Applied Social Research Doctorate

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Become a leader in your field with a Professional Doctorate in Applied Social Research. Continue working while you study and graduate with invaluable expertise.

Applied Social Research Doctorate

Key facts

  • Award Doctorate
  • Start date September 2021, January 2022, September 2022, January 2023
  • Duration Doctorate full-time: 36 to 48 months, Doctorate part-time: 48 to 96 months
  • Mode of study Stand-alone modules, Mixture of online and classroom delivery


ESRC Scottish Doctoral Training Centre

Economic and Social Research Council Logo

Our Applied Social Research Doctorate is designed to transform the way you think as a professional and ensure you can make a powerful impact in your field.

If you’re an experienced professional who wants to advance your expertise and broaden your career opportunities, this course is an ideal match. From the outset, you’ll gain high-quality research skills that can be immediately applied in the workplace and refined through access to seminars and advanced training opportunities. You’ll also benefit from the guidance of our expert staff and your interaction with fellow professionals and executives from a range of social science backgrounds.

The course is highly flexible and attendance is kept to a minimum to ensure you can fit your studies around your career. You’ll also have the opportunity to fine-tune your Doctorate based on your profession – choosing one of the following pathways:

  • social work
  • criminal justice
  • dementia studies
  • housing
  • drug and alcohol studies
  • social research
  • family therapy

Ultimately, you’ll acquire skills that bring you up-to-date with the latest ideas, findings and research methods in your field, all of which you can feed back into optimising the workplace and taking decisive actions that improve services and advance your career. 

Top reasons to study with us

Course objectives

This course is designed to enhance the way you think as a professional and give you the research skills you need to make a genuine impact on your working environment. We’ll bring you up-to-date with the latest ideas, findings and methods in your field, challenging assumptions and changing how you think about the relationship between research, scholarship and expertise. You’ll be encouraged to look at new ideas about systems, how decisions are made and how to design the professional environment so that you can see, understand, evaluate, plan and take action with maximum speed and efficiency.

As well as equipping you with foundational insights into research processes through six core modules, you’ll also home in on a speciality area via a range of pathway options. These pathways ensure your qualification matches the specific demands of your professional role or your career ambitions, and include:


This pathway includes a choice of specialist modules in Providing Housing Services; Sustainable Communities; Organisational Behaviour; Delivering Affordable Housing; Housing Governance; Healthy Housing.

Social Work

Our Social Work pathway includes a choice of specialist modules in Understanding Children and Young People's needs; Understanding Children and Young People's Needs; Improving Outcomes for Children and Young People; and several others.

Criminal Justice

The Criminal Justice pathway includes a choice of specialist modules in Criminological Perspectives; Criminalisation, Social Control and Human Rights and Research Methods in Criminology and Socio-legal Studies.

Dementia Studies

This pathway includes a choice of specialist modules in Evaluation and Assessment in Dementia Care and Researching Dementia.

Drug and Alcohol Studies

Our Drug and Alcohol Studies pathway includes a choice of specialist modules in Understanding Addiction: Society, Policy and Practice and Understanding Addiction: Treatment and Recovery.

Applied Social Research

The Applied Social Research pathway includes a choice of specialist modules in Comparative Social Research; Policy Analysis and Evaluation Research.

Professional accreditation

We’re part of the Scottish Graduate School of Social Sciences and our research training is accredited as part of the ESRC Scottish Doctoral Training Centre. 

Flexible learning

If you’re interested in studying a module from this course, the Postgraduate Certificate or the Postgraduate Diploma then please email Graduate Admissions to discuss your course of study.

Research overview

When you study Applied Social Research at the University of Stirling, you’ll be introduced to pioneering empirical and theoretical research in a vibrant, multi-disciplinary environment.

Underpinning the expertise of our staff, the University of Stirling scored highly in the most recent Research Excellent Framework (REF 2014) – a UK-wide assessment of universities’ research output. In the Social Work and Social Policy unit of assessment, highlights included:

  • 78% of our overall research activity was assessed to be internationally excellent or world-leading
  • 100% of research environment factors assessed as internationally excellent or world leading
  • 100% of our research impact was assessed as world leading or internationally excellent
  • we were judged to have the 2nd highest research power in Scotland and 13th highest in the UK

Changes at Stirling

Find out about important changes including how you'll be taught, start dates and how we're making campus safer.

Which course would you like to apply for?

Doctor of Applied Social Research (Applied Social Science)

Doctor of Applied Social Research (Criminal Justice)

Doctor of Applied Social Research (Dementia)

Doctor of Applied Social Research (Drug and Alcohol Studies)

Doctor of Applied Social Research (Housing)

Doctor of Applied Social Research (Social Work)

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