Doctoral study in Social Work

Why study with us?

  • One of the leading schools in the subject in New Zealand
  • Strongly commitment to engaging with and serving practitioner communities in the human services/social work and counselling professions
  • A long history of more than 30 years’ association of social work with education in its programmes
  • The majority of our research is undertaken in partnership with practice communities
  • Doctoral candidates receive annual Postgraduate Research Student Support (PReSS) funding for research expenses

Research opportunities

"E raka te mauī, e raka te katau
A community can use all the skills of its people"

When you join us for your doctoral study in social work, you’ll be part of a community of high-calibre academic staff with expertise in teaching, scholarship, research and practice in the main disciplines of social work, counselling, disability support and youth work.

You will be able to use a range of research methodologies to ascertain the lived experiences, the health and the well-being of diverse populations and explore the implications of professional practice in the health and social services with a focus on three key themes:

  1. Children, young people and families
    This stream explores the wide range of issues that affect the well-being of children, young people and families/whānau and investigates practice strategies for promoting their well-being.
  2. Migrants, refugees and cultural identities
    This cluster focuses on the diverse ways in which people construct, negotiate and communicate multiple forms of identity and competencies. In particular, there is a focus on how the intersections of culture, gender, age, ethnicity, linguistic competencies and spirituality relate to people’s lived experiences across the domains of family, community, civil society and professional practice.
  3. Professional education, policy and practice
    This research cluster explores responses to these challenges from education, policy and practice perspectives.

Our people

Pursue your topic with us and learn with academic staff who have been awarded for their teaching and research excellence, both in New Zealand and internationally. With the majority of our research undertaken in partnership with practice communities, you can be confident that what you learn has relevance to your profession and will help you achieve enhanced outcomes for you and the people you work with.

Some supervisors in this subject:

Dr Carole Adamson
Disasters and recovery in the social work curriculum, resilient practitioners

Dr Margaret Agee
Identity-related experiences of Pasifika people who are ‘afakasi’; Ethics in counselling practice

Dr Allen Bartley
Transnational migration, migrant professionals practicing in Aotearoa social work settings, New Zealand cultural politics 

Associate Professor Liz Beddoe
Migrant workforce experiences; continuing professional education and clinical supervision

Dr Kelsey Deane
Positive Youth Development, youth programming and evaluation research

Dr John Fenaughty
Resources and projects to benefit services for young queer and gender diverse people

Professor Christa Fouché
Migrant workforce experiences; workforce capability in the health and social services sector

Professor Susan Kemp
Place, environment and community in social work practice; low-income children, youth and families; public child welfare; and social work history and theory

Associate Professor Jay Marlowe
Refugee and migrant resettlement, identity, trauma, disaster risk reduction; integration of personal and professional identities

Associate Professor Mike O'Brien
Causes and effects of child poverty and related policy issues; welfare reforms and changes in delivery of and access to social services

Dr Matthew Shepherd
Child, adolescent and whānau well-being, computerised therapies

Dr Barbara Staniforth
Public perceptions of social work

The faculty of Education and Social Work is home to high-calibre researchers in this subject. Find out more about our available supervisors and research projects you could join.

Current and past research topics

  • "Disaster risk reduction: Contributions by children with disabilities" | Supervised by Associate Professor Jay Marlowe
  • "Creating conversations: Using participatory action to develop a platform for sex talk in Coast Province, Kenya" | Supervised by Dr Allen Bartley
  • "Relations of care: NZ families caring for their dependent adult children with complex needs" | Supervised by Associate Professor Liz Beddoe
  • "Reintegration experiences of young people after a positive youth development programme" | Supervised by Dr Kelsey Deane
  • "Mental Health Needs and Therapeutic Recommendations of Chinese Sexual/Gender Minority Young People: The Views from Young People and Practitioners" | Supervised by Dr John Fenaughty
  • "Counselling competency in NZ social work practice" | Supervised by Professor Christa Fouche

Scholarships and awards

University of Auckland Doctoral Scholarships

Hope Selwyn Foundation Scholarship in Ageing Research

James Bertram Scholarships

Kate Edger Educational Charitable Trust Dame Dorothy Winstone Final Year Doctoral Awards

Kate Edger Educational Charitable Trust Doctoral Completion

The Kate Edger Educational Charitable Trust First Year Doctoral Awards

Contact us

If you have any questions or queries, contact us using the details below.

Leigh Beever
Doctoral and Postgraduate Research Coordinator
Email: l.beever@auckland.ac.nz
Phone: +64 9 623 8812

Apply for doctoral study