Undergraduate study - 2021 entry

MA Social Policy and Economics

UCAS code: LL41

Duration: 4 years

Delivery: Full-time

School: Social and Political Science

College: Arts, Humanities & Social Sciences

Study abroad

Introducing MA Social Policy and Economics

Social Policy at the University of Edinburgh will enable you to engage with confidence in many of the political debates of our time.

We deal with a wide array of areas, addressing health, welfare, labour markets, education, family and childhood as well as many other policy themes.

In addition, we discuss how policies affect our civic culture through studying political engagement and citizen participation.

Our programme will equip you with the knowledge to understand how policies affect society and the economy, but it will also enable you to critically assess how policies are made and what actors and processes influence the policy making process.

Our degrees are for students who are interested in how political actions affect the real lives of people.

Our programmes are designed to foster critical thinking about policy to ensure our graduates are able to look beyond news headlines and understand in detail why certain political decisions are taken and what their impact may be.

You will be taught by staff members who are passionate about conducting research that has strong applications to the world outside academia.

We work closely with governments, NGOs, third sector and interest representation groups, international organisations and other external actors. International comparative analyses are one of our main strengths and we place a strong emphasis on providing our students with empirical research skills, so that they can become critical researchers themselves.

Take a Social Policy degree at the University of Edinburgh and you will be challenged to re-evaluate how you look at politics, society and the economy with the ability to improve others’ understanding as well.

Our joint honours degrees allow you to gain a disciplinary understanding both in core Social Policy analyses as well as another subject area.

You will take core courses to understand how social policy making affects different parts of society and will learn how different systems of social policy can result in very different relationships between the state and other actors.

In addition, you will learn the foundations of another discipline of their choosing (such as Economics, Politics, Sociology or Law) in the first two years.

You can gain insights into particular methods of understanding society (for example through the lens of legal studies or economic perspectives), but apply those to real-world problems that stretch beyond the reach of those disciplines to understand the impact particular decisions have on different parts of society.

This allows you in years 3 and 4 to take specialisation courses in both disciplines.

On the Social Policy side of the degree you will be able to choose from a range of specific Social Policy courses (2-4) that cover particular policy areas or processes and also specific options from your second discipline (2-4) in addition to the central methods and approaches courses in both disciplines.

You can usually choose in which subject area you want to write your dissertation project in.

Year 1

You will take Social Policy & Society, which revolves around three main themes: social needs, social problems and social rights, and how different debates about welfare have been influenced by these themes.

You will study Politics of the Welfare State, which examines social policy as a political issue in the UK. It introduces you to the politics of the area that constitutes one of the largest sets of government expenditure. You will be confronted with debates about the different ways of delivering welfare and the interplay between the state and the private sector.

You will take Economics 1 which will give you an understanding of core economic models and analysis, and their applications.

You can choose option courses from other academic areas and will also take the course Fundamentals of Social Policy, which provides the key subject-specific learning skills you'll use in your further years of study.

Year 2

You will take European Social Policy, which compares different approaches to social policy in various European countries.

You will also take Evidence, Politics and Policy which will enable you to critically assess how evidence is used or misused by different actors and in the media to influence public opinion.

You will also take a course on research skills and design in which you will learn how to create the foundations for high quality social research yourself.

You will also study Economics 2 and Statistical Methods for Economics, which will introduce you to the statistical theory central to your economics study, and will select one option course.

Year 3

You select options that cover a wide array of policy fields such as family policy, labour market policies, social inequalities, criminal justice, health policy, education policy and others. You will also take courses in research methods and a course that will enable you to analyse policies from multiple lenses (economic, political and sociological).

You will take Essentials of Econometrics and Topics in Microeconomics and you may select either Applications of Econometrics or Topics in Macroeconomics.

Year 4

You will continue to take social policy and economics courses and will complete either a dissertation in economics, or an individual research project. This may involve collecting and analysing data and information from sources such as the European Commission, UK Government, Scottish Government, local authorities and voluntary organisations.

Programme structure

Find out more about the compulsory and optional courses in this degree programme.

To give you an idea of what you will study on this programme, we publish the latest available information. However, please note this may not be for your year of entry, but for a different academic year.

Programme structure (2020/21)

Our facilities

Most of the teaching takes place in the University's Central Area. You will also have access to the University's computer facilities and libraries.

Study abroad

You may apply to spend Year 3 abroad in one of several universities in North America, Central and South America, Australia and Asia with whom the University has special links.

In addition, we have European exchange schemes with Leuphana University Lüneburg and Jacobs University Bremen (Germany).

You can also apply to university-wide exchanges in Amsterdam (Netherlands), Dublin (Ireland) and Lund (Sweden).

What are my options for going abroad?

How will I learn?

You will be taught through a combination of lectures, tutorials/seminars and individual supervision.

How will I be assessed?

You will be assessed through a wide range of methods that will enable you to develop different academic and practical skills. Our assessments range from traditional academic essays and exams, but also include policy analyses and briefs, policy blogging, analyses of political actors, project work and seminar engagement.

Programme details

Find out more about this programme's aims, what you will learn, how you will be assessed and what skills and knowledge you will develop.

To give you an idea of what to expect from this programme, we publish the latest available information. However, please note this may not be for your year of entry, but for a different academic year.

Programme details (2020/21)

Most of our graduates move into careers in policy or research within government, voluntary organisations, pressure groups or commercial organisations.

These programmes also equip you with skills and knowledge that could be applied to careers in teaching or to the management and delivery of services, whether public or commercial.

Some graduates have gone on to study for professional qualifications in housing management, social work or human resource management.

Standard entry requirement

The standard entry requirement is:

  • SQA Highers: AAAA-AABB by the end of S5 or AAAA-AAAB by the end of S6. BBB must be achieved in one year of S4-S6.(Revised 09/04/2020 from AAAA-AAAB and to include alternate grades to be achieved by end of S6.)
  • A Levels: AAB - ABB.
  • IB: 43 points with 776 at HL - 37 points with 666 at HL.

Minimum entry requirement

The minimum entry requirement for widening access applicants is:

  • SQA Highers: ABBB by end of S6. BBB must be achieved in one year of S4-S6.
  • A Levels: ABB.
  • IB: 34 points with 655 at HL.

More information for widening access applicants

Required subjects

The grades used to meet our entry requirements must include:

  • SQA: Highers: Mathematics at B. National 5s: English at C.
  • A Levels: Mathematics at B, or AS Mathematics at A (if A Level not taken). GCSEs: English at C or 4.
  • IB: HL: Mathematics at 5. SL: English at 5 and Mathematics at 6 (if not at HL). Mathematical Studies is not accepted for any of our Economics degrees.

Find out more about entry requirements

International applicants

We welcome applications from students studying a wide range of international qualifications.

Entry requirements by country

International Foundation Programme

If you are an international student and your school qualifications are not accepted for direct entry to the University you may be eligible for admission to this degree programme through our International Foundation Programme.

International Foundation Programme

Mature applicants

We welcome applications from mature students and accept a range of qualifications.

Mature applicant qualifications

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.

SQA, GCSE and IB

For SQA, GCSE and IB students, unless a higher level is specified in the stated entry requirements, a pass is required in English at the following grades or higher:

  • SQA National 5 at C
  • SQA Standard Grade at 3
  • SQA Intermediate 1 at A
  • SQA Intermediate 2 at C
  • GCSE/IGSCE at C or 4
  • Level 2 Certificate Grade C
  • IB Standard Level at 5 (English ab initio is not accepted for entry)

English language tests

We accept the following English language qualifications at the grades specified*:

  • IELTS Academic module overall 6.5 with 5.5 in each component.
  • TOEFL-iBT (including Special Home Edition) 92 or above with 20 in each section. We do not accept TOEFL MyBest Score to meet our English language requirements.
  • Cambridge English: Advanced or Proficiency overall 176 with 162 in each component.
  • Trinity ISE: ISE II with a distinction in all four components.

We also accept a wider range of international qualifications and tests.

English language qualifications must be no more than three and a half years old from the start date of the degree 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.

English language requirements

*(Revised 27 April 2020 to include TOEFL-iBT Special Home Edition.)

This information is part of a government initiative to enhance the material that higher education institutions provide about their degree programmes.

It is one of many sources of information which will enable you to make an informed decision on what and where to study.

Please note that some programmes do not have Discover Uni data available.

Tuition Fees

Tuition fees for MA Social Policy and Economics

Additional costs

Economics textbooks are required for years 1 and 2, which cost about £100.

Funding

For more information on how much it will cost to study with us and the financial support available see our fees and funding information.

Fees and funding