MSc Social Policy (Research Methods)

Key facts

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

Study with us

  • expand your knowledge of contemporary issues facing social welfare and wellbeing and how social policy responds to them
  • develop knowledge and research skills highly valued by public, third and private sector employers
  • acquire research training vital for further study at PhD level
  • offers students the opportunity to develop and extend their knowledge and understanding of key social policy issues together with advanced training in research methods
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Why this course?

The course offers you the opportunity to improve your knowledge and understanding of the factors which shape social needs and the ways in which different societies have responded to these. This will enhance your research skills and enable you to undertake an independent research project on a topic of your choice.

Who's it for?

The research methods course is aimed at the following groups:

  • students who have studied social policy at undergraduate level and who now wish to build on the foundations they have already laid before entering employment or embarking on further study
  • graduates of other disciplines who wish to improve their knowledge and understanding of social & welfare issues whilst also enhancing their research skills
  • those already in employment who wish to update their existing knowledge and skills before moving onto the next stage of their careers

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Interested in postgraduate study?

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What you'll study

The course includes a combination of research methods classes, core disciplinary training and optional classes. Classes in research design, quantitative methods and qualitative methods provide a platform to enable you to proceed to the MSc stage of the programme to undertake a research-based dissertation on a topic of your own choosing.

You'll also take compulsory classes in Welfare concepts and ideas and Approaches to welfare: past, present and future and a choice of optional classes which reflect the specialist research interests of our social policy staff.

Alternatively you can choose optional classes from other Masters programme offered across the Faculty of Humanities & Social Sciences.

Staff research interests include such issues as:

  • the history of social policy in the UK
  • the mixed economy of welfare
  • citizenship
  • race, ethnicity and social policy
  • migration
  • child poverty
  • technology and welfare

To complete the MSc, you'll undertake a 15,000-work dissertation on a topic of your choice, supervised by a member of staff.


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Course content

Compulsory classes

Perspectives on Social Research

The most important skill students should develop in graduate education is how to design research projects that withstand critical scrutiny. This module is designed to develop this skill at MSc level.

The class introduces students to the theoretical and practical issues they will need to address when designing and conducting research in social and public policy and related areas. During this module students will critically evaluate empirical research, develop an understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of different research designs, and build a foundation for their research projects and master theses.

Quantitative Methods I

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

Welfare concepts & ideas

This class introduces students to some of the most important concepts which have shaped our understanding of social policy as an academic discipline, including such concepts as need, citizenship and entitlement, equality and justice, and happiness and wellbeing.

It also looks at issues surrounding the governance and implementation of social policy and the variety of ways in which our needs for welfare provision can be addressed. We also look at some of the main theoretical perspectives which have informed the development of social policy, such as social democracy, liberalism, conservatism, feminism, environmentalism, Marxism and the New Right.

The final part of the class looks at some of the main challenges facing social policy-makers today.

Compulsory classes

Qualitative Methods

This class provides an overview of the ever-expanding field of qualitative methods in social science. This includes the examination of a wide variety of approaches, including case studies, small-N comparisons, ethnographies, historical research, and discourse analysis.

It also includes the study of a range of data collection and data analysis techniques such as observation, document analysis, elite interviews, and qualitative comparative analysis (QCA).

Approaches to welfare: past, present and future

This class examines the ways in which different societies have sought to address welfare needs at different points in time.

It takes a broad view of the ‘field’ of social policy, examining issues associated not only with poverty but also health, housing and education. It explores the ways in which policies in these areas have developed in different countries and under different policy regimes over the last 200 years. It then looks at the varieties of social policy response in contemporary societies and examines the challenges to traditional social policy which are posed by population movements and the development of transnational welfare institutions.

Optional classes

Advanced project module

The aim of this class is to provide students with the opportunity to undertake an individual research project in one of our specialist research areas. Our staff have a wide range of interests, including such topics as:

  • the history of social policy in the UK
  • the mixed economy of welfare
  • long-term changes in health, welfare and the standard of living
  • citizenship & welfare
  • race, ethnicity & social policy
  • welfare & migration
  • child poverty
  • technology and welfare

Students will have the opportunity to review the literature in their chosen area, formulate their own research questions, develop their presentational skills and prepare their own projects.

This class will provide a particularly useful foundation for those students who wish to undertake a dissertation or go on to more advanced research.

Other approved classes

The Faculty of Humanities & Social Sciences offers a large number of other MSc programmes, including programmes in Education, Government & Public Policy, History, Journalism, Law, Psychological Sciences & Health, and Social Work. Many of these programmes include classes which are directly relevant to Social Policy. You'll have the opportunity to complete your programme by selecting a class from one of these programmes, subject to availability.


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

The majority of classes will be taught in weekly sessions of two hours.  The formats of these sessions will include lectures, seminars, small-group discussions and practical sessions

The Advanced Project module will include a combination of individual and group meetings.


Your work will be assessed in a variety of ways. Some classes, including the classes in the Principles of Research Design, Quantitative Methods and Qualitative Methods, are assessed by coursework and exams.

Welfare concepts and ideas is assessed by two essays of 2,500 words each. Approaches to welfare: past, present and future and the Advanced project module will be assessed by means of a single 5,000-word essay.

The dissertation is 15,000 words in length.

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Entry requirements

Academic requirements

First or second-class Honours degree, or overseas equivalent, in Social Policy or a related discipline.

English language requirements

You're required to have a suitable minimum level of competency in the English language if your first language is not English or if you have not been educated wholly or mainly in the medium of English.

For postgraduate studies, the University of Strathclyde requires a minimum overall score of IELTS 6.5 (with no score below 6.0) or equivalent. Tests are valid for two years.

Pre-sessional courses in English are available.

If you’re a national of an English speaking country recognised by UK Visas and Immigration (please check most up-to-date list on the Home Office website) or you have successfully completed an academic qualification (at least equivalent to a UK bachelor's degree) in any of these countries, then you do not need to present any additional evidence.

If you are from a country not recognised as an English speaking country by the United Kingdom Visa and Immigrations (UKVI), 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 will be able to progress to this degree course at the University of Strathclyde.

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

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Dean's International Excellence Awards: Humanities and Social Science

To recognise academic achievement, the Dean's Excellence Award offers international students a merit-based scholarship of £4,000 towards the first year of tuition fees of a full-time Masters, EdD Education or 1 year MRes programme in the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences. 

To apply for a Dean’s International Excellence Awards: Humanities & Social Sciences, candidates must:

  • Be available to commence their academic studies in the UK by the start of the academic year in September/October 2020.

Some scholarships have restrictions on other funding you can accept. This means that you have to decide which scholarship to accept. For any University of Strathclyde award you are successful in applying for, you will receive the higher value award only.

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Fees & funding


All fees quoted are per academic year unless stated otherwise.



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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 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.

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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.

Strathclyde Alumni

Faculty of Humanities & Social Sciences Alumni Discount

Alumni from undergraduate programmes who graduated between 2014-2019 can receive 10% off the fee for full-time programmes.

Find out more about our alumni discount
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Social Policy graduates are employed in a wide range of occupations, including:

  • business
  • research and administrative professions
  • welfare and housing associated professions
  • caring and personal service occupations
  • protective services

The course has been designed to enable you to update and extend your knowledge of a wide range of social and welfare issues while also developing your practical research skills.

It will be particularly well-suited to individuals who wish to develop their methodological expertise in order to undertake research within the social and welfare services or to pursue opportunities for further postgraduate study.

Glasgow is Scotland's biggest & most cosmopolitan city

Our campus is based in the very heart of Glasgow, Scotland's largest city. National Geographic named Glasgow as one of its 'Best of the World' destinations, while Rough Guide readers have voted Glasgow the world’s friendliest city! And Time Out named Glasgow in the top ten best cities in the world - we couldn't agree more!

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.

Find out what some of our students think about studying in Glasgow!

Find out all about life in Glasgow
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Social Policy (Research Methods)

Qualification: MSc
Start Date: Sep 2020
Mode of Delivery: part-time

Social Policy (Research Methods)

Qualification: MSc
Start Date: Sep 2020
Mode of Delivery: full-time

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Contact us

Postgraduate Enquiries

Due to the COVID-19 outbreak our team are working from home and can be contacted by email: