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PhD, MPhilSocial work & social policy

Research opportunities

You can study for an MPhil for one year or for a PhD in social work or social policy over the course of three years.

You can study in any of our available research areas:

To discuss your research idea, please contact Bernard Harris ( from our School of Social Work & Social Policy.

Postgraduate Certificate in Researcher Professional Development (PG Cert RPD) programme 

As part of your PhD degree, you'll be enrolled on the Postgraduate Certificate in Researcher Professional Development (PG Cert RPD). 

This certificate is designed to support you with your research and rewards you for things you'll do as a research student here.

It'll help you improve skills which are important to professional development and employability:

  • the knowledge & intellectual abilities to conduct your research
  • the personal qualities to succeed in your research & chosen career
  • the standards, requirements & conduct of a professional researcher in your discipline
  • working with others & communicating the impact of your research to a wide range of audiences

All you have to do is plan these activities alongside your doctorate, documenting and reflecting your journey to success along the way.

Find out more about the PG Cert RPD programme.


NameAreas of Expertise
Daniela Sime
  • Children & young people
  • Social inequalities
  • Migration & ethnicity
  • Education & social justice
  • Social policy          
Chris Deeming
  • Comparative social policy
  • Welfare reform, activation & workfare
  • Citizenship/welfare rights
  • Social investment
  • Social attitudes
Ian Greener
  • Health policy
  • Social policy
  • Social theory
  • Welfare state
  • Public management
Trish Hafford-Letchfield
  • Ageing & social justice
  • LGBTQI in social work
  • arts-based pedagogies
  • leadership & organisational development
  • mental health in marginalised communities
  • educational gerontology
Bernard Harris
  • History of social policy
  • History of health
  • Anthropometric history voluntarism and the state
  • History of mutual aid
Gavin Heron
  • Social work
  • Adult learning
Christine Jones
  • Child protection
  • Disabled children
  • Adoption and foster care
  • Kinship  family relationships
Gillian MacIntyre
  • Learning disabilities
  • Social inclusion
  • Social care
  • Social work
  • Education & employment transitions
Melanie McCarry
  • Interpersonal violence
  • Young people
  • Violence against girls and women
  • Gender role constructions
  • Social media and interpersonal violence
Sally Paul
  • Bereavement and loss
  • Compassionate communities
  • End-of-life and bereavement care
  • Participatory research methods
  • Children & young people
Laura Piacentini
  • Prison sociology
  • Russia
  • Criminology
  • Crime
  • Criminal justice
Neil Quinn
  • Global public health
  • Social welfare policy
  • Social work
  • Health
  • Human rights
Robert Rogerson
  • Future cities
  • Sustainable communities
  • Smart citizens
  • Volunteering   
Katherine Smith
  • Public Health Policy
  • Health inequalities
  • Tobacco Control
  • Qualitative methods (interviewing, focus groups, policy analysis, discourse analysis, deliberative methods)
  • Lobbying and advocacy
  • The interplay between evidence and policy (EBP, knowledge exchange/transfer, research impact)
Laura Steckley
  • Residential childcare
  • Physical restraint
  • Care ethics
  • Threshold concepts
Beth Weaver
  • Desistance from crime
  • Families of prisoners
  • Prison, parole, and community-based sentences
  • Social cooperatives and desistance from crime
  • Prisons

How can I apply?

You can apply for a postgraduate research degree at any point in the year.

All you have to do is complete an online application.

Entry requirements

The application

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

  • your full contact details
  • transcripts & 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 & 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.


You'll need to identify your research supervisor before you finalise your application, preferable as soon as possible.

When you've identified a potential supervisor, based upon how well your research interests match theirs, drop them an email to introduce yourself.

In the email, make sure you attach a draft of your research proposal along with a copy of your CV.

Don't worry about how rough your research proposal may be at this stage - you'll have help from the School of Social Work & Social Policy to refine it.

If your chosen supervisor is available to work with you, they'll confirm this and nominate a potential second supervisor.

As soon as a second supervisor is confirmed, an offer of study will be sent to you through Pegasus, our online application system.

If you accept our offer, you'll then be sent a full offer in writing via the email address you provide.

Accepting an offer

Once 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.

You can apply for a postgraduate research degree at any point in the year.

All you have to do is complete an online application.

Support & development

The Graduate School

The Graduate School is a friendly and 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 out 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 transferrable skills that'll have a positive impact on your research, now and in the future.

Find out more about the PG Cert RPD programme.


We have a great careers service that 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 loads of different support for all students here at our University. Get all the information you need at Strathlife.

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