Skip to navigation | Skip to main content | Skip to footer

Social Work PhD

View tabs | View full page

Programme description

Social Work is part of the School of Nursing, Midwifery and Social Work. The School was placed top of the table for nursing and midwifery research in the 2008 UK Research Assessment Exercise making this the ideal place to study for a Postgraduate research award.

The postgraduate research programme provides students with transferable skills in research and serves as the foundation for a career as an investigator and scholar. It also gives students the opportunity to work with internationally renowned scholars engaged in innovative research that will make a difference in people's lives and in health and social care.

We particularly welcome students from all health and social care disciplines who have an interest in exploring areas related to the School¿s research programme.

Social Work staff are active in a range of research areas, see Social work for further information

The PhD programme of study consists of:

  • Supervision by two members of staff
  • Research training and support
  • Taught course units
  • Independent study

High-quality supervision is an integral part of the programme, and students are allocated two supervisors with appropriate expertise from among the academic staff. Students are also assigned an advisor for further support.

The supervisory team will assist the PhD applicant throughout the study ensuring academic objectives are met and suitable training is provided in core skills fundamental to the research.

Transferable skills training is provided by a dedicated Graduate Training Programme offered by the Faculty of Medical and Human Sciences which provides training in aspects such as research methodology, critical writing skills, intellectual property, research ethics.

Special features

PhD students have the option of studying using a distance learning (DL) route. For more information, please see: Online support for MPhil/PhD study.

This innovative option is aimed at students who are generally unable to be present on The University of Manchester campus, but have the desire, potential and time to undertake a PhD. This option does include attendance at an annual, on-campus, intensive study week, where they meet supervisors and fellow students.

Coursework and assessment

  • Discussing students' progress in a wider research context
  • Providing a forum for staff and students to present research findings and ideas in a supportive atmosphere
  • Discussing and giving advice on conference presentations and broadening awareness of student's research
  • Facilitating career development opportunities beyond their PhD

There is a detailed system to monitor the progress of PhD students. Students must submit work at specific stages and meet with their supervisors throughout their course. Some meetings are informal, while others are formal and documented.

All students must submit a continuation report at the end of 11 months (23 months if part time) which must be of the quality and style of a Master¿s thesis and which is accompanied by a viva examination.

Programme unit details

All research degree candidates in the School are normally required to undertake postgraduate taught course units and these are usually completed in the first year of the programme. PhD students require 60 credits.

Research Design and two other research course units (a range is available, all online) are compulsory for all students, unless exemption is granted on the basis of prior learning of appropriate materials at an equivalent level. Students also earn 15 credits for the Transferable Skills Training and Research Support course unit.

Course units are taught online. Each 15-credit online course unit requires approximately 50 hours engagement with online learning materials.

For the main research part of the programme, students are normally under the supervision of two members of the academic staff of the School, allocated by the the Postgraduate Research Programme Director. Supervision is arranged taking account of the research interests and expertise of the staff and the candidate's proposed project.

On occasion, joint supervision with a member of staff from another School within the University may be arranged, depending on the research method or topic to be studied. Preference will be given to students whose research will complement the current research themes of the School.


The School of Nursing, Midwifery and Social Work is based in a state of the art building housing seminar rooms, IT facilities, interpersonal skills laboratories and lecture theatres. The wider facilities of the university are of an excellent standard, with one of the best library collections and resources in Europe.

Disability support

Practical support and advice for current students and applicants is available from the Disability Support Office.

Please email: