Sociology, Social Policy and Social Work

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Key Programme Information

Entry Year


Programme length

3 year(s)


Social Sciences, Education and Social Work


Research Strategies

The School has a reputation for research which has maximum impact.  This includes comparative studies with international partners, ensuring that research we do has relevance locally, nationally and internationally.

All are pursued through a range of theoretical and empirical approaches that take account of the person in society, social division and intersectoral stratification.  Various methodological approaches are reflected in our research including qualitative, quantitative, cross-cultural, longitudinal, biographical and comparative history.

We approach the fields of social work, sociology, gender studies and criminology from a broad perspective and encourage multidisciplinary approaches to study and analysis of social phenomena.  We see ourselves as social scientists committed to ways of working that interact with and build knowledge and capacities in the communities around us and have a positive impact on human well-being.  Our research is organised into seven themes:

  • Children, Young People and Families
  • Conflict and Social Change
  • Social Inequalities
  • Disability Ageing and Health
  • Criminal Justice
  • Drugs and Alcohol
  • Trauma, Violence and Abuse

Research Strengths

Some of the School's research strengths include:

  • Adoption and fostering
  • Attitude surveys
  • Behavioural analysis
  • Border studies
  • Children in state care/leaving care
  • Cognitive-behavioural approaches
  • Comparative analysis of conflict societies
  • Criminality; Drugs and alcohol use
  • Gender and identity theory
  • Health, illness and disability
  • Historical and contemporary social movements
  • Mental health, social work and social policy
  • Social work and social conflict in Northern Ireland
  • The sociology of religion
  • Theory and measurement of poverty, inequality and social exclusion

Entry Requirements

The minimum academic requirement for admission to a research degree programme is normally an Upper Second Class Honours degree from a UK or ROI HE provider, or an equivalent qualification acceptable to the University. Further information can be obtained by contacting the School.

International Qualifications

For information on international qualification equivalents please select Your Country from the list on our International Students website.

Additional Information for International Students

International students wishing to apply to Queen's University Belfast (and for whom English is not their first language), must be able to demonstrate their proficiency in English in order to benefit fully from their course of study or research. Non-EEA nationals must also satisfy UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) immigration requirements for English language for visa purposes.

Evidence of an IELTS* score of 6.5, with not less than 5.5 in any component, or an equivalent qualification acceptable to the University is required.

*Taken within the last 2 years.

For more information on English Language requirements for EEA and non-EEA nationals see:

If you need to improve your English language skills before you enter this programme, our partner INTO Queen's University Belfast offers a range of English language courses. These intensive and flexible courses are designed to improve your English ability to entry to this programme. Please click the links below for more information:

  • English for University Study - an intensive English language and study skills course for successful university study at degree level
  • Pre-sessional English - a short intensive academic English course for students starting a degree programme at Queen's University Belfast and who need to improve their English

How To Apply

Applicants for Postgraduate programmes are strongly advised to carefully read the important information and follow the steps set out here before submitting their application via the Postgraduate Direct Applications Portal.

If you have queries on course content please contact the school representative below.

Mrs Caroline O’Hare
Postgraduate Research Secretary
School Office
School of Social Sciences, Education and Social Work
Tel: 028 9097 5117

How To Apply

Career Prospects

Queen's postgraduates reap exceptional benefits. Unique initiatives, such as Degree Plus and Researcher Plus bolster our commitment to employability, while innovative leadership and executive programmes alongside sterling integration with business experts helps our students gain key leadership positions both nationally and internationally.

A career in social science can be a satisfying way of putting policy into practice.  Opportunities in his career path include positions that use research and data to understand and improve society at a local and international level.  Careers in in social science are projected to grow faster in the next ten years due to the need for talented individuals to interpret data and trends.

“As well as working in academia, doctoral graduates play a crucial role in contributing to businesses.  There is great value placed on their specialist knowledge, research skills and problem solving ability.  Employers value doctoral graduates’ deep specialist subject knowledge, excellent research and analytical skills, their capacity for critical thinking, as well as their ability to bring fresh perspectives to problems to the organisation”.

Source ESRC

Queen's postgraduates reap exceptional benefits. Unique initiatives, such as Degree Plus and Researcher Plus bolster our commitment to employability, while innovative leadership and executive programmes alongside sterling integration with business experts helps our students gain key leadership positions both nationally and internationally.

Find out more

Special Features

The School attracts significant funding each yea.   Recent funding successes include large research awards from prestigious research councils; AHRC, ESRC, NIHR and the MRC. 

We also secure funding at a local level with peer reviewed funding streams for example HSC Research and Development Office, DHSSPS and charitable bodies.School research is informing thinking and contributes to policy making at local, national and international levels.  The School hosts the Pioneering Research Programme, the Centre for Evidence and Social Innovation.

The School attracts research students from many parts of the world including several European countries, Ghana, India, Jordan, Russia, Uganda and the USA.

The School also offers a Professional Doctorate in Childhood Studies (DChild), which incorporates both taught and research elements and aims to enable professionals working with children and/or young people to extend their professional experience and develop skills in research, evaluation and evidence-informed practice.

Fees & Funding

There is a range of funding and scholarship options available to those considering study at Queen's.

Find out more

For tuition fee information see //

PhD Funded Studentships
We offer fully funded studentships to outstanding postgraduate researchers across our three faculties and five Doctoral Training Centres. Find PhD funding opportunities.

For fees and funding information please see the University's Graduate School website.



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Sociology, Social Policy and Social Work

School of Social Sciences, Education and Social Work
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Leading Cyber Security Expert Delivers Annual Queen’s and KPMG Lecture

23/10/2017 - Queen’s Management School and the Chief Executives’ Club at Queen’s University Belfast recently hosted leading Cyber Security expert, Mr Ciaran Martin, Chief Executive of the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC).