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Course content

This refreshed programme explores issues, concepts, and debates in social and public policy research to gain an insight into policy making and its social impacts on individuals and communities.

Core modules will explore social theories, issues and research methods relevant to social policy and welfare. You will also develop core skills in critical policy analysis and policy evaluation. There will be opportunities to study and debate current policy issues, such as work and welfare, child and family policy or the challenges of ageing populations, with a focus on real-life examples.

Supported by our well-known research centres and taught by expert tutors, you’ll tailor the programme to suit your own interests and career aspirations. With a range of optional modules to choose from, you could pursue further advanced research skills or study complementary social topics such as disability studies, gender studies, racism and ethnicity studies, or globalisation.

You’ll gain an insight into some of the most sensitive and complex social issues affecting governments worldwide.

Research insight

You’ll learn in a research-intensive, stimulating environment. As well as the Leeds Social Sciences Institute which fosters collaboration, you’ll benefit from the interdisciplinary expertise hosted by the Centre for Disability Studies, Centre for Ethnicity and Racism Studies, Centre for Interdisciplinary Gender Studies and many others. All of these centres run their own calendars of events such as workshops and seminars.

From the start of the programme you’ll study core modules that introduce you to the social contexts and social problems that challenge policy makers, understanding society and social research. As the course develops you will focus more specifically on the welfare state, the process of social policy formation, and the kinds of evidence on which new policies and programmes are founded, and against which their effectiveness is evaluated.

You’ll gain a thorough understanding of research methods, the theoretical assumptions which underpin them and how these affect the way the findings are interpreted. You’ll also focus on specific examples such as welfare reform or employment activation policies.

With this foundation, you’ll choose from optional modules to specialise in topics that suit you. You could study contemporary social thought to contextualise your work, or look at issues such as labour mobility, care, healthcare, disability or ‘race’ and ethnicity. You could study further data analysis and research methods to prepare for future research.

At the end of the programme, you’ll submit your dissertation – an independent piece of research on a related topic of your choice, which allows you to demonstrate and apply the knowledge and skills you’ve acquired during the year.

Course structure

Compulsory modules

  • Dissertation (Social Policy) 60 credits
  • Researching Culture and Society 30 credits
  • Social Policy Analysis 15 credits
  • Policy and Programme Evaluation 15 credits
  • Understanding Society and Culture 30 credits

Optional modules

  • China's Development 15 credits
  • Environmental Assessment 15 credits
  • European Human Rights 15 credits
  • Human Resource Management: An International Perspective 15 credits
  • Managing Change 15 credits
  • Understanding and Managing Effective Groups and Teams 15 credits
  • Social Media Marketing 15 credits
  • Management of Finance for Health 15 credits
  • Policing Post-Conflict Cities 15 credits
  • Development Management Techniques 15 credits
  • 'Race', Identity and Culture in the Black Atlantic 15 credits
  • Disability and Development 15 credits
  • Contested Bodies 15 credits
  • Que(e)rying Sexualities 15 credits
  • Social Policy Debates 15 credits
  • Quantitative Research Methods 15 credits
  • Qualitative Research Methods 15 credits
  • Power, Critique & Global Transformations 15 credits
  • Standards and Tools for Business, Environment and Corporate Social Responsibility 15 credits
  • Climate Change Mitigation 15 credits
  • System Dynamics: Modelling Policy 15 credits

For more information on typical modules, read Social and Public Policy MA Full Time in the course catalogue

For more information on typical modules, read Social and Public Policy MA Part Time in the course catalogue

Learning and teaching

We use a range of teaching and learning methods including presentations, seminars, workshops, tutorials and lectures. Optional modules may also use other methods such as online learning. However, independent study is crucial to this degree – it allows you to prepare for taught sessions, develop your research interests and build a range of skills.


Your core modules will be assessed using essays. Optional modules may use other forms of assessment that reflect the diversity of the topics you can study, including presentations, book and literature reviews, research proposals and reports among others.

Career opportunities

You’ll gain a wide range of knowledge and skills throughout this programme, including sophisticated skills in research, communication and analysis that will be useful in a variety of careers.

Social and Public Policy graduates have gone on to a wide range of posts across the third-sector public services, government and business. These have included central and local government departments, community bodies, housing and health organisations, research consultancies and advocacy or campaigning.

Careers support

We encourage you to prepare for your career from day one. That’s one of the reasons Leeds graduates are so sought after by employers.

The Careers Centre and staff in your faculty provide a range of help and advice to help you plan your career and make well-informed decisions along the way, even after you graduate. Find out more at the Careers website.

Visit the Social and Public Policy MA page on the University of Leeds website for more details!






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