MSc Social Science Research Methods (Social Work Pathway)
The social work pathway through the Social Science Research Methods MSc is suitable for two groups of people:
- Those people, especially social work practitioners, who want to develop their understanding of and skills in social work research
- Those planning to undertake a PhD on a social work topic
In addition to core research methods modules that are taken by all students on the MSc in Social Science Research Methods, there are five 10-credit modules to be taken as specialist for the social work pathway. All social work pathway students are required to take the modules ‘Social Work Research’ and ‘Evidence-based Policy and Practice’. Students also then choose from three sets of modules, all designed to open up specific areas of expertise and understanding relevant for Social Work research:
- Modules which develop theoretical and conceptual understandings of social work (e.g. Advanced social work practice 1: debates about good practice; Management in Social Care: Principles and Practice);
- Specialist methodological modules, designed to extend understanding and expertise in specific areas of research methods (e.g. Interviews and Interviewing; Statistical Research Methods);
- Substantive options that cover a wide range of relevant knowledge for social work (e.g. Community, Sustainable Health and Wellbeing; Penal Sanctions); Option choices are made in discussion with supervisors, with specific reference to the proposed topics of study.
Teaching and Training
Our teaching in postgraduate social work has a long-established reputation. Both staff and students bring to the programme a wide variety of histories and academic backgrounds, which provides exciting exposure to a diversity of practical experiences as well as in-depth academic knowledge.
The MSc is recognised by the ESRC as providing post-graduate research methods training which qualifies students in the foundation for doctoral research (1 of the 1+3). This training provides a generic introduction to quantitative and qualitative methods of social research, and the wider issues of research design. The dissertation provides an opportunity for students to apply the skills and knowledge they have gained from the taught modules in the form of a piece of applied social work research, supervised by an experienced academic researcher.
The MSc provides a distinctive combination of cutting edge research methods instruction providing an excellent foundation for future employment in a range of senior posts related to social care, as well as research posts. In particular the MSc would be highly beneficial for positions in national and local government, the voluntary sector and commercial research companies.
In order to have meaningful contact with social work research being conducted by staff in the school, students can become members of one or more research groups. There is no group who activities are limited to social work topics, but there is a social work angle in several of the groups. This is particularly the case for the research groups focusing on childhood; crime and justice; health and society; risk, interaction and organisation; and sexualities and gender.
Students will be supervised by academic staff that have extensive experience of funded research for local and national government and voluntary sector bodies, as well as experience of research collaboration with local and national social welfare organisations and good links with local policy-makers and practitioners. These staff members are actively involved in disseminating social work research via publications in books, academic and practitioner journals and presentations to conferences. Several staff members have been involved in editing journals related to social work.
For detailed information about the Programme Elements, please visit the Degree Structure page.
Period of Study
The period of study is twelve months (October - September). The taught coursework takes place over two semesters (October - June). The dissertation is begun in the second semester but is completed during the summer months. The summer is a period of independent research with one to one supervision.
For further information about the Degree Structure, please visit the Degree Structure page.
Applications for study are invited in any area that falls within the School’s broad remit. Before applying, it is advisable for potential applications to use the School's website to familiarise themselves with the expertise of its staff. For further information about applications and admission requirements, please visit the How to Apply page.
- Prof Mark Drakeford: devolution, youth justice, community development
- Dr Sally Holland: child and family assessment, looked after children, community safeguarding, intensive family preservation services
- Prof Andy Pithouse: safeguarding, information technology in social work, advocacy
- Dr Jonathan Scourfield: gender, suicide prevention, parenting programmes
Research Groups in the School
The above staff are members of one of more of the School’s numerous research groups. Students are encouraged to learn about and become members of these groups themselves and to attend research events in the School throughout their course, including the School Seminar Series.