Social Policy has been a core discipline at the University of York since 1966, reflecting the pioneering social reform traditions of the University’s founders.

Head of Group: Dr Antonios Roumpakis

Our mission is to be a contemporary torchbearer of these traditions through the production of high-quality policy-focused teaching and research that makes a direct contribution to social progress locally, nationally and internationally.

Our work has a global reputation, consistently ranking in the World Top 30 or above for Social Policy and Administration (QS World Rankings, 2023). We have expertise in a wide range of policy areas and in issues spanning policy design, management and delivery, as well as policy impacts and outcomes. We have a particular concern with the ways in which policies affect social inequalities and social divisions. Our ultimate goal is to make high-quality evidence-based contributions to policy and practice that directly contributes to social progress locally, nationally and internationally.

We are one of the largest groupings of social and public policy researchers in the UK, housing a large group of Social Policy staff, with over 30 core members of teaching staff and around 20 more staff holding research-only roles. Our work is applied in nature and we have a strongly interdisciplinary orientation. We work closely with colleagues from across the School for Business and Society, particularly colleagues specialising in Public Management and Social Work, and with colleagues in York’s Departments of Health Sciences, Law, Politics and Sociology.


We specialise in a wide range of policy areas, with particularly strong concentrations of expertise in:

We are home to the Social Policy Research Unit, Centre for Housing Policy and the Social Policy East Asia Exchange (SPEAX). Our work is supported by significant external research income, with major long-term programmes of work including the ESRC Vulnerability and Policing Futures Research Centre and the NIHR School for Social Care Research.

Impact and engagement

We believe that achieving impact is fundamental to the integrity of our research. Through a combination of academic rigour and applied research, our work makes a difference to international, national and local communities by driving evidence-based improvements to policy and practice.

To maximise impact, we work with a wide variety of partners and stakeholders. This includes organisations at: international level, national level both inside and outside the UK; and regional and local level. It also includes working with: politicians, civil servants, government departments and public sector organisations; NGOs, charities, social enterprises and think tanks; private companies ; and, practitioners and professional bodies. Impact is also achieved through working closely with service users and citizens.

Some examples of recent projects include:

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We are committed to providing the very best educational experiences, both across the School and in collaboration with other departments, through research-led, multidisciplinary learning that is based on innovative methods and scholarly interest.


Postgraduate (campus based)

Postgraduate (online distance learning)




Doctoral research

We welcome PhD applications in any of our research areas or allied to our related research interests.

Find a supervisor

PhD students

Our students are investigating a huge range of topics in fields such as Social and Public Policy, Criminal Justice, Public Management, Comparative and International Social Policy.

Meet our students

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