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School of Social and Political Science: Graduate school


MSc by Research in Social Work

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The application deadline for this programme is 13th July 2018.

MSc by Research in Social Work Programme Handbook 2016/17

The MSc by Research (Social Work) aims to offer a grounding in social science research skills for those wishing to pursue a career as a researcher in the fields of social work and social care. Most of our students are qualified practitioners. Some take the MSc (R) as a stand-alone degree; for others, it serves as the first year of the PhD programme.

We would expect students to have a 2:1 in their undergraduate degree (or equivalent). The degree can be taken on a full (one year) or part-time basis (over two years).


A normal programme would involve successful completion of the following training courses in the Graduate School of Social and Political Science.

  • Research Skills in the Social Sciences:Data Collection
  • Core Quantitative Data Analysis
  • Research Design

Together with the compulsory course in Social Work:

  • Advanced Issues in Social Work Research or other Graduate School course approved by the supervisor

and two other optional courses from within the graduate school programme.

In addition, students will work through the year with their supervisors in a programme of systematic review of the secondary literature in their proposed area of research. Supervisors will also advise students of the most appropriate further training in their area of research interest.


The dissertation constitutes the main work in which students demonstrate the extent to which they have achieved the crucial learning outcomes from the first year of research training. It normally takes the form of an extended research proposal with the following components:

  • a review of the literature, both theoretical and empirical;
  • an outline of the specific questions to be addressed, a statement of research design and methods to be employed;
  • an evaluation of the expected contribution of the study to knowledge in Social Work;
  • a discussion of the practical, political and ethical issues affecting the conduct of the research;
  • a presentation of the schedule for the research, and (where appropriate) its estimated budget.

If the MSc by Research is taken as a stand-alone degree, the dissertation normally includes a component of data collection and analysis, or selection of theoretical documents and analysis.

For queries about the programme:

Gary Clapton is the PG Advisor and Programme Director


Edinburgh Students