Home>Study at York>Postgraduate>Courses>Social Work (MRes)

Overview Analyse social issues and research key issues in social work


1 year full-time,
2 years part-time

This course is ideal for research training in social work. It is not suitable if you would like to become a qualified social worker; instead you should look at the MA in Social Work.

You'll undertake intensive research training which will equip you for the skills to carry out your own research. You'll also become adept at critically interpreting the research of others.

During this course you'll undertake your own research project in which you'll explore an aspect of social work that you find interesting.

The Department of Social Policy and Social Work at York is a world class research community with the highest ranking in the country for research impact.

Course content What you’ll study


This research-based course will give you a foundation of research skills through the taught modules. From a broad introduction to social research methods you'll go on to focus on research in a social work context. You follow this with modules that guide you through advanced research methods.

You'll then progress to developing your own research project; with the guidance of your individual supervisor you'll produce a 15,000 - 20,000 word dissertation.


You'll study a series of taught modules that concentrate on social research techniques and specifically address researching social work. You'll acquire the skills required to develop and carry out your own research dissertation.

  • Introduction to Social Research Methods - will allow you to explore the principles of social research. You'll acquire skills in both quantitative and qualitative research techniques and learn to critically appraise published research.
  • Concepts and Context in Social Work Research - will introduce you to the historical and policy contexts of social work in England. You'll explore the key concepts in social work and critically analyse how these have been researched.
  • Advanced Qualitative Methods - you'll build on your earlier work in research methods to gain expertise in the use of key methods of qualitative data generation, analysis and interpretation.
  • Advanced Quantitative Methods - you'll explore statistical theory and learn specialist research techniques. You'll become familiar with analysis and critical interpretation of your work.
  • Graduate Dissertation Workshops - you'll explore your research interests and the work you'll undertake in preparation for your dissertation. You'll work with a group that shares research interests to produce a project. You'll go on to develop your dissertation proposal.

Detailed information on each module


You'll also complete a dissertation, from 15,000 to 20,000 words, as part of the MRes. The dissertation will allow you to demonstrate your skill at independent research and apply insights from the taught modules to explore and analyse issues in social work. You'll have an individual dissertation supervisor who will provide regular guidance.

Your dissertation will require the design, collection and analysis of research data. It may be a self contained project, or you may plan for a subsequent research degree.

Previous dissertations have explored a number of areas of social work, including:

  • 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

Teaching and assessment How you’ll be taught and assessed

Teaching format

Modules are composed of lectures, workshops and seminars and where you can discuss the lectures and readings in a group. The modules are designed exclusively for postgraduate students, allowing you to study the issues at a more advanced level.

Our academics are have extensive experience in professional social work and are active researchers.

  • You'll have one-to-one supervision whilst undertaking your social work research project.
  • You'll be taught in classes that typically no larger than 20 people and some with fewer than 10 people.

You'll also be able to attend department events, including the Making Research Count seminar series.


You will be continually assessed based mainly on essays and reports and you will receive written feedback on all assessed work.

You'll complete a 15,000 - 20,000 word dissertation as part of your own specialist research project. You'll also have the opportunity to present your research as it progresses to a wider audience as part of our dissertation workshops.

Careers Where you’ll go from here

This course is suitable as a basis for further study, such as a PhD in Social Work. You will also gain relevant and highly sought-after skills that qualify you for a research career in academic institutions, local and central government or related organisations.

Career opportunities

  • Teaching on social work courses
  • Research posts in universities
  • Research strategy posts in children’s, adult and health services.
  • Senior practitioner posts
  • Policy posts in central government

Transferable skills

  • Qualitative and quantitative research methods
  • Data analysis
  • Evaluation of research
  • Design and completion of original research
  • Communication skills

Entry requirements How to get here

Course entry

You should have at least a 2:1 honours degree or equivalent qualification. You will usually have the equivalent of one year's full-time experience working in social care, health care or related voluntary work.

International options

General guidance on international entry requirements or email international@york.ac.uk with your details.

English language

If you're a non-native English speaking applicant you must provide evidence of your English language ability.

  • IELTS: 6.5, with no less than 5.5 in each component
  • Pearson (PTE): 61, with no less than 51 in each component
  • CAE and CPE (from January 2015): 176, with no less than 162 in each component
  • TOEFL: 87, with a minimum of 17 in Listening, 18 in Reading, 20 in Speaking and 17 in Writing
  • Trinity ISE: level 3 with Merit in all components

Full list of tests we accept and exemptions.

Enquire Contact our admissions tutors if you have any questions

Next steps

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Postgraduate Admissions
+44 (0)1904 322142