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Social and Public Policy (MSc)

The course will equip you with the theoretical, conceptual and analytical tools to examine contemporary social and public policies in both national and international contexts, interpreting a range of evidence in analysing policy developments and their social impacts.

This is an ideal course if you want to develop your capacity to analyse social and public policies nationally and internationally. It will enable you to deepen your understanding of the major aspects of social and public policy, including competing conceptions of citizenship and how these inform social policy; contemporary forms of governance and public policy implementation, and the use of theories and research evidence to analyse and explain social and public policy change.

The course is suitable for those who have recently completed undergraduate courses of study, as well as those working in the community and voluntary sector, think-tanks, as researchers, or at different levels of government. It has been designed to be of value and relevance to students both from the UK and overseas, so interested individuals from all nations are encouraged to apply.

We aim to equip you with the theoretical, conceptual and analytical tools to examine contemporary social and public policies in both national and international contexts. It will enable you to draw on theories and concepts and interpret a range of forms of evidence in analysing policy developments and their social impacts.

Distinctive features

This MSc in Social and Public Policy is one of the few such courses in the UK to be offered by an interdisciplinary School of Social Sciences. As such, the approach to social and public policy offered here is shaped by a strong belief in the value of interdisciplinary social science theory and research and the importance of understanding the relationship between social and public policy and the other social sciences.

Key facts

Next intakeSeptember 2019
Duration1 year
QualificationMSc
ModeFull-time
Other ways to study this course
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Admissions criteria

Applicants should normally hold a first- or second-class undergraduate degree in a humanities or social sciences subject. However, other applicants will be considered if they can demonstrate, through recent and relevant experience, that they have the ability to undertake the course.

Applicants whose first language is not English are required to obtain a minimum overall IELTS score of 6.5 with at least 6.5 in writing, and at least 5.5 in all other sub-sections.

Applications should be made via the Online Applications Service. Please make sure that you explain clearly in your personal statement why you are interested in applying to this MSc in Social and Public Policy at Cardiff University.

In your statement, you should refer explicitly to the course and module content outlined above and should explain clearly the particular aspects of this course that most interest you, and what topics or themes you are hoping to learn more about in taking it. If this information is not included, this may cause delays in processing your application, and we may contact you with a request for further information.

The deadline for applications to this course for international applicants is 1st August; for other applicants, the deadline for applications is 1st September. The different dates are due to the need to allow sufficient time for visa processing for international applicants.

Find out more about English language requirements.

Applicants who require a Tier 4 visa to study in the UK must present an acceptable English language qualification in order to meet UKVI (UK Visas and Immigration) requirements

This is a one year full time programme.

The MSc in Social and Public Policy is organised around a sequence of up to three 20-credit specialist modules, two 30-credit modules in social science theory and research methods, and one 60-credit supervised dissertation on a social or public policy topic of your choice.

You will conduct your own analysis and present these in written work and oral presentations. In addition to specialist modules which deepen your understandings of social and public policy analysis, you will undertake modules in social science and research methods. The skills developed on these modules will enable you to complete your own dissertation on a social or public policy topic of your choice.

The modules shown are an example of the typical curriculum and will be reviewed prior to the 2019/20 academic year. The final modules will be published by September 2019.

We currently offer specialist social and public policy 20-credit modules on a range of topics, although these may change from year to year.

In addition to these specialist modules, you will also be required to take two 30-credit modules in social science theory and research methods.

Dissertation

Finally, you will be asked to produce a 60-credit, 12,000 word dissertation on a social or public policy topic of your choice. This dissertation involves a small scale independent piece of research, and enables you to develop your interests in a substantive area related to the programme, and to put into practice the knowledge and skills developed through participation in the taught modules. You will be allocated a personal dissertation supervisor to assist in planning, conducting and writing up the research project.

The University is committed to providing a wide range of module options where possible, but please be aware that whilst every effort is made to offer choice this may be limited in certain circumstances. This is due to the fact that some modules have limited numbers of places available, which are allocated on a first-come, first-served basis, while others have minimum student numbers required before they will run, to ensure that an appropriate quality of education can be delivered; some modules require students to have already taken particular subjects, and others are core or required on the programme you are taking. Modules may also be limited due to timetable clashes, and although the University works to minimise disruption to choice, we advise you to seek advice from the relevant School on the module choices available.

How will I be taught?

You will be expected to attend lectures, seminars and tutorials as set out in the timetable for MSc students. These sometimes sit outside the regular pattern of university attendance and may include day, evening and weekend study and on occasion may fall outside the standard semester dates. You will also be expected to undertake independent study in preparation for lectures, seminars and assessments. A 20 credit module comprises 200 hours of study, including about 30 hours of contact time, and the MSc as a whole, 1800 hours of study.

Modules employ a diverse range of teaching including lectures, seminars, group and individual tutorials, and independent guided study.

The programme benefits from being located in an inter-disciplinary environment so that in parts of the course, you will come into contact with staff and students from other subject areas and, in other parts of the course, with staff and students in the same substantive area.

How will I be supported?

You will be allocated a personal tutor and a nominated supervisor when undertaking your dissertation. Regular contact will be maintained across the duration of the course. You will also have access to a programme convenor to offer additional subject-specific support.

All modules within the programme make use of Cardiff University’s Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) Learning Central, on which you will find course materials, links to related materials and information on assessment.

Feedback

You will have the opportunity to develop and practice advanced oral and written communication through formative tasks such as presentation of preparatory reading, group problem-based learning tasks, and group presentations. Feedback is therefore provided on an ongoing basis, as well as more formally for summative assessments.

How will I be assessed?

Modules are assessed by a combination of essays, reports, reviews and presentations.

What skills will I practise and develop?

On successfully completing the MSc in Social and Public Policy, you will have significantly enhanced your ability to:

  • Critically analyse social and public policies in a range of thematic areas and geographical settings
  • Assess theories of policy change and concepts which underpin policy formation, drawing on a variety of forms of research evidence
  • Analyse and situate local, national and international social and public policies within their broader global, historical and ideological contexts
  • Collect, analyse and interpret a range of social science data and appreciate the complexities of various forms of data
  • Communicate and present ideas and research findings effectively in both spoken and written form
  • Conduct your own research in the field of social and public policy.

The programme is designed to be of particular interest to individuals who have experience of working with, or an interest of working for, social or academic research organisations, departments at different levels of government (e.g. local, Welsh, UK-wide, European), international organisations (e.g. UNICEF), or at community and voluntary sector organisations. It is also relevant for students who seek to pursue other avenues but who wish to deepen their understanding of social and public policy in Wales, the UK and internationally.

Master's Excellence Scholarships

Scholarships available worth £3,000 each for UK/EU students starting a master’s degree in September 2019.

Find out more

Tuition fees

UK and EU students (2019/20)

Tuition feeDepositNotes
£7,350None

More information about tuition fees and deposits, including for part-time and continuing students.

EU students entering in 2019/20 will pay the same tuition fee as UK students for the duration of their course. Please be aware that fees may increase annually in line with inflation. No decisions regarding fees and loans for EU students starting in 2020/21 have been made yet. These will be determined as part of the UK's discussions on its membership of the EU and we will provide further details as soon as we can.

Students from outside the EU (2019/20)

Tuition feeDepositNotes
£16,650£1,000

More information about tuition fees and deposits, including for part-time and continuing students.

Will I need any specific equipment to study this course/programme?

No specific equipment required.

You may conduct fieldwork as part of your dissertation study as directed by, and in discussion with, your supervisor.