International Social Policy MA


Fact file

MA International Social Policy
1 year full-time, 2 years part-time
Entry requirements
2.2 (or international equivalent) in any discipline
Other requirements
6.5 (no less than 6.0 in any element)

If these grades are not met, English preparatory courses are available
Start date
September or January
University Park
Tuition fees
You can find fee information on our fees table.


This course equips students with the skills needed to understand the new challenges of the increasingly interdependent world in which we live.
Read full overview

Social policy is concerned with questions such as:

  • How can we create a good society?
  • How much money should we spend on welfare services?
  • Is the current distribution of income and wealth socially just?
  • Should we be charged individually for using welfare services?
  • Should free markets and profit motives play a central role in service delivery?
  • What are the causes and consequences of poverty?

It is no longer possible to study national social policies in isolation. Global interconnections are multiplying and intensifying across a range of fields: economics, politics and the natural environment, among others. The MA International Social Policy provides an introduction to comparative social policy and so to recent developments in welfare reforms from around the world.

It provides comparisons of the welfare models of developed welfare states, such as those found in European countries, and explores the relevance of recent developments and debates for developing countries. This course also includes subjects that consider the future of social policies and comparative analyses, such as the module Climate Change and Social Policy.

Training in research methods allows evaluation of policy outcomes, not only in terms of their effectiveness and efficiency but also extending to consider wider socio-economic and political contexts.

The success of the School of Sociology and Social Policy reflects the diverse intellectual backgrounds and research interests of our staff and our commitment to academic excellence. Social policy draws on insights from across the social sciences and humanities, including sociology, political science, public policy and economics.

Nottingham is well placed to offer this multidisciplinary programme as the school is one of the UK's leading centres for teaching and research in the field of social policy, but also criminology, sociology, cultural studies, health studies, social work and public policy. You will be taught by researchers with world-leading reputations in these subjects. The research-led culture of the school allows you to develop your own interests in particular themes and topics.

Key facts

  • 78% of our research considered world-leading or internationally excellent in the latest Research Excellence Framework
  • 100% of sociology and social policy postgraduates secured work or further study within six months of graduation

Course details

Students on this course take taught modules over the first two semesters and complete a dissertation over the summer period.

Taught modules are assessed by essays, with 10 credit modules requiring 3,000 words and 20 credits requiring 5,000 words (sometimes divided into two 2,500-word essays). The Research Methods and Research Management module includes a 5,000-word dissertation proposal.

The 15,000 word dissertation offers students the opportunity to conduct independent research on a topic of their choice. You will prepare a dissertation proposal and work closely with a supervisor nationally and internationally known for their expertise.

Past dissertation topics include:

  • Illegal immigrants in the UK: the case of African migrants
  • Can international organisations stop child labour in Turkey?
  • Exploring the role of poor governance in increasing poverty in Pakistan: 2001-2011
  • Has there been a decline of the middle classes in Hong Kong?
  • Forget about love, let's talk money
  • The transforming Chinese family law and the implications for urban Chinese women

We also offer a PGDip International Social Policy.




Dissertation in International Social Policy

For the dissertation, you will explore a topic of your choice under the supervision of a designated member of staff. The subject matter must be relevant to the your honours subject.

During the autumn and spring semester you will have identified a topic and decided on an appropriate strategy of enquiry and analysis and written a dissertation proposal. You will then complete the research and writing-up during the summer semester.

Dynamics of International Social Policy

This module introduces you to comparative analyses of different welfare state models and approaches to social and public policy; institutions, issues and debates in international social and public policy; and methods of cross-country comparative analysis.

Topics include:

  • Perspectives of international social policy
  • Welfare state typologies and cross-national comparisons
  • International institutions, standards and goals
  • EU policy
  • Welfare in less developed countries
  • Globalisation and welfare states
  • International migration and the boundaries of welfare
  • Discrimination in a multicultural world
  • International cooperation, policy learning and policy transfer
  • Comparative research methodology
Globalisation, Europeanisation and Public Policy

This module provides an applied, critical and informed understanding of the concepts and processes of globalisation and Europeanisation, and the impact of globalisation and Europeanisation upon governance and public policy.

In particular, it examines the impacts of globalisation and Europeanisation upon the governance of and the making of public policy in Britain and other countries.

Policy Analysis: Concepts and Theories

This module provides an applied, critical and informed understanding of policy-making and policy analysis in government.

It examines key concepts, models and theories of policy-making and policy analysis, and illustrates them by examining policy-making in Britain and other countries.

Research Methods and Research Management

This module provides a general introduction to a range of key issues in the design and conduct of social research, plus guidance on writing both a dissertation proposal and a dissertation. The module combines more formal taught sessions with practical exercises, some of which are group-based.

By the end of the module you will be equipped with the methodological and practical skills to carry out independent research using a variety of research designs and methods.

Welfare Policy

The module will examine theories of welfare, the funding of the welfare state and key changes in welfare policies, such as the increasing focus on markets and consumer choice, partnerships, the personalisation of service delivery, and the increasing role of the not for profit sector in service delivery.

It will use developments in health service, social care and social security to explore wider issues in the development of welfare services. Although focused on the UK, other countries will be examined as a way of further understanding the developments in the UK and as a form of policy learning for UK reform. It will look at the obstacles and issues associated with these changes.



You will need to choose a further 40 credits of optional modules. This includes modules from other courses within and outside the School of Sociology and Social Policy (subject to approval).

The modules we offer are inspired by the research interests of our staff and as a result may change for reasons of, for example, research developments or legislation changes. This list is an example of typical modules we offer, not a definitive list.



Funding information is available on the school website and can also be found on the Graduate School website.

International and EU students

The University of Nottingham offers a range of masters scholarships for international and EU students from a wide variety of countries and areas of study.

Applicants must receive an offer of study before applying for our scholarships. Please note the closing dates of any scholarships you are interested in and make sure you submit your masters course application in good time so that you have the opportunity to apply for them.

The International Office also provides information and advice for international and EU students on financing your degree, living costs, external sources of funding and working during your studies.

Find out more on our scholarships, fees and finance webpages for international applicants.



The MA International Social Policy draws on carefully selected material to cover the whole area of international social policy: its formulation, implementation and outcomes. As such, it is designed to equip graduates with the skills needed for a variety of careers in:

  • international development organisations including the World Bank, United Nations Development Program and International Labour Office
  • departments and ministries concerned with social policy in national governments
  • other public and third sector organisations including research or managerial roles in health, housing and social services
  • journalism and both academic and non-academic research

Our postgraduates move into a wide range of careers following their time in the school. The level of study develops vital skills and can give you a head start in the job market, enabling you to develop self-discipline and motivation that is essential for a variety of fields.

Employability and average starting salary

100% of postgraduates from the School of Sociology and Social Policy who were available for employment secured work or further study within six months of graduation. £28,007 was the average starting salary, with the highest being £52,219.*

* Known destinations of full-time home postgraduates 2015/16. Salaries are calculated based on the median of those in full-time paid employment within the UK.

Career and professional development

Whether you are looking to enhance your career prospects or develop your knowledge, a postgraduate degree from the University of Nottingham can help take you where you want to be.

Our award-winning Careers and Employability Service offers specialist support and guidance while you study and for life after you graduate. They will help you explore and plan your next career move, through regular events, employer-led skills sessions, placement opportunities and one-to-one discussions.

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