StudyQA — PhD: Social Science (Policies Studies) — University of Bristol


Social Science (Policies Studies)

Study mode:On campus Study type:Full-time Languages: English
91 place StudyQA ranking:2873 Duration:48 months

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This programme provides an alternative route to a traditional PhD for students who wish to develop their careers in the rapidly changing world of professional policy-making. It is based on coursework and a dissertation, offering a broader curriculum and a structured learning environment that combines both teaching and research.

The programme exposes you to contemporary theory and analysis of policy studies. It will provide you with up-to-date knowledge on the determinants, processes and outcomes of policy-making from global to local levels. It also offers practical training in a range of research techniques and methodologies, enabling you to employ the most appropriate methods in a variety of settings and in the different phases of the policy-making process from design to implementation and evaluation. The training also enables you to develop your analytical skills to generate primary data and allow critical appraisal and evaluation of documentary sources.


Programme structure The modular programme allows flexible delivery to full- and part-time students as an advanced 'in service' professional development and as a highly prestigious 'pre-service' qualification for recent graduates. For students with a Masters degree the coursework consists of 150 credit points (7.5 units) and the research component is based on a 45,000 word dissertation. Most units are taught in concentrated three-day blocks.

Core units

* Introduction to Quantitative Research Methods in the Social Sciences
* Introduction to Qualitative Research Methods in the Social Sciences
* Perspectives on Policy
* Philosophy of Social Science
* State and Society
* The Core Skills of Social Research (two half-units of 10 credits)

Optional units

* Domestic Violence: Research, Policy and Activism
* Further Quantitative Methods
* Governance and the Changing Institutional Framework
* Health and Social Care Research
* Researching Poverty, Inequality and Social Inclusion
* Researching Child and Family Welfare
* The Economics of Public Policy
* Special Independent Study

Please note: not all optional units run in each academic year.


An upper second-class honours degree, preferably in the Social Sciences. Students may enter the Doctor of Social Science programme and complete 12 units at level 8 before embarking on their dissertation. These students will be enrolled as MSocSci candidates and are then upgraded to Doctor of Social Science candidates after completing half of the coursework.

Applicants with a suitable Masters degree will receive credit recognition and dispensation, such that they will be required to take 150 credit points of coursework. Students will be registered as Doctor of Social Science candidates. Doctor of Social Science candidates progress to the dissertation after completing the coursework.

English Language Requirements

IELTS band: 6.5

IMPORTANT NOTE: Since April 2014 the ETS tests (including TOEFL and TOEIC) are no longer accepted for Tier 4 visa applications to the United Kingdom. The university might still accept these tests to admit you to the university, but if you require a Tier 4 visa to enter the UK and begin your degree programme, these tests will not be sufficient to obtain your Visa.

The IELTS test is most widely accepted by universities and is also accepted for Tier 4 visas to the UK- learn more.

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