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Social Policy and Social Research - MSc

Course Description

The MSc in Social Policy and Social Research combines theoretical understanding of the policy process with advanced methodologically focused training, providing students with the knowledge and skills needed to work efficiently in increasingly complex and challenging policy contexts.

Degree information

Students are equipped with the theoretical and conceptual tools and empirical evidence necessary for investigating social policy and policy-making, including critical assessment of the role of research in policy formulation, implementation and evaluation. Graduates will be able to apply this knowledge and understanding and analytical and methodological skills to conduct social research in different policy contexts.

Students undertake modules to the value of 180 credits. The programme consists of two core modules (60 credits), two optional modules (60 credits) and a dissertation (60 credits).

Core modules
-Social Policy: Theory, Practice and Research
-Social Theory

Optional modules - students choose two optional modules from a wide selection that includes (but is not limited to) the following. A minimum of one optional module should focus on research methods.
-Comparative Education: Theories and Methods
-Economic Perspectives of Education Policy
-Impact Evaluation Methods
-Longitudinal Research and Analysis
-Promoting Health and Wellbeing: Planning, Practice and Participation
-Qualitative Data Analysis
-Quantitative Data Analysis I
-Quantitative Data Analysis II
-Research Engagement, Participation and Impact
-Statistical Analysis
-Systematic Reviews: Diversity, Design and Debate
-Systematic Reviews: Meta-Analysis, Qualitative Synthesis and Mixed Methods Synthesis
-Understanding Education Policy
-Understanding Research

All students undertake an independent research project which culminates in a dissertation of 17,000 words, plus a 2,000-word proposal (60 credits). Compulsory dissertation workshops and online resources help prepare students for the dissertation.

Teaching and learning
A rich variety of teaching of methods are used including lectures combined with seminars, and individual, small-group and whole-class discussions and exercises. In some modules, students are given the opportunity to develop presentational skills through group projects. The programme includes both face-to-face and online components.


Graduates of this programme may find work in a broad range of areas, including as social policy researchers and advisers in government, NGO personnel, or as university and college lecturers and researchers.

Graduates from this MSc gain sought-after skills that allow them to pursue professional careers in academia and/or policy research, policy analysis, policy development and implementation, programme management, and policy advocacy within the public, private, or non-profit sectors.

Why study this degree at UCL?

The programme offers a unique opportunity to study how research, along with other forms of evidence and knowledge, connects with and impacts on policy-making and professional practice. It is structured to allow students to customise their degree according to their preferred area of study and future career plans.

The programme is located within the Department of Social Science, a research-intensive department with an outstanding international reputation.

Our central London location and network of partners and alumni gives us access to nationally and internationally prominent guest speakers who give insight into policy as it is formed.

Visit the Social Policy and Social Research - MSc page on the University College London website for more details!

All Available Videos:

(Student Profile)

Emma Dickinson

"Going into a degree like this there is an element of wanting to create social change and improve society. This programme prepares you for that. It enables you to gain a realistic view of research, policy and practice over a range of different fields. The contact with other researchers and academics within the department has been great, and the encouragement and contact with staff has really helped, given the complexity of my dissertation."

(Student Profile)

Lisa O'Dea

"The programme was exactly what I had been looking for. I wish to develop a career in social research because it allows you to engage with people's views on particular issues and present these to the people who are able to act upon them. I enjoy the challenge of trying to find answers and evidence that can contribute to the improvement of policy and policy-making that will hopefully, one day, lead to better welfare and wellbeing."


Entry Requirements

A minimum of an upper second-class Bachelors' degree from a UK university or an overseas qualification of an equivalent standard in a social science subject, such as sociology, psychology, social policy, economics, or history. If you do not meet these requirements, other considerations, such as relevant work experience, may be taken into account.

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Recipient: University College London

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