Dawn Plimmer, MA Social Policy
After completing my undergraduate History degree at Birmingham, I decided to study for an MA in Social Policy to allow me to explore my interest in public policy in a more contemporary and applied context. The course appealed due to its broad content encompassing social theory, policy analysis, and research: all areas which I felt would be useful in helping me to pursue a career in a policy-related field.
I studied for my Masters part time while working as a Grants Officer, assessing and managing grants for funders that support charities. Working alongside studying was rewarding as it allowed me to explore topics of interest that emerged from my job. For example, I completed my dissertation on charity experiences of welfare-to-work commissioning processes. As a part time student, I found the course flexible, and the staff supportive.
The content of the course was varied and interesting, with modules ranging from the history of British social policy, to commissioning research and evaluation. Students also benefit from an impressive range of staff expertise associated with the School of Social Policy, ranging from social welfare, to migration and criminal justice. My dissertation was supervised by the Director of the university’s Third Sector Research Centre, allowing me to benefit from the latest specialist knowledge in the field.
Towards the end of my Masters, I gained a job as a consultant at New Philanthropy Capital (NPC), a charity consultancy and think tank. I enjoy the diverse nature of my role which ranges from helping funders to develop their strategy, conducting primary and secondary research into topical sector issues, and developing tools to help charities to measure their impact.
The understanding of social policy debates, the policy process and social research methods which I developed through completing an MA have proven to be highly useful and relevant in my career. I would recommend the course to other recent graduates wishing to pursue a career in public or third sector policy, as well as to professionals who want to better understand policy issues and conduct research in their specialist field.