Social Policy and Social Research (With Systematic Reviews) MSc

London, Bloomsbury

The Social Policy and Social Research (with Systematic Reviews) MSc combines a theoretical understanding of contemporary social problems, policy intervention, and policymaking processes across different sectors and countries, with advanced training in systematic reviews. This degree has ESRC 1+3 training recognition, meaning it stands alone as an MSc but can also prepare students for doctoral research.

UK students International students
Study mode
UK tuition fees (2023/24)
Programme also available on a modular (flexible) basis.
Overseas tuition fees (2023/24)
Programme also available on a modular (flexible) basis.
1 calendar year
2 calendar years
5 academic years
Programme starts
September 2023
Applications accepted
All applicants: 17 Oct 2022 – 31 Mar 2023

Applications open

Entry requirements

A minimum of an upper second-class Bachelors' degree from a UK university or an overseas qualification of an equivalent standard in a Social Science subject, such as Sociology, Psychology, Social Policy, Economics or History. If you do not meet these requirements, other considerations, such as relevant work experience, may be taken into account.

The English language level for this programme is: Level 4

UCL Pre-Master's and Pre-sessional English courses are for international students who are aiming to study for a postgraduate degree at UCL. The courses will develop your academic English and academic skills required to succeed at postgraduate level. International Preparation Courses

Further information can be found on our English language requirements page.

This programme is suitable for international students on a Student visa – study must be full-time, face-to-face, starting October.

Equivalent qualifications

Country-specific information, including details of when UCL representatives are visiting your part of the world, can be obtained from the International Students website.

International applicants can find out the equivalent qualification for their country by selecting from the list below. Please note that the equivalency will correspond to the broad UK degree classification stated on this page (e.g. upper second-class). Where a specific overall percentage is required in the UK qualification, the international equivalency will be higher than that stated below. Please contact Graduate Admissions should you require further advice.

About this degree

The programme will enable you to plan and appraise systematic reviews of research in any policy area, to develop a critical appreciation of the full diversity of review approaches and types of research use, and equip you with understanding and skills to help ensure perspectives from the public, practitioners, policymakers and researchers are all considered in research and policy development.

Who this course is for

The programme is suited to experienced and recent graduates alike. The programme will provide you with the skills and knowledge to pursue, or further, a career in the field of social science research and evidence-informed policy and practice. Students bring interest in varied sectors, including health, education and social/international development.

What this course will give you

This multidisciplinary programme is unique in the way that students study methods for systematic reviews of both qualitative and quantitative data, and a full range of research designs. The programme can be taken entirely at a distance, or on campus, and attracts students from across the globe, many of whom are already working for research-focused or policy-making organisations. The programme is located in the UCL Social Research Institute, a research-intensive department with an outstanding international reputation. It is taught by an interdisciplinary team, all with specialist expertise across a wide range of policy areas. As students on the specialist 'systematic reviews' route, you will also learn from research-active tutors based at UCL’s EPPI-Centre, which is recognised worldwide for its development of methods for diverse kinds of systematic review, for the production of policy-relevant research, and for research into perspectives and participation. Our central London location and network of partners and alumni give us access to nationally and internationally prominent guest speakers who provide insight into policy as it is formed.

The foundation of your career

Students completing the programme are equipped with enhanced critical thinking skills and skills for research design and appraisal, spanning a full range of research purposes and problems. Graduates from this MSc programme have gained sought-after skills that allowed them to pursue professional careers in academia or policy research, policy analysis, policy development and implementation, programme management, and policy advocacy within the public, private, and non-profit sectors.


Graduates of previous versions of this programme are currently working across a broad range of areas. For example, one is a project director in mobile technology for learning, while another is a social research manager advising national government. Another graduate works as a senior editor of systematic research reviews. Others have gone on to doctoral studies.

Teaching and learning

Assessment is through coursework assignments (e.g., written essay or research proposal) and a 12,000-word dissertation.

Each 15-credit taught module involves up to 150 hours of study. This time is made up of scheduled classes and teaching (20 contact hours) as well as guided independent study (e.g., reading and preparing for lectures, carrying out e-learning and group activities, and preparing the summative assessment). The 60-credit dissertation module requires a notional learning time of about 600 hours.


Students take eight compulsory taught modules (120 credits), and a dissertation (60 credits).

The first term of the programme introduces you to the definition and study of social problems, policy intervention, and policy processes. You also take two systematic review modules.

The second term provides you with the opportunity to explore international comparisons of social policy, and the use of research to support policy processes. You also take the remaining systematic review modules and begin work on your final research project, the dissertation.

In the summer term, you work full-time on your dissertation, with a submission date in late August.

Over the two years, students take eight compulsory taught modules (120 credits), and a dissertation (60 credits).

The first year of the programme introduces you to the definition and study of policy processes through the term 1 module, Understanding the Policy Process (SOCS0058). In addition, you select a further three to five of the compulsory taught modules. The number of modules that you take in each academic year (and in each term) will depend on your commitments outside UCL (e.g., employment and family responsibilities).

In the second year, you will take the remaining taught modules (bringing the total number to eight), and begin work on your final research project, the dissertation, with a submission date in late August.

Where relevant, you will be required to take introductory modules before moving on to the more advanced ones.

Students take eight compulsory taught modules (120 credits) and a dissertation (60 credits), and have between two and five years in which to complete the programme.

The first year of the programme introduces you to the definition and study of policy processes through the term 1 module, Understanding the Policy Process (SOCS0058). The remaining taught modules can be taken at any time.

Work on the dissertation begins in the final year, with a submission date in late August.

Where relevant, you will be required to take introductory modules before moving on to the more advanced ones.

Please note that the list of modules given here is indicative. This information is published a long time in advance of enrolment and module content and availability are subject to change. Modules that are in use for the current academic year are linked for further information. Where no link is present, further information is not yet available.

Students undertake modules to the value of 180 credits. Upon successful completion of 180 credits, you will be awarded an MSc in Social Policy and Social Research (With Systematic Reviews).


Details of the accessibility of UCL buildings can be obtained from AccessAble Further information can also be obtained from the UCL Student Support & Wellbeing team.

Online - Open day

Graduate Open Events: IOE, UCL's Faculty of Education and Society Virtual Event series

Please note that there are 27 sessions across a range of subject areas. IOE is ranked number one for education for consecutive nine years and the world's leading centre for research and teaching in education, culture, psychology and social science. If you’re interested in enhancing and progressing your career in education and related social sciences, why not join our open events? You’ll get to meet the programme team, ask any questions you have and find out what it’s like studying at UCL.

Fees and funding

Fees for this course

UK students International students
Fee description Full-time Part-time
Tuition fees (2023/24) £14,100 £7,050
Tuition fees (2023/24) £29,000 £14,500

Programme also available on a modular (flexible) basis.

The tuition fees shown are for the year indicated above. Fees for subsequent years may increase or otherwise vary. Where the programme is offered on a flexible/modular basis, fees are charged pro-rata to the appropriate full-time Master's fee taken in an academic session. Further information on fee status, fee increases and the fee schedule can be viewed on the UCL Students website:

Additional costs

All full-time students are required to pay a fee deposit of £1,000 for this programme. All part-time students are required to pay a fee deposit of £500.

The purchase of books may constitute an additional cost, but there is no requirement to purchase any book as part of the programme. If fieldwork is conducted for the dissertation, this is also at your own expense and should be estimated according to the type and length of fieldwork proposed. Fieldwork is not compulsory to complete a dissertation. 

Students should take into account any travel, accommodation and expenses involved in their report or dissertation.

For more information on additional costs for prospective students please go to our estimated cost of essential expenditure at Accommodation and living costs.

Funding your studies

Applicants may be eligible to apply for funding from the Economic and Social Research Council via the UCL, Bloomsbury and East London Doctoral Training Partnership. The MSc provides Master's-level postgraduate training which can constitute the first year of ESRC 1+3 postgraduate PhD studentships. Further information:

For a comprehensive list of the funding opportunities available at UCL, including funding relevant to your nationality, please visit the Scholarships and Funding website.

Next steps

Students are advised to apply as early as possible due to competition for places. Those applying for scholarship funding (particularly overseas applicants) should take note of application deadlines.

There is an application processing fee for this programme of £90 for online applications and £115 for paper applications. Further information can be found at Application fees.

When we assess your application we would like to learn:

  • Why you want to study Social Policy and Social Research (with Systematic Reviews) at graduate level
  • Why you want to study Social Policy and Social Research (with Systematic Reviews) at UCL
  • What particularly attracts you to the chosen programme
  • How your academic and professional background meets the demands of this challenging programme
  • Where you would like to go professionally with your degree

Together with essential academic requirements, the personal statement is your opportunity to illustrate whether your reasons for applying to this programme match what the programme will deliver.

Any late applications will only be considered after all those received by the closing date.

Please note that you may submit applications for a maximum of two graduate programmes (or one application for the Law LLM) in any application cycle.

Choose your programme

Please read the Application Guidance before proceeding with your application.

Year of entry: 2023-2024

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