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MA Social Policy

Start date
1 year full-time, 2 years part-time
Course Type
Postgraduate, Taught

2022 - 2023
£9,810 f/t (UK students)
£4,905 p/t (UK students)
£20,430 f/t (International students)
More Fees and funding details.

Find out more about our MA in Social Policy

Social Policy seeks to not only understand the social world; but seeks to change it for the better through practical action.

Human well-being can be delivered through a range of public, private and voluntary institutions. At the beginning of the 21st Century, welfare systems and other public institutions, seeking to fulfil human need face considerable challenges, presented by economic crisis, an ageing population, increasingly flexible forms of work, migration, and shifting ways of family life. Alongside these fiscal and demographic pressures that nation states face, rising socio economic inequality and austerity has begun to reverse a number of key social advancements in terms of health and social mobility, making it a fascinating and critical time to study these issues. 

The MA Social Policy will entail the study of a range of social problems, such as poverty, homelessness, substance use, crime and health inequalities. In doing so, you will be encouraged to consider the underlying causes and to formulate policy solutions to address specific social problems. Alongside this, the MA Social Policy programme will examine contemporary and comparative developments within social policy, so that you will be able to consider the shifting nature of welfare arrangements in a broader political, economic and social context from both a UK and global perspective.

Inherent to Social Policy, as a field of study, is a normative focus that seeks to not only describe the state of a specific society in terms of the fulfilment of human needs, but to consider if our societies should be more effectively and justly organised. A key focus for the MA Social Policy programme, will be on the ways in which we might transform our societies to increase human well-being and to promote sustainable forms of living, and to encourage you to evaluate alternative forms of social organisation. 


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Core Modules

  • Philosophies of Welfare: creating new societies? (20 credits)
  • Poverty, Wealth and Inequality (20 credits)
  • Dissertation (60 credits)

Optional Modules* (80 credits from the list below)

  • The Third Sector and Social Policy (20 credits)
  • Migration, Super diversity, Policy and Practice (20 credits)
  • Policy Futures: Theories and Concepts in International Policymaking (20 credits)
  • Globalisation, International Migration & Citizenship (20 credits)
  • Crime and Social Harm (20 credits)
  • Sociology of Race and Racism (20 credits)
  • Applied Qualitative and Quantitative Data Analysis (20 credits)
  • Gendering Migration and Diaspora (20 credits)
  • Global Policy Institutions and Networks  (20 credits)
  • Migration and Development (20 credits)
  • Policy Evaluation (20 credits)
  • Changing Attitudes to Social Issues (20 credits)
  • Transforming Identities (20 credits)
  • Transforming Societies (20 credits)

The optional modules listed for this programme may unfortunately occasionally be subject to change. Where the module is no longer available we will let you know as soon as we can and help you make other choices


Fees 2022 - 2023

Code: 2227 £9,810 full-time (UK students)
Code: 2228 £4,905 part-time (UK students)
Code: 2227 £20,430 full-time (International students)

Postgraduate Loans for Masters students

A postgraduate loans system for Masters degrees in the UK will provide up to £11,570 for taught and research Masters courses in all subject areas.

Learn more about fees and funding

Scholarships and studentships

International students can often gain funding through overseas research scholarships, Commonwealth scholarships or their home government. 

How To Apply

1 July 2022 is the application deadline for international students applying through the student route who wish to study in the United Kingdom. We are not able to consider applications for 2022 made after this date. The deadline for Home students is 31 August 2022.

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

Our Standard Requirements

For entry onto this programme you will normally have an undergraduate degree of at least a 2:1. Applicants with a 2:2 degree classification will be considered on a case by case basis, if you have extensive related work experience. Speakers of English as a second language will be required to hold an IELTs 6.5 with no less than 6.0 in each band or equivalent qualification.

Learn more about entry requirements 

International Requirements

International Students

You can satisfy our English language requirements in two ways:

  • by holding an English language qualification to the right level.
  • by taking and successfully completing one of our English courses for international students.

The mission of the  Department of Social Policy, Sociology and Criminology in the  School of Social Policy is not just to ‘understand the world’, but to also ‘change it.’ Consequently we are at the forefront of cutting edge social science research that informs and influences public debate.

Our achievements

In turning this mission into practice, we are proud of our many achievements.  Our academics are recognised leaders in their field, working alongside UK government departments and supra national organisations, such as the European Commission and United Nations to bring about positive social change.  More than 2/3rds of our research is rated as ‘world leading’ or ‘internationally excellent’ in terms of its rigour, significance and originality, and we have extensive international links with like-minded partners at Harvard, Melbourne, Peking, Vancouver, Seoul and beyond.

Why choose to study in the Department of Social Policy, Sociology and Criminology?

In the Department of Social Policy, Sociology and Criminology, we believe that our research should inform the delivery of our teaching.  This means that you will be taught by those who are involved in cutting edge research and who write the publications that you will study.  You will be taught by academics in one of the longest established academic Departments in the UK, that has researched and taught Social Policy for over 60 years. We have academic experts who engage in research across a range of social problems and policy domains, such as poverty, crime, homelessness, substance use, migration, health and social care. 

Teaching and learning takes place across a variety of forms, including traditional lecture, interactive lectures, small group seminars, computer lab based sessions. We also believe that our teaching should be delivered not only through the classroom but through the social world itself. In particular being located in the city of Birmingham, one of the most diverse cities in the UK and the youngest city in Europe (largest percentage of the population under 24), the MA in Social Policy offers access to a ‘social laboratory’, that brings the issues that you study alive. A number of our modules utilise field trips and we have extra-curricular activities that offer trips to Birmingham City Council and the Houses of Parliament. 

Your degree will predominantly be assessed through a range of coursework, such as traditional essay, policy reports and dissertation - currently two of our modules utilise written examination as a mode of assessment. You will be offered the opportunity across core modules to complete formative assessments and to receive feedback which can be used to develop your writing style, structuring and critical reasoning, without the mark carrying into your degree classification. 

Social policy is an applied social science that will challenge you to formulate your own policy solutions to key social issues.  In so doing, equipping you with a combination of social research expertise, substantive knowledge of social issues and policy domains, as well as techniques of policy analysis. 

The MA Social Policy programme is designed for those working in various areas of social policy such as health, housing and social services or who are interested in pursuing a career in these and related fields. It is also suitable for students who have studied a relevant social science or humanities programme at undergraduate level and who are now seeking to study social policy for the first time at postgraduate level. 

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.

Dawn Plimmer, MA Social Policy

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