Social Policy PhD/MPhil

We offer two types of research degree: an MPhil or a PhD - in any of the disciplines represented in our department, including social policy, social work, criminology and sociology. Prospective applicants for research degrees in any aspect of health service management and health care policy are invited to apply, outlining their special interests.

All research degree programmes may be undertaken either by full-time study or, for home and EU students only, by part-time study. Unfortunately, we do not currently offer distance learning courses for postgraduate research, although we are exploring the possibility of offering this in the future.

All our research degrees involve appropriate postgraduate research training modules, which are agreed with the supervisor and the Institute Research Student Coordinator, and which are assessed. In addition, we hold regular research student workshops and seminars and doctoral researchers participate in research group activities within the School of Social Policy.

The MPhil requires a thesis of 60,000 words, while the PhD thesis is 80,000 words in length.

Our academic staff have wide research interests and these are detailed below. Joint supervision is generally advised, and we can provide this with other departments. 

Fees and funding

Standard fees apply

Learn more about fees and funding

Scholarships and studentships
Scholarships and bursaries may be available. International students can often gain funding through overseas research scholarships, Commonwealth scholarships or their home government. More information about scholarships.

College and School opportunities are advertised on and some supervisors use 'Find a PhD' which provides information about opportunities to conduct doctoral research. We also nominate our strongest applicants for studentships supported by the ESRC-funded Midlands Doctoral Training Partnership, of which we are one of the principal institutional partners.

Find out more about postgraduate research scholarships

For further information contact the School directly or contact the Student Funding Office via the online enquiries system at

Postgraduate Loans for Masters students

In the summer of 2016, the UK Government introduced a new loan of up to £10,000 per student for postgraduate Masters study, this will raise to £10,280 for academic year 2017-18. PGL will be a contribution towards the costs of study and whether the loan is used towards fees, maintenance or other costs will be at the discretion of the student.

 For more detailed information view our Postgraduate funding page

Entry requirements

Learn more about entry requirements

How to apply

Learn more about applying

When clicking on the Apply Now button you will be directed to an application specifically designed for the programme you wish to apply for where you will create an account with the University application system and submit your application and supporting documents online. Further information regarding how to apply online can be found on the How to apply pages

Apply now

  • Islamaphobia: the role and function of faith and faith communities in public and political spaces; minority community issues; equalities legislation, policy and practice; citizenship, multiculturalism, integration and community cohesion.
    Contact: Dr Chris Allen
    Tel: +44(0)121 414 7203
  • Geographies of money and finance; financial inclusion and exclusion; education, learning and knowledge; wealth and inequality.
    Contact: Dr Lindsey Appleyard
    Tel: +44(0)121 415 1063
  • Black service users' views of mental health services; re-ablement and community services for older people; mental health legislation; the contribution of social theory to the understanding of mental stress; risk assessment in mental health; the role of masculinity in shaping men's experience of mental distress and our responses to it; service user participation; evaluation of health and social care responses to mental health and old age.
    Contact: Ric Bowl
    Tel: +44(0)121 414 6688
  • Individual and family experiences of impairment and disability; individual and family experiences of health and social care; care and welfare attitudes in relation to the balance between state, family and individual responsibility.
    Contact: Dr Harriet Clarke
    Tel: +44(0)121 415 8479
  • New migration, integration, community cohesion and inclusion; community engagement and community research methodology.
    Contact: Dr Lisa Goodson
    Tel: +44(0)121 414 4993
  • Race and gender; Asian women within the family and wider society; service provision within areas of disability and sexuality.
    Contact: Dr Surinder Guru
    Tel: +44(0)121 415 8481
  • African Caribbean home ownership; Ethnic minotiryt housing wealth; Return migration; Ethnic minority communities; Life history methods.
    Contact: Dr Ricky Joseph
    Tel: +44(0)121 414 7233
  • Non-governmental organisations; community participation; neighbourhood regeneration; mental health; substance use and anti-poverty strategies.
    Contact: Angus McCabe
    Tel: +44(0)121 414 5732
  • The welfare state in Britain since 1945; the Labour Party and the welfare state; the Conservative Party and the welfare state; the history of British social policy; social democratic social policy; the Swedish welfare state.
    Contact: Dr Robert Page, FRSA
    Tel: +44(0)121 414 8066
  • New migrants and access to education, training, employment and housing; integration, social inclusion and social cohesion and new migrant communities; developing innovative researchmethodologies to facilitate inclusion of excluded groups; community research methodology.
    Contact: Dr Jenny Phillimore
    Tel: +44(0)121 414 7822
  • Financial security of individuals, families and households including: assets and asset-based welfare; poverty, wealth and inequality; social security policy; financial planning and management (including savings, pensions, credit and debt); changing family forms, particularly the growth of lone parenthood.
    Contact: Professor Karen Rowlingson
    Tel: +44(0)121 415 8565
  • Social work with older people; community care policy and practice; adult service users' experiences of social work and social care services; enhancing service users' quality of life and mental well-being; service user involvement.
    Contact: Dr Denise Tanner
    Tel: +44(0)121 414 2941
  • Mental health, recovery and social inclusion; whole family approaches; wellbeing and resilience; personalisation and self-directed support; identity issues; social theory and social models of mental distress; service user and carer participation; social work and interdisciplinary working.
    Contact: Dr Jerry Tew
    Tel: +44(0)121 414 3640
  • Gender; sexuality and sexual orientation; services for people with learning difficulties; relationships of care; narrative methods; social work ethics and values; adult social care; social inclusion; diversity and equality.
    Contact: Dr Nicki Ward
    Tel: +44(0)121 414 5713
  • Impact of social media on social work education and practice; using digital technologies in social work education/practice; social work and online communities of practice;  using 360-degree video in professional education and practice; solution-focused approaches in social work practice; social work and child protection practices.
    Contact: Dr. Tarsem Singh Cooner
    Tel: +44 121 414 8184
  • Social work and child protection; domestic abuse; fatherhood, masculinities and men's lives; mobile research methods; ethnography; the social science of social work.
    Contact: Professor Harry FergusonTel:+44 121 415 8653
  • Mental health, including the role of the Approved Mental Health Professional; motherhood, stigma, child protection and social futures; qualitative methodologies, including ethnomethodology, and visual, sensory and arts-based approaches.
    Contact: Lisa Morris
    Tel: +44 121 415 8031Email:
  • Sexuality, specifically LGBT; young people and professionals’ engagement with them; gender, particularly men and masculinities; children and families, specifically inter-agency working.
    Contact: Jason Schaub

    Tel:+44 121 414 5732

For the Health Services Management Centre, view the supervisor research interests list.

If I gain a postgraduate research degree in this area, what are my career prospects?

The University of Birmingham has recently been ranked 9th in the UK, and 55th in the world, for post-qualification employability in a global survey of universities commissioned by the International Herald Tribune.

Over the last five years 98.6% of postgraduates from the School of Social Policy have been in work and/or will develop analytical skills and the ability to gather, assess and interpret data, all of which require clear and logical thinking.

Birmingham's School of Social Policy postgraduates enter a wide range of occupational sectors: the majority in the public sector in areas such as youth work but others including events, sales, administration and education. Graduates also opt to continue in academia.

What type of career assistance is available to doctoral researchers in this department?

The College of Social Sciences, to which the School of Social Policy belongs, has specially designated careers advisors and careers consultants who can provide guidance for doctoral researchers on career paths, CVs, training opportunities, application and interviews. The University’s central Careers’ Service also runs workshops and offers personally tailored advice and guidance including 1-1 careers advice, 1-1 CV advice. The Career’s Service also runs CV writing workshops especially for postgraduates in the College of Social Sciences, giving advice on how to compile CVs for both employment and for academic roles.

The University also has dedicated careers advisors for International students who run workshops and networking opportunities with potential employers. These are especially popular with International postgraduate researchers.