Doctoral study in Social Work

Why study with us?

  • We're one of New Zealand's leading Social Work schools.
  • We strongly engage with and serve practitioner communities in the human services/social work and counselling professions.
  • We have a history of more than 30 years’ in Social Work education.
  • Most of our research is in partnership with practice communities.
  • We provide annual Postgraduate Research Student Support (PReSS) funding for doctoral candidates' 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 academics. Our expertise spans teaching, scholarship, research and practice in the main disciplines of social work, counselling, disability support and youth work.

You'll use a range of research methodologies to ascertain the experiences, health and well-being of diverse populations. You'll 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 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 research 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, society and professional practice.
  3. Professional education, policy and practice This 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 yourself 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 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 Barbara Staniforth
Public perceptions of social work

The faculty of Education and Social Work is home to high-calibre researchers. 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

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