer months)

Teaching and support


The MRes Social Work programme comprises of modules which have been specially developed for the postgraduate programmes in the Department. We do not co-teach these modules with undergraduate students, and this allows you to study the themes and issues at a more advanced level. The relatively small number of modules on offer is a demonstration of our commitment to developing a high-quality, advanced programme of study which is focused in its aims.

Modules are taught through a combination of workshops, lectures and seminars. You will find that small group working and establishing your own perspective on social issues will become a core part of your studying process.

The Department

  • One-to-one supervision whilst undertaking an extended social work research project on a topic of your choosing
  • The chance to study in one of the biggest social policy and social work departments in the world that has a reputation for research excellence
  • A friendly, supportive and intellectually stimulating environment in which to study
  • Small group teaching with classes typically no larger than 20 people and some with fewer than 10 people


Dissertation examples

The final dissertation provides the main forum through which the student demonstrates their level of learning during the programme. Dissertations require the design, collection and analysis of research data. The dissertation may be a self contained project, or it may be planned with a subsequent research degree in mind. Dissertation topics may be drawn from a wide range of appropriate topics. These include:

  • Research on a problem stemming from developments in a particular social work domain
  • A preliminary comparative study of aspects of social services or social work practice in different countries
  • A systematic review of research in a given field
  • The exploration of a research problem that stems from the characteristic nature of social work

Student walking in the Seebohm Rowntree Building Courtyard

‌You can apply for this course using our online application system. If you've not already done so, please read the application guidance first so that you understand the various steps in the application process.

Apply now‌‌

Contact details

Rachel McAllister
Admissions Manager

Tel: +44 (0)1904 32 1273

Dr Antonios Roumpakis
MRes Programme Director

Tel: +44 (0)1904 32 1298