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Social Policy and Social Research Methods (MSc)

Course Description

75% of our research into Social Work and Social Policy was awarded 3* for our environment - 'conducive to producing research of internationally excellent quality, in terms of its vitality and sustainability' - Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2014.

This Masters in Social Policy and Social Research Methods is particularly significant if you are currently working in local authorities or the voluntary sector. The skills you learn will progress your career in social welfare policy development, delivery or research. Or it is also relevant if you are thinking of starting a career related to social policy in the public, voluntary or private sectors.

The focus of this course is on contemporary substantive issues in social policy development and delivery, and social policy research methods. You'll develop your theoretical, policy and technical understanding of key issues related to policy-making, social welfare delivery, equality and social justice, and research methods.

You'll gain an advanced understanding of national and international factors influencing policy development and implementation. The changing relationship between the State, voluntary sector and private sector in terms of social welfare delivery. You'll also explore how ideas of equality, diversity, justice and human rights shape institutions and the programmes they offer.

You'll engage with recent research linked to changing family forms and how family policy impacts on children and families. You'll be equipped to design and implement social scientific research using a broad range of methodologies, consider research ethics then analyse and present the material such research generates.

The course fosters a critical awareness of the relationship between theory, policy and practice and enables you to utilise your research knowledge and research skills and translate these into research practice in the field of social policy and broader social science research professions.

Flexible modes of study:
You can choose between three modes lasting one, two or three years allowing you to study whilst maintaining other life commitments.

See the website http://www.lsbu.ac.uk/courses/course-finder/social-policy-and-social-research-methods


- Social policy analysis
This module will help you understand the policy making process and the factors that influence the formation and implementation of social policy, for example, demographic changes or policy transfer. You'll discuss current debates about policy making and delivery, including user involvement, localism and sustainability.

- The voluntary sector and the state: protagonist or partner
You'll explore the contemporary role of the voluntary sector in the delivery of social welfare, and the challenges they face in terms of management, capacity building and funding. You'll examine the role of the voluntary sector as partner or protagonist to the state, as well as its relationships with the private sector.

- Methods for social research and evaluation: philosophy, design and data collection
This module is an introduction to core concepts in social research and how they can be used to address social scientific questions and practical issues in policy evaluation. You'll engage with central topics in the philosophy of social sciences and the effect they have on research choices and explore the different ways research can be designed, and the way design affects permissible inferences. You'll also be introduced to the theory of measurement and sampling. The final third of the module focuses on acquiring data ranging from survey methods through qualitative data collection methods to secondary data.

- Approaches to social change: equality, social justice and human rights
In this module you'll explore a number of different goals, and the theoretical underpinnings which aim to achieve social change. These goals include: equality, diversity, social justice, social inclusion, multiculturalism, social cohesion and human rights. You'll examine a range of different initiatives to promote these goals in both employment and social welfare delivery. Finally, the module will explore strategies: to identify inequality, injustice and forms of discrimination; to monitor policy development and implementation; and to evaluate outcomes and 'success'.

- Family policy
This module is taught by internationally recognised researchers from the Weeks Centre for Social and Policy Research. You'll be introduced to demographic changes in families and changes in State-family relationships and developments in 'family policy'. You'll explore early intervention into families, child welfare including adoption, fostering and child maintenance, child poverty, and childcare. Finally, cross cultural perspectives in family formation will be discussed.

- Data analytic techniques for social scientists
In this module you are introduced to a range of analytic techniques commonly used by social scientists. It begins by introducing you to statistical analysis, it then moves to techniques used to analyse qualitative data. It concludes by looking at relational methods and data reduction techniques. You'll also be introduced to computer software (SPSS, NVivo and Ucinet) that implements the techniques. You'll gain both a conceptual understanding of the techniques and the means to apply them to your own research projects. An emphasis will be placed on how these techniques can be used in social evaluation.

- Dissertation
The aim of the dissertation is to enable you to expand and deepen your knowledge on a substantive area in social policy, whilst simultaneously developing your methodological skills. You'll choose an area of investigation and apply the research skills of design and process, modes of data generation and data analysis techniques to undertake a 15,000 word dissertation.


This MSc will enable you to pursue a range of professional careers in areas linked to social policy and social welfare. You'll be able to access work in the statutory, commercial or voluntary sectors and operating at central, and local government levels, for example, local government; MORI, NSPCC and DEMOS. The acquisition of specific social policy and research methods knowledge will also enhance your career opportunities if you are currently working in the field in social policy development and delivery or in undertaking social policy related research. The specialist focus on research methods also offers an excellent foundation for those interested in undertaking subsequent doctoral research in the field.

LSBU Employability Services

LSBU is committed to supporting you develop your employability and succeed in getting a job after you have graduated. Your qualification will certainly help, but in a competitive market you also need to work on your employability, and on your career search. Our Employability Service will support you in developing your skills, finding a job, interview techniques, work experience or an internship, and will help you assess what you need to do to get the job you want at the end of your course. LSBU offers a comprehensive Employability Service, with a range of initiatives to complement your studies, including:

- direct engagement from employers who come in to interview and talk to students
- Job Shop and on-campus recruitment agencies to help your job search
- mentoring and work shadowing schemes.


If you are not already working in an environment which is linked to social welfare you'll be encouraged to undertake voluntary work which will give you useful experience alongside the degree. In addition it may become used as a location where you can undertake primary research for your master's dissertation. The Employability team at LSBU can help students find voluntary placements.

Teaching and learning

Modules are assessed by coursework. There are different kinds of writing required which include: a critical reading log, a self-reflective essay, a methodological critique of a research article, a research proposal, extended essays, an evaluation of social change and a dissertation.

Modules are supported by Moodle, the LSBU virtual learning environment where most course reading will be made available. The classroom is envisaged as a core learning environment where you can discuss new ideas but also to think how they can be applied to previous or current work or voluntary experiences. Attendance is crucial for building your knowledge and skills. You'll be making use of computer laboratories in order to develop your use of a range of programmes that can be used to analyse quantitative and qualitative methods.

Visit the Social Policy and Social Research Methods (MSc) page on the London South Bank University website for more details!

Entry Requirements

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