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Unit information: Social Work Research Dissertation in 2018/19

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Unit name Social Work Research Dissertation
Unit code SPOLM0039
Credit points 60
Level of study M/7
Teaching block(s) Academic Year (weeks 1 - 52)
Unit director Dr. Demi Patsios
Open unit status Not open




School/department School for Policy Studies
Faculty Faculty of Social Sciences and Law


The dissertation is an opportunity to carry out independent study, enabling the student to select a field of inquiry relevant to social work and to carry out research in depth over a sustained period of time. Student learning is supported by regular individual supervision sessions, though the expectation is that the dissertation is primarily an individual piece of work.

The unit aims to:

1. provide the student with the opportunity to investigate a topic of their own choice (within the broad framework of social work/social care)

2. enable the student to apply some (but not necessarily all) of the research skills developed in the taught units in carrying out a short piece of research.

3. enhance the practical and transferable skills of locating and using knowledge and information, conveying ideas in written format, planning and managing their time.

Intended learning outcomes

On successful completion of the unit, the student will demonstrate, through the production of a 10,000-15,000 word dissertation:

1. an ability to frame suitable research questions

2. an understanding of, and ability to apply an appropriate research methodology to investigate their chosen topic

3. an ability to analyse data, draw apposite conclusions which are integrated with wider academic debates.

4. an aptitude to plan and carry out a sustained piece of independent research

Teaching details

Students will be expected to attend a dissertation workshop and provide an outline of their dissertation research, after which they will be assigned a dissertation supervisor. Thereafter individual study supported by regular, negotiated academic supervision. Students must submit an acceptable research ethics proposal to their dissertation supervisor and the dissertation unit convenor before beginning their research.

Assessment Details


A dissertation of 10,000 to 15,000 words. The dissertation should demonstrate that the student understands how to: frame research questions, develop and apply an appropriate research strategy (plan and complete primary data collection and/or identify appropriate secondary data sources), analyse data and draw conclusions that are integrated with wider academic debates.

Reading and References

  • Babbie, E. (2013) The Practice of Social Research, 13th ed., Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.
  • Becker, S., Bryman, A. and Ferguson, H. (eds) (2012) Understanding Research for Social Policy and Social Work, 2nd ed., Bristol: The Policy Press.
  • Bryman, A. (2016) Social Research Methods, 5th ed., Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • Creswell, J.W. (2014) Research Design: Qualitative, Quantitative, and Mixed Methods Approaches, 4th ed., Los Angeles: Sage.
  • Hudson, J. and Lowe, S. (2009) Understanding the Policy Process: Analysing welfare policy & practice, 2nd ed., Bristol: The Policy Press.

Others to be negotiated with the supervisor.

Related links

Taught on these programmes

Units available in the School for Policy Studies