Social Policy, as an academic subject, provides students with the skills to appreciate and analyse contemporary social issues and policy responses to them. This newly established programme builds on our long tradition of social policy teaching and research by offering a programme that adopts a comparative and international perspective. This involves students addressing the issues of how and why nations differ in terms of policy focus and provision and what they can learn from each other´s policy experience. More specifically, the programme will consider a range of conceptual and theoretical approaches, provide a detailed understanding of policy-making, implementation, evaluation and outcomes in particular fields of social policy, and explore the impact of international organizations (such as the World Bank, the UN, the EU, the OECD) on policy decision making and its effects. The course will also offer training in both quantitative and qualitative comparative research methods and will provide the opportunity to employ these, as appropriate, via a dissertation. Students will also learn how to develop a range of presentational skills in how to communicate the results of their own policy research.
The MA is designed as a full-time course which runs for twelve months from October each year or part-time over two years.
To provide knowledge of:
* the main issues and debates current in comparative and international social policy
* the major concepts, theories and methodological approaches and forms of measurement in comparative and international social policy
* key topics in comparative and international social policy, including the differences between and debates about different welfare regimes.
* the nature of social policy variation in particular areas of provision
* the varied ways in which comparative social policy research might be used in policy making and implementation
The MA degree consists of a total of 180 credits, equivalent to a student workload of 1,800 hours. 100 credits are accounted for by taught coursework and 80 credits by work for a research based dissertation of 15,000-20,000 words.
Social Policy Analysis
2 x 1 hour lectures + 1 hour seminar each week for 9 weeks.
This module introduces some of the key concepts, techniques and theories employed in policy analysis, applies this knowledge to specific social policy issues and explores some of the key dilemmas and challenges facing the welfare state. By the end of the module students should be able to: understand the role of demographic, economic, political, social and international factors in shaping social policy; identify the complex issues surrounding the formation, implementation and evaluation of social policies; and, appreciate the institutional and organizational contexts which shape the processes by which social policies are made.
Comparative Social Policy: Theory and Methods
1 hour seminar + 2 hour workshop each week for 9 weeks.
This module introduces some of the key theories, methods and data sources employed in comparative social policy research. Using hands-on workshops and specially written exercises, it shows how researchers undertake comparative policy analyses, highlights the key resources they use and introduces the major computer packages they commonly utilise. By the end of the module students should be able to: undertake their own analyses of comparative social policies using key comparative data sources; utilise key computer packages used in comparative social policy analysis; understand, interpret and critically analyse comparative social policy research.
Globalisation and Social Policy
1 x 3 hour session combining online lectures, online discussions and face-to-face seminars each week for 9 weeks.
This module is delivered via a blended mode of learning, using online lectures and online discussions plus face-to-face seminars. The aim of the module is to provide students with an introduction to: debates over the nature of globalisation and its consequences for social policy, social well-being and social divisions; emerging global social policy issues, such as poverty alleviation, pensions, health and labour rights; how these issues are debated and addressed by international organizations; how these international organizations are - or are not - being reformed to deal more effectively with the issues; the role of trans-national social actors in the new social policy agenda; how social policy is effected by globalisation in four regions, viz. Western and Eastern Europe, Latin America and Asia; and the politics of social policy in a number of national contexts. By the end of the module students should be able to: understand the terms of the debate on globalisation and social policy; access and analyse critically the social policy agenda of major international organizations; examine critically the international politics of key social policy issues in areas such as poverty alleviation, pensions, health and labour standards; and examine critically the influence of globalisation on the making of social policy in different regional and national contexts.
Comparative Social Policy: Themes and Issues
1 x 3 hour session combining lectures, workshops and seminars each week for 9 weeks.
This module begins with some general discussions about current debates and issues within the contemporary international and comparative social policy arena. It will then draw on existing research being carried out within the Department in order to demonstrate how topics for such research emerge, how they are conceptualised and the forms in which they are researched, how analysis and interpretation take place, and the nature of overall policy implications. The aim of the module is to introduce students to `live´ policy issues from a comparative and international perspective, for example, issues around fertility rates, gender, health insurance schemes, well-being, street children, child labour etc. etc.; provide an understanding of what it means to explore specific social policy issues from a comparative perspective; offer the opportunity to explore the nature of cutting edge up-to-the-minute research, `warts and all´; contribute to an understanding of recent policy developments and changes in specific contexts; provide the opportunity to discuss current research issues with a range of leading researchers in the comparative and international social policy field. By the end of the module students should be able to: understand a range of current contemporary comparative issues and why these are important; be able to engage critically with ongoing research practices and offer some evaluation of them; be able to interpret and critically evaluate research findings; understand the `messy´ and non-linear nature of research; appreciate the varied ways in which social policy research may be used in policy making and implementation.
Graduate Dissertation Workshop
1 x 3 hour session each week for 9 weeks. Initial lectures/workshops followed by student workshops and presentations on proposed dissertations.
This module is tailored each year to student interests and the work to be undertaken for the dissertation. We identify topics concerning which students feel they need particular support and provide these in terms of staff lectures or facilitated workshops. Students also work intensively in groups on projects related to shared dissertation interests, producing a group report, which is not assessed but a procedural requirement only, by the middle of term. Following this, students present detailed proposals, including timetables, regarding their dissertation to the rest of the group, facilitated by a member of staff, for constructive comment, support and guidance. The aim of the module is to provide students with: the opportunity to design, undertake and successfully manage a piece of social policy research (in this case comparative or international social policy) of their own (guided) choosing; the experience of group and team work; an understanding of what it means to offer and accept supportive criticism; an understanding of ethical debates and standards in relation to research. By the end of the module students should be able to: understand some of the pros and cons of working with others; be able to identify and design a manageable research topic; be confident of being able to manage and schedule the appropriate stages in the research process; be able to communicate the nature of their dissertation proposals to others; identify and address ethical issues in relation to research.
Each student chooses a dissertation topic which fits in with his or her own interests in Comparative and International Social Policy. During the Autumn Term students think through ideas for their dissertations and discuss these with supervisors and other teaching staff. Topics and supervision arrangements are agreed by the beginning of the Spring Term but during the first part of the MA course, students are studying taught course modules and work for the dissertation is necessarily part-time. When coursework is complete, however, students usually spend five months working full-time on the dissertation.
Universities in the United Kingdom use a centralized system of undergraduate application: University and College Admissions Service (UCAS). It is used by both domestic and international students. Students have to register on the UCAS website before applying to the university. They will find all the necessary information about the application process on this website. Some graduate courses also require registration on this website, but in most cases students have to apply directly to the university. Some universities also accept undergraduate application through Common App (the information about it could be found on universities' websites).
Both undergraduate and graduate students may receive three types of responses from the university. The first one, “unconditional offer” means that you already reached all requirements and may be admitted to the university. The second one, “conditional offer” makes your admission possible if you fulfill some criteria – for example, have good grades on final exams. The third one, “unsuccessful application” means that you, unfortunately, could not be admitted to the university of you choice.
All universities require personal statement, which should include the reasons to study in the UK and the information about personal and professional goals of the student and a transcript, which includes grades received in high school or in the previous university.