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MScInternational Social Welfare

Why this course?

This unique International Social Welfare Masters programme is aimed at students with an interest in international social work and global social policy. The course will provide advanced knowledge about the theory and practice of social work and social policy in an international context.

Students will be encouraged to develop a critical understanding of global social issues and relate this knowledge to developments in the context which is relevant to them, which could be their own country or profession.

The new Masters in International Social Welfare will be distinctive in a number of ways.

First, it seeks to develop 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.

The programme also aims to prepare students with a knowledge and understanding that will enable them to work in a variety of different social work and social development settings at local, national and international levels.

This will be achieved, amongst other things, through the use of case study material from a variety of social work and social policy settings that will provide a unique opportunity to explore the complexities, challenges and dilemmas experienced by professionals in the fields of social work and social policy.

What you'll study

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

Students will be able to enhance their methodological expertise by undertaking courses in both qualitative and quantitative research methods. You'll also be able to take research-based modules in areas which correspond to staff specialist research interests.

The current list of possible 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 of the programme you'll be able to complete a research-based dissertation in an appropriate area of your choice.

Course content

Compulsory classes

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.

Elective classes

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.

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

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.

Learning & teaching

We use a range of teaching methods across our modules, including lectures, tutorials, laboratories, and professional placements and fieldwork opportunities.


Our assessment methods include:

  • essays
  • exams
  • practice assessments


Entry requirements

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

Entry may be possible with other qualifications, where the applicant has relevant work experience.

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 will be able to progress to this degree course at the University of Strathclyde.

Fees & funding


All fees quoted are for full-time courses and per academic year unless stated otherwise.


  • £6,500

Rest of UK

  • £6,500


  • £14,650

Scottish and non-UK EU postgraduate students

Scottish and non-UK EU 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.

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.

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.

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.

International students

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

Strathclyde Alumni

Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences Alumni Discount

10% tuition fee discount is offered to all Strathclyde alumni completing a full-time postgraduate taught course in the Faculty of Humanities & Social Sciences.

Please note

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


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.

Contact us


International Social Welfare

Qualification: MSc, Start date: Sep 2020, Mode of delivery: attendance, full-time

International Social Welfare

Qualification: MSc, Start date: Sep 2020, Mode of delivery: attendance, part-time

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