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MA Comparative and International Social Policy

Rigorous training in the comparative analysis of institutions, from local to international

2018/19 entry


1 year full-time,
2 years part-time

Start date

September 2018 (term dates)

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The MA in Comparative and International Social Policy will train you in comparative and international policy analysis, research and design.

It is ideal for those working or hoping to work in international policy analysis and policy development in governments, charities and NGOs around the world.

This MA is especially suitable for:

  • Graduates from degrees in social policy, politics, sociology, international studies or other social sciences
  • Graduates from other backgrounds who wish to develop a high quality of graduate level research training in social research methods and policy analysis
  • Graduates who wish to develop an understanding of comparative and international welfare institutional arrangements
  • Those looking to develop a career in social research and/or policy analysis.

We have one of the largest concentrations of social policy research in the UK. We are ranked third in the UK for overall research performance and joint first for the impact of our research (REF 2014). Our students have access to staff, projects and research across a wide range of social policy areas and internationally-renowned research centres, including the Social Policy Research UnitCentre for Housing PolicySocial Policy East Asia ExchangeCentre for Research in Comparative and Global Social PolicyWelfare Conditionality and the Centre for Childhood, Youth and Family Research

This course is part of a group of social policy Masters degrees that draw on the research excellence of the Department to enable you to study social policy at an advanced level. These courses each offer a unique blend of modules to allow you to specialise in a particular area.

York is very calm city, it helps you focus and concentrate. Don't be afraid because as an international student I know that some people may feel insecure studying in a new country but I think it will change your life!
Hoi Ying, Hong Kong, MA Comparative and International Social Policy

Course content

The MA in Comparative and International Social Policy is based around a combination of social policy analysis and research training. You'll start with a solid introduction to comparative social research methods and social policy analysis. You'll then explore how social policy is affected by globalisation. You'll finish with a comparative exploration of how emerging governance structures and actors affect the management and delivery of social policy in national and international settings.

This Masters degree has a broad international approach, rooted in the analysis of higher-income OECD countries and adapting this to a study of a broader sample of countries across the globe. The course attracts students from around the world, so you'll benefit from first-hand international insight.

Most people study full-time for 12 months, but part-time study over 24 months is also available.


In the Autumn Term you'll take two compulsory modules:

  • Social Policy Analysis: you will be introduced to the key concepts, techniques and theories used in social policy analysis.
  • Comparative and International Social Policy - Research Methods: you will be introduced to the key theories, methods and data sources employed in comparative and international social policy research.

In the Spring Term you'll take two more compulsory modules that focus on international and comparative social policy:

  • Comparative Social Policy - Governance, Management and Delivery:  you will explore the theory, practice and challenges of public management delivery through the use of real-world case study materials from a wide range of settings and levels of governance.
  • Globalisation and Social Policy: you'll explore debates over the nature of globalisation and the role of transnational social actors. You'll examine how social policy is affected by globalisation in four regions: Western Europe, Eastern Europe, Latin America and Asia.

More details on the MA in Comparative and International Social Policy modules.

In the Summer Term and summer months you'll take part in the Graduate Dissertation Workshop. This will give you the chance to develop and present your research interests. You will participate in a group project with other students who have similar interests. You will also use this time to work on your individual research project.

Please note, modules may change to reflect the latest academic thinking and expertise of our staff.


You will design, develop and manage your own original research project, culminating in a 15,000 - 20,000 word dissertation. You'll be supervised by an individual member of staff. Our strong research focus means that half your time will be spent on taught courses and half your time will be dedicated to your own specialist research project.

Recent projects by MA Comparative and International Social Policy students include:

  • A new typology of welfare state types of East Asian societies incorporating a gender dimension
  • A comparative study of welfare retrenchment in 19 OECD countries
  • Measuring the extent to which welfare states in the OECD have moved towards a neo-liberal paradigm
  • An examination of the role of social capital plays in supporting different types of welfare state
  • An analysis of the conception of social rights embedded in UK asylum policies
  • Mapping the changing network of organisations involved in domestic violence service provision
  • Pension funds investment and management in East Asia
  • Political economies in crises through a gender lens
  • Revisiting the impact of inequality on economic growth
  • Social inclusion policies in the European Union and Turkey: a comparative study
  • Welfare states in transition: towards eco social welfare
This Department really cares for people, for every single student and even for their individual development. I've never been in a city like this. It feels just like home. Everybody's always happy to help strangers.
Xinide, China (Inner Mongolia), MA Comparative and International Social Policy

Fees and funding

Annual tuition fees for 2018/19

Study modeUK/EUInternational
Full-time (1 year)£7,580£16,780
Part-time (2 years)
Fees for subsequent years are subject to confirmation.
year 1 fee
year 1 fee

Fees information

UK/EU or international fees? The level of fee that you will be asked to pay depends on whether you're classed as a UK/EU or international student.

Funding information

Discover your funding options to help with tuition fees and living costs.

If you've successfully completed an undergraduate degree at York you could be eligible for a 10% Masters fee discount.

Home/EU students

International students

Departmental scholarships

Other funding opportunities

Living costs

You can use our living costs guide to help plan your budget. It covers accommodation costs and estimated social costs.

Teaching and assessment

You’ll work with world‐leading academics who’ll challenge you to think independently and excel in all that you do. Our approach to teaching will provide you with the knowledge, opportunities, and support you need to grow and succeed in a global workplace. Find out more about our approach to teaching and learning.

Teaching format

The modules for this MA have been specifically developed for postgraduate study. You will be taught through a combination of hands-on workshops, lectures and seminars based on real cases and data. Small-group working and establishing your own perspective on social issues will become a core part of your studying process.

  • One-to-one supervision while undertaking an extended Social Policy research project on a topic of your choosing
  • A friendly, supportive and intellectually stimulating environment in which to study
  • Small group teaching with the majority of lectures typically no larger than 30 people and often less than 15.

You'll also be able to attend the Department's lectures and University lectures from visiting speakers from across the world.

Teaching location

You'll be based in the Department of Social Policy and Social Work on Campus West. Most of your teaching will take place nearby.

About our campus

Our beautiful green campus offers a student-friendly setting in which to live and study, within easy reach of the action in the city centre. It's easy to get around campus - everything is within walking or pedalling distance, or you can always use the fast and frequent bus service.

Assessment and feedback

Your assessment will be continuous and based mainly on essays and reports. You will receive written feedback on all assessed work. There are no exams.

You'll complete a 15,000-20,000 word dissertation as part of your own specialist research project. You'll also have the opportunity to present your research as it progresses to a wider audience as part of our dissertation workshops.

Careers and skills

The MA in Comparative and International Social Policy develops skills that employers need in a number of areas, especially policy analysis and research. You'll also develop transferable skills that will allow you to progress to different career areas or to continue your studies at PhD level.

Career opportunities

This masters is designed for students who want to become active in social policy analysis and research. Graduates go on to a wide variety of destinations but most tend to go into one of these key areas:

  • Policy analysis inside intergovernmental organisations, national government agencies, think tanks, social service administration, NGOs or campaigning organisations
  • Researchers in policy organisations, consultancies and international departments of national civil services
  • Government ministries
  • Higher education careers, including academic research and PhD level study

Transferable skills

  • Effective social inquiry skills based on qualitative and quantitative methods training
  • Independent study and group working skills
  • Effective analysis, design, delivery and evaluation of policy
  • Data retrieval, interpretation and computing skills for data analysis
  • Presentation, communication and dissemination of research outputs

Entry requirements

Qualification Grade

You will normally be expected to have at least a 2:1 undergraduate degree or equivalent qualification. You will also be considered if you have relevant work experience and academic potential.

Guidance on international equivalents for entry qualifications.

English language

If your native language is not English, you should meet an English language proficiency level of 6.5 in the British Council's IELTS test with at least 5.5 in each component. We do accept other English language tests.

You may also want to attend the University's pre-sessional language courses.


You can apply and send all your documentation electronically through our online system. You don’t need to complete your application all at once: you can start it, save it and finish it later.

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