Social and public policy focuses on finding ways to address global and local challenges such as poverty, housing, health and technology. The programme applies ideas from political science, sociology and economics to explore how governments shape their responses and to understand the impacts of public policy on society.
You’ll have the valuable opportunity of a work placement with a voluntary or public sector organisation.
What our students say
‘I can say honestly that I enjoyed learning about every course and module that I undertook as part of this dynamic, interesting and relevant degree. The MA degree in Social & Public Policy equips you with an understanding and knowledge of social and public policy, both in theory and practice. In particular, I apply the research, writing and critical thinking skills I have developed from this degree into my work as a caseworker in a very busy London MP’s office, where issues relating to welfare, immigration and housing policy are felt acutely by residents and the wider community. Finally, I would recommend this degree to students who are interested in working in politics, public policy and academia, both nationally and internationally.’
Sanketa, MA Honours Public Policy
You will examine the development of policies and services such as healthcare and social security that were created to eradicate postwar social problems, through a focus on the Beveridge Report of 1942, which identified the “Five Giants” of want, disease, squalor, ignorance and idleness. Then, using policies and practices in Glasgow as a lens, you will have the opportunity to study current responses to globalisation and contemporary social problems such as housing, excess mortality, youth gangs, drugs misuse and urban deprivation.
You will study influential ideas and major perspectives on welfare and public policy in order to examine assumptions about the aims of policy and the functions of welfare, including differences in ideological and social agendas in an international context. You will study the politics and power dynamics of policymaking, considering how social problems, such as welfare reform, inequality and big data, are constructed and why some are higher on the political agenda than others.
You will also study other subjects in years 1 and 2: see Flexible degrees.
Years 3 and 4
If you progress to Honours (years 3 and 4) you will choose subjects from a diverse range of topics to suit your interests, including:
- work, welfare and the politics of reform
- disability and society
- health and health inequalities
- housing policy, welfare and markets
- remaking cities: dilemmas of 21st-century urban policy
- education for citizenship
- making public policy in the real world
- active citizenship (includes a placement in a voluntary or public sector organisation)
- ideological concepts and values
- utopias: welfare theory and social policies for a “good society”
- big data, policy and power
- youth policy and welfare: cross cultural perspectives.
Programme alteration or discontinuation
The University of Glasgow endeavours to run all programmes as advertised. In exceptional circumstances, however, the University may withdraw or alter a programme. For more information, please see: Student contract.
Special Glasgow feature
Glasgow Q-Step Degrees
The University of Glasgow's Q-Step Centre offers programmes which develop your quantitative skills, or in other words, your ability to handle data and use numerical evidence.
Developing quantitative skills and your confidence in using them, will really enhance your insight and understanding of the key issues you encounter in your chosen field of study.
The University of Glasgow Q-Step Centre offers five degree programmes that integrate quantitative skills training within the School of Social and Political Sciences. All of these programmes aim to engage you with meaningful ways of understanding the social world.
We will teach you how to understand and analyse quantitative results, as well as how to present your own, and how to discuss their substantive implications. These are essential skills for understanding quantitative evidence presented in academic literature, but also for interrogating data in public media and government reports.
Around one quarter of your study time will be devoted to quantitative methods. And our degrees also offer you the possibility to gain valuable experience by participating in internships with selected high-profile employers.
MA (SocSci) Social & Public Policy with Quantitative Methods
Social and Public Policy focuses on social problems such as poverty, homelessness and ill-health. The programme applies ideas from political science, sociology and economics to explore how governments shape their responses, and to understand the impacts of public policy on society.
- For more information visit: Q-Step Centre
Our international links
You will have the opportunity to study abroad at one of our partner universities as part of your degree. This won’t add any extra time to your studies. See Study abroad.
for entry in 2021
Applicants to subject-combinations with Psychology must meet the Psychology degree programme entry requirements.
Summary of entry requirements for Social & Public Policy
SQA Higher Entry Requirements (by end of S6)
- AAAAB (AABB S5 minimum for consideration)
- Additional requirements: Higher English or Higher Humanities subject.
SQA Higher Adjusted Entry Requirements* (by end of S6)
- AABBB – BBBBB
- Additional requirements: Higher English or Higher Humanities subject. Successful completion of Top-Up or one of our Summer Schools.
A-level Standard Entry Requirements
- AAB – BBB
- Additional requirements: A-level English or Humanities subject.
IB Standard Entry Requirements
- 38 (6,6,6 HL) – 32 (6,5,5 HL)
- Additional requirements: HL English or Humanities subject.
For applicants whose first language is not English, the University sets a minimum English Language proficiency level.
English language requirements
International English Language Testing System (IELTS) Academic module (not General Training):
- overall score 6.5
- no sub-test less than 6.0
- or equivalent scores in another recognised qualification (see below)
Common equivalent English language qualifications:
- ibTOEFL*: 90; no sub-test less than: Reading: 20; Listening: 19; Speaking: 19; Writing: 23
- CAE (Cambridge Certificate of Advanced English): 176 overall: no sub-test less than 169
- CPE (Cambridge Certificate of Proficiency in English): 176 overall: no sub-test less than 169
- PTE Academic (Pearson Test of English, Academic test): 60; no sub-test less than 59
- IGCSE: English as a First Language (0500/0522): C in Reading and Writing, plus 1 in Listening, 2 in Speaking, where applicable. All four components (listening, writing, speaking, reading) must be examined and detailed on results slip
- IGCSE: English as a Second Language (0510/0511): A in Reading and Writing, plus A in Listening, 2/B in Speaking, where applicable. All four components (listening, writing, speaking, reading) must be examined and detailed on results slip
- Trinity College London Integrated Skills in English: ISEII at Distinction with Distinction in all sub-tests
* Please note that TOEFL is still acceptable for admission to this programme for both home/EU and international students.
For international students, the Home Office has confirmed that the University can choose to use TOEFL to make its own assessment of English language ability for visa applications to degree level courses. We therefore still accept TOEFL tests taken in the last two years for admission to this programme.
The University of Glasgow accepts evidence of the required language level from the English for Academic Study Unit Pre-sessional courses. We also consider other BALEAP accredited pre-sessional courses:
What do I do if...
my language qualifications are below the requirements?
The University's School of Modern Languages and Cultures offers a range of Pre-Sessional Courses to bring you up to entry level. The course is accredited by BALEAP, the UK professional association for academic English teaching; see Links.
my language qualifications are not listed here?
Please contact External Relations
If you require a Tier 4 student visa, your qualification must be one of the secure English language tests accepted by UK Border Agency:
- UK Border Agency Tier 4 English Language requirements
- UKBA list of approved English language tests [pdf]
Visa requirements and proof of English language level
It is a visa requirement to provide information on your level of English based on an internationally recognised and secure English language test. All test reports must be no more than 2 years old. A list of these can be found on the UK Border Agency website. If you have never taken one of these tests before, you can get an initial idea of your level by using the Common European Framework self-assessment grid which gives you a level for each skill (e.g. listening B1/writing B2 etc.) However, please note that this is not a secure English language test and it is not sufficient evidence of your level of English for visa requirements.
For further information about English language, please see School of Modern Languages and Cultures: English for Academic Study.
This degree provides many of the analytical, literary and teamwork skills that employers are looking for. Our graduates pursue careers as managers, professionals and policy analysts in the private, voluntary and public sectors, including central and local government, in the UK and internationally. They work in diverse fields including housing, health, social services, advocacy, city planning, education, media and commerce.
Degrees and UCAS codes
When applying you will need to know the UCAS code for the subject or subject-combination that you wish to apply to:
Fees and funding
How and when you pay tuition fees depends on where you’re from: see Tuition fees for details.
The University is committed to supporting students and rewarding academic excellence. That's why we've invested more than £1m in additional scholarship funding in recent years.
The scholarships above are specific to this programme. For more funding opportunities search the scholarships database
How to apply
Full-time students must apply through the Universities & Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS).
International students to Arts, Engineering, Law, Nursing, Science, and Social Sciences can also apply using The Common Application: however, if applying to more than one UK university, we recommend using UCAS. Applications to Dentistry, Education, Medicine, and Veterinary Medicine must be made through UCAS.
- 15 October: if including Dentistry, Medicine, Veterinary Medicine or also applying to Oxford or Cambridge
- 15 January: all other UK/EU applicants (unless otherwise stated on the UCAS website)
- 30 June: international (non-EU) students
We do not usually accept any applications after these deadlines.
It's your responsibility to ensure the accuracy of your application before submission. Requests to correct application content, change degree programme or change college of entry, will not be accepted after these deadlines. This policy is in place to ensure fairness and consistency to all applicants, and no exceptions will be made.
- Apply at www.ucas.com or through your school or college
- Contact UCAS on 0871 468 0468
- Apply at commonapp.org (international students to certain areas only)
More information about this programme