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MSc Social Policy and Development MSc Social Policy and Development (Non-Governmental Organisations) (formerly MSc NGOs and Development)

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
  • staff with expertise in Asia, Africa, Latin America and post-communist societies, who maintain research and advisory links with governments and key international development organisations
  • links to leading research groups based in the Department specialising in social exclusion, health and social care and education

The first stream, Social Policy and Development, approaches social policy and development primarily from the perspective of government. The second stream, Social Policy and Development: Non-Governmental Organisations approaches the subject from the perspective of non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and wider civil society. Both streams share a common engagement with the core concepts and debates within social policy and development including the policy process, wellbeing, poverty and exclusion, global institutions and the aid system, sustainability and livelihoods, and rights and citizenship.

This MSc programme is aimed at candidates with work experience in or from Africa, Asia, Latin America and post-communist societies. Currently about two thirds of students come from these regions and in a typical year we have representatives from 25 or more different countries. For the first stream, programme participants are normally development professionals from central planning ministries and sectoral social service ministries such as education, rural and urban development, health, social security and social work services. We also have students who are representatives of multilateral aid bodies such as the World Bank, UNDP and UNICEF. For the second, which was formerly known as the MSc NGOs and Development, participants are drawn mainly from northern and southern NGOs including Oxfam, Action Aid, BRAC, Christian Aid, Médecins sans Frontières and Save the Children Fund, as well as from smaller civil society organisations. Both MSc streams are suitable for development policy researchers in institutions of higher education and think tanks.

For either stream, you will need a first degree in a relevant academic subject (sociology, economics, political science, anthropology, development studies) at a standard equivalent to a British university first class or upper second class honours degree. In US terminology this means a 3.5 grade point average out of 4. Most applicants will also have some relevant work experience in a developing or post-communist society, although we will also consider applications from academically well-qualified applicants seeking to begin a career in development. A degree qualification is not always necessary if you have exceptional professional experience. Applications from experienced people with a non-social science degree will also be considered.

The MSc programme has four aims:

  • to develop understanding of the theory and practice of social policy in developing and post-communist countries
  • to allow deeper study in development policy areas of particular interest through the choice of a wide range of optional courses and through writing a 10,000 word dissertation
  • to compare experience of social policy in a variety of countries and development institutions, drawing on current research and on the contrasting professional experience of the course participants in seminars and workshops
  • to develop analytical, organisational and planning skills, and enhance written and oral communication and presentation skills

Programme details

Teaching is by a mixture of lectures, student-led seminars, workshops and tutorials. Assessment is through a combination of unseen examinations, course essays, and a distinctive 10,000 word dissertation for each stream.

For both streams, you take courses to the value of four units consisting of compulsory and optional courses. In addition, both the programmes require you to write a MSc dissertation on a relevant topic.

Stream one: Social Policy and Development

Compulsory courses

(* half unit)

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

† Students will be required to take part in a residential workshop at Cumberland Lodge and this will cost £200.

Stream two: Social Policy and Development: Non-Governmental Organisations

Compulsory courses

(* half unit)

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

Please note that it is not always possible to offer students a place on each of their preferred courses. This is particularly the case where courses are offered outside the Department of Social Policy. 

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 who have graduated from this programme have gone on to work for:

  • different UN agencies including UNDP, UNICEF and UNHCR
  • a variety of small and large NGOs including Oxfam, Médecins Sans Frontières, International Red Cross, One World Action
  • international or intergovernmental  organisations such as the World Economic Forum, European Commission, World Bank
  • consulting companies
  • government ministries

Application code: L4U7, M1T2 (NGO) (check availability)

Start date: 24 September 2015

Duration: 12 months full-time

Intake/applications in 2013:
MSc Social Policy and Development: 48/232
MSc Non-Governmental Organisations and Development: 18/109

Minimum entry requirement: 2:1 in a relevant social science. Professional experience is advantageous (see entry requirements)

English requirement: Standard (see English requirements)

GRE/GMAT requirement: None

Fee level:  UK/EU £12,224, overseas £18,800

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

Application deadline: None – rolling admissions

Note: The fee includes £200 associated with a residential workshop at Cumberland Lodge. Those students on the NGO stream not taking the Social Development: Policy and Practice optional course will not be subject to this additional charge.

Harriet Nakaggo