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

For 2023-2024

Masters (MA)
£10,170 f/t (UK)
£5,085 p/t (UK)
£21,960 f/t (International)
£6,780 f/t (UK)
£3,390 p/t (UK)
£14,640 f/t (International)

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.

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.

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 novel 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). 

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.

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.


Unless indicated otherwise the modules listed for this programme are for students starting in 2023.

Core modules

  • Philosophy of Social Science Research (20 credits)
  • Research Design, Practice and Ethics (20 credits)
  • Foundations in Qualitative Research (20 credits)
  • Fundamentals in Quantitative Research Methods (20 credits)
  • Issues and Debates in Social Work (20 credits)
  • Dissertation (MA only) (60 credits)

Optional Modules (20 credits):

  • Multivariate Linear and Logistic Regression (10 credits)
  • Factor Analysis (10 credits)
  • Narrative Research (10 credits)
  • Visual Research Methods (10 credits)
  • Researching Disability (10 credits)
  • Approaches to Research on Discourse (10 credits)
  • Policy Evaluation (10 credits)
  • Advanced Qualitative Data Analysis (10 credits)
  • Secondary Data Analysis in Social Research (10 credits)
  • Using and Producing Research (10 credits)
  • Activity Theory and its Research Applications (10 credits)
  • Ethnographic Methods: Ethics, Politics (10 credits)
  • Practice (10 credits)
  • Introduction to Time Series Regression (10 credits)
  • Introduction to Econometric Software (10 credits)
  • Analysing Hierarchical and Panel Data (10 credits)

Please note: The modules listed on the website for this programme are regularly reviewed to ensure they are up-to-date and informed by the latest research and teaching methods. On rare occasions, we may need to make unexpected changes to compulsory modules; in this event we will contact offer holders as soon as possible to inform or consult them as appropriate.


Fees 2023 - 2024

Masters (MA)

Code: 7596 £10,170 f/t (UK students)
Code: 7597 £5,085 p/t (UK students)
Code: 7596 £21,960 f/t (International students)


Code: 7598 £6,780 f/t (UK students)
Code: 7599 £3,390 p/t (UK students))
Code: 7598 £14,640 f/t (International students)

Learn more about fees 

Postgraduate Loans for Masters students 

A postgraduate loans system for Masters degrees in the UK will provide up to £12,167 (after August 2023) for taught and research Masters courses in all subject areas including part-time and distance learning. 

Scholarships and funding

We offer a variety of scholarships and funding options to support you in your postgraduate studies. Explore our database to find a scholarship or funding opportunity that's right for you.

How To Apply

1 July 2023 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 2023 made after this date. The deadline for Home students is 31 August 2023.

How to apply

To apply for a postgraduate taught programme, you will need to submit your application and supporting documents online. We have put together some helpful information on the taught programme application process and supporting documents on our how to apply page. Please read this information carefully before completing your application.

Apply now

Our Standard Requirements

For entry onto this programme you will normally have an undergraduate degree in a social science of at least a 2:1. Applicants with a 2:2 degree classification will be considered on a case by case basis, if you have extensive related work experience. International applicants will be required to hold an IELTs of 6.5 with no less than 6.0 in each band or equivalent qualification.

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, non-governmental and third sector organisations, and our teaching draws upon both individual research interests of our academics.

All students will be supported by a personal academic tutor, and can draw on the support of the School's Wellbeing Officers 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 taught modules (120 credits) and the completion of a 12,000 word dissertation (60 credits), while the Postgraduate Diploma includes the taught 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.

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.

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.


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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