Policy into Practice MA/PGDip/PGCert

The study of Policy into Practice concerns the development and nature of government interventions aimed at ensuring the welfare needs of their populations are met, and the ways those interventions are put into effect. Starting from an examination of UK social policy, the programme widens out to examine the experience and challenges facing other countries.

International Collaboration mapOver 4,500 students from 150 countries worldwide choose to study here at Birmingham, and we now boast one of the largest and most vibrant international student communities in the UK. Take a look at the collaboration map in our international section and find out what it is like to be an international student living and studying in Birmingham, as well as the global reach of the School. You can also find out why our students love living and studying in Birmingham.

Course fact file

Type of Course: Taught

Study Options: Full time, part time

Duration: 1 year full-time, 2 years part-time

Start date: September/October


Policy into Practice is part of a suite of programmes designed primarily for international students who are government officers or policy officers, researchers or practitioners in non-governmental organisations who have work experience in social policy areas. The study of Policy into Practice concerns the development and nature of government interventions aimed at ensuring the welfare needs of their populations are met, and the ways those interventions are put into effect. Starting from an examination of UK social policy, the programme widens out to examine the experience and challenges facing other countries.

The programme introduces students to the study of Social Policy and Practice and considers current and future political, economic and demographic contexts of policy making around the world.

Course brochures

Policy into Practice

Policy into Practice (Integrated Placement)

Why study this course

The Institute of Applied Social Studies, part of the School of Social Policy, is an internationally leading centre for research in social policy and social work and is based in the newly refurbished Muirhead Tower. 

The programme is run in collaboration with the International Development Department (IDD), part of the School of Government and Society, a multi-disciplinary department committed to poverty reduction through the development of effective governance systems. IDD has a lot of experience in working with, and providing training for, Civil Servants from central and provincial government departments in China. It also has a longstanding relationship with the Government of India which annually sends groups of Senior Officers from the Indian Administrative Service, and other senior Government officials, to study academic programmes within the department.


The programme consists of two compulsory (20 Credit) modules:

  • Sectors and Services in British Social Policy
    This module introduces students to an analysis of the British approach to providing welfare services. It focuses on the nature of a range of services and on the ways in which they are delivered, especially emphasising the contribution of different sectors - the market, the state and the third sector. It provides both a theoretical analysis of welfare provision and a direct exposure to welfare provision in practice.
  • International Social Policy
    This module introduces students to social policy in countries other than the UK. It looks at different modules of social policy and welfare development, explores the impact of globalisation on social welfare and enables students to critically compare and analyse social policy within different cultural, political and historical contexts.

and four optional (20 Credit) modules from:

  • Introduction to Applied Social Research
  • Researching Social Policy
  • Policy Futures: Global and Local Perspectives
  • Politics of British Social Policy
  • Migration, Superdiversity, Policy and Practice
  • Globalisation, International Migration and Citizenship
  • Third Sector in Social Policy
  • Special Project in Social Policy

Plus, other modules offered in the College of Social Sciences. 
MA students also undertake a 60 Credit Dissertation.

Students can choose 40 Credits from other postgraduate programmes from within the Institute of Applied Social Studies and the International Development Department, as well as from some other university departments. You can choose your areas of interest and future career ambitions with us to help you choose the most appropriate modules to study.

Fees and funding

Fees for 2015-2016:

Masters (MA)
Overseas (full time only) code 8966: £14,140;

PG Diploma:
Overseas (full time only) code 8969: £9,427
PG Certificate:
Overseas (full time only) code 8968: £4,714

Learn more about fees and funding.

Scholarships and studentships
Scholarships may be available. International students can often gain funding through overseas research scholarships, Commonwealth scholarships or their home government. For more information see International Scholarships.

For further information contact the Department directly or contact the Student Funding Office via the online enquiries system at www.studenthelp.bham.ac.uk.  

Entry requirements

For entry onto this programme you should normally have an undergraduate degree of at least an upper second class or an equivalent professional qualification. Participants with relevant work of employment experience will also be considered.

Learn more about entry requirements  

International students:

Listen to what some of our international students in the School say about studying at Birmingham.

We accept a range of qualifications from different countries - our country pages show you what qualifications we accept from your country.

English language requirements

English language: IELTS 6.5. Students with lower IELTS scores may apply, but will be advised to register for the pre-sessional English Course (six or ten weeks). Please contact the Programme Co-ordinator, Dr Kelly Hall, k.j.hall@bham.ac.uk for further advice on this.

How to apply

When clicking on the Apply Now button you will be directed to an application specifically designed for the programme you wish to apply for where you will create an account with the University application system and submit your application and supporting documents online. Further information regarding how to apply online can be found on the How to apply pages

Apply now

Learning and teaching

All participants will be supported by a personal tutor and will also be able to draw on the support of the Institute's Programme Director, Welfare Tutors and International Student Tutors.

Participants will also benefit from access to e-learning resources as well as the University's main library and student services.

Assessment methods

On completion of the taught modules (120 Credits), Masters students undertake a 10,000 word dissertation on a subject of their choice. Each student is allocated an experienced specialist supervisor, selected for their experience of both the subject matter and supervision.

Our Dissertation workshops provide an excellent forum for students to share their experiences and to get advice and support.


Our graduates come from the UK and from a wide range of other nations including Chile, China, Cyprus, Japan, Poland, South Korea, Vietnam and Taiwan. Our graduates have gone on to careers in the public and non-governmental sectors as civil servants, policy analysts, practitioners and social researchers. Others have continued with Doctoral level study.


Thi Hue Vu, Vietnam, "You will have a chance to work for a voluntary organisation, so enjoy the time that you do as a volunteer because it will be one of the most unforgettable memories in your life."

Isha Frederick, St Vincent, "The module 'The Politics of Social Policy in Britain: From 1940 to the present day', has really helped me understand the history of the UK and apply it to my studies. I've also found the university library to be a very useful place to study and the breadth and selection of books there is impressive." 


Eun Chul Kim, Republic of Korea, "MA Policy into Practice has provided me with a good chance to study Britain social policy and to experience the related practice. The modules which I took, satisfied my academic needs and curiosity over a quite broad spectrum of social policy fields. The academic staff made every effort to transfer academic knowledge and also they are highly kind and open-minded. We sometimes discussed over the issue passionately, other times we analysed the policy with cool and neutral attitude. I really enjoyed the time I had at IASS and would like to recommend it to students who are interested in social policy from both academic and practical perspectives."

Hyochul Ahn, Republic of Korea, "Studying British social policy with other international students and leading academics on this beautiful campus is really fascinating. More than anything, I have realised the significance of social research which can influence policy and people's futures."


Video courtesy of PGS TV

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