School of Applied Social Science Research Degrees

The School is multidisciplinary and welcomes both full-time and part-time applicants from the fields of Sociology, Social Policy, Criminology, Social Work, Housing and Dementia Studies for taught programmes and research degrees.

Taught Programmes

The School of Applied Social Science has a wide range of taught postgraduate programmes, follow this link for further details.

World-leading Research

In the most recent Research Assessment Exercise (RAE), 95% of research in Applied Social Science was Internationally Excellent with the top 10% of that judged to be World-leading.

Most of our research has an applied focus and is relevant for policy and practice in the real world. Many of our taught and research postgraduate students undertake placements with policy makers such as the Scottish Government, work as interns with voluntary sector organisations, or work directly with practitioners to apply research findings, particularly in the fields of social care, child protection, social policy, criminology, housing and dementia. We work closely with Knowledge Exchange Officers, particularly in the Multi-Agency Resource Centre in child protection, the Scottish Centre for Crime and Justice Research, and the Dementia Services Development Centre. Many of our research students have worked, or will work as practitioners, putting research into practice and having a direct impact on people’s lives. Others go on to carry out further research and embark on academic careers, and we have several postdoctoral researchers working with us.

Research Opportunities

We currently offer PhD and MPhil supervision across a range of disciplines, including Sociology, Social Policy, Criminology, Social Work, Housing Studies, Dementia Studies and related disciplines. We also offer students the opportunity to conduct research in a world class, interdisciplinary school with strong links to theoretical, empirical, policy and practice developments.

Doctor of Applied Social Research (DASR)

This programme is for professionals who may need to commission, evaluate, direct, administer or design research into aspects of the applied social sciences. It is directed towards analysis of policy, practice and the development of professional practice. Taught modules focus on aspects of social science research, emphasising the critical understanding of research and research methods.

Research postgraduate students are all members of one or more of our research groups:

Dementia and Social Gerontology

The group carries out multidisciplinary, policy and practice relevant social scientific research with particular emphasis on people with dementia and those who support and care for them. We work with researchers, clinicians and social care practitioners from many disciplines across the University and with national and international colleagues in Europe, North America, Asia and Australasia.

Governance, Participation and Inclusion

The Governance, Participation and Inclusion Research Group is concerned with both policy and practice. It focuses on a number of major factors, including: the planning and delivery of welfare and public services; systems and processes of governance; and user participation.

Crime and Justice Research Group

The Crime and Justice Research Group is multi-disciplinary and collaborative and includes staff and postgraduate students with a range of research interests and expertise related to crime and criminal justice.

Scottish Centre for Crime and Justice Research (SCCJR)

The Crime and Justice Research Group’s activities contribute directly to the University of Stirling’s partnership in the Scottish Centre for Crime and Justice Research (SCCJR). In particular, group members are responsible for the co-directorship of SCCJR, for managing the Centre’s thematic network on evaluating interventions and for the development of knowledge transfer activities.

Childhood, Families and Relationships

While primarily focused on relationships which shape, or take place within, childhoods, this group is also interested in a wider range of interpersonal relations than those previously confined to traditional family forms.

Scottish Addiction Studies Network

The research focus of this group is the analysis of social survey datasets. There is an emphasis on detailed empirical research that is theoretically informed.

For information on research activity, please go to:

We currently have more than 30 ongoing research projects, including:

World Class Research Influencing Policy in Social Care

Professor Kirstein Rummery and Professor Alison Bowes have been working on a series of research projects which have examined free personal care, personalisation and self-directed support in social care. Working closely with colleagues at Stirling and beyond, their work has been used to develop policy and practice in the UK, Europe, and world-wide

Data Management through eSocial Science (DAMES)

AMES is an ESRC research Node in e-Social Science. based at the Universities of Stirling and Glasgow. The Node's projects cover case studies, provision and support of data management activities undertaken by social scientists.

Young People Creating Belonging

The ESRC funded project aims to explore the notion of belonging in domestic spaces. It will do so in relation to the experience, and draw on the expertise of, young people who have spent time in kinship, foster or residential care.

Knowledge Transfer Partnerships in Dementia

In 2008 Fife Council Social Work Services and NHS Fife approached the DSDC to ask for help in developing a ten year plan for dementia care in Fife. And a knowledge transfer partnership (KTP) was developed to encourage knowledge sharing between an academic ‘knowledge base’ and a business or service provider.

For information on these and other research projects, please go to:

Entrance Requirements to the School of Applied Social Science

Doctor of Applied Social Research (DASR), an honours degree or higher degree from a university or institution recognised by the University of Stirling, with a minimum of three years appropriate professional experience. The entrance requirement for the Masters and PhD is normally an upper second class or first class honours degree in a relevant subject from a UK university or equivalent.

English Language Requirements

If English is not your first language, you must provide evidence of your proficiency such as a minimum IELTS score of 6.5 (minimum 6 in each skill), or TOEFL 577/233/90 (Paper/Computer/Internet).

Mode of Study

Research Degrees can start throughout the year on the first of any month. Doctor of Applied Social Research (DASR) starts in October and February.

Contact details

Applied Social Science Research Programme Contact
Professor Kirstein Rummery
Tel: +44 (0) 1786 467693


Applied Social Science has Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) recognition for 1+3years students, providing both research training and PhD supervision. Eligible PhD students are eligible to apply to the Scottish Doctoral Training centre for scholarships.


Research Improving Housing Practice for Young People

In 2009 Professor Isobel Anderson was awarded an ESRC CASE Studentship ‘Resilience to Housing Crisis’, in collaboration with the Scottish Council for Single Homeless. Research student: Alasdair Stewart, supervised by Professor Anderson and Dr Sharon Wright, joined the School in 2009.

This three year PhD study (2009-2012) integrates social theory on risk of/resilience to homelessness and repeat homelessness, with an evaluation of the influences of social policy and practical interventions on the sustainability of independent tenancies for young people moving out of homelessness. Building on existing evidence of youth homelessness/housing transitions and preliminary research undertaken by SCSH on the cost of tenancy failure among young people, the overall goal of this study is to examine in depth the factors which influence the difference between young people whose tenancies are sustained for a year or more and those which fail in some way within the first year. The project includes a work experience element within SCSH and research findings will be summarised for a practice audience. 'The study will provide detailed evidence to develop policy and practice for SCSH, helping to ensure that its work remains relevant to the needs of young people'. Nick Bell of SCSH

Working With Policy Makers to Tackle Organised Crime

After completing the School's BA (Hons) Criminology and Sociology programme in 2006, Billie Lister was awarded the ESRC 3+1 award. This allowed her to continue with her studies at Postgraduate level within the School. Since commencing the 3+1 programme, she has been awarded an MSc Applied Social Research, and has been able to take part in a variety of useful opportunities this University provides for its postgraduates, such as the programme of events and training seminars offered to all research students via the Stirling Graduate Research School.

'Last year, ESRC funded students were invited to apply for Internships offered by a range of prestigious public sector organisations across the UK. I successfully applied, and was given the opportunity to take a three month break from my Ph.D to enhance my CV by undertaking an Internship at the Scottish Government. I am currently half way through the placement, and am finding it hugely beneficial on both personal and career levels, as it has allowed me to put my education into practice. I am solely responsible for working on a section of the Serious Organised Crime strategy, and am using my social science background to conduct literature searches and suggest best ways forward for policy makers. At the end of the placement, I will be expected to present my findings to policy makers and key figures within the Scottish Crime and Drug Enforcement Agency. The Government have also sent me on a variety of training courses and relevant seminars. It has been a fantastic experience and I would encourage other students to get involved.

The Internship represents one of the many opportunities postgraduates within the School of Applied Social Science can potentially take part in. There are also chances to showcase your research to a supportive audience via our postgraduate seminar series. The School of Applied Social Science is an ideal location for taking your social science endeavours forward at Postgraduate level!' Ms Billie Lister

Knowledge Transfer Partnerships in Dementia

'Fife has been recognised in many ways for the excellent services provided for people with dementia such as achieving the highest grading in Scotland for their local authority care homes from the Care Commission in 2010.' Dr Louise McCabe

World Class Research Influencing Policy in Social Care

'It has been very interesting working with policy makers to develop policy and legislation around health and social care services, but even more exciting to see the impact of our research on people's lives. All over the world, disabled and older people, and carers, are able to access services and support that are much more 'personalised', joined-up and under their control as a result of our research. Because of our research, older people in Scotland are entitled to free personal care. That makes a real difference to people's lives.' Professor Kirstein Rummery

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