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Department of Social Studies

The Department of Social Studies trains social workers and child care welfare officers.

Publisert: Endret:


Head of department

Einar Engebretsen

PhD candidates


Visiting address

Kjell Arholms hus




(+47) 51 83 41 39

The Department of Social Studies is located at the 2nd floor of Kjell Arholm's house at the Ullandhaug campus.

About the department

The study programmes offered at the department focuses on the dialectic between the theoretical and the practical knowledge, and students will be given practical training in potential and relevant workplaces.

The department offers bachelor programmes in social work and child welfare. Further educational courses offered are multicultural understanding, and guidance and counselling. The department also offers master programmes in social work and change management. 

The department is also proud to offer Erasmus Mundus in Social Work with Families and Children, which is a two year Master's programme of 120 ECTS. The programme has been developed by University Institute of Lisbon (Portugal), University of Gothenburg (Sweden), University of Stavanger (Norway) and Makerere University (Uganda).

The programme has a great potential to respond to needs in skills development, teaching, research and employability in the area of social work with children and families.


The Department of Social Studies is located at the 2nd floor of Kjell Arholm's house at the Ullandhaug campus. The head of department is Einar Engebretsen, and the office manager is Stig Helleren. Switchboard: (+47) 51 83 41 39

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At the Department of Social Sciences, the research is aimed both at overarching welfare areas such as child welfare and "Nav", and at more limited thematic areas such as violence in close relationships, intoxication and mental health.

child welfare research

How can we ensure that children and young people receive the necessary help at the right time?

An increasing number of children, young people and families are in contact with the child welfare service. They have different ethnic backgrounds, problem understanding and needs. This requires a broad competence and a lot of knowledge from those who are there to help.

The purpose of the research is to contribute to a robust, multidisciplinary and holistic knowledge about the work and experiences of child welfare from various user groups and actors, in addition to knowledge about institutional structures and how political and legal guidelines affect the child welfare practice.

The leader of the project is Hulda Mjöll Gunnarsdottir.

You can read more about the project at their page (Norwegian): Hvordan skal vi sørge for at barn og unge får nødvendig hjelp til rett tid?


How to support offender rehabilitation through improving interagency collaboration in criminal justice systems?

Colab is a group of researchers exploring challenges related to poor mental health among criminals and prison inmates, something that might affect social security and the risk of new crimes.

The research project studies effective collaboration between health, welfare and the criminal justice services, and its impact on prisoners' health, wellbeing and chances of remaining crime-free upon release.

Offender rehabilitation is a key strategy employed by criminal justice systems internationally to support education, employment, drug treatment and other interventions to aid offenders’ effective reintegration into society. The offender’s mental health mediates the success with which they engage in these interventions and eventually desist from further criminal behaviour. Most of the prison population suffer a mental health condition of some form, and this condition is a major challenge to maintaining the security of prisoners and prison staff. 

Addressing these needs of the prison population requires professionals from health, welfare and criminal justice services to collaborate effectively. The quality of integration and collaboration between services impacts on reoffending rates, the financial and emotional costs incurred by the offender, the victims, their families and the taxpayer in supporting prison and health services.

The leader of the project is Sarah Hean.

You can read more about the project at their page: How to support offender rehabilitation through improving interagency collaboration in criminal justice systems?


Ethical tensions in technology-mediated care

The research project QUALITECH will further develop care ethics in an increasingly technological health and welfare sector.

The research project "Caring Futures: Developing Care Ethics for Technology-Mediated Care Practices (QUALITECH)" is an interdisciplinary project that brings together researchers across faculties at UiS and external actors. The project analyzes connections between technology, ethics and care from different points of view.

Ellen Ramvi, professor at the University of Stavanger, is leading the project, which will be implemented in the period 2021- 2024. The project has been developed in collaboration between the research group Professional Relations in health and welfare and the Centre for Gender Studies at the University of Stavanger. It has received funding of 12 million from the Research Council of Norway.

The project consists of four empirical work packages related to four different technology-mediated care fields:

  • Digital assessment templates in the child welfare services (WP Lead Åse Vagli, Department of Social Studies, Faculty of Social Sciences, UiS)
  • Professionals’ ideals and sense of self in technology-mediated care practices (WP Lead Birgitta Haga Gripsrud, Department of care and ethics, Faculty of Health Sciences, UiS)
  • The impact of robots and other caregiving techno-bodies on agency and quality of care (WP Lead Ingvil Hellstrand, Centre for Gender Studies, Faculty of Social Sciences, UiS)
  • Management, design, and implementation of technology in care practices (WP Lead Brita Gjerstad, Department of Social Studies, Faculty of Social Sciences, UiS)

More information about the project: Ethical tensions in technology-mediated care

More about the research area it is a part of: Professional relations in health and welfare

Research on Welfare services

What characterizes good welfare?

Social change requires adapting welfare services and updated knowledge. The researchers at UiS are exploring several issues related to Nav, mental health, prison care and child welfare, among other things.

Welfare policy should ensure the population good living conditions, health and quality of life. When society changes, politicians need new and updated knowledge about welfare services so that they can shape a welfare policy adapted to a new era. For example, they need to know something about users in general and about vulnerable groups in particular. This is knowledge our researchers can help them with.

The research group explores how the challenges of the welfare services change in line with societal changes. The goal is to ensure good welfare services adapted to a new era. The leader of the research area is Siv Oltedal.

You can read more about the project at their page (Norwegian): Korleis blir velferdsmodellen vår påverka av samfunnsendringane?

The department management

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The department administration

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