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MSc Social Policy (Research)

Course Description

About the MSc programme

This programme is based in the Department of Social Policy and aims to provide a set of high quality, integrated courses to equip students in social policy with transferable research skills before they move on to substantive research, whether in the form of a PhD or in employment. It offers the following benefits:

Study in a Department which has achieved one of the highest ratings in the UK for the quality of its research.
Teaching by specialists who are at the forefront of research into British, European and global social policy and by experts in different social science research methodologies.
A comparative, international and multidisciplinary environment with links to several specialist research groups based in the Department as well as to LSE's Department of Methodology.
Students can progress to research degrees (subject to normal admissions procedures at LSE and other institutions). The MSc is recognised as research training by the ESRC (for students seeking later funding for doctoral research).

Programme details

The programme is provided in conjunction with the Department of Methodology, and offers advanced training in both quantitative and qualitative methods along with a specialist taught course in applications of different research approaches to social policy questions. It consists of four course units, including compulsory and optional courses. A key component of the MSc is a dissertation of up to 10,000 words on a topic individually selected by the student, to be prepared with the guidance of a personal supervisor. For students continuing to a PhD this will often form the basis of their eventual doctoral thesis.

See also MSc Social Research Methods (Social Policy) in the Department of Methodology, which involves greater methodological content (two taught units on methods, rather than one), but no optional subject papers.

Compulsory courses

Either Foundations of Social Research 1 or Foundations of Social Research 2. Both courses are designed to give students a good introduction to quantitative and qualitative methods and to acquaint them with the strengths and limits of different methodologies.
Social Policy Research equips students with the tools to critically assess a whole range of research designs used in the study of social policy questions.
In addition, students will choose courses equivalent to one full unit. The options list is wide so as to permit students to choose an option or options that fits with the proposed subject of their dissertation. Students without a background in social policy are strongly encouraged to take the "core" half unit Social Policy: Goals and Issues in the Michaelmas term.

Please note that not every course is available each year and that some courses may only be available with the permission o the course convenor and/or may be subject to space.

Graduate destinations

Previous students have gone on to a wide variety of research and policy jobs in the public, private and voluntary sectors, in the UK and internationally, including work in central and local government, public services, research consultancies, and non-governmental organisations.

Visit the MSc Social Policy (Research) page on the London School of Economics and Political Science website for more details!

(Student Profile)

Katsuya Aihara

More than 60 years have passed since the second world war ended. Welfare states have been changing from their original shape, because plenty of factors have forced change, such as low fertility rates, increased longevity, and increasing numbers of female workers. It is interesting to me to try to understand such changes, as well as efforts to improve the original styles of welfare states. Social policy is very closely linked to our daily lives, so the public is interested in the individual policies provided and implemented by their governments, such as pensions, health and employment.

I came to LSE partly so that I could study and live in London, one of the largest and most attractive cities in the world, and also because I wanted to study European historical and cultural backgrounds as well as social policy itself. Besides, as Japan has been so much influenced by the UK (politics, social policy, etc), I wanted to know what the United Kingdom is like as a country.

LSE has many benefits to the people who come here – the diversity of students, a massive library, being in the centre of London and the kindness of staff and teachers. I enjoy the atmosphere here, which gives us freedom to do in our own way what we want to do. I have particularly benefited from the language centre programmes, which cover from how to pronounce English words to how to write a dissertation - especially helpful to us non-native English speakers. After I graduate, I am going back to my office, the House of Representatives of Japan, and will continue to support the members of the House.

(Student Profile)

Yang Wei

I am pursuing my PhD in the department of Social Policy. My major academic interest resides in healthcare research, or more broadly, research into social provision in developing countries, especially China. I am primarily concerned with how a country may properly develop its healthcare or social provision, successfully addressing the ensuing challenges and ramifications while simultaneously maintaining consistent performance of the social provision system.

The Department of Social Policy is a great place for research students pursuing policy related research. It offers various disciplinary training from theory to methodology. Most PhD students in the Department of Social Policy are affiliated to a particular research centre. In my case my research is supported by academics from LSE Health. LSE Health has specific training courses ranging from Financing Health Care and Measuring Health System Performance to Health Systems and Policies in Developing Countries. These courses have enabled me to draw a coherent structure towards understanding and interpreting my research questions as well as enhancing my analytical ability and skill to conduct research independently. I am very satisfied with both the academic training and student life here at LSE, and I believe these experiences will also bring benefits to my future academic career and life.

(Student Profile)

Harriet Nakaggo

1846.jpg Firoz and Najma Lalji Foundation Scholar

The origin of my interest in studying in a developed country, particularly at LSE, happened during my undergraduate studies back at home in Uganda. The relatively backward education concepts and teaching methodologies have made it inevitable that Ugandan education as a whole remains out of pace with international educational development – we were taught to be job seekers but not creators. The reason why I applied for graduate study at LSE was that it is a university with a time-honoured history and academic reputation in the world.

It is as a result of the impact of my scholarship that I want to become a development activist in Uganda immediately after my programme, mostly geared to helping vulnerable children fulfil their dreams of life.


Entry Requirements

2:1 degree or overseas equivalent in any discipline, with social science background and/or work experience in the social policy field advantageous but not essential ; English standard level.

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