Social work is a branch of social science that explores questions around human wellbeing, social problems and the change processes associated with them on individual, communal, societal and global levels. Its ethical foundation is grounded in indivisible human dignity, respect and human rights. Working with people who are living in vulnerable situations and changing their life situations is at the heart of social work. Social work has a long history at Tampere University, especially when it comes to the study of families and children in complex situations, the lives and substance abuse issues of marginalized adults and the service systems related to these issues.
The Degree Programme in Social Work is the oldest of its kind in Finland and a nationally significant social work education and research unit. The degree programme creates research-based expertise in social work practice, tasks related to administration, development, research and education, and other tasks that require a basic education in the social sciences. In Finland, social work professionals are largely employed by the public sector. They work in various roles within social and health services and in multidisciplinary networks with children, adolescents, families, adults and the elderly. Changes in service systems, globalisation, environmental threats and their diverse consequences are constantly creating new challenges, responsibilities and opportunities to social work that a comprehensive and research-based university education provides good tools for addressing. The national employment rate for master’s graduates in social work is very high. Those who graduate from the degree programme with a master’s degree become legally qualified social workers. After a master’s degree in social work, it is possible to continue one’s education with specialisation studies and doctoral studies.
Social work research at Tampere University focuses on basic research, applied research, evaluative research and development research. The research combines a strong theoretical foundation with an approach that seeks to understand and explain modern phenomena while maintaining a critical and emancipatory undercurrent. While the focus is on qualitative research and its methodological development, quantitative research and its advancement are also an important part of our research activities. The research is further characterised by a multidisciplinary approach. In addition to other social sciences, the research interfaces with education, health science, psychology and public administration.
All social work research is intersected and connected within a framework of vulnerability, the service system and human interaction. Vulnerability refers to the lack of resources and social insecurity that is associated with people and groups of people in difficult life situations. The social and health care system provides a key context for the social work profession, and the system’s ability to support and help people in insecure circumstances plays an important role in the effort to prevent vulnerability and inequality. The results of social work manifest in the interactions between clients and their friends and family, partners and decision-makers, which is another key area of research. We take a long-term approach to questions of vulnerability, the service system and human interaction, studying them as phenomena related to childhood, adulthood and old age.
Social work studies
Social work studies ares offered at bachelor’s and master’s levels in Tampere and Pori. Open university teaching is offered in basic and intermediate studies in Pori, Seinäjoki and Tampere.
Specialisation programmes in social work are offered by Sosnet – the Finnish National University Network for Social Work – in the fields of child, youth and family social work, rehabilitative social work, structural social work and welfare services.
Social work is included in the Doctoral Programme in Social Sciences, and it is possible to complete a PhD degree with a major in social work.
- Head of Degree Programme: Kirsi Juhila
- Social work studies in Pori: Riikka Korkiamäki
- Educational expert: Helena Siipo, Hanna Carroll on leave of absence since September 24, 2020
- Open university: Ulla Lassila
- Specialisation programmes in social work studies: Tuula Kostiainen, Tuija Eronen, Kirsi Juhila
- Doctoral programme: Hannele Forsberg
Partnerships in social work studies and research
Social work engages in cooperation with a wide range of actors both domestically and internationally. Our partners include public social welfare actors at municipal, regional and national levels, as well as NGOs and private actors. We also have broad cooperation networks in the field of research.
One important local partner is Pikassos, the Centre of Excellence on Social Welfare. Through them, we are involved in various regional development projects. We also collaborate with teaching and research clinics. In this partnership framework, we cooperate with the City of Tampere, Tampere University Hospital and the cities of Pori, Seinäjoki and Hämeenlinna. The Kauppi university centre of social and health care, currently under development in Tampere, will provide a new physical environment for teaching and research clinics. The goal is to further improve cooperation between clinical practice, research and teaching.
Within Tampere University, our partnerships focus especially on other fields of study within the Unit of Welfare Sciences (psychology and logopaedics) and the Faculty of Social Sciences as a whole. In addition, we engage in multidisciplinary teaching and research cooperation related to the social and health care field with other university faculties and the schools at the Tampere University of Applied Sciences that offer education in social and health care. We are also involved in PERLA – the Tampere Centre for Childhood, Youth and Family Research.
At the national level, all six universities that offer education in social work cooperate under the Sosnet network. Under the sosnet framework, universities offer teaching in basic studies, specialisation studies and doctoral studies, engage in advocacy and promote social work research.
Key research networks for social work researchers include the Finnish Society of Social Work Research, the Social Policy Association in Finland and the Finnish Society for Childhood Studies. International networks include The Nordic-Baltic Doctoral Network in Social Work, the Nordic Association of Schools of Social Work (NASSW), Nordisk Sosialhøgskolekomité (NSHK) and European Social Work Research Association (ESWRA). Global Social Work in Finland also promotes international cooperation.
Our social work graduates are also an important part of our partnership network. We continue our cooperation with them through alumni activities, specialisation studies, doctoral studies and joint development projects.
Social Work Staff
Education and learning services
Clarke, Kris, sosiaalityö
Heino, Tarja, sosiaalityö, erit. lastensuojelu
Heinonen, Tuula, sosiaalityö
Jokinen, Arja, sosiaalityö
Kataja, Kati, sosiaalityö
Kröger, Teppo, sosiaalityö
Kuronen, Marjo, sosiaalityö
Lehto, Juhani, sosiaalityö
Murto, Lasse, sosiaalipolitiikka, erit. sosiaalihuolto
Mäntysaari, Mikko, sosiaalityö
Stepney, Paul, sosiaalityö
Tourunen, Jouni, sosiaalityö
Urponen, Kyösti, sosiaalipolitiikka