The Social Policy and Social Research MSc combines a theoretical understanding of contemporary social problems, social policy and intervention, and policymaking processes across a range of different sectors and countries, with advanced research methods training. The relationship between research and policy is a key programme theme. This degree has ESRC 1+3 training recognition, meaning it stands alone as an MSc but can also prepare students for doctoral research.
Modes and duration
Tuition fees (2021/22)
Note on fees: The tuition fees shown are for the year indicated above. Fees for subsequent years may increase or otherwise vary. Further information on fee status, fee increases and the fee schedule can be viewed on the UCL Students website: ucl.ac.uk/students/fees. Fees for flexible, modular study are charged pro-rata to the appropriate full-time Master's fee taken in an academic session.
Fee deposit: 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.
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.
English language requirements
If your education has not been conducted in the English language, you will be expected to demonstrate evidence of an adequate level of English proficiency.
The English language level for this programme is: Advanced
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.
Country-specific information, including details of when UCL representatives are visiting your part of the world, can be obtained from the International Students website.
This programme is suitable for international students on a Tier 4 visa - study must be full-time, face-to-face, starting October.
International applicants can find out the equivalent qualification for their country by selecting from the list below.
Select your country:
About this degree
The degree equips students with the conceptual tools and empirical evidence necessary for investigating social policy and policy-making, including critical assessment of the role of research evidence in policy development and implementation. Graduates will be able to apply their knowledge and understanding and analytical and methodological skills in conducting social research in different policy contexts.
Students undertake modules to the value of 180 credits.
The programme consists of four compulsory modules (60 credits), four optional modules (60 credits) and a dissertation (60 credits).
Upon successful completion of 180 credits, you will be awarded a MSc in Social Policy and Social Research.
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 is subject to change.
Students take four compulsory modules (60 credits in total):
- Understanding the Policy Process
- Social Problems and Intervention
- Evidence for Policy and Practice
- Comparative Social Policy
Each of the four compulsory modules is offered as both a campus-based module and a fully-online module. The online version of each module does not require attendance on campus, providing greater flexibility for students combining study with work, particularly those taking the programme over two to five years.
Students select any four optional modules (60 credits in total) from the following list.
Several of the optional modules are offered as both a campus-based module and a fully-online module. In making their selection of four optional modules, students may select a maximum of two of the following three modules: Systematic Review Design and Planning; Systematic Reviews for Complex Policy Issues; Research Engagement, Participation and Impact.
- Introduction to Regression Analysis
- Introduction to Qualitative Methods
- Systematic Review Design and Planning
- Survey Design
- Impact Evaluation Methods
- Using Stata Efficiently and Effectively
- Advanced Qualitative Methods
- Advanced Quantitative Methods
- Research Engagement, Participation and Impact
- Systematic Reviews for Complex Policy Issues
Visit the UCL Institute of Education website for more information, including module descriptions, which can be seen by clicking on the module title.
All students undertake an independent research project which culminates in a dissertation of 12,000 words (60 credits). Workshops and online resources help prepare students for the dissertation.
Teaching and learning
A rich variety of teaching of methods are used, including lectures combined with seminars. In some modules, students are given the opportunity to develop presentational skills through group projects. The programme includes both face-to-face and online components. Assessment is through coursework (e.g. written essay or research proposal), unseen examinations (maximum two) and a 12,000-word dissertation.
The purchase of books many 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.
For more information on additional costs for prospective students please go to our estimated cost of essential expenditure at Accommodation and living costs.
Details of the accessibility of UCL buildings can be obtained from AccessAble accessable.co.uk. Further information can also be obtained from the UCL Student Support & Wellbeing team: ucl.ac.uk/students/fees-and-funding.
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: https://ubel-dtp.ac.uk/
For a comprehensive list of the funding opportunities available at UCL, including funding relevant to your nationality, please visit the Scholarships and Funding website.
As a graduate of this programme you will be equipped to work in a broad range of roles, such as social policy researcher, advisor to government, or as NGO personnel. You will also have the methodological background to move into doctoral research.
Graduates from this MSc programme have gained sought-after skills that allowed them 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.
Why study this degree at UCL?
The programme offers a unique opportunity to study social policy and the ways in which research, along with other forms of evidence and knowledge, connects with and impacts on policy-making and professional practice. Training is also provided in social research methods relevant to people working in a policy or academic context. It is structured to allow students to customise their degree according to their preferred area of study and future career plans.
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.
Our central London location and network of partners and alumni gives us access to nationally and internationally prominent guest speakers who give insight into policy as it is formed.
Department: UCL Social Research Institute
What our students and staff say
"I would recommend studying at the IOE to anyone who is interested in education and social science research. The expert staff, learning opportunities and networking links have meant my year at UCL has flown by and has been extremely fulfilling. Q&A with Lydia Bailey"
Lydia BaileySocial Policy and Social Research MSc (2019)
"I love how interlinked policy and research are, and how important research and evidence is for constantly improving policy. This inspires me to want to work in this field, improving policy through the use of evidence. Q&A with May Taleb"
May TalebSocial Policy and Social Research MSc (2019)
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Application and 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.
This programme only requires one reference in support of your application. Your reference should be academic unless you have been out of university education for more than four years. Further information regarding references can be found in our How to apply section.
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: ucl.ac.uk/prospective-students/graduate/taught/application.
Who can apply?
The MSc in Social Policy and Social Research is aimed at recent graduates and mid-career professionals from around the world who are interested in social policy or policy-orientated research. It is suited to those who want to start a career in social policy analysis, advocacy or research within the public sector or a socially-orientated NGO, and those already working in policy environments who want to improve their skills and career prospects. It is also useful preparation for study for a PhD.
- All applicants
- 31 May 2021
Any late applications will only be considered after all those received by the closing date.
For more information see our Applications page.Apply now
What are we looking for?
When we assess your application we would like to learn:
- why you want to study Social Policy and Social Research at graduate level
- why you want to study Social Policy and Social Research 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.
UCL is regulated by the Office for Students.