Social Policy Research

This information is for the 2013/14 session.

Teacher responsible

Dr Tania Burchardt 32LIF3.34


This course is compulsory on the MSc in Social Policy (Research) and MSc in Social Research Methods. This course is available on the MPA in European Public and Economic Policy, MPA in International Development, MPA in Public Policy and Management, MPA in Public and Economic Policy, MPA in Public and Social Policy, MSc in Social Policy (European and Comparative Social Policy) and MSc in Social Policy (Social Policy and Planning). This course is available as an outside option to students on other programmes where regulations permit.

Course content

The course equips students to critically assess the ways in which a wide range of research approaches are used in the study of social policy questions. This includes: an overview of the varied traditions and approaches to social policy research; Historical methods; Participatory research; Researching organisations; Depth interviews (especially with service users and clients); Evaluation of policy reform; Social experiments and pilots; Geographical methods; Social surveys and the analysis of large datasets; Longitudinal and life history analysis; Micro-simulation techniques; Systematic reviews and meta-analysis; and Comparative research. The final part of the course considers research strategies and choices and the relationship between research and policymaking.


15 hours of lectures and 8 hours of seminars in the MT. 15 hours of lectures and 10 hours of seminars in the LT. 3 hours of lectures in the ST.

The lectures will be given by a member of staff or external expert in that particular method or topic and are followed by a seminar examining research exemplifying the approach and the issues raised. The tutorials are short one-to-one sessions with the seminar leader to discuss feedback on essays.

Formative coursework

Students will make at least one seminar presentation per term. In addition to written essays based on two seminar presentations, students will write at least two essays of no more than 2,000 words for the course.

Indicative reading

P Alcock et al (Eds) (2012), The Student's Companion to Social Policy, 4th edn; C Hakim (2000), Research Design: Strategies and choices in the design of social policy, 2nd edn; A Bryman (2012), Social Research Methods, 4th edn.

Additional references will be supplied at the start of the course and in lectures.


Exam (100%, duration: 3 hours) in the main exam period.

Student performance results

(2009/10 - 2011/12 combined)

Classification % of students
Distinction 14.9
Merit 68.1
Pass 16
Fail 1.1

Key facts

Department: Social Policy

Total students 2012/13: 28

Average class size 2012/13: 15

Value: One Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Course survey results

(2010/11 - 2012/13 combined)

1 = "best" score, 5 = "worst" score

The scores below are average responses.

Response rate: 86.4%



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