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MA/PGDip Social Research (Social Work and Professional Practice)

Start date
MA: 1 year full-time, 2 years part-time; Diploma: 9 months full-time, 18 months part-time
Course Type
Postgraduate, Taught


Masters (MA)
£9,810 f/t (UK students)
£4,905 p/t (UK students)
£21,240 f/t (International students)

£6,540 f/t (UK students)
£3,270 p/t (UK students)
£14,160 f/t (International students)

The MA Social Research (Social Work and Professional Practice) is for those who have practice experience in the fields of social work, health and social care or criminal justice, and who are interested in undertaking an academic or research career.

The MA Social Research (Social Work and Professional Practice) is recognised by the ESRC as a research training pathway designed to provide you with a sound background in overall research design and the most up-to-date training in methods, including data collection and analysis for potential doctoral students. The MA Social Research (Social Work and Professional Practice) welcomes applications from international students.

The core elements of this programme are delivered by staff from across the College of Social Sciences, many of them engaged in cutting-edge research in their particular fields.

The MA programme includes assessed core modules and short courses (120 credits) and the completion of a 12,000 word dissertation (60 credits), while the Postgraduate Diploma includes the assessed courses only (120 credits).

Please note: this course does not provide a qualification to practice social work. If you are looking for a qualifying programme, please consider our MA Social Work

Within social work and social care there is an increasing emphasis on the use of research to inform ‘evidence-based policy-making’ and practice.   The MA Social Research (Social Work and Professional Practice) will provide you with rigorous training in social science research methods and their application to social work and equip you with the skills to make a real difference in this area.

Why study this course?

The programme offers you a rigorous and systematic social research training, an opportunity to apply this to your particular area of policy (or practice) interest and the opportunity to study relevant aspects of policy and practice in more depth.



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Core modules

  • Philosophy of Social Science Research
  • Research Design, Practice and Ethics
  • Foundations in Qualitative Research
  • Fundamentals in Quantitative Research Methods
  • Issues and Debates in Social Work
  • Dissertation (MA only)

Optional Modules

  • Advanced Qualitative Data Analysis
  • Approaches to Research on Discourse
  • Case Study Research Design
  • Documentary Research in Education
  • Factor Analysis
  • Intro to Econometric Software
  • Intro to Time Series Regression
  • Introduction to Causal Inference
  • Mixed Methods Research Design
  • Multivariate Linear + Logistic Regression
  • Narrative Research
  • Policy Evaluation
  • Q Methodology
  • Questionnaire Design
  • Regression with categorical dependent variables: An introduction using STATA
  • Researching Disability
  • Researching Young People
  • Social Research Methods I B
  • Visual Research Methods
  • Advanced Qualitative Interviewing

The optional modules listed for this programme may unfortunately occasionally be subject to change. Where the module is no longer available we will let you know as soon as we can and help you make other choices.


Fees 2022 - 2023

Masters (MA)

Code: 7596 £9,810 f/t (UK students)
Code: 7597 £4,905 p/t (UK students)
Code: 7596 £21,240 f/t (International students)


Code: 7598 £6,540 f/t (UK students)
Code: 7599 £3,270 p/t (UK students))
Code: 7598 £14,160 f/t (International students)

Postgraduate Loans for Masters students 

A postgraduate loans system for Masters degrees in the UK will provide up to £11,570 for taught and research Masters courses in all subject areas including part-time and distance learning. 

Learn more about fees and funding

Scholarships and studentships

International students can often gain funding through overseas research scholarships, Commonwealth scholarships or their home government. 

How To Apply

1 July 2022 is the application deadline for international students applying through the student route who wish to study in the United Kingdom. We are not able to consider applications for 2022 made after this date. The deadline for Home students is 31 August 2022.

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

Our Standard Requirements

A good Honours degree or equivalent is normally required. This will usually be in a social science, although applications from those with degrees in other disciplines will be considered. Applications are also encouraged from those without an Honours degree who have five years or more relevant work experience in a policy or practice area.

Learn more about entry requirements  

International Requirements

International Students

English language requirements

You can satisfy our English language requirements in two ways:

  • by holding an English language qualification to the right level.
  • by taking and successfully completing one of our English courses for international students. 

The Department of Social Work and Social Care has close links with a range of governmental or non-governmental/third sector organisations and our teaching draws upon both individual research interests of School staff.

All students will be supported by a personal academic tutor and can draw on the support of the School's Welfare tutors and the University's learning support services. You will also benefit from access to e-learning resources as well as the University's main library and student services.

The MA programme includes assessed core modules and short courses (120 credits) and the completion of a 10,000 word dissertation (60 credits), while the Postgraduate Diploma includes the assessed courses only (120 credits).

Assessment Methods

You will learn about social science and research through a blend of learning methods. These focus on promoting independent learning and include a mixture of formal lectures, small group work, research and skills development, individual tutorials and dissertation supervision. Social media, interactive web-based study and other self-directed activities also add a real-world perspective to the learning you will undertake.

Assessment methods include written assignments, group presentations and research projects.

This course is designed for those considering research as a career. That includes those wanting an academic career, for whom this degree is ideal preparation for undertaking a doctorate (PhD). It also includes those seeking a research career in such areas as central government, charities and in consultancies and social research. The degree also provides good transferable skills in evaluation and in analysing data and the ability to critique published research.


I was particularly attracted to the Department of Social Policy and Social Work at Birmingham because of its established tradition of Social Work teaching, strong links with practice settings and reputation as a leading centre for research. Having worked within the youth justice system for a number of years, I was keen not only to further my education, but also to be able to apply the knowledge which I had gained through practice experience.

Clare Hill, MA Social Research (Social Work and Professional Practice)

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