4 years full time, 6 years part time
Choose to start in September 2017, January 2018 or May 2018

Social Work and Social Care

From theory and practice in wellbeing to the challenges of social work practice in safeguarding, mental health, adoption and reflective practice to the exploration of extraordinary childhoods, digital childhoods and emotional lives – you’ll work with experts in their fields in a vibrant interdisciplinary research community.


Areas of study

We host three research centres:

How to apply

If you’d like to join us as a research student, there are two main routes:

Find out how to apply for a PhD at Sussex

Full-time and part-time study

Choose to work on your research full time or part time, to fit around your work and family life. For details about part-time study, contact us at


Explore our research interests and find a potential supervisor.

  • Faculty profiles

    Dr Henglien Chen
    Lecturer in Social Work

    Research interests: ageing care policy and practice: cross country comparison, ageing care service provisions, ageing care workforce, family carer for older people, gerontology social work

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    Dr Kristine Hickle
    Senior Lecturer in Social Work and Social Care

    Research interests: childhood and youth, Groups, groupwork, human trafficking, sexual violence, Social work, Trauma

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    Ms Sharon Lambley
    Lecturer in Social Work

    Research interests: Social work

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    Dr Hilary Lawson
    Senior Lecturer

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    Prof Michelle Lefevre
    Professor of Social Work

    Research interests: child protection, child well-being, Communication, psychoanalysis, Social work

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    Mr Barry Luckock
    Senior Lecturer in Social Work & SocialPolicy

    Research interests: Social work

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    Dr Reima Ana Maglajlic
    Senior Lecturer In Social Work And Social Care

    Research interests: Mental Health, Participatory Design, participatory methods, radical social work, Social rights and social justice, social welfare reform, social work and political conflict, social work and social development

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    Dr Tish Marrable
    Senior Lecturer in Social Work and Social Care

    Research interests: Autism and Social Care, Bereavement, disability, Emotion in professional practice, Social work, Supervision

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    Dr Sevasti-Melissa Nolas
    Senior Lecturer

    Research interests: action research, childhood and youth, children's participation, children's social policy, children's welfare, public life, qualitative research methods, social action, Social work, youth inclusion, youth policy

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    Dr David Orr
    Senior Lecturer in Social Work

    Research interests: adult protection, adult safeguarding, Andean studies, anthropology of the Andes, cinema and dementia, Dementia, ethnography, Global Mental Health, medical anthropology, Mental Health

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    Prof Gillian Ruch
    Professor of Social Work

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    Prof Elaine Sharland
    Professor of Social Work Research

    Research interests: Knowledge generation - Co-Creation, Research design and methodology, Responsibilities to children, Social work, Youth

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    Prof Rachel Thomson
    Professor of Childhood & Youth Studies

    Research interests: Social behaviour, Sociology

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    Prof Charles Watters
    Professor of Wellbeing and Social Care

    Research interests: Asylum seeking, Children and migration, medical anthropology, Mental Health and Well-Being, Refugees and asylum, Social work, well-being

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    Dr Russell Whiting
    Senior Lecturer in Social Work and Care

    Research interests: Alternative Spiritualities/New Religious Movements, Church History & History Of Theology, Modern British history, Social work

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Entry requirements

A Masters degree (normally with a dissertation at grade B+ or equivalent) in either Social Research Methods or in a relevant discipline which includes significant research methods training. A research proposal must be submitted on application

Research training

If you’re applying for ESRC funding, you might need to do a Masters first. Find out about our Social Research Methods MSc.

English language requirements

IELTS 7.0, with not less than 6.5 in each section.

Find out about other English language qualifications we accept.

English language support

Don’t have the English language level for your course? Find out more about our pre-sessional courses.

Additional information for international students

We welcome applications from all over the world. Find out about international qualifications suitable for our PhD degrees.

Visas and immigration

Find out how to apply for a student visa

Scholarships and fees

How can I fund my course?


Our aim is to ensure that every student who wants to study with us is able to despite financial barriers, so that we continue to attract talented and unique individuals.

Part-time work

We advertise around 2,500 part-time jobs a year so you can make money and gain work experience. We have a special scheme to employ students on campus, wherever possible.

Find out more about careers and employability

How much does it cost?

Fees for self-funding students

Home: £4,195 per year

EU: £4,195 per year

Channel Islands and Isle of Man: £4,195 per year

Overseas: £15,100 per year

Our fees follow the indicative fee level set nationally by Research Council UK and may be subject to change.