Accessibility statement

Our reputation

Our aim is to ensure our degree programmes are contemporary and at the cutting edge of public debate. Our external rating as one of the top Social Policy and Social Work departments in the country reflects our success in achieving that aim.

Building on the success of our research assessments and international standing of both the Department and University, SPSW at York offers you the opportunity to study within a centre of research excellence.


REF 2014 - International Impact of Research Excellence at SPSW is Recognised

We are delighted with the REF 2014 results which rank The York Social Policy and Social Work Department third in the UK for its research with 54 per cent of our research activity rated as world leading.

REF 2014 logo

We have been rated equal first in the UK for the impact of our research. 100 per cent of our research impact and environment was rated 4* which is the highest achievable rating:

Quality that is world-leading in terms of originality, significance and rigour

For more information about the results of the 2014 Research Excellence Framework see Times Higher Education REF 2014 results table of excellence and University of York REF 2014 results.


Queen's Anniversary Prize for SPRU

Queen's Anniversary Prizes for Higher Education - 2009‌The Social Policy Research Unit (SPRU) has been awarded a Queen's Anniversary Prize for Further and Higher Education in 2009 for transforming research into policy. The award recognises the major influence SPRU has had on policy and practice for disabled or chronically ill children and adults, informal caregivers, income and employment support systems, looked after children and young runaways since its establishment in 1973.

The Unit has led the way in developing methods that enable disabled and older people and children to participate actively in research. It has achieved a national and international reputation for applied research. SPRU has provided a model for similar research groups in other countries and trained policymakers, practitioners and researchers from the UK and abroad.


SPSW maintains its place in the world top 30 and UK top 10 in the QS World Rankings by subject 2022

QS University ranking by subject

The Department is delighted to confirm its place among the world's most highly regarded departments for the subject of Social Policy and Administration. It is ranked 6th in the UK and 29th in the world.

Institutional teaching review by QAA confirms teaching excellence

We are pleased to report an excellent outcome to the recent Institutional Review of the University by the Quality Assurance Agency (QAA). The QAA assesses UK higher education institutions every six years, focussing on the quality and standards of the University’s teaching and learning activities. 

In the three areas where formal judgements are given, the report confirms:

  • that our awards ‘meet UK expectations’ for threshold standards (the best outcome that can be awarded)
  • that the quality of student learning opportunities again ‘meets UK expectations’
  • that we are commended on the enhancement of student learning opportunities – the best outcome that can be awarded. 

This excellent result is a clear endorsement of the hard work that has been done across the University to maintain and improve learning and teaching.

In particular, the QAA report highlighted the 'proactive approach to the creation of a community among distance learning students'. Our Online Masters Programmes are just one example of this, where an extensive community of learners from all over the world are supported by staff with distance learning expertise.

National Teaching Fellowship awarded to SPSW Programme Director for outstanding teaching quality

Ellen Roberts, of the Department of Social Policy and Social Work, has been awarded a National Teaching Fellowship from the Higher Education Authority. The National Teaching Fellowship is an internationally recognised award for outstanding teaching quality.

Ellen Roberts is responsible for York’s innovative e-learning Masters programmes for managers in public policy and management, which recruit from more than 40 countries, in both developed and developing parts of the world. The programmes offer professional development leading to Masters awards.

Rankings and awards - Undergraduate study

The university league tables have confirmed the University of York's position as a leading centre for Social Policy and Social Work education and research.

Rankings for Social Work 

  • Complete University Guide 
    • Overall - 4th (2022)

The University

Russell Group

The University of York has been a member of the elite Russell Group since 2012. Through their outstanding research, teaching, unrivalled links with businesses and a commitment to civil responsibility, Russell Group Universities make an enormouse impact on the economic, social and cultural well being of the UK. Find out more.

League tables and world rankings

The University of York is consistently ranked highly in worldwide assessments. See further details about the University's achievements and awards.