Postgraduate study

Social Policy PhD

Awards: PhD

Study modes: Full-time, Part-time

Funding opportunities

Programme website: Social Policy

Social Policy has been taught in Edinburgh since 1918. Today the University of Edinburgh is one of the UK’s leading centres of social policy research and postgraduate education and training in social policy.

Our highly regarded research draws on a variety of disciplinary perspectives and is methodologically diverse, spanning the full range of social science methods from action research to advanced quantitative approaches.

We are committed to scholarly advancement but also to the dissemination of our work beyond the academy to generate non-academic impact and effect social change.

We offer postgraduate supervision across the whole subject range, with particular expertise in:

  • social security
  • labour market policy
  • health policy
  • family policy
  • education policy

Our cross-cutting areas of expertise include:

  • comparative social policy
  • knowledge and policy
  • the governance of welfare states

Who this programme is for

We welcome doctoral students wanting to undertake advanced research on social problems and policy and practice responses to them locally, nationally and globally.

We offer a lively intellectual environment in which to undertake postgraduate research in social policy, with a range of thematic research groups and an active seminar programme.

You will benefit from our excellent links to other social policy scholars, policymakers and practitioners across the world.

The subject area hosts some of the leading academic journals in the field.

Postgraduate research students in the Graduate School of Social and Political Science can access core, intermediate and advanced research training courses tailored to the needs of their project.

There is also an extensive annual programme of methods workshops delivered through the School’s Research Training Centre.

A UK 2:1 honours degree or its international equivalent, and a UK masters degree with an overall mark of 65% or its international equivalent.

International qualifications

Check whether your international qualifications meet our general entry requirements:

English language requirements

You must demonstrate a level of English language competency at a level that will enable you to succeed in your studies, regardless of your nationality or country of residence.

English language tests

For 2021 entry we will accept the following English language qualifications at the grades specified:

  • IELTS: total 7.0 (at least 6.0 in each module)
  • TOEFL-iBT (including Special Home Edition): total 100 (at least 20 in each module). We do not accept TOEFL MyBest Score to meet our English language requirements.
  • CAE and CPE: total 185 (at least 169 in each module)
  • Trinity ISE: ISE III with a pass in all four components

Your English language qualification must be no more than three and a half years old from the start date of the programme you are applying to study, unless you are using IELTS, TOEFL or Trinity ISE, in which case it must be no more than two years old.

Degrees taught and assessed in English

We also accept an undergraduate or postgraduate degree that has been taught and assessed in English in a majority English speaking country, as defined by UK Visas and Immigration:

We also accept a degree that has been taught and assessed in English from a university on our list of approved universities in non-majority English speaking countries.

If you are not a national of a majority English speaking country, then your degree must be no more than three and a half years old at the beginning of your programme of study.

Find out more about our language requirements:

Read our general information on tuition fees and studying costs:

Featured funding

For specialised guidance on submitting a competitive scholarship application, we strongly recommend you contact the * Postgraduate Advisor for your subject area. You should advise which scholarships you intend to apply for and send your draft research proposal. The Postgraduate Advisor will then contact you with guidance.

UK government postgraduate loans

If you live in the UK, you may be able to apply for a postgraduate loan from one of the UK’s governments.

The type and amount of financial support you are eligible for will depend on:

  • your programme
  • the duration of your studies
  • your tuition fee status

Programmes studied on a part-time intermittent basis are not eligible.

*(Revised 19 November 2020 with changes to links and advice for funding.)

Other funding opportunities

Search for scholarships and funding opportunities:

  • Graduate School of Social & Political Science
  • Chrystal Macmillan Building
  • 15A George Square
  • Central Campus
  • Edinburgh
  • EH8 9LD

We encourage you to apply at least one month prior to entry so that we have enough time to process your application. If you are also applying for funding or will require a visa then we strongly recommend you apply as early as possible.

We encourage PhD applicants in particular to contact potential supervisors before applying to discuss their research proposal so we can ensure there is adequate supervision.

Find out more about the general application process for postgraduate programmes:

Further information

  • Graduate School of Social & Political Science
  • Chrystal Macmillan Building
  • 15A George Square
  • Central Campus
  • Edinburgh
  • EH8 9LD