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Policy and Social Research (MA)

Course Description

Why choose this course?

- Learn to analyse, evaluate and manage public policy in the context of social change

- Develop strong quantitative and qualitative research skills and apply these to ‘real life’ public policy problems and issues

- Gain the knowledge and skills required to pursue your research interests further through doctoral-level research, or to work in a variety of sectors.

Visit the website http://www.aston.ac.uk/study/postgraduate/taught-programmes/languages-social-sciences/policy-and-social-research/

Course outline

We are witnessing a period of considerable policy reform in the wake of the financial crisis, and the need for public policy research has never been greater. This MA programme equips students with the tools and knowledge to understand how and why public policy problems occur, and how these are affected by the social, cultural and political context, both in the UK and internationally. It offers students a sound training in research methods and equips them with the cutting-edge in theoretical and methodological approaches. The MA is suitable both for those wishing to hone their skills and knowledge to pursue further academic research opportunities, and for those seeking a relevant and rigorous course which will prepare them for employment in the private, public or not-for-profit sectors.

Learning, teaching & assessment

You will take part in interactive small seminars, presentations and group work. There are also opportunities for individual research and guided study. You will be allocated a personal tutor to whom you can turn for help and advice. Assessment occurs through essays and reports (for example, on the practical application of research methods), and a dissertation.

Dr Chrissie Rogers, Senior Lecturer in Sociology
BA (Hons), MA, PhD (ESRC), Essex; PG Cert (Teaching and Learning), Keele

''The small size of this Masters programme means that we can be flexible and respond to the interests of our students. Learning in this Masters occurs in small groups, facilitating a high degree of contact between students and staff. We cover a range of essential topics within the fields of public policy and social change, and bring students right up-to-date with contemporary developments, in Britain and abroad.’'

Career prospects

This new MA programme opens the way vocationally to both research at doctoral level and to work in the private, voluntary and public sectors.

Facilities & eqipment

You will have access to:

- Our Virtual Learning Environment – Blackboard – to support your studies, including Blackboard discussion groups

- The University Library, including over 25,000 books and a wide range of electronic journals. The library has special provision in place to help part time and distance learning students access their resources: http://www.aston.ac.uk/lis/studentinfo/parttime

- University wide facilities such as the Careers Service, Students’ Advice Centre, Students’ Jobshop, Counselling Service, Sports Facilities, and Chaplaincy.

About LSS

The School of Languages and Social Sciences at Aston University is one of only a handful of academic units in the UK to span both the Humanities and Social Sciences. In doing so, it draws on a particularly rich and distinguished tradition of teaching, scholarship and research. During the 1970s and 1980s, the Department of Modern Languages (French, German, Linguistics), as it was then known, was one of the UK’s pioneers of the study of language in contemporary society. In 1995, reflecting the growing interest in and awareness of Europe, it became the School of Languages and European Studies. In 2004, we adopted our current title.

Since then, the School has grown rapidly in student numbers and in its academic coverage and now comprises four academic subject groups: English Language, Languages and Translation Studies, Politics and International Relations as well as Sociology and Policy. The School also hosts the Centre for English Language and Communication at Aston (CELCA).

This combination of subjects is almost unique in British Higher Education and leaves the School ideally-placed to investigate how language and society function, both in their own context and in relation to each other. The School is led by its Executive Dean, Professor Simon Green, along with a team of Associate Deans and the Heads of Subject Groups. The School is supported in its work by an Advisory Board comprising key stakeholders in the city of Birmingham and beyond.

Today, therefore, the School of Languages and Social Sciences is a closely integrated, innovative, multilingual and multidisciplinary School with an international outlook. Our degree programmes combine a rigorous disciplinary grounding with a cross-disciplinary, practical and issue-focused perspective. Our main research centres, Aston Centre for Europe (ACE), The Centre for Forensic Linguistics (CFL), The Centre for Critical Inquiry into Society and Culture (CCISC), The Centre for Language Education Research at Aston (CLERA) are leaders in their respective fields. We work closely with schools and local partners, both through our research centres and through Routes into Languages and Network for Languages. We play a major role in the University’s Forward 2020 strategy, through providing the Languages for All programme, our research, our placements and our high levels of student satisfaction. In short, the School is at the forefront of delivering ‘employable graduates, exploitable research’.

Find out how to apply here - http://www.aston.ac.uk/study/postgraduate/apply/

Visit the Policy and Social Research (MA) page on the Aston University website for more details!

(Student Profile)

Sophia Todd

One reason why I chose to do my MA with the School of Languages and Social Sciences at Aston is because Birmingham is my home town, which meant I could stay at home to study and save money. Also the fees are low in comparison to other Masters courses that I looked at, and the University has a great reputation.

The quality of teaching here has been brilliant. All of my tutors are passionate about their area of knowledge and highly supportive of their students, particularly in the Sociology department. Although my Masters course involved much more individual reading than taught classes, I really looked forward to meeting up each week to discuss the material. Bouncing ideas between fellow students and the tutor really helped me to explore new ways of looking at problems/concepts. I have learned so much in a very short space of time. I feel that I can now write and talk confidently about the ideas which have always interested me, and will continue to interest me throughout my life.

The course has given me an excellent grounding in the major sociological theories, as well as in basic public policy issues. I also had the opportunity to take part in a 3-week work placement, which I chose to do at the West Midlands Labour Party. This means that after graduating there will be more than one route I could take in terms of my career. At the moment I am considering either applying for a graduate position in a social care organisation or an internship with a homeless charity.

I applied for a scholarship from Aston University which I was fortunate enough to get. The University pays half of my tuition fees and in return I was asked to organise and run weekly Speaking Classes with Chinese, Japanese and Korean students who were on a year abroad as part of their studies. Getting to know the students through the Speaking Classes has been one of the best experiences I have ever had in an academic environment. I'm hoping to keep in touch with a couple of my students even though they have all gone back home now.


Scholarships for all MSc/MA students - 3 Awards

The School of Languages and Social Sciences offers 3 x £5,000 scholarships towards tuition fees in the 2015/16 academic year.If you wish to be considered for the scholarship you must submit an essay of approximately 1000 words on the following: "How will the LSS MA/MSc Scholarship enhance your career prospects and help you achieve your academic and professional goals? How would you benefit from a scholarship and what difference would it make to you?"

Value of Scholarship(s)



The scholarships are available to all students (full-time, part-time, on campus and distance learning) enrolling on LSS MA/ MSc programmes in 2015/16.

Application Procedure

Email your completed essay to [email protected] NOTE: Applicants must hold a conditional or unconditional offer for an MA/MSc programme at LSS commencing at Aston University in October 2015.

Further Information



CELCA Scholarship: For MA students with native speaker competence in English - 3 Awards

The exact nature of this work will be decided at the beginning of the programme but may include providing support to international Postgraduate and International Year Abroad students, the IELTS team, deliver speaking classes for our IYA (International Year Abroad) and KYA (Kansai Year Abroad) students, help conference and workshop organisers, academic visitors or students with special needs. The work will often take place at different times every week - depending on the projects you support.

Value of Scholarship(s)



The School of Languages and Social Sciences offers 3 x £3000 bursaries towards the cost of the MA tuition fees for students with native speaker competence in English. In return, the students will complete up to six hours a week pastoral work for the School.

Application Procedure

If you wish to be considered for the bursary, you must submit an essay of approximately 1000 words on the following:What do you consider to be your major strengths and weaknesses? How would you be able to support international students on programmes in the School of Languages and Social Sciences?Email your completed essay to [email protected] NOTE: Applicants must hold a conditional or unconditional offer for an MA programme (taught on-campus) at LSS commencing at Aston University October 2015.

Further Information


Entry Requirements

2.1 Degree in any discipline (or equivalent). Applicants whose first language is not English will be required to provide evidence of an English language qualification.

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Recipient: Aston University
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