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MSc Social Policy and Planning

About the MSc programme

This programme (divided into two streams) is based in the Department of Social Policy and offers the following benefits:

  • A comparative, international and multi-disciplinary environment.
  • Links to leading research groups based in the Department specialising in social exclusion, health and social care, education, and criminology.

1. The first stream, Social Policy (Social Policy and Planning) is a broad programme in many aspects of social policy that can be tailored to the interests of students from a wide range of backgrounds. It is the oldest master's level programme in social policy in the world but it has evolved to reflect new interests and challenges.

Applicants with a good first degree (in the UK at least Upper Second Class Honours) in any subject will be considered (equivalent to an American degree at a grade point average in excess of 3.5 out of 4). A social science background and/or work experience in the social policy field are advantageous, but they are not essential.

Students on this stream are drawn from many parts of the world and the courses draw on international experience and evidence. It is a flexible programme allowing students to tailor their degree to their own areas of interest. 

Programme details

A key component of the MSc is a long essay (dissertation) of up to 10,000 words on a topic individually selected, to be prepared in conjunction with a personal supervisor. This offers the opportunity to pursue an area in depth, often related to past or future career interests.

The stream is available on a full-time basis over one year or a part-time basis over two years.

2. The second stream, Social Policy (European and Comparative Social Policy) is an integrated programme designed for people looking towards careers as practitioners, planners and administrators of public services whose interest or work lies at the international and European level. It is equally aimed at those interested in careers in teaching and social research with an international or European perspective. The programme, launched in 1988, was the first graduate programme of its kind in the EU. It  provides students with the opportunity of examining major current social problems and the range of policies being developed to address them from a comparative perspective with a special focus on Europe.

Through multi-disciplinary and cross-national comparative study, students gain a thorough grounding in the comparative analysis of the institutional arrangements of European welfare states, as well as examining specific social problems shared by individual countries and the issues involved in further EU integration. Welfare state models outside the EU and the growing pressures of globalisation are also studied in order to widen understanding of social policy options available.

Students come from a wide range of backgrounds reflecting the variety of intellectual and professional skills involved in planning, managing and researching social policies cross-nationally and at EU level. You normally need a first degree in a relevant academic subject at a standard equivalent to a British upper second class honours. As an example, this is equivalent to an American degree at a grade point average in excess of 3.5 out of 4. We welcome part-time students.

There are opportunities to learn major European languages (see LSE Language Centre).

Programme details

A key component of the MSc is a long essay (dissertation) of up to 10,000 words on a topic individually selected, to be prepared in conjunction with a personal supervisor. This offers the opportunity to pursue an area in depth, often related to past or future career interests.

The stream is available on a full-time basis over one year or a part-time basis over two years.

Stream one: MSc Social Policy (Social Policy and Planning) 

Compulsory courses

(* half unit)

Students will be expected to choose courses to the value of two units from a range of options.

Please read the following important information before referring to full details of course options found in the Programme Regulations|.

The programme regulations available are for the current academic session and may be subject to change before the beginning of the next academic year. For more information about course availability in the next academic session, please contact the relevant academic department. The School reserves the right at all times to withdraw, suspend or alter particular courses and syllabuses, and to alter the level of fees. Courses are on occasion capped (limited to a maximum number of students) or subject to entry conditions requiring the approval of the course convenor. The School cannot guarantee that places on specific courses will be available.

Stream two: MSc Social Policy (European and Comparative Social Policy)

Compulsory courses

(* half unit)

Students will be expected to choose courses to the value of two units from a range of options.

Please read the following important information before referring to full details of course options found in the Programme Regulations|.

The programme regulations available are for the current academic session and may be subject to change before the beginning of the next academic year. For more information about course availability in the next academic session, please contact the relevant academic department. The School reserves the right at all times to withdraw, suspend or alter particular courses and syllabuses, and to alter the level of fees. Courses are on occasion capped (limited to a maximum number of students) or subject to entry conditions requiring the approval of the course convenor. The School cannot guarantee that places on specific courses will be available.

Graduate destinations

Students completing the Social Policy and Planning stream go on to a variety of careers in research, the policy arena in think tanks and the political sphere, social service administration, voluntary organisations and many other destinations.

Graduates from the European and Comparative Social Policy stream have found positions within a wide range of institutions, including the European Commission, European Parliament, EU lobbying organisations, consultancies, UNESCO, broadcasting, journalism, international departments of national civil services, as well as employment in teaching and research or further study for a PhD. 

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Application code: L4U2 - Social Policy and Planning
L4U8 - European and Comparative Social Policy (check availability|)

Start date: 2 October 2014

Duration: 12 months full-time, 24 months part-time

Intake/applications in 2012:
MSc Social Policy and Planning: 36/131
MSc European Social Policy: 9/41

Minimum entry requirement: First degree at  2:1 level or above in any discipline, with social science background and/or work experience in the social policy field advantageous but not essential (see entry requirements|)

English requirement: Higher (see English requirements|)

GRE/GMAT requirement: None

Fee level: UK/EU £9,180, overseas £17,880

Financial support: Graduate Support Scheme (see Fees and financial support|)

Application deadline: None – rolling admissions

Note: Flexible programme allowing students to tailor their degree to their area of interest


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