About us

Department of Social Policy and Social Work, Alcuin C Block

‌Professor Nick Ellison

Head of Department


The Department of Social Policy and Social Work (SPSW) at York is one of the leading UK centres for teaching and research in social policy, social work, applied social science and professional development for public management.

In the latest national research evaluation exercise (REF 2014) our overall research performance was ranked third in the UK, with 54% of research activity rated as world leading. The Department was equal first in the UK for the impact of its research. We pride ourselves on the calibre of our academic staff, the majority of whom have been assessed as either ‘world-leading’ or ‘internationally excellent’.

REF 2014 Results - 3rd in UK for Research and Equal 1st for Research Impact

We have a wide range of undergraduate and postgraduate degree programmes with real-world relevance, and are strongly committed to supporting our students throughout their degrees, particularly through the system of individualised personal supervision. We offer a stimulating teaching and research environment in an open, informal and friendly setting. The Department is pleased to welcome students and researchers from all over the world, as well as the UK.

The City of York itself was the site of one of the world’s first scientific studies of poverty, Seebohm Rowntree’s Poverty: A study of Town Life (1901). A hundred years since its first publication, in 2001 this seminal work was reprinted with a preface by Professor of Social Policy, Jonathan Bradshaw. The Department was founded in 1965 by Professor Kathleen Jones and continues to make a positive difference to the world in which we live.

Applied Social Science

Multi-disciplinary degree programmes going beyond the welfare state and looking at applied issues. Flexible modules allow you to choose specialisms within the course itself or maintain a broad approach.

Public Policy and Management

Online professional development programmes at postgraduate level, designed for those working in or with public services and NGOs who wish to further develop their skills, capacity and strategic contribution.

Social Policy

Drawing upon ideas from across the social sciences and adopting a critical perspective that looks to both understand what welfare states seek to achieve and critique them when they fail to deliver. It allows for specialisms in Crime and Criminal Justice or Children and Young People.

Social Work

Complementing our HCPC accredited courses, we also offer post-qualifying professional development short courses. The Department actively engages with the social work community, with a service user and carer participation group and a research dissemination initiative.

Our reputation

We are fifth in the UK and 24th in the QS World University Rankings 2017, and third in the UK for research with 54% of our research activity rated as world leading in the REF 2014 exercise. We are also placed in the top ten for Social Policy in the university league tables. Find out more.