PhD, MPhil Social work & social policy

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Research opportunities

The School of Social Work & Social Policy offers MPhil and PhD programmes in:

In Social Policy, we offer supervision across each of the School’s main research areas (see below). We cover both historical and contemporary issues, and welcome enquiries from students with interests in Scotland, the UK and globally. We're currently supervising students on a wide range of topics from volunteering and associational life in contemporary Scotland to assessing the impacts of social policies on Human Development in Sierra Leone.

Our Social Work staff also offer supervision across all of our research areas. Current work includes studies of the provision of support for disabled children and their families, various aspects of criminal justice social work, and the experiences of looked-after children and care-leavers. Many of our current students benefit from the opportunity to work with colleagues in the Centre for Excellence for Children’s Care and Protection (CELCIS) and the Children and Young People’s Centre for Justice (CYCJ).

Our PhD programme in Criminology draws on the expertise of colleagues in both Social Work and Social Policy and the School of Law. We offer supervision across a range of topics, including youth and criminal justice, criminalisation, punishment and sentencing, the promotion of desistance, prison health services, and prisoners’ relationships with their families and the wider community. We also have close links with the Children and Young People’s Centre for Justice (CYCJ) and the Scottish Centre for Crime and Justice Research (SCCJR).

The School also manages a dedicated PhD programme in Public Health and Health Policy. This programme also draws on the expertise of colleagues in the Centre for Health Policy and other parts of the Faculty and University. We're currently supervising students who are working on a variety of different topics, ranging from the impact of mental health problems on women experiencing poverty to the relationship between mental health, homelessness and recovery.

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THE Awards 2019: UK University of the Year Winner

Our students

Keyla PhD student

Keyla Correa Montenegro

It has been a great experience not only academically but personally as well, I feel like I’m growing as a researcher as well as a person here.
PhD student Penelope

Penelope Laycock

Everyone at the university has been so helpful and are willing to take time out of their day to give you advice. The community is helpful and supportive and always happy to talk about research!
The Times / The Sunday Times Good University Guide 2021. University of the Year shortlisted.
The Times / The Sunday Times Good University Guide 2021. University of the Year shortlisted.
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Fees & funding

All fees quoted are per academic year unless otherwise stated.

Entrants may be subject to a small fee during the writing up period.

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England, Wales & Northern Ireland





Have a look at our scholarship search for any funding opportunities.

Postgraduate research opportunities

Search for all funded and non-funded postgraduate research opportunities.

Please note: the fees shown are annual and may be subject to an increase each year.

Postgraduate research at the Strathclyde Doctoral School

The Strathclyde Doctoral School provides a vibrant and comprehensive student-centred research and training environment in order to grow and support current and future research talent. The School encompasses our four faculties and is committed to enriching the student experience, intensifying research outputs and opportunities, and ensuring training is at the highest level. As a postgraduate researcher, you'll automatically become a member of the Strathclyde Doctoral School.

Find out more about the Doctoral School

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Research expertise

We encourage colleagues to work across disciplinary boundaries and this is reflected in the construction of our four, interdisciplinary Research Clusters. To identify potential supervisors for your project, please explore areas of individual staff expertise within each cluster:

Research clusterAreas of expertise
Children, Young People & Families Research topics include improvement in services for children and young people; marginalised youth and social inequalities; children and young people’s rights; migrant children; evidence-based practice and sustainable change in policy and practice. We work with a range of funders and partners, including the Scottish Government, local authorities and related voluntary sector organisations and international partners. Many of our team are based within the Children and Young People’s Centre for Justice (CYCJ) and the Centre for Excellence for Children’s Care and Protection (CELCIS).
Health & Wellbeing Research ranges from historical studies of health and morbidity and the conceptualisation of health and wellbeing to the role played by information technology in the provision of health services and the interface between health and social care. Our work also encompasses research in the fields of older age, the medicalisation of everyday life, and mental health and disability. We have close links with CELCIS, CYCJ and the Centre for the Social History of Health and Healthcare. We also play a key role in the University-wide Centre for Health Policy and collaborate with a number of external partners, including the Scottish Government, the World Health Organisation and New York and Yale Universities.
Criminal & Social Justice

Our researchers undertake applied research on issues of criminal and social justice, penal and social policy and practice. We have strong links with the Scottish Government, Scottish Prison Service, Criminal and Youth Justice Social Work Services, and related voluntary sector and penal reform organisations. We're affiliated to the Scottish Centre for Crime and Justice Research (SCCJR), which is a consortium of the Universities of Edinburgh, Glasgow, Stirling and Strathclyde. Research topics include crime and desistance; risk, regulation and reintegration; prisons, imprisonment and re-entry; Repunishment and penal practices; co-production in community justice; and children, young people and crime and justice.

Citizenship & Communities Research in this area covers a range of historical and contemporary topics associated with the study of citizenship and communities in Scotland and the UK, and across the world. Our interests include the history of mutual aid and philanthropy, social investment and inclusive growth, the enhancement of citizenship rights and social cohesion, the development of welfare-to-work programmes, the impact of devolution on UK social policy, the relationship between migration and resettlement and culture and identity, ‘smart cities’, and the future of city centres.


International students

We've a thriving international community with students coming here to study from over 100 countries across the world. Find out all you need to know about studying in Glasgow at Strathclyde and hear from students about their experiences.

Visit our international students' section

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Support & development

The Graduate School

The Graduate School is a friendly, supportive study environment for all our research students studying subjects within Humanities & Social Sciences.

Our staff will support you through your studies and you'll become part of a community of students who get involved with our workshops, seminars and competitions.

Postgraduate Certificate in Researcher Professional Development (PgCert RPD)

Our PgCert RPD programme aims to ensure you get the most out of your current research activities at Strathclyde and help you prepare for your future career as a researcher.

We'll help you recognise and develop your transferable skills that'll have a positive impact on your research, now and in the future.

Find out more about the PgCert RPD programme.


The University Careers Service can help you with everything from writing your CV to interview preparation. Take a look at our Careers Service pages to get more information.

Student support

From financial advice to our IT facilities, we have a wide range of support for all students here at at Strathclyde. Get all the information you need at Strathlife.

Interested in undertaking a postgraduate research degree at Strathclyde?

Read our step-by-step guide on how to submit your application.

How to apply
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Entry requirements

Applicants are generally required to have a first-class or a strong upper second-class UK Honours degree, or overseas equivalent, in a relevant discipline (though there is some flexibility within this, e.g. for students who have a relevant Masters degree with merit/distinction).

The application

During the application you'll be asked for the following:

  • your full contact details
  • transcripts and certificates of all degrees
  • proof of English language proficiency if English isn't your first language
  • two references, one of which must be academic
  • funding or scholarship information
  • research proposal of 1,500 to 2,000 words in length, detailing the subject area and topic to be investigated

By filling these details out as fully as possible, you'll avoid any delay to your application being processed by the University.


If you're thinking about applying to undertake a PhD/MPhil with us, you'll need to identify two research supervisors before you finalise your application, at least one of whom must be based in the School of Social Work & Social Policy (see the research interests of individual staff in the School). If you already have a clear idea of who you would like to supervise your PhD/MPhil, drop them an email to introduce yourself. If you aren’t yet sure about this, get in touch with the PGR Director. In either case, please include a draft research proposal and a copy of your CV.

Accepting an offer

When you've accepted our offer, we'll need you to fulfil any academic, administrative or financial conditions that we ask.

UK or EU students

If you're applying as a UK or EU student, you'll then be issued with your registration documentation.

Apply now

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Contact us

Social Work

Telephone: +44 (0)141 444 8400


Lord Hope Building, 141 St James Road, Glasgow, G4 0LT

Professor Kat Smith

PGR Director

Telephone: +44 (0)141 444 8745