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MRes Social Policy

Advanced research training combining in-depth methods training with schooling in social policy analysis theories

Year of entry: 2023 (September)


1 year full-time,
2 years part-time

Start date

September 2023 (semester dates)

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The MRes in Social Policy will equip you with advanced social policy specific research skills that are needed to critically analyse and research contemporary social problems and policy issues.

This course offers a combination of taught coursework and supervised independent study. You will also complete an independent study project which is an opportunity for you to demonstrate the research skills and knowledge you will develop in the earlier stages of the course.

This MRes is especially suited for:

  • graduates from social policy, politics, sociology or other social sciences
  • graduates from other backgrounds who wish to develop an understanding of social research methods and policy analysis
  • those looking to develop a career in social research and/or policy analysis

Research that packs a punch

Ranked third in the UK for overall research performance and joint first for the impact of our research

Times Higher Education rankings of the most recent Research Excellence Framework, 2014

Research centres

Graduate students have access to staff, projects and research across a wide range of social policy areas and the School is home to many internationally renowned research centres.

Global reputation

York is ranked 6th in the UK and 29th in the world for Social Policy and Administration

QS World Rankings by Subject 2022

Course content

The MRes in Social Policy is based around a combination of social policy analysis and research training. You'll start with a broad introduction to social research methods and social policy analysis. You'll then go on to study effective data collection, analysis and interpretation at an advanced level as well as developing the presentation and communications skills you'll need to effectively disseminate your research.

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


You will take modules totalling 180 credits the course of your degree, including the Independent Study Module.

You will take core modules which may include:

You will then take core modules that build upon your earlier study, which may include:

You will take further core modules, which may include:

This will give you the chance to develop your research interests and participate in a group project with other students who have similar interests. You will also use this time to work on a dissertation of between 15,000 and 20,000 words for the Independent Study Module.

Our modules may change to reflect the latest academic thinking and expertise of our staff.
Our course structures are changing in September 2023. Find out more about how this course may be affected.


You will design, develop and manage your own original research project. You'll produce a 15,000-20,000 word dissertation under the guidance of your own individual supervisor.

Given the individual nature of dissertations, there is huge variation in the topics which can be studied. Recent projects by Social Policy masters students include:

  • The role of community-based services in ameliorating loneliness among the elderly in China
  • "The secret poll-tax": a mixed method study of localized council tax support
  • Siblings and the care system
  • Welfare conditionality and the wellbeing of single mothers​.

The York approach

Every course at York is built on a distinctive set of learning outcomes. These will give you a clear understanding of what you will be able to accomplish at the end of the course and help you explain what you can offer employers. Our academics identify the knowledge, skills, and experiences you'll need upon graduation and then design the course to get you there.

Students who complete this course will be able to:

  • Critically and independently use an in-depth understanding of research theory, design, qualitative and quantitative skills, and the ability to apply this to real-life social policy problems.
  • Identify and synthesise theories, methodological approaches and concepts from multiple disciplines and critically apply them to real world contexts to contribute to the informed construction of social policy responses to social needs.
  • Effectively design and manage policy research projects drawing on appropriate qualitative, quantitative and mixed research methods; retrieve, generate and interpret relevant primary and secondary data, digital resources and work within appropriate ethical codes of conduct and data protection laws.
  • Communicate research findings and policy analyses authoritatively to specialist and informed audiences in ways that balance academic rigour and accessible presentation of complex information.
  • Reflect on their own independent learning experience by conducting and facilitating the management of a policy and research project that would require them to critically analyse policy context, devise and evaluate policy strategies, and take into account multiple and multilevel interests.
  • Work effectively in teams, with sensitivity to the individual perspectives, organisational positions and institutional dynamics of peers and other actors, and recognition of their own subjective positions.
  • Critically apply knowledge and skills to the pursuit of social progress beyond the local and domestic policy-making context as active and participatory citizens.

Fees and funding

Annual tuition fees for 2023/24

Study modeUK (home)International and EU
Full-time (1 year) £9,990£22,250
Part-time (2 years)
This is the year 1 fee. Fees for future years are subject to confirmation.

Students on a Student Visa (formerly Tier 4 Visa) are not currently permitted to study part-time at York.

For courses which are longer than one year, the tuition fees quoted are for the first year of study.

  • UK (home) fees may increase in subsequent years (up to a maximum of 2%).
  • International fees may increase in subsequent years in line with the prevailing Consumer Price Index (CPI) inflation rate (up to a maximum of 10%).

Fees information

UK (home) or international fees? The level of fee that you will be asked to pay depends on whether you're classed as a UK (home) or international student. Check your fee status.

Find out more information about tuition fees and how to pay them.

Additional costs

There are no mandatory additional fees but we do recommend that you set aside some money for photocopying. Course books will be available to you from the Library either in print or online format but you may wish to buy your own copies - book prices vary, with new books usually costing between £20 and £60. All other teaching resources will be available online.

Funding information

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

We'll confirm more funding opportunities for students joining us in 2023/24 throughout the year.

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

Funding opportunities

Other funding opportunities

Living costs

You can use our living costs guide to help plan your budget. It covers additional costs that are not included in your tuition fee such as expenses for accommodation and study materials.

I'm studying for my PhD, specialising in mental health street triage. I'd love to work in mental health research but also teach at the same time, so I'm lucky at the moment to be able to teach on the Introducing Social Policy module.
Alice, MRes Social Policy
Hear more from Alice about her experience studying this course.

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.

Teaching format

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

  • One-to-one supervision while undertaking an extended 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 School's lectures and University lectures from visiting speakers from across the world.

Teaching location

You'll be based in the School of Business & Society in the Church Lane Building on Campus West. Teaching will take place in Alcuin College and other locations across Campus West.

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.

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.

The teaching has been really good. The staff are all research active so when they're lecturing they feed their own research into the lectures, tutorials and everything. It's interesting to hear about the real life applications of theory and knowledge.
Caitlin, MRes Social Policy

Careers and skills

The MRes in Social Policy develops skills required by employers in a number of areas, especially policy analysis and research. You'll also find you develop transferable skills that will allow you to progress to different career areas.

Career opportunities

  • Civil servant
  • Social worker
  • Government officer
  • Public management consultant
  • Campaign assistant for a political party
  • Research manager

Transferable skills

  • Advanced research and analysis skills
  • Qualitative and quantitative research methods
  • Critical appraisal
  • Presentation and dissemination of research.

Entry requirements

Typical offer
Undergraduate degree 2:1 or equivalent
Other qualifications and experience You will also be considered if you have relevant work experience and academic potential
Other international qualifications Equivalent qualifications from your country

English language

If English isn't your first language you may need to provide evidence of your English language ability. We accept the following qualifications:

Minimum requirement
IELTS 6.5, minimum 6.0 in each component
C1 Advanced and C2 Proficiency 176, minimum 169 in each component
Duolingo 110, minimum 100 in all other components
LanguageCert SELT B2 with 33/50 in each component
LanguageCert IESOL B2 Communicator: Pass with 33/50 in each component
PTE Academic 61, minimum 55 in each component
TOEFL 87, minimum of 21 in each component
Trinity ISE III Merit in all requirements

For more information see our postgraduate English language requirements.

If you've not met our English language requirements

You may be eligible for one of our pre-sessional English language courses. These courses will provide you with the level of English needed to meet the conditions of your offer.

The length of course you need to take depends on your current English language test scores and how much you need to improve to reach our English language requirements.

After you've accepted your offer to study at York, we'll confirm which pre-sessional course you should apply to via You@York.


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.

You can apply and send all your documentation electronically through our online system, which allows you to save your progress and return later to finish. If you're unable to apply online, you can submit a paper application.


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