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MRes Social Work

Analyse social issues and research key issues in social work

Year of entry: 2021 (September)


1 year full-time,
2 years part-time

Start date

September 2021 (term dates)

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This course is ideal for research training in social work. If you would like to become a qualified social worker you should look at the MA in Social Work.

You'll undertake intensive research training which will equip you with 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.

Research that packs a punch

Ranked third in the UK for overall research performance and joint first for the impact of our research
(Times Higher Education rankings of the most recent Research Excellence Framework, 2014)

Course content

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'll follow this with modules that will guide you through advanced research methods.

You'll then progress to developing your own research project. 


You will take modules totalling 180 credits during your degree. This includes 100 credits 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, which you will complete for the 80 credit Independent Study Project.

In the Summer Term and summer months you'll take part in two compulsory modules:

This will give you the chance to develop your research interests and participate in a group project with other students who have similar interests. You will also use this time to work on a dissertation of between 15,000 and 20,000 words for the Independent Study Module.

Our modules may change to reflect the latest academic thinking and expertise of our staff.
Our course structures are changing in September 2023. Find out more about how this course may be affected.


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

The York approach

Every course at York is built on a distinctive set of learning outcomes. These will give you a clear understanding of what you will be able to accomplish at the end of the course and help you explain what you can offer employers. Our academics identify the knowledge, skills, and experiences you'll need upon graduation and then design the course to get you there.

Students who complete this course will be able to:

  • Critically and independently use an in-depth understanding of research theory, design, qualitative and quantitative skills, and the ability to apply this to real-life social work and policy problems.
  • Identify and synthesise theories, methodological approaches and concepts from multiple disciplines and critically apply them to real world contexts to contribute to the informed construction of social work responses to social needs.
  • Effectively design and manage social work research projects drawing on appropriate qualitative, quantitative and mixed research methods; retrieve, generate and interpret relevant primary and secondary data, digital resources and work within appropriate ethical codes of conduct and data protection laws.
  • Communicate research findings authoritatively to specialist and informed audiences, including service users, carers, practitioners and policy makers, in ways that balance academic rigour and accessible presentation of complex information.
  • Reflect on your own independent learning experience by conducting and facilitating the management of a social work research project that would require them to critically analyse social work policy and practice, devise and evaluate policy and practice strategies and take into account multiple and multilevel interests.
  • Work effectively in teams, with sensitivity to the individual perspectives, organisational positions and institutional dynamics of peers and other actors, and recognition of their own subjective positions.
  • Critically apply knowledge and skills to the pursuit of social progress and social justice beyond the context of local and domestic social work as active and participatory citizens.

Teaching and assessment

You’ll work with world‐leading academics who’ll challenge you to think independently and excel in all that you do. Our approach to teaching will provide you with the knowledge, opportunities, and support you need to grow and succeed in a global workplace.

Coronavirus (Covid-19): changes to courses

We've made some changes to the way our courses are delivered to minimise potential disruption from the ongoing global pandemic.

Teaching format

You'll attend lectures and workshops, supported by seminars where you can discuss lectures and readings in small groups. Our modules are designed exclusively for postgraduate students, allowing you to study key issues at a more advanced level.

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

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

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

Teaching location

You will be based in the Department of Social Policy and Social Work which is based on Campus West. The majority of your teaching will take place in Alcuin and Derwent Colleges on Campus West.

About our campus

Our beautiful green campus offers a student-friendly setting in which to live and study, within easy reach of the action in the city centre. It's easy to get around campus - everything is within walking or pedalling distance, or you can always use the fast and frequent bus service.

Assessment and feedback

You will be continuously assessed, mainly through essays and reports. 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.

Fees and funding

Annual tuition fees for 2021/22

Study modeUK (home)International and EU
Full-time (1 year) £8,440£18,700
Part-time (2 years)
This is the year 1 fee. Fees for future years are subject to confirmation.

Students on a Student Visa (formerly Tier 4 Visa) are not currently permitted to study part-time at York.

For courses which are longer than one year, the tuition fees quoted are for the first year of study. Fees for subsequent years are subject to increase (no more than 2% each year).

Fees information

UK (home) or international fees? The level of fee that you will be asked to pay depends on whether you're classed as a UK (home) or international student. Check your fee status

Find out more information about tuition fees and how to pay them.

Additional costs

There are no mandatory additional fees but we do recommend that you set aside some money for photocopying. Course books will be available to you from the Library either in print or online format but you may wish to buy your own copies - book prices vary, with new ones usually costing between £20 and £60. All other teaching resources will be available online.

Funding information

Discover your funding options to help with tuition fees and living costs.

We'll confirm more funding opportunities for students joining us in 2021/22 throughout the year.

If you've successfully completed an undergraduate degree at York you could be eligible for a 10% Masters fee discount.

Living costs

You can use our living costs guide to help plan your budget. It covers additional costs that are not included in your tuition fee such as expenses for accommodation and study materials.

Careers and skills

This course is a fantastic basis for further study, such as a PhD in Social Work. You will also gain relevant and highly sought-after skills that will 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

Typical offer
Undergraduate degree 2:1 or equivalent
Other international qualifications Equivalent qualifications from your country

Additional requirements

You will usually have the equivalent of one year's full-time experience working in social care, health care or related voluntary work.

English language

If English isn't your first language you may need to provide evidence of your English language ability. We accept the following qualifications:

Minimum requirement
IELTS 6.5, minimum 6.0 in each component
C1 Advanced and C2 Proficiency 176, minimum 169 in each component
Duolingo 110, minimum 100 in all other components
PTE Academic 61, minimum 55 in each component
TOEFL 87, minimum of 21 in each component
Trinity ISE III Merit in all requirements

For more information see our postgraduate English language requirements.

If you've not met our English language requirements

You may be eligible for one of our pre-sessional English language courses. These courses will provide you with the level of English needed to meet the conditions of your offer.

The length of course you need to take depends on your current English language test scores and how much you need to improve to reach our English language requirements.

After you've accepted your offer to study at York, we'll confirm which pre-sessional course you should apply to via You@York.


You can apply and send all your documentation electronically through our online system. You don’t need to complete your application all at once: you can start it, save it and finish it later.

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Social Policy and Social Work

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