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Social Work and Social Policy (PhD)

2024-25 (also available for 2025-26)

This course is eligible for Doctoral loan funding. Find out more.

Start date

1 October 2024

13 January 2025

14 April 2025


The maximum duration for a PhD is 3 years (36 months) full-time or 6 years (72 months) part-time with an optional submission pending (writing-up) period of 12 months.

Sometimes it may be possible to mix periods of both full-time and part-time study.

If studying on a part-time basis, you must establish close links with the University and spend normally not less than an average of 10 working days per year in the university, excluding participation in activities associated with enrolment, re-registration and progression monitoring. You are also expected to dedicate 17.5 hours per week to the research.

Application deadlines

For October 2024

07 June 2024 for International and Scholarship students

28 June 2024 for Home students

For January 2025

18 October 2024 for International and Scholarship students

15 November 2024 for Home students

For April 2025

24 January 2025 for International and Scholarship students

21 February 2025 for Home students

About the research degree

A PhD is the highest academic award for which a student can be registered. This programme allows you to explore and pursue a research project built around a substantial piece of work, which has to show evidence of original contribution to knowledge.

Completing a PhD can give you a great sense of personal achievement and help you develop a high level of transferable skills which will be useful in your subsequent career, as well as contributing to the development of knowledge in your chosen field.

Our research degrees are available as full-time, part-time and some are offered distance learning.

You are expected to work to an approved programme of work including appropriate programmes of postgraduate study (which may be drawn from parts of existing postgraduate courses, final year degree programmes, conferences, seminars, masterclasses, guided reading or a combination of study methods).

This programme of research culminates in the production of a large-scale piece of written work in the form of a research thesis that should not normally exceed 80,000 words.

You will be appointed a main supervisor who will normally be part of a supervisory team, comprising of up to three members to advise and support you on your project.

Entry requirements

The normal level of attainment required for consideration for entry is:

  • a Master's degree from a UK University or equivalent, normally with a classification of merit or distinction, in a discipline appropriate to the proposed programme to be followed, or
  • an upper second class honours degree (2:1) from a UK university in a discipline appropriate to that of the proposed programme to be followed, or
  • appropriate research or professional experience at postgraduate level, which has resulted in published work, written reports or other appropriate evidence of accomplishment.

If your first language is not English, you will need to meet the minimum requirements of an English Language qualification. The minimum for IELTS is 6.5 overall with no element lower than 6.0, or equivalent. Read more about the University’s entry requirements for students outside of the UK on our Where are you from information pages.

Why choose Huddersfield?

There are many reasons to choose the University of Huddersfield and here are just five of them:

  1. We were named University of the Year by Times Higher Education in 2013.
  2. Huddersfield is the only University where 100% of permanent teaching staff are Fellows of the Higher Education Authority.
  3. Our courses have been accredited by 41 professional bodies.
  4. 94.6% of our postgraduate students go on to work and/or further study within six months of graduating.
  5. We have world-leading applied research groups in Biomedical Sciences, Engineering and Physical Sciences, Social Sciences and Arts and Humanities.

What can I research?

There are several research topics available for this degree. See below examples of research areas including an outline of the topics, the supervisor, funding information and eligibility criteria:


Examination of the extent and nature, causes and consequences, and responses to child abuse and neglect (CAN). CAN is defined widely to include all forms of this phenomenon; for example, bullying, criminal victimisation, FGM, forced marriage, neglect, physical abuse, sexual abuse and exploitation, and witnessing domestic abuse. This work can be extended to include subjects relating to child welfare and child victimisation more generally.


Please see our scholarships page at to find out about funding or studentship options available


Please see details via the following web page


How to apply


Recent years have seen a concern over the perceived sexualisation of childhood together with an explosion of interest in and concern about the sexual abuse and exploitation of children and young people (CSA/CSE). Whilst sexual abuse is most likely to be committed in the home and by someone known to the victim, much of this concern has focussed on organised sexual abuse and in particular the sexual exploitation of young girls outside the home. This has led to the construction of an ‘ideal’ or ‘deserving’ victim whereby some victims are blamed for the abuse perpetrated against them together with the identification of particular groups of (Asian/Muslim) men as particularly dangerous that risks failing to recognise other perpetrators of CSA/CSE. This is at a time when professionals working with children and young people are increasingly encouraged to be vigilante and identify/report cases of suspected CSA/CSE. This research could explore any aspect of childhood sexual abuse including: how professionals respond to CSA/CSE; how professionals understand and perceive victims of CSA/CSE; why some (groups) are more likely to be seen to be responsible for their abuse; how the media might influence understandings of CSA/CSE; how victims might experience CSA/CSE; how might we (social workers, teachers, youth workers, police etc) best support victims of CSA/CSE. A narrative approach to this research would also be welcome.


Please see our Scholarships page to find out about funding or studentship options available.



How to apply


Recent developments in child and youth participation have given rise to a broadening of focus beyond more conventional ‘political’ participation and decision making contexts to embrace participation in everyday life contexts and new forms of youth participation such as activism, alternative social movements and self organised activities. These in turn ask questions about citizenship education and how young people develop agency as active citizens. We therefore would welcome applications for studies that contribute to developing discourses in any of the following areas interest: · New forms of political participation, alternative styles and spaces of youth participation, urban counter cultures and participation in new social movements, · youth activism (in particular what motivates young people), youth campaigning, young people’s involvement in protest movements · intergenerational issues and adult-child/youth relationships in participation · the role of social media, · self-organising and autonomy in everyday contexts, · participatory methodologies and children and young people as researchers - children and young people’s involvement in local planning and decision making

In addition to this, in recent years, there has been a greater emphasis on the involvement of children and young people, who come to the attention of statutory social work services, in planning for their care and protection. We therefore would welcome applications for studies that contribute to developing discourses in any of the following areas of interest: • looked after children and young people and their involvement in decision making about their care • decision making for children and young people involved in statutory child protection processes • children and young people -led approaches to managing risk


Please see our Scholarships page to find out about funding or studentship options available.



How to apply


Following allegations made against Jimmy Savile and other cases of historic abuse we have seen a rise in the number of victims coming forward and identifying themselves as victims of historic child sexual abuse. This research could explore this issue from a number of perspectives – including adult victims, those who are accused; those who respond to allegations (e.g the police); and media coverage of historic abuse. It could focus on particular groups (of victims, perpetrators) or explore differences and it could focus on particular areas such as sexual abuse in the home or in sports settings. A narrative approach to this research would also be welcome.


Please see our Scholarships page to find out about funding or studentship options available.



How to apply


This research is linked to concerns over the well being of children and young people (cyp) particularly around sex, sexuality and sexual and/or gender identity. Increasing numbers of young people in the UK are diagnosed as having mental health issues, where the transition from childhood to adulthood is increasingly seen as fraught with 'dangers', and where young people’s access to (formal) support and information around sexuality and relationships is limited, particularly in relation to lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans (LGBT) identities. This research could look at any aspect of growing up LGBT+ including: explore how children and young people and/or those who work with them understand the needs of young people who identity as LGBT+; explore the lived experiences of children and young people who self identify as LGBT+ or who are questioning or unsure about their sexual and/or gender identity. A narrative approach to this research would also be welcome.


Please see our Scholarships page to find out about funding or studentship options available.



How to apply

Applications are welcome for a diverse range of specialist topics and areas of expertise. We would, especially welcome applications for topics in which the proposed research is in line with the research priorities of the School of Human and Health Sciences.

There are different ways to find the right research topic for you:

  1. Find a supervisor and design your own research project – explore the Huddersfield Research Portal to find research and researcher expertise to find the area you’re interested in.

  2. Browse our listed funded opportunities.

  3. To find out more about the research we conduct, take a look at our Research, Innovation and Skills webpages, where you will find information on each research area.

Student support

At the University of Huddersfield, you'll find support networks and services to help you get ahead in your studies and social life. Whether you study at undergraduate or postgraduate level, you'll soon discover that you're never far away from our dedicated staff and resources to help you to navigate through your personal student journey. Find out more about all our support services.

Researcher Environment

Our postgraduate researchers contribute to our thriving research [culture] community at Huddersfield, in return, we provide an experience that enhances your potential and inspires you to think big and become a globally competitive researcher.

Join our community of like-minded people who are passionate about research and gain access to world-leading facilities, advanced research skills training, and expert career advice.

Reduced inequalities

  • We recently ranked 6 out of 796 global institutions for reduced inequalities in the Times Higher Impact ratings – this recognises our research on social inequalities, policies on discrimination and commitment to recruitment staff and students from underrepresented groups.**


  • We are in the top 50 UK universities for research power, and nearly two-thirds of our research environment is classified as world-leading and internationally excellent.***

As a researcher, you’ll gain access to our Researcher Skills Development Programme through The Graduate School, to help broaden your knowledge and access tools and skills to improve your employability. The programme is mapped against Vitae’s Researcher Development Framework (RDF), you’ll benefit from Vitae’s career support as well as our own programme. We also have a team dedicated to improving the academic English needed for research by our international PGRs.

Our training is delivered in a variety of ways to take advantage of online platforms as well as face-to-face workshops and courses. You can access a range of bespoke training opportunities and in-person events that are tailored to each stage of your journey;

  • Sessions on PhD thesis writing, publications and journals, post-doctoral opportunities, poster and conference presentations, networking, and international travel opportunities.

  • Opportunity to work and study abroad via the Turing Scheme through The Graduate School.

  • Externally accredited training programme with Advance HE (HEA) and CMI.

  • Online research training support accessed through a dedicated researcher module in Brightspace, the University’s Virtual Learning Environment.

  • We also hold a series of PGR focussed events such as 3 Minute Thesis, PGR led research conference and informal events throughout the year.

**THE Impact Rankings 2022

*** REF2021

Important information

We will always try to deliver your course as described on this web page. However, sometimes we may have to make changes as set out below.

When you are offered a place on a research degree, your offer will include confirmation of your supervisory team, and the topic you will be researching and will be governed by our terms & Conditions, student handbook and relevant policies. You will find a guide to the key terms here, along with the Student Protection Plan.

Whilst the University will use reasonable efforts to ensure your supervisory team remains the same, sometimes it may be necessary to make changes to your team for reasons outside the University’s control, for example if your supervisor leaves the University, or suffers from long term illness. Where this is the case, we will discuss these difficulties with you and seek to either put in place a new supervisory team, or help you to transfer to another research facility, in accordance with our Student Protection Plan.

Changes may also be necessary because of circumstances outside our reasonable control, for example the University being unable to access it’s buildings due to fire, flood or pandemic, or the University no longer being able to provide specialist equipment. Where this is the case, we will discuss these issues with you and agree any necessary changes.

Your research project is likely to evolve as you work on it and these minor changes are a natural and expected part of your study. However, we may need to make more significant changes to your topic of research during the course of your studies, either because your area of interest has changed, or because we can no longer support your research for reasons outside the University’s control. If this is the case, we will discuss any changes in topic with you and agree these in writing. If you are an international student, changing topics may affect your visa or ATAS clearance and if this is the case we will discuss this with you before any changes are made.

The Office for Students (OfS) is the principal regulator for the University.