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Research

Social Work at the University of Edinburgh is one of the highest rated centres of research in the UK. 

We have a wide-ranging research profile, reflecting the academic and professional background of the academic staff. The taught Master’s and BSc (Social Work) courses benefit from this research, which also enhances the support of postgraduate research students.

Social Work at the University of Edinburgh is one of the highest rated centres of research in the UK.  In the most recent Research Assessment Framework (REF 2014), our joint submission - Social Work & Social Policy - was rated 3rd in the UK for its quality and breadth of research.  In addition to its 3rd place ranking using the respected Research Fortnight "Power Index", the alternate Times Higher Education "research power" index ranked Social Work & Social Policy as 1st in the UK. This UK-wide assessment of Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) has also reported the following, excellent assessment of Social Work & Social Policy research at Edinburgh: 81% was identified as being as "world leading" or "internationally excellent"; 56% of the wider societal and economic impacts derived from the research were assessed as "outstanding"; 100% of the research was judged to be "world-leading”;  65% of our research activity was rated 4* or 3*in terms of originality, significance and rigour. We were ranked top Scottish university, and 7th UK-wide, based on both average grades, and the proportion of 4* research.

The University pays particular attention to knowledge exchange and the importance of research for policy making and practice development. Much of our research in Social Work starts from the premise that social work can make a difference in the lives of individuals and communities. Social workers must have intellectual curiosity and a willingness to explore how things might be better for people who rely on services. As social work academics, we see our role as not only producing research and pursuing scholarship, but also encouraging the use of research in practice.

Although we conduct a large amount of our reseach in Scotland, reflecting our core interest in legislation, policy and practice here, we also have a commitment to research in the European and wider international arena. This wider approach is demonstrated by the research which is carried out by our PhD students.

Research is often carried out in collaboration with colleagues in the School of Social and Political Studies and in other areas including the School of Health in Social Science and the School of Education.  Social Work's research activity can be broadly grouped into three areas:

In addition, academic researchers at times take on discrete projects which do not fit easily into the groupings above. To find out more about individuals' research activities, please see our staff profile pages.


Each year, there is a programme of research seminars at which researchers, academics and practitioners who are involved in research present their findings.

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