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Home>Study at York>Postgraduate>Courses>Global Social Policy (MA)

Overview Understand social policy in a regional and global context with this unique masters degree


1 year full-time,
2 years part-time

The study of global social policy is an area of increasing interest, both academically and as an applied subject. It is especially relevant given the growing importance of supranational and international social policy discourse and policy interventions in tackling social problems.

This course will enable you to engage effectively and critically with the theoretical and empirical dimensions of global social policy development. It offers a combination of taught coursework and a supervised dissertation. So you'll have the opportunity to develop detailed knowledge of social policy in a global context. Through your own guided research project you will explore aspects of social policy in which you have a particular interest.

This MA is especially suitable for:

  • Prospective social policy analysts and researchers with an interest in global and/or international social and public policy
  • Professionals working on social policy in international organisations and development agencies, global advocacy agencies and international non-governmental organisations
  • Graduates from social policy, politics, sociology or international studies degrees who want to hone their undergraduate studies in a more focused area of study
  • Potential PhD students who want to develop their theoretical and empirical skills in this area.

The MA in Global Social Policy 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.

Course content What you’ll study


The MA in Global Social Policy is based around a combination of social policy analysis and research training modules. In the autumn term you'll get a broad introduction to relevant social policy theories, analysis and methods. In the spring and summer terms you'll undertake specialised analysis of global social policy themes and issues.

After this you'll have an opportunity to undertake a relevant research placement that will help inform your own research project.  In the placement you will have the opportunity to put the research skills that you have learnt on the course into practice in a real world situation. You'll then produce a dissertation under the guidance of your individual supervisor

Most people study for 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'll 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 social policy:

  • Global Social Problems and Global Social Policy: you will examine the social, economic and political processes underlying the globalisation of social problems These include poverty, inequality, crime, and environmental and social harms.

  • 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 Global Social Policy modules.

After you've completed these modules, you will produce a dissertation research project, under the guidance of an individual supervisor. Subject to availability of fieldwork opportunities in internationally-focused NGOs, some students undertake a relevant research placement that helps inform their dissertation research project


You will complete an individual research-based dissertation on a topic of your choice under the supervision of a specific member of staff.

The course has a strong research focus. Half your time will be spent on taught modules and half on your own specialist research project. This reflects the advanced nature of our social policy masters courses which are designed to act as a pathway to careers in policy analysis or PhD level study.

Given the individual nature of dissertations, the topics studied by previous students are extremely varied. Recent projects include:

  • The influence of global business on global social policy
  • Business and human rights
  • The impact of world bank poverty reduction strategies on developing economies
  • The emerging Latin American consensus as a challenge to the Washington Consensus
  • Why is housing policy neglected in global social policy?
I had a really positive experience, and in my opinion, the MA completely delivered. It engaged in an in-depth way with the many different elements of Global Social Policy. Before this course I thought my knowledge of social policy around the world was good, but it demonstrated just how complicated it can be, and how many different factors affect the social policy of nations.
Lily, MA Global Social Policy, 2016

Funding opportunities

Teaching and assessment How you’ll be taught and assessed

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. You'll find that 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.


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.

The Department has one of the largest concentrations of social policy research in the UK. In the 2014 Research Excellence Framework we were ranked third in the UK for overall research performance and joint first for the impact of our research. Graduate students have access to staff, projects and research across a wide range of social policy areas and the Department is home to many internationally renowned research centres, including:

Careers Where you’ll go from here

The MA in Global Social Policy develops skills that employers need 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 or to continue your studies at PhD level.

Career opportunities

This MA is aimed at students interested in careers ranging from national or international policy analysis to international development, applied research and campaign work.

Graduates go on to a wide variety of destinations but most tend to go into one of these key areas:

  • Policy analysis inside international or intergovernmental organisations, national government agencies, think tanks, social service administration, NGOs or campaigning organisations
  • Research in policy organisations, consultancies or international departments of national civil services
  • Government ministries
  • Academic research and PhD level study.

Transferable skills

  • Communicate effectively, drawing on a range of skills and presentation techniques for different settings and audiences
  • Manage time effectively to work independently to deadlines
  • Work effectively in a group and as a member of a team in a variety of roles, including taking on leadership responsibilities
  • Work effectively in a variety of workplace settings by understanding the internal dynamics of institutions
  • Self-awareness and evaluation
  • Evaluate, analyse and design effective policy delivery and outcomes
  • Retrieve and interpret data from a variety of sources, including electronic databases
  • Use computer skills to present and analyse data.
I was surprised at how varied the modules were and as a result, I have gained skills in different areas. These vary from conducting research and presenting, to writing policy reports and briefs, all skills that can be transferred into employment.
Lily, MA Global Social Policy, 2016

The MA in Global Social Policy is based in the Department of Social Policy and Social Work. The Department was recently ranked joint first in the UK for the impact of its research, with 87% of the academic staff research activity rated as world leading or internationally excellent.

Entry requirements How to get here

Course entry

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.


You can apply and send all your documentation electronically with 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.


International options

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.

Enquire Contact our admissions tutors if you have any questions

Next steps

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