This programme is currently under development and may be subject to change
The Centre for Social Work is part of the School of Law, which is highly regarded for its research and has an active and vibrant research culture. In the Centre for Social Work we undertake research on a range of subjects including: child protection, children looked after and adoption; poverty and inequality; race and mental health; discretion and decision-making; and arts-based research. In the wider School of Law research is conducted on subjects spanning law, criminology, sociology, social policy and forensic psychology. Our main research areas can be found here.
To read detailed research profiles of our social work staff, and find information about their publications and projects, please visit Pure.
Research facilities and environment
Our postgraduate research students enjoy a friendly and stimulating research environment and regular, personally-tailored supervisory sessions. Participating fully in the life of the School of Law, our doctoral students are valued members of a close-knit group of academics.
We provide regular monthly workshops where students take it in turns to present their work and receive feedback from other students and from the Departmental lead for Postgraduate Research. Additional sessions may be offered on topics ranging from publishing to career choices on completion of a doctorate.
Our lively annual Postgraduate Research Day is always well-attended and gives postgraduate researchers the opportunity to showcase their work to staff and students in the School of Law. We understand the importance of fostering doctoral students' professional skills, and fully support them in presenting papers at academic conferences in the UK and abroad. We are committed to our students' success, providing mock vivas, annual reviews, and personal advice on issues such as managing time pressures and meeting deadlines. Students are also actively encouraged to join one of the School’s four thriving research groups. Many members of the School's postgraduate community are from outside the UK, providing an opportunity for the exchange of ideas within an international context.
Students register for an MPhil and then participate in an upgrade process before the 20th month of their studies if full time (40th month part time). This requires them to submit chapters of their work for consideration by a panel of staff members and then make a formal presentation in front of this panel. Having upgraded students are expected to submit their thesis by the end of their third year, or at the latest by the end of their fourth year if full time (part time by the end of their 8th year).
The Department welcomes applications from suitably qualified and highly-motivated candidates. The application process for our postgraduate research programmes is interactive. We place great emphasis on matching prospective students to supervisors’ interests, building on our existing research activities. Interested potential applicants should first refer to our website to obtain a good idea of the School’s research expertise. The School is only able to consider applications in research areas of interest to its full-time academic staff.
In order to apply to undertake a postgraduate research degree in the department, you should:
1. Make an informal enquiry before you apply
In the first instance, you should check the research interests of members of academic staff in the department to see who is active in the area that you are interested in. It is helpful at this stage if you can provide any member of staff you contact with an outline research proposal and a CV, setting out your qualifications and experience. You should expect to have a series of discussions with the member of staff (by email, by telephone/Skype, or in person) about the project, about options for funding, and about your career aspirations. These discussions will help the member of staff decide whether or not they would be an appropriate supervisor for your proposed project.
2. Submit an application
When a member of staff has agreed in principle to supervise your project, you should then submit an application form – read more here https://www.royalholloway.ac.uk/studying-here/applying/postgraduate/how-to-apply/. One of the most important aspects of your application is the research proposal.
The purpose of the research proposal is two-fold: first, to help determine whether your topic corresponds with the interests and expertise of its proposed supervisor(s) and, second, to make clear how the research will make an original contribution to political and philosophical knowledge.
The proposal is important as it will allow the department to assess your aptitude for doctoral-level research, to allocate supervision appropriately, and to ensure we are fully able to support the study you propose. Although you are required formally to submit the proposal with your application for doctoral study, it is a document you may wish to develop in discussion with a member of staff in the Department of Social Work.
The proposal should be approximately 2,000 words in length (excluding the bibliography) and include the following sections:
At this stage, a working title that summarises the proposed focus is more than adequate.
b. Introduction, Research Question and Rationale
The introduction should, in a succinct way, provide an overview of, and rationale for, the proposed project. You should explain the project’s focus, its main research question and broad aims, and how it will make an original contribution to political knowledge. The introductory section needs to outline the basic argument the thesis intends to advance, as well as what it will aim to demonstrate. In simple terms, explain what the project is about, why it is innovative, why the project matters, why you are the right person to undertake it, and why the Department of Social Work is the most appropriate place to be based.
c. Literature Review
Any proposed project should make clear how it relates to existing research on the topic (or related topics). In this section, you should summarise the current state of scholarship on your topic and explain the ways in which your project will draw from, and build on, that work. In this part of the proposal, you are demonstrating your knowledge of the field and the ways in which your project will add meaningfully to it.
d. Data and Methodology
If you intend to do empirical research, in this section you should detail the sources of data (qualitative and/or quantitative) that you will require in order to answer your project’s research questions and the specific methods you intend to apply in order to collect or generate those data. You should offer a clear explanation for your selection of investigative techniques. Why one method rather than another?
This section should also offer an account of your analytical strategy. How will you make sense of your data? Will you require any specialist software to complete that analysis? Will your project involve fieldwork? If so, to where? How will that fieldwork be financed and supported?
In this section you should, finally, reflect on the ethical implications of your proposed topic. Which ethical issues are raised by your project? How do you intend to address them?
e. Proposed thesis structure and timeline
In this section you should outline the structure of your thesis, and demonstrate that you have thought about how you are going to structure and organise the argument put forward in your thesis. Additionally, you should propose a timeline for your project, and demonstrate how you think you will organise your time in the three years you will work on your thesis.
f. Reference list
List here, using the citation system common to your discipline, the sources referred to in the proposal.
3. After applying
All applications are subject to review by a panel of academic members of staff in the Department of Social Work. Applicants will be informed of the outcome as soon as the panel has met.
For further information concerning applications for postgraduate research in the department, please contact Dr Emily Glorney, Departmental Lead for Postgraduate Research.
English language requirements
All teaching at Royal Holloway is in English. You will therefore need to have good enough written and spoken English to cope with your studies right from the start.
The scores we require
- IELTS: 6.5 overall. Writing 7.0. No other subscore lower than 5.5.
- Pearson Test of English: 61 overall. Writing 69. No other subscore lower than 51.
- Trinity College London Integrated Skills in English (ISE): ISE III.
- Cambridge English: Advanced (CAE) grade C.
- TOEFL ib: 88 overall, with Reading 18 Listening 17 Speaking 20 Writing 26.
For more information about country-specific entry requirements for your country please see here.
Your future career
Our PhD programme is very successful and our alumni have gone on to undertake careers in a variety of roles social care and health sectors. Our graduates have also gone on to have extremely successful careers in a variety of universities both inside and outside the UK.
Fees & funding
Home and EU students tuition fee per year*: £4,407
International students tuition fee per year**: £15,900
Other essential costs***: There are no individual costs greater than £50 per item.
How do I pay for it? Find out more about funding options.
* and ** These fees apply to students enrolled on a full-time basis. Students studying part-time are charged a pro-rata fee, usually equivalent to approximately half the full-time fee. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org for further information on part-time fees. We adopt the minimum fee level recommended by the UK Research Councils for the Home/EU tuition fee. Each year, the fee level is adjusted in line with inflation (currently, the measure used is the Treasury GDP deflator). Fees displayed here are therefore subject to change and are usually confirmed in the spring of the year of entry. For more information on the Research Council Indicative Fee please see the RCUK website.
*** These estimated costs relate to undertaking this particular programme at Royal Holloway. Costs, such as accommodation, food, books and other learning materials and printing, have not been included.
For postgraduate courses that last longer than a year Royal Holloway reserves the right to increase tuition fees annually. Tuition fees are unlikely to rise more than 5% each year.