Master of Science
Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
School of Applied Social and Policy Sciences
This course offers an opportunity to an in-depth understanding of contemporary Social Policy and research and policy analysis skills.
The MSc in Social Policy offers the student the opportunity to acquire detailed knowledge and understanding of contemporary social policy, including the working of devolution in the UK. Students receive an excellent training in social research methods, effective dissemination, policy analysis, and the ability to apply theoretical perspectives and concepts to real-life problems. The course has a strong focus on major societal challenges such as social justice and inequality and global perspectives on these issues. Students will benefit from working with a team of internationally recognised researchers and educators committed to facilitating students’ personal, intellectual, and professional development. As a student in the School of Applied Social and Policy Sciences you will also benefit from the research expertise of our staff and from the work of specialist research centres in the School such as ARK (www.ark.ac.uk).
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The course will appeal to those who have studied Social Policy or another social science subject at undergraduate level, or those who want to study social policy for the first time at postgraduate level. It is especially suited to those aiming for a career in the public sector or in NGOs or professionals in those sectors seeking to enhance career progression. With exit points at PgCert and PgDip levels, the course provides a detailed knowledge and understanding of contemporary social policy, an excellent training in social research methods, the ability to apply theoretical perspectives and concepts to real-life problems, and an appreciation of the complexity and diversity of social problems and society.
In an increasingly uncertain and fast changing world questions around human need, welfare, inequality and wealth distribution are to the fore of public discourse. In this course you will explore how concerns such as new social risks and precarity are experienced by individuals and communities, and how they can be addressed by policy. This course considers social policy within the context of broader political, social, economic and demographic developments. It will equip you with a critical knowledge and understanding of Social Policy, which will allow you to challenge perceived wisdom. You will examine major societal challenges such as inequality and social justice and, with a range of optional modules to choose from, you will have the opportunity to choose a specialist research pathway, recognized by the ESRC as a research training programme or study topics such as the democratization of Social Policy, the racial politics of conflict and migration, NGOs and social welfare delivery and policy making in an uncertain world. There is a strong focus on the application of knowledge and skills, including policy analysis and conducting equality impact assessments. You will gain in-depth knowledge of Social Policy in Britain, Northern Ireland and Ireland but will also be well equipped to address issues of global relevance.
The course is taught in a 'blended' manner, ie a combination of online and in person teaching.
The content for each course is summarised on the relevant course page, along with an overview of the modules that make up the course.
Each course is approved by the University and meets the expectations of:
As part of your course induction, you will be provided with details of the organisation and management of the course, including attendance and assessment requirements - usually in the form of a timetable. For full-time courses, the precise timetable for each semester is not confirmed until near the start date and may be subject to change in the early weeks as all courses settle into their planned patterns. For part-time courses which require attendance on particular days and times, an expectation of the days of attendance will often be included in the letter of offer. A course handbook is also made available.
Courses comprise modules for which the notional effort involved is indicated by its credit rating. Each credit point represents 10 hours of student effort. Undergraduate courses typically contain 10- or 20-credit modules and postgraduate course typically 15- or 30-credit modules.
The normal study load expectation for an undergraduate full-time course of study in the standard academic year is 120 credit points. This amounts to around 36-42 hours of expected teaching and learning per week, inclusive of attendance requirements for lectures, seminars, tutorials, practical work, fieldwork or other scheduled classes, private study, and assessment. Part-time study load is the same as full-time pro-rata, with each credit point representing 10 hours of student effort.
Postgraduate Masters courses typically comprise 180 credits, taken in three semesters when studied full-time. A Postgraduate Certificate (PGCert) comprises 60 credits and can usually be completed on a part-time basis in one year. A 120-credit Postgraduate Diploma (PGDip) can usually be completed on a part-time basis in two years.
Class contact times vary by course and type of module. Typically, for a module predominantly delivered through lectures you can expect at least 3 contact hours per week (lectures/seminars/tutorials). Laboratory classes often require a greater intensity of attendance in blocks. Some modules may combine lecture and laboratory. The precise model will depend on the course you apply for and may be subject to change from year to year for quality or enhancement reasons. Prospective students will be consulted about any significant changes.
Assessment methods vary and are defined explicitly in each module. Assessment can be via one method or a combination e.g. examination and coursework . Assessment is designed to assess your achievement of the module’s stated learning outcomes. You can expect to receive timely feedback on all coursework assessment. The precise assessment will depend on the module and may be subject to change from year to year for quality or enhancement reasons. You will be consulted about any significant changes.
Coursework can take many forms, for example: essay, report, seminar paper, test, presentation, dissertation, design, artefacts, portfolio, journal, group work. The precise form and combination of assessment will depend on the course you apply for and the module. Details will be made available in advance through induction, the course handbook, the module specification and the assessment timetable. The details are subject to change from year to year for quality or enhancement reasons. You will be consulted about any significant changes.
Normally, a module will have four learning outcomes, and no more than two items of assessment. An item of assessment can comprise more than one task. The notional workload and the equivalence across types of assessment is standardised.
The class of Honours awarded in Bachelor’s degrees is usually determined by calculation of an aggregate mark based on performance across the modules at Levels 5 and 6 (which correspond to the second and third year of full-time attendance).
Level 6 modules contribute 70% of the aggregate mark and Level 5 contributes 30% to the calculation of the class of the award. Classification of integrated Masters degrees with Honours include a Level 7 component. The calculation in this case is: 50% Level 7, 30% Level 6, 20% Level 5. At least half the Level 5 modules must be studied at the University for Level 5 to be included in the calculation of the class.
All other qualifications have an overall grade determined by results in modules from the final level of study. In Masters degrees of more than 200 credit points the final 120 points usually determine the overall grading.
Figures correct for academic year 2019-2020.
The University employs over 1,000 suitably qualified and experienced academic staff - 59% have PhDs in their subject field and many have professional body recognition.
Courses are taught by staff who are Professors (25%), Readers, Senior Lecturers (20%) or Lecturers (55%).
We require most academic staff to be qualified to teach in higher education: 82% hold either Postgraduate Certificates in Higher Education Practice or higher. Most academic staff (81%) are accredited fellows of the Higher Education Academy (HEA) by Advanced HE - the university sector professional body for teaching and learning. Many academic and technical staff hold other professional body designations related to their subject or scholarly practice.
The profiles of many academic staff can be found on the University’s departmental websites and give a detailed insight into the range of staffing and expertise. The precise staffing for a course will depend on the department(s) involved and the availability and management of staff. This is subject to change annually and is confirmed in the timetable issued at the start of the course.
Occasionally, teaching may be supplemented by suitably qualified part-time staff (usually qualified researchers) and specialist guest lecturers. In these cases, all staff are inducted, mostly through our staff development programme ‘First Steps to Teaching’. In some cases, usually for provision in one of our out-centres, Recognised University Teachers are involved, supported by the University in suitable professional development for teaching.
Figures correct for academic year 2021-2022.
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Here is a guide to the subjects studied on this course.
Courses are continually reviewed to take advantage of new teaching approaches and developments in research, industry and the professions. Please be aware that modules may change for your year of entry. The exact modules available and their order may vary depending on course updates, staff availability, timetabling and student demand. Please contact the course team for the most up to date module list.
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This module will introduce students to some of the key concepts, ideas and debates in social science research. The module will also introduce students to the main stages in the research process, the main approaches and methods and will give students a firm foundation in the basics of social research that will prepare them for other research methods modules.
This module is designed to introduce participants to approaches to investigating and understanding key aspects of social inequality and key processes of social exclusion.
The module is designed to familiarise students with the role of policies, frameworks and mechanisms to address inequality and social justice and their application in different contexts
This module is intended to introduce students to the context of policy making as a contested process.
This module enables students to develop and apply policy analysis and research skills in a 15,000 word dissertation. The dissertation represents a sustained period of independent work which addresses a research question or issue in the field of Social Policy
This module is optional
This module is designed as an integrated social sciences paradigm infused with a co-production theme.
The content is fashioned to raise the awareness of students to injustices oppression and discrimination that are embedded in personal, cultural and structural frames of reference. They will be challenged to explore how to tackle these issues using a community development approach that leads to sustainable social action.
The module is primarily focused on emancipatory praxis to promote critical dialogue and social action using a community development lens.
This module is optional
This module provides students with a thorough knowledge of survey research and quantitative analysis. It takes students from an introduction to the principles and practice of elementary techniques through to use of advanced quantitative methods. Topics covered include survey methods and sampling as well as univariate, bivariate and multivariate techniques. Practical applications are used to give the student experience of data handling, analysis, inference and results presentation.
This module is optional
The module will introduce students to essential features of qualitative research through: conceptualizing research, constructing appropriate and effective data collection instruments, accessing archived data, interpreting and presenting research findings. Throughout, the module explores issues of ethics, access and accountability; and issues of application and limitation of different qualitative approaches in different exampled research contexts. This module is designed to introduce participants to approaches to research with groups who are most impacted by social inequality and to understand the ethical issues that apply to research with 'vulnerable groups', a term that is used here in the sense in which it is used by ethics approval committees. By the end of the module, students are expected to be conversant with qualitative research perspectives and methods, skilled in the techniques of qualitative research design and data collection, and competent in both manual and computer-aided qualitative data analysis (Nvivo), and will be required to demonstrate their newly acquired competencies through coursework.
We recognise a range of qualifications for admission to our courses. In addition to the specific entry conditions for this course you must also meet the University’s General Entrance Requirements.
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Applicants must have a second class honours degree or better in Social Sciences, Humanities, Law or a cognate discipline from a university of the United Kingdom or the Republic of Ireland, or from a recognised national awarding body, or from an institution of another country which has been recognised as being of an equivalent standard; In exceptional circumstances, where an individual has substantial and significant experiential learning, a portfolio of written evidence demonstrating the meeting of graduate qualities (including subject-specific outcomes, as determined by the Course Committee) may be considered as an alternative entrance route. Evidence used to demonstrate graduate qualities may not be used for exemption against modules within the programme.
English language requirements for international applicants
The minimum requirement for this course is Academic IELTS 6.0 with no band score less than 5.5. Trinity ISE: Pass at level III also meets this requirement for Tier 4 visa purposes.
Ulster recognises a number of other English language tests and comparable IELTS equivalent scores.
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The course is suited to those aiming for a career in the public sector, in NGOs and in private sector research organisations. It is also geared towards professionals working in these sectors seeking to enhance career progression. Employability and progression opportunities are enhanced through the opportunity to receive advanced research methods and skills training and opportunities to apply theoretical learning to real life policy situations.
The Social Policy team has strong working relationships with a range of organisations working on Social Policy issues, and can help facilitate internship opportunities for those students who wish to gain practical work experience during, or after, the course.
It is important to remember that costs associated with accommodation, travel (including car parking charges) and normal living will need to be covered in addition to tuition fees.
Where a course has additional mandatory expenses (in addition to tuition fees) we make every effort to highlight them above. We aim to provide students with the learning materials needed to support their studies. Our libraries are a valuable resource with an extensive collection of books and journals, as well as first-class facilities and IT equipment. Computer suites and free Wi-Fi are also available on each of the campuses.
There are additional fees for graduation ceremonies, examination resits and library fines.
Students choosing a period of paid work placement or study abroad as a part of their course should be aware that there may be additional travel and living costs, as well as tuition fees.
See the tuition fees on our student guide for most up to date costs.
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Please contact Ulster University with any queries or questions you might have about:
For any queries regarding getting help with your application, please select Admissions in the drop down below.
For queries related to course content, including modules and placements, please select Course specific information.
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