Faculty of Education and Social Work

Why do research at the faculty?

Research is an important part of what we do at the Faculty of Education and Social Work. We challenge current practice and explore how things are done at school, classroom, management or agency level, national or international. The faculty is committed to supporting and encouraging research of the highest quality and we invite you to be part of our research community.


The University of Auckland is New Zealand’s premier research-led university*. Within the Faculty of Education and Social Work we offer postgraduate research supervision in a wide variety of areas in education. These include topics of significance to early childhood, primary, secondary, adult and tertiary education, counselling and social services.

The analysis of policy, the relationship between policy and practice, and issues relating to the broader socio-cultural context are all research areas associated with both education and social services. In education, research areas include interventions to raise student achievement, educational leadership, assessment, professional learning, teacher practice, curriculum areas and aspects of student learning. In counselling, human services and social work, key areas of focus include practitioner research and utilisation of research in practice. Examples of specific research areas include counselling children, loss and grief, person-centred planning, service leadership, and the needs of those with chronic illness.

Undertaking research in the Faculty of Education and Social Work gives you the opportunity to learn from and collaborate with world-class academic staff, who are outstanding in their field. You can also get involved in faculty research-led initiatives, interventions and projects that are contributing positively to the educational landscape of New Zealand.

Read more: Research at the Faculty of Education and Social Work

Why consider research?

Postgraduate research is an ideal way to explore an area of interest, answer those nagging questions, gain a deeper understanding of your discipline area or improve your own and/or your organisation's practice.

Research is relevant to all areas of education and social services and is an opportunity to develop your thinking and analytical abilities, written communication and organisational skills.

Research allows you to make your own contribution to learning and offer a critical perspective on existing scholarship or methodology. It can provide a deep sense of satisfaction to know that you are contributing valuable new knowledge and understanding to your field.

Who can do research?

It’s never too soon after graduation to think about further study, and once you get started you’ll discover how satisfying postgraduate research really is. Others undertake research after a number of years working in their profession.

Research is not limited to doctoral candidates. You can also undertake research as part of other postgraduate qualifications such as the Honours and Masters degrees.

Research components within a qualification

Dissertation: A written research component of a degree worth between 30 and 80 points.

Thesis: A research component of a postgraduate programme having a value of 90 or more points, which will have a written component but may also include design, creative or performative elements.

Research portfolio: A coherent, integrated programme of research-based work.

Research project: A piece of research-based work on a topic approved by the relevant Head of Department, usually worth between 30 and 80 points.

Preparing for research

To undertake a thesis or dissertation, you need to have first completed an approved 30-point research methods course offered at postgraduate diploma or masters level. We recommend you discuss with a programme leader or adviser where in your studies you would include the research methods course.

Use the Guide to masters research website to help get you started.

Finding a supervisor

Unless you are part of a cohort group you will need to make your own supervisor arrangements. The faculty has over 100 supervisors. You can find a list of supervisors on the Faculty of Education and Social Work’s Supervision Register at www.education.auckland.ac.nz/supervision-register

The relevant programme leader will also be able to assist you with the process of finding a supervisor.

Who do I talk to next?

It is important to plan ahead. We recommend you speak with the programme leader/adviser of your preferred programme or contact the faculty Postgraduate Office. This should be done in the semester before undertaking your study. The programme leader/adviser can give you academic and enrolment advice and help you to plan your study. This will also allow you plenty of time to identify a supervisor and start thinking about the question/s you want to examine. Many students who do research need to apply for ethics approval, so finding a supervisor before you enrol also enables you to start on your ethics proposal.

Email: education@auckland.ac.nz

Other support available

Your supervisors are key people who will guide your research journey. If you are enrolled in the Doctor of Education (EdD) you will be part of a cohort group for the first two years, and then guided by your supervisors as you complete your thesis. Cohort-based support is also available for the BEd(Tchg) (Hons). Academic workshops are provided through the faculty’s Postgraduate Office. Other people who can help include the programme leader/adviser for your postgraduate qualification, subject librarians, and Student Learning and Academic Success Centre staff. Support is available both on campus and through The University of Auckland website.

The Postgraduate Students’ Association (PGSA) runs regular workshops, a writing group and provides networking opportunities so you can meet with other students. Workstations are available for doctoral candidates; masters students writing a thesis or dissertation can apply for access to study space.

Further information can be found on The University of Auckland Postgraduate students website.

*See www.auckland.ac.nz/leadinguniversity