Social Work - Research

Ulster University - Magee Derry-Londonderry Campus

Social Work - Research

The School of Applied Social and Policy Sciences has a vibrant and multi-disciplinary research environment, which is home to a wide range of research projects that tackle important questions in the social sciences. We have an excellent international reputation for producing high quality research which has global impact. Our work is centred around three key themes: persistent and emerging socio-economic challenges, policy and practice in divided societies, and national global social justice.

If you are interested in pursuing doctoral research in Social Work at Ulster University, you’ll be joining a community of academics who are engaged in research with practitioners and services users in Northern Ireland and internationally. We aim to support research awareness in undergraduate students and research skills through our post qualifying training. Our researchers work in partnership with social workers, social work employers, the HSC R&D Division, Northern Ireland, the Office of Social Services (Department of Health Northern Ireland) and the Northern Ireland Social Care Council, to respond to the evolving research needs of the profession. We work in collaboration with the International Federation of Social Work, on global social work workforce research. We also engage in cross-disciplinary research and work in close collaboration with social work academics in the island of Ireland using the Social Work Education and Research Forum, and we are involved in European networks such as European Social Work Research Association, with Special Interest Groups.

Social Work Research at Ulster University
The social work team produce high quality research outputs and contribute to international networks relating to identified areas of practice.

We aim to:
- Ask critical questions about how professionals make decisions, assess risk and apply evidence across a range of areas including adult safeguarding, child protection, probation and mental health.

- Provide evidence around workforce wellbeing for social work and social care professionals, using a range of research questions, and utilising complex qualitative and quantitative methods, including statistical analysis of data drawn from international, national, and regional sources.

- Promote research mindedness and evidence-based practice within the social work workforce.

- Inform our undergraduate and post graduate teaching with current research findings

Our research falls under the following main themes:
1. decision making and risk in probation, child protection and adult social care;
2. resilience and wellbeing amongst?social work professionals and health professionals;
3. social work in schools;
4. intimate partner violence;
5. domestic violence;
6. addiction issues in migrant populations;
7. family involvement in youth justice;
8. understanding capacity in children with learning disabilities;
9. children’s rights;
10. social?work education;
11. service user perspectives on education and social work practice;
12. bureaucracy in social work;
13, relationship based social work;
14, information technology in social work;
15. self-directed support.

We welcome interest from prospective PhD candidates in any of these areas.

For more information on the research interests of each staff member in Social Work, please visit the Social Work page on the website of the Doctoral College. For more information on how to prepare an application, including how to draft a research proposal, please visit our School’s webpage that describes the variety of PhD Opportunities.

Entry requirements

Applicants should hold, or expect to obtain, a First or Upper Second Class Honours Degree in a subject relevant to the proposed area of study. We may also consider applications from those who hold equivalent qualifications, for example, a Lower Second Class Honours Degree plus a Master’s Degree with Distinction.

In exceptional circumstances, the University may consider a portfolio of evidence from applicants who have appropriate professional experience which is equivalent to the learning outcomes of an Honours degree in lieu of academic qualifications.

Get additional information for International applicants at

English language requirements
In order to be admitted to research study at Ulster, you will need to provide evidence of your English language proficiency as part of your application.

Get full details on the requirements for both home and overseas applicants can be found on our English language requirements page.

Application dates

How to Apply
We are delighted that you are considering Ulster University for your research studies.

Get full details on the application process and further guidance on how to apply, and what you will need to upload as part of your application (see "Application Date Weblink" below).

Once you have identified supervisors, discussed a research proposal and are ready to make an application, please apply using the online application system (see "Application Weblink").

Ulster University welcomes applications from all sections of the community and from persons with disabilities. It is University policy to assess all applications using academic criteria and on the basis of equality of opportunity and you should be assured that reasonable adjustments will be made should you require them.

Post Course Info

Careers and opportunities
PhD graduates are recognised by employers to hold valuable transferrable skills, as the nature of the degree trains candidates in creativity, critical inquiry, problem solving, negotiation skills, professionalism and confidence.

The most recent Ulster survey of PhD graduates found that 92% had secured employment within the first year since graduation (HESA Destination of Leavers Survey 2015), and while two thirds end up in the Higher Education or Research sectors, the range of skills acquired equips the remainder for employment in a wide range of contexts.

More details
  • Qualification letters


  • Qualifications

    Degree - Doctoral at UK Level 8

  • Attendance type

    Full time,Daytime

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    Course provider