MSc International Social Welfare

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Department of Social Policy information session Thursday 30 May 2024, 12 pm to 1 pm. Dr Francesca Fiori will talk you through course content, teaching, research options and what previous students have gone on to do after graduation.

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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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 compulsory 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.


I look forward to welcoming you to the Department of Social Work and Social Policy.
The Department is home to over 30 academics, whose knowledge and insights from research, practice and policy are brought together to shape this unique MSc programme. I hope you will enjoy learning in a diverse and friendly environment, where different ideas and perspectives are valued and respected.
Dr Francesca Fiori
Programme leader
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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.

Comparative Social Policy & Welfare Systems

The module explores welfare systems and policy developments across a range of countries, with an OECD focus. Gain a thorough comparative understanding of how and why different welfare systems have developed as they have and the consequences of this for key health and social outcomes. You will utilise comparative methods of inquiry to critically evaluate the performance of different welfare systems. This module is likely to appeal to students interested in learning from international comparisons.

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 compulsory classes, you require to select two electives from the list.

Prisons, Power & Punishment

The aim of this module is for you to develop a critical understanding of the use, impacts and harms of imprisonment. It's designed to equip you with both the knowledge and the theoretical tools to engage in debates surrounding contemporary imprisonment.

You'll learn about the diversity, complexity and international breadth of scholarship in the area of punishment and society scholarship.

In particular, the module will draw from social theory, political science, critical gender studies, human rights and anthropological and narrative studies.

Inequalities in Social Policy

Explore the crucial ways in which social and health policies interact and the consequences that decisions about social policies have for health outcomes. This module uses intersectionality as a core social science concept.
The module uses the UK, which has particularly high health inequalities and a wide-range of useful data sources, as a core case study. We focus on three exemplar inequalities: health, place and criminal justice inequalities. However, for each exemplar inequality, we will also examine international examples and, where possible, adapt these examples to the geo-political interests and experiences of those taking the module.

Perspectives on Social Research

We look at the ontological and epistemological foundations of contrasting methodological paradigms, encouraging students to consider the assumptions that underpin widely used quantitative and qualitative methods. We also look at the challenges in bringing qualitative and quantitative data and analysis together. This module is particularly suited to students with interests in research design, evidence synthesis and critical analysis of research.

Risk & Protection in Organisational Contexts

This module offers an integrated approach to the understanding of risk assessment and risk management by situating risk practices with the organisations which carry out these roles and responsibilities.

Theory & Practice (Social Work)

This module is intended to provide you with knowledge and understanding of theoretical frameworks of social work intervention and to equip you with the practice skills and theory required for Practice 2.

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.

Policy Analysis

This class investigates theories of the policy-making process. After taking this class you will be able to describe, and perhaps even influence, real-world policy making.

Economic Appraisal and Modelling

Economic appraisal and modelling lie at the heart of what most economists in business, consulting and government do on a day-to-day basis. You'll examine the key principles and techniques of economic appraisal and learn – through your own applications - how these are used in private and/or social analysis. Techniques covered will include cost-benefit analysis, cost-effectiveness analysis and multi-criteria analysis. The economic modelling component will provide you with insights into how models designed to describe the operation of any economy can be used to help inform decision making. You’ll drawing on the practical modelling expertise gained within the Fraser of Allander Institute which has – for over forty years – developed an international reputation in the development and use of economic modelling for analysing policy-relevant issues.

International Institutions and Regimes

The purpose of this class is to provide students with a comprehensive overview of the concepts and theoretical approaches central to understanding and analysing the role of international institutions and regimes in the contemporary world.
This class will survey a variety of international institutions and regimes, exploring how they shape global interactions in a number of cross-cutting issue areas such as security, trade, human rights and the environment. The overall analysis will contribute to the understanding of the theories, practices and processes through which global politics are organised and to an assessment of the future of international institutions and regimes in global governance.

Health Policy in an International Context

This module considers pressing health policy challenges comparatively across a range of international health systems. Examples of key topics include debates around health care funding, and the tensions between calls to address acute healthcare concerns and pressure to do more to address commercial and social determinants of health. The module also considers how we can compare the performance of distinctive health systems, noting the limitations of some commonly-used indicators.

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

Feminism, Gender & Violence

This module will provide you with an understanding of feminist frameworks for understanding, measuring and investigating gendered violence and the ways it intersects with other inequalities. It is an interdisciplinary module taught by staff from Media, Gender Studies, Social Policy, Criminology and Politics.


All students are 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. Students on this programme can choose to undertake their dissertation in Social Policy or Social Work.

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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-UK/Ireland) who do not meet the academic entry requirements for a Masters degree at University of Strathclyde.

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

Please note: Previous Maths & English qualifications and your undergraduate degree must meet GTCS minimum entry requirements as well as the pre-Masters course and an interview will be conducted before an offer can be made.

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 140 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

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 (or studying standalone modules) 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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Scotland, England, Wales & Northern Ireland

Full time - £8,700
Part-time* - £4,350

*Please note, Year 2 fee will be subject to an increase



Visa and immigration

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

Available scholarships

Take a look at our scholarships search for funding opportunities.

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

  • EU Engagement Scholarships are available to EU applicants who would have previously been eligible for Home (Scottish/EU) fee status.
  • EU and International 50% Merit Scholarships available to self-funded, international fee-paying offer-holders (includes those classed as EU fee group). The scholarship entitles the recipient to a discount of 50% on tuition fees.
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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Start date: Sep 2024

International Social Welfare

Start date: Sep 2024

Start date: Sep 2024

International Social Welfare

Start date: Sep 2024

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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.