Our Social Work and Social Care research

Our creative and outward-looking department is internationally-regarded for its trusted experts and influencers. This is demonstrated through our interdisciplinary research. Explore our research stories and see our REF 2021 results.

Research Excellence Framework 2021

We're delighted with our performance in the Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2021.

The School of Education & Social Work made submissions to two Units of Assessment (Education and Social Work & Social Policy). Each received a different set of grades.

Our Department of Social Work and Social Care research was submitted to Unit of Assessment 20: Social Work & Social Policy.

Overall our research was assessed to be 23% ‘world leading’ (4*) and 72% ‘internationally excellent’ (3*).

  • Outputs were assessed as 21% ‘world leading’ and 71.1% ‘internationally excellent’.
  • Research Impact was judged to be 25% ‘outstanding’ and 75% ‘internationally excellent’.
  • Research Environment was judged to be 25% ‘world leading’ and 75% ‘internationally excellent’.

Across the University of Sussex as a whole, 89% of research activity submitted was categorised as either ‘world-leading’ (40.6%) or ‘internationally excellent’ (48.4%). Additionally, the proportion of Sussex Research Impact assessed as 'outstanding' has increased from 35.3% to 50.0% (by 14.7%) since the REF 2014 exercise. The results of REF2021 were published on 12 May 2022.

See the University’s full REF 2021 results.

Research with impact

Our research engages with challenges faced by local and global communities, bringing conceptual and methodological rigour and imagination to our core research areas:

  • professional practice, innovation and effectiveness
  • wellbeing
  • childhood and youth.

Explore our research impact stories.

As a small unit we ensure that our research and teaching cross-fertilise, underpinning our reputation for developing resourceful researchers, research-minded professionals, and future leaders. 

Research centres

At the heart of our research environment are three interdisciplinary research centres – critical intellectual communities embracing our three core research areas. Our researchers are also actively involved in the University’s strategic research developments including the Sussex Humanities Lab (SHL) and the Andrew and Virginia Rudd Centre for Adoption Research and Practice.

Find out more about our research centres:

Doctoral research

The Department of Social Work and Social Care is home to a diverse cohort of doctoral researchers, who come from around the world. 

Our commitment to interdisciplinarity is reflected in the number of doctoral researchers involved in cross-school and cross-university supervisions. 

Explore our PhD courses


The School of Education and Social Work is based in Essex House at the University of Sussex campus. Find out how to get here.

Contact the School office: eswenquiries@sussex.ac.uk.

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