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Social Policy MA

Course Description

Compulsory modules:

The Research Process: This module introduces the main varieties of both quantitative and qualitative research in the social sciences. Principles of research design and issues of data collection and analysis are studied. Data collection and analysis will include:

How to construct, use and critique questionnaires and interviews
Interpret measurement error and missing data
Engage in various kinds of observational research
Analyse observational data
Record, transcribe and analyse conversational, textual and visual data
Conduct archival, documentary and historical research
Key Issues in Social Policy: This module extends and deepens knowledge and understanding of key issues in contemporary social policy. Links between theoretical analysis in welfare and empirical enquiry in social policy are made, and key issues, debates and concepts in social policy analysis and evaluation are explored. Contemporary forms of welfare delivery including issues of participation, user involvement and control in the provision of welfare are critically evaluated. Core debates relating to social change, equality and inequalities, discrimination, risk and dependency, citizenship and rights will be examined. The impact of devolution and local government change on social policy in Wales is reviewed together with national and international comparisons of welfare systems.

Health Policies: This module adopts a comparative approach to the study of health policies in Britain and internationally. Students will consider the politics of health and will develop an understanding of the dynamics of power between professionals, administrators and patients. The role of social policy analysis in evaluating the impact of change, factors associated with good and bad practice, and barriers to implementing new health policies are explored through examples and case studies. The case of the British NHS will be considered in detail examining evidence of attempts to improve the quality of care through funding and organisational change. The module will also examine the implications of devolution for the NHS.

Optional Modules:

Researching Community: This module examines the developments in the field of community research and related theoretical and policy debates surrounding the application of ideas of ‘community’ to current economic and social changes. The module focuses on four main themes:

Conceptual issues: the meaning of ‘community’ and its use as a concept in social scientific and popular discourse. This will be considered in relation to different theoretical approaches such as social constructionism, realism, and post-structuralism.
Empirical applications: an examination of classic and contemporary examples of community research and relevant case studies dealing with different forms of ‘community’.
Policy issues: relating to contemporary forms of intervention in relation to community development, regeneration, mobilisation, participation, leadership and power. This will be considered in the context of frameworks such as communitarianism, social capital, and the ‘third way’.
Community methodology: examines how ‘community’ has been researched and the tools and methods available for empirical investigation. These include ethnographic studies, large-scale surveys, ‘community profiling’ and auditing, and action research.
Nationalism and Minorities: This module will examine key issues and debates concerning the growing claims by ethnic and national minorities and indigenous peoples for distinct language, territorial and other minority rights and recognition within nation-states and beyond. The relationships between nationalism, citizenship and minority rights will be considered with reference to empirical examples. Debates and policies concerned with the management of cultural and ethnic diversity by the state will also be considered. The approach is interdisciplinary drawing on sociology, political theory, anthropology, law and education, with case study examples provided from Europe, North America, Asia and Oceania. It aims to provide students with a global and comparative understanding of individual cases, of their historical antecedents, and of the key similarities and differences between them.

Policy Research and Evaluation: Monitoring and evaluation of policy initiatives has become increasingly important. This module aims to develop full complement of skills required to successfully undertake specialist research and robust evaluation that will inform future policy. Evidence-based policy and practice are imperatives of the public, independent and voluntary sector organisations nationally and internationally. Evaluation research is one of the cornerstones of evidence-based practice both locally and nationally and is important right across local government and public and independent sector organisations. The module will provide key skills to enable individuals to understand, conduct or commission evaluative work at a time when it is increasingly important for organisations to consider the effectiveness, efficiency and equity of the services they provide.

Key Issues in International Social Work: The purpose of the International Social Work module is to widen students’ understanding of the differing models, traditions and welfare contexts of social work. On completing the module, students are expected to be able to:

Critically evaluate social work within the international context
Critically evaluate and contrast social work in the UK with European and other countries
Analyse the strengths and weaknesses in the different ways of doing social work within the countries studied
Discuss in depth the philosophical, historical and theoretical differences between the contexts of social work practice within the welfare frameworks of the different countries
Develop a sound and broad understanding of the contrasting differences with social work based in African and Asian countries
Applied Social Research: This module delivers specialist training in social policy research. It draws upon generic social science research skills and k knowledge and applies them to a joint group project. In the group project, students will select the social policy-related topic in which they will develop their skills as empirical researchers. It is a ‘hands on’ module and students will engage in hypothesis development, research design, data gathering, data analysis and interpretation of the results.

MA Dissertation:

The dissertation is normally around 20,000 words in length for MA degrees. Students will receive full support from lecturing staff throughout the process, from the planning stage through to the final stages of writing up the final version. Every student is allocated a supervisor who will oversee and provide advice and guidance on research design, methodology, results, drafting and final dissertation submission. Recent MA dissertation topics have included:

Mental health policy in Japan
Whose welfare benefits?
Violence against women in Pakistan

Visit the Social Policy MA page on the Bangor University website for more details!

Entry Requirements

Normally a 2(i) in Social Policy or a related academic discipline. Students with relevant professional experience will also be admitted. All applicants in this category will have to provide substantiated evidence in their application and may be interviewed before an offer is made.

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