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Applied Social Research Doctorate

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
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Key facts

  • Award Masters / MSc, Postgraduate Diploma, Postgraduate Certificate, Doctorate
  • Start date September or January
  • 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
  • Accreditations ESRC Scottish Doctoral Training Centre

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 six pathways:

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

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 accreditations

    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

    When you study Applied Social Research at the University of Stirling, you’ll be introduced to leading-edge 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
  • Academic requirements

    This Doctorate is intended for experienced professionals, and you’ll normally need the equivalent of a minimum of two years' appropriate professional experience and an honours or masters degree in a relevant social science from a UK university or equivalent. Credit may be awarded for previous study, according to Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework guidelines.

    If you’re a student from overseas and applying with a Tier 4 student visa, we unfortunately can’t accept your application for this course as it falls into the category of being part-time, delivered online or a distance learning course.

  • English language requirements

    If English is not your first language you must have one of the following qualifications as evidence of your English language skills:

    • IELTS 6.5 with 6.0 minimum in each sub-skill
    • Cambridge C1 Advanced (CAE) 176 overall with a minimum of 169 in each sub-skill
    • Cambridge C2 Proficiency (CPE) 180 overall with a minimum of 169 in each sub-skill
    • Pearson Test of English (Academic) 60 overall with 56 in each sub-skill
    • IBT TOEFL 80 overall with 18 in reading, 23 in writing, 19 in listening and 21 in speaking
    • Trinity ISE II Pass overall and Merit in all sub-skills, ISE III Pass overall and in all sub-skills, ISE IV Pass overall and in all sub-skills

    Last updated: 5 December 2019

    For more information on ways that you can meet our English language requirements, including options to waive the requirement, please read our information on English language requirements.

  • Pre-sessional English language courses

    If you need to improve your English language skills before you enter this course, our partner INTO University of Stirling offers a range of English language courses. These intensive and flexible courses are designed to improve your English ability for entry to this degree.

    Find out more about our pre-sessional English language courses.

Choose the professional pathway that’s right for you with a host of optional modules in six diverse fields.

The core modules give you the opportunity to build high quality research skills and learn from each other’s experiences as professionals. Each professional pathway then offers a choice of modules from which two may be selected to tailor your own course (see 'Pathways' above).


The modules listed below are those currently intended for delivery in the next academic intake of this course. These may be subject to change as the University regularly revises and refreshes the curriculum of our taught programmes.

Course Details

  • Teaching

    Teaching methods are adapted to suit the aims of each module, and include lectures, seminars, computer-based workshops and group work. There are many opportunities for discussion and feedback from peers and teaching staff. At the thesis stage, you’ll have two supervisors, with the Principal Supervisor having expertise in your chosen area of interest. In addition, you’ll also have access to courses, seminars and development opportunities offered by Stirling Graduate Research School (SGRS) and the Scottish Graduate School of Social Sciences, including advanced training and summer school programmes.

  • Assessment

    You’ll be assessed through a variety of different methods, including coursework essays, critical review essays, book reviews, research proposals, research papers, conference posters, group project reports and oral presentations.

  • Classroom hours

    For the convenience of part-time students, attendance for each of the “core” Applied Social Research modules is concentrated into either three or four one-day blocks. The professional modules are also designed for part-time students, with several being offered online (Housing and Dementia Studies). On-campus attendance is kept to a minimum.

  • Course director
  • Fees and costs
    2019/20 fees
     Home/EU studentsOverseas students
    Full programme fee £13,875  £38,980 
    2020/21 fees
     Home/EU studentsOverseas students
    Full programme fee £14,150 £39,950

    If you need to extend your period of study, you may be liable for an additional fee.

    If you are not studying full-time, the fee for each year will be calculated based on the number of credits you enrol on each year. Your fees will be held at the same level throughout your course.

    For more information on courses invoiced on an annual fee basis, please read our tuition fee policy.

    Doctoral loans

    If you're domiciled in England or Wales you may be eligible to apply for a doctoral loan of up to £25,700 from your regional body:

  • Scholarships and funding

    If you have the talent, ability and drive to study with us, we want to make sure you make the most of the opportunity – regardless of your financial circumstances.

    Learn more about available funding opportunities or use our scholarship finder to explore our range of scholarships.

  • Additional costs

    There are some instances where additional fees may apply. Depending on your chosen course, you may need to pay additional costs, for example for field trips. Learn more about additional fees.

  • Cost of living

    If you’re domiciled in the UK, you can typically apply to your relevant funding body for help with living costs. This usually takes the form of student loans, grants or bursaries, and the amount awarded depends upon your personal circumstances and household income.

    EU and overseas students won’t normally be able to claim living support through SAAS or other UK public funding bodies. You should contact the relevant authority in your country to find out if you’re eligible to receive support.

    Find out about the cost of living for students at Stirling

  • Payment options

    We aim to be as flexible as possible, and offer a wide range of payment methods - including the option to pay fees by instalments. Learn more about how to pay

As both a professional and a research student, you’ll find a supportive environment within the University for putting research into practice and having a direct impact on people’s lives. As a Professional Doctorate student you’ll also frequently find yourself at the forefront of cutting-edge developments and initiatives in your organisation. This can help you to develop your career to a new level, or open up interesting consultancy opportunities. You may also choose to carry out further research and build an academic career.

  • Develop and advance in your profession as you study for your Doctorate
  • Open up opportunities in consultancy, academia or your current job role
  • Grow your network of professional contacts
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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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