MSc International Social Welfare

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School of Social Policy: Virtual Information Session, 5 June 2023

Key facts

  • Start date: September
  • Study mode and duration: 12 months full-time; 24 months part-time

Study with us

  • develop a critical understanding of global social issues
  • prepare students to work in a variety of different social work and social development settings
  • explore the complexities, challenges and dilemmas experienced by professionals in the fields of social work and social policy
  • aimed at students with an interest in international social work and global social policy
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Why this course?

The Masters in International Social Welfare is distinctive in the ways in which it:

  • develops a conceptual and theoretical understanding of global social issues, with a particular focus on the role of social work and social policy in addressing poverty and inequality and promoting human rights, social justice and social development
  • provides a knowledge and understanding that will enable you to work in a variety of different social work and social development settings at local, national and international levels

You'll be encouraged to develop a critical understanding of global social issues and relate this knowledge to developments in a context of relevance to you, be that your own country or profession.

Case study material from a variety of social work and social policy settings will provide a unique opportunity to explore the complexities, challenges and dilemmas experienced by professionals in the fields of social work and social policy.

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Interested in postgraduate study?

At the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, our friendly and knowledgeable team will be available to provide you with all the information you need to kick-start your postgraduate journey at the University of Strathclyde. Register for upcoming events below:

What you'll study

The programme draws elements from social work and social policy. You'll explore the use of concepts and ideas associated with the study of social welfare, historical and comparative approaches to social welfare and international social work.

The course comprises up to five complusory classes which enables you to take classes in both qualitative and quantitative research methods. You'll also choose one or two elective options. from research-based classes in areas which correspond to specialist research interests among our staff.

The current list of options includes areas such as:

  • policy evaluation
  • use of evidence in social work research
  • contemporary issues in criminology
  • global health
  • contemporary international relations


If you progress to the MSc stage, you'll complete a research-based dissertation of 15,000 words in an appropriate area of your choice.

Learning & teaching

Teaching methods include lectures, tutorials, laboratories, and professional placements and fieldwork opportunities.


You'll be assessed by essays, exams and practice assessments.


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Course content

Welfare Concepts & Ideas

Key concepts like liberty, equality and social justice have played a central role in shaping the development of the welfare state and still underpin contemporary political discussion of social policy.

This course begins by exploring these concepts and then moves on to a range of both classic and contemporary theoretical perspectives, in particular, critical perspectives, that seek to evaluate and explain welfare arrangements.

Bringing concepts and theories together, the last section of the course examines the three dominant traditions in social policy: social democracy; liberalism and conservatism.

Approaches to Welfare: Past, Present & Future

This module seeks to deepen students’ understanding of social policy by examining the development of social policy in four key areas in historical and comparative perspective.

The first section focuses on the development of housing, health, education and social security policy in the 19th and early 20th centuries, exploring key debates around the causes and consequences of policy change.

The second part of the module examines the same areas in comparative perspective, looking at the concept of welfare state models and the forms and reasons for policy difference between welfare states.

The module concludes with an examination of global social policy development and transnational challenges to social policy.

International Social Work: Themes & Perspectives

This class will develop a conceptual and theoretical understanding of the ideas underpinning international social work, a critical appreciation of key themes and issues confronting social work practitioners globally and key policies underpinning social work and social development globally. It is a key class for a course of international Social Welfare, which underpins further modules on this course.

In addition to the classes above, you'll take either one or both of the classes below. If you choose only one, you'll select two classes from the list of electives. If you choose both classes, you require to select only one elective class.

Quantitative Methods

This class introduces the use of quantitative methods in social research. Like qualitative methods, quantitative methods are tools in the social scientist’s tool kit. Learning when and how to use them will make you a better social researcher, open new scope for dissertation work, and improve job prospects.

The class serves three principal purposes. First, to ground students in the language of research methods: research questions, variables, hypotheses and so on. Second, to introduce two types of quantitative data: official statistics and survey responses. The third purpose is to provide a statistical foundation upon which the QMII class can build.

Qualitative Methods

This class provides an overview of the ever-expanding field of qualitative methods in political science, international relations and public/social policy.

A variety of methods and analytical tools will be examined, and situated within different traditions of social research such as positivism and interpretivism. The focus is on both principles and practices. The idea is to develop an understanding of the logic and quality standards associated with different forms of qualitative inquiry, but also engage the practical tasks involved in conducting qualitative research. Rather than privileging one tradition as ‘more scientific’ or ‘more humanistic’ than the other, this class adopts an inclusive, pluralistic approach.

The core assumption is that the complexity of the social and political world can be approached from multiple methodological perspectives, using a diverse set of tools. The common ground though is our strong commitment to the standards of systematic, rigorous social and political research.

If you've chosen to study all five compulsory classes, you select only one elective. If you've chosen to study only four complusory classes, you require to select two electives from the list.

Contemporary International Relations

This course introduces students to the literature and research agendas related to conflict and cooperation in international relations studies. We will cover a wide array of approaches that relate to interstate and intrastate conflict, cooperation and other contemporary security topics such as peacekeeping operations, terrorism, and human rights violations.

By the end of this course, students should be able to answer questions such as why international (intrastate) conflicts occur, when cooperation between countries emerges, whether peacekeeping missions are effective in reducing violence against civilians and promoting post-conflict peace, how terrorist groups emerge, why some governments torture their citizens and how international institutions might prevent human rights violation.

While we will not have time to comprehensively cover all the important relevant work, we will sample a spectrum of the work from foundational studies to state-of-the-art approaches.

Evaluation & Policy Research

The aim of this module is to provide students with the conceptual framework that underpins applied social research in such a way that meets ESRC core research methods training requirements. By bringing together staff and students from across social work and social policy, the module aims to offer a multi-disciplinary perspective on applied social research.

The Context of Social Work Research

This module will complement modules on research methodology and methods run on a faculty-wide basis by offering students wishing to undertake a taught Masters in Social Work research with the substantive social work content necessary to specialise in this area.

The Use of Evidence in Social Work Research

This module will consider the nature and use of evidence in Social Work research and Social Work practice and explore the contested nature of this.  It will offer students the opportunity to engage in critical debate, exploring a range of arguments and theories that underpin social work research and evidence-informed practice.

International Social Welfare Project

The aim of the project is to deepen students understanding of issues and interventions, actions and knowledge in international social welfare theory and practice. Within the time-frame of one semester, the students realise the project they have developed with the expert guidance of lecturers on the International Social Welfare programme and/or experts and contact persons of the practical field.

The Contexts of Criminal Justice Research

This class is designed to provide students with relevant knowledge, understanding and skills to critically engage with theory, research and contemporary debates about penal responses to people who offend. This module seeks to encourage students to engage with critical debates in contemporary policies and practices and with more radical approaches to penal change.

Contemporary Issues in Criminology

This module Contemporary Issues in Criminology introduces students to the subject of criminology, tracing some of the major themes and topical issues that arise within this discipline. It begins with an overview of the development of criminology and provides an in-depth critique of criminological theory. It follows with three sub-topics, allowing for more detailed focus on three contemporary issues over the course of one semester. These subtopics are:

  • crime, criminal justice & the media
  • punishment & the State
  • gender, sexuality & justice
Principles of Economic Appraisal

In this class you will learn about how economists make use of tools to appraise (i.e. evaluate) projects to help government make informed decisions. You’ll also learn about how to manage such projects once they are operational and to critically assess whether or not they have been a success. The class begins with the basic concepts and principles of project appraisal that form the foundation of all economic appraisal. You will learn about cost-benefit analysis and the procedures that make-up a good analysis of policy options – including discussions of issues such as discounting, deadweight, displacement, the evaluation of non-market costs and benefits and the concept of opportunity cost.

The modelling elements of the class gives students an introduction to the foundations of economic modelling, and lets students learn through applications. Modelling adopts a practical, applied orientation throughout. Students will be supported in exploring practical examples of how modelling can be used, using Input-Output (IO) and Computable General Equilibrium (CGE) models.

Topics in Public Economics

This class explores the role of the Government in the economy with a focus on situations in which markets do not work properly. After a general introduction of public economic theories of market failures and government intervention, students will be guided to the application of these economic principles to the regulation of public utility markets, the correction of externalities, and the optimal provision of public goods.

In the second part, the course will be more empirically oriented, it will focus on the role of taxation, and how labour supply responds to taxes, the concept of social insurance, in particular unemployment insurance, and the provision of education.


In order to complete the MSc, all students will be required to undertake a 15,000-word dissertation on a topic of their choice. The dissertation will be supervised by a member of staff but is intended to provide students with the opportunity to develop their skills as independent researchers.

Katherine Smith
Strathclyde’s School of Social Work and Social Policy features more than 30 academics, many of whom have experience of working in policy and practice; all of whom are committed to research informed teaching and learning. I hope you will find, like me, that this is a really friendly and welcoming School, where people are keen to engage in ideas and hear about different experiences.
Katherine Smith
Programme leader
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Entry requirements

Academic requirements

First or upper second-class Honours degree, or overseas equivalent, in any discipline. Entry may be possible with other qualifications, where the applicant has relevant work experience.

English language requirements

Please check our English requirements before making your application.

Pre-Masters preparation course

The Pre-Masters Programme is a preparation course held at the University of Strathclyde International Study Centre, for international students (non EU/UK) who do not meet the academic entry requirements for a Masters degree at University of Strathclyde. The Pre-Masters programme provides progression to a number of degree options.

Upon successful completion, you'll be able to progress to this degree course at the University of Strathclyde.

Chat to a student ambassador

If you want to know more about what it’s like to be a Humanities & Social Sciences student at the University of Strathclyde, a selection of our current students are here to help!

Our Unibuddy ambassadors can answer all the questions you might have about courses and studying at Strathclyde, along with offering insight into their experiences of life in Glasgow and Scotland.

Chat to a student ambassador

International students

We've a thriving international community with students coming here to study from over 100 countries across the world. Find out all you need to know about studying in Glasgow at Strathclyde and hear from students about their experiences.

Visit our international students' section

Map of the world.

Roma Shafiq International Social Welfare student
This course and the university opened my mind up to different things going on in the world and really enhanced my knowledge whilst making new friends from around the world with very different cultural backgrounds.
Roma Shafiq
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Fees & funding

All fees quoted are for full-time courses and per academic year unless stated otherwise. Please note second year will be subject to increases.

Fees may be subject to updates to maintain accuracy. Tuition fees will be notified in your offer letter.

All fees are in £ sterling, unless otherwise stated, and may be subject to revision.

Annual revision of fees

Students on programmes of study of more than one year should be aware that tuition fees are revised annually and may increase in subsequent years of study. Annual increases will generally reflect UK inflation rates and increases to programme delivery costs.

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Full-time: £7,750
Part-time: £3,875

England, Wales & Northern Ireland

Full-time: £7,750
Part-time: £3,875



Available scholarships

Take a look at our scholarships search for funding opportunities.

Visa and immigration

International students may have associated visa and immigration costs. Please see student visa guidance for more information.

Please note: The fees shown are annual and may be subject to an increase each year. Find out more about fees.

How can I fund my course?

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Scottish postgraduate students

Scottish postgraduate students may be able to apply for support from the Student Awards Agency Scotland (SAAS). The support is in the form of a tuition fee loan and for eligible students, a living cost loan. Find out more about the support and how to apply.

Don’t forget to check our scholarship search for more help with fees and funding.

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Students coming from England

Students ordinarily resident in England may be to apply for postgraduate support from Student Finance England. The support is a loan of up to £10,280 which can be used for both tuition fees and living costs. Find out more about the support and how to apply.

Don’t forget to check our scholarship search for more help with fees and funding.

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Students coming from Wales

Students ordinarily resident in Wales may be to apply for postgraduate support from Student Finance Wales. The support is a loan of up to £10,280 which can be used for both tuition fees and living costs. Find out more about the support and how to apply.

Don’t forget to check our scholarship search for more help with fees and funding.

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Students coming from Northern Ireland

Postgraduate students who are ordinarily resident in Northern Ireland may be able to apply for support from Student Finance Northern Ireland. The support is a tuition fee loan of up to £5,500. Find out more about the support and how to apply.

Don’t forget to check our scholarship search for more help with fees and funding.

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International students

We've a large range of scholarships available to help you fund your studies. Check our scholarship search for more help with fees and funding.

Faculty of Humanities & Social Sciences Scholarships

View all our scholarships
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This programme is designed to equip students with specialist knowledge in the area of international social welfare and a range of transferable social skills in data collection and analysis. We anticipate that students who graduate with an MSc in International Social Welfare will find employment in a range of professions, many of which are associated with the provision of voluntary or public services.

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Our campus is based right in the very heart of Glasgow. We're in the city centre, next to the Merchant City, both of which are great locations for sightseeing, shopping and socialising alongside your studies.

Life in Glasgow

Gallery of Modern Art, Royal Exchange Square.

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Start date: Sep 2023

International Social Welfare

Start date: Sep 2023

Start date: Sep 2023

International Social Welfare

Start date: Sep 2023

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Contact us

Prospective student enquiries

Contact a member of our team on LiveChat between 10am and 4pm (GMT)

Telephone: +44 (0) 141 444 8600

Have you considered?

We've a range of postgraduate taught and Masters courses similar to this one which may also be of interest.