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 of and challenges facing other countries. Policy into Practice is a suite of programmes and can include an integrated placement or a health pathway.

This webpage is intended to provide prospective students with a general picture of programmes and courses offered by the school. Please note all programmes are subject to change and updates. 

This programme is currently undergoing a review process, which may result in some changes and updates to modules and the programme. Therefore, please contact the school for any queries you may have relating to modules and programme content.

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. 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. Starting from an examination of UK social policy, the programme widens out to examine the experience of and challenges facing other countries.

Specialist option in health policy

Students can now study an MA Policy into Practice (Health) which has a particular focus on health policies and interventions. Developed in collaboration with the Health Services Management Centre (HSMC) it covers UK health policy, as well as the experiences of, and challenges facing, other countries in relation to health policy and population health and wellbeing. The programme has been designed for national and local government officers, as well as officers of non-governmental organisations who are involved in health policy-making or delivering health services in countries other than the UK. Students take a combination of modules on social policy and health services management. For module options please see the course brochure.

Course brochures

Why study this course

The Department of Social Policy, Sociology and Criminology is an internationally leading centre for research in social policy and is based in the Muirhead Tower.


MA Policy into Practice consists of three compulsory (20 Credit) modules:

Sectors and Services in British Social Policy

Module Lead: Lisa Goodson

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

Module Lead: Kelly Hall

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.

Making Policy

Module Lead: Adrian Campbell

Making policy is at the heart of government. It sounds simple, but in reality policy making is a complex process, with competing interests trying to influence the agenda and design of solutions, with those with more power and resources more likely to influence policy. A wide range of strategies are used by those seeking to influence policy, making it important to understand how a policy process works and which strategies are best to use to gain influence.

This module is essential for those students working in government, or intending to work in government, and playing a role in making, implementing and/or evaluating policy. It is also essential for those who hope to play a role in influencing policy, whether that’s through an NGO, a campaign group or a think tank. You will gain knowledge of policy-making and skills in making, analysing and influencing policy that will be of real use to you in the policy world.

and three optional (20 Credit) modules from:

  • Introduction to Applied Social Research
    Module Lead: Lisa Goodson
  • Policy Futures: Global and Local Perspectives
    Module Leads: Rachel Humphris; John Mohan
  • Migration, Superdiversity, Policy and Practice
    Module Lead: Lisa Goodson
  • Globalisation, International Migration and Citizenship
    Module Lead: Nando Sigona
  • Third Sector in Social Policy
    Module Lead: John Mohan

Plus, other modules offered in the College of Social Sciences. 

The optional modules listed on the website for this programme may unfortunately occasionally be subject to change. As you will appreciate key members of staff may leave the University and this necessitates a review of the modules that are offered. Where the module is no longer available we will let you know as soon as we can and help you make other choices.
MA students also undertake a 60 Credit Dissertation.

Students can choose 40 Credits from other postgraduate programmes from some other university departments, including the International Development Department. We can help you choose the most appropriate modules to study based on your areas of interest and future career ambitions.

Fees and funding


Masters (MA)
Code: 8966 £16,995 f/t (International students)

Code: 8969 £11,330 f/t (International students)

Code: 8968 £5,665 f/t (International students)

Learn more about fees and funding.

Postgraduate Loans for Masters students

A postgraduate loans system for Masters degrees in the UK will provide up to £10,280 for taught and research Masters courses in all subject areas including part-time and distance learning. More information can be found on the FindAMasters loans page.

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

Making your application

Monday 1 July 2019 is the application deadline for international students (Tier 4) who wish to study in the United Kingdom. We are not able to consider applications for 2019 made after this date. The deadline for Home/EU (non-Tier 4) students is Monday 30 September 2019. Applications will reopen for 2020 entry in early October 2019.

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

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 12,000 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.

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 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."

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