Taught course

Sociology and Social Policy

University of Southampton · Social Sciences

Entry requirements

We welcome applications from students with a first- or upper second-class honours degree or equivalent in a relevant discipline (such as sociology, social policy, social administration or criminology).

Months of entry


Course content

Do you want to explore the structure of human society? Are you interested in investigating why social inequality is so persistent and why some societies pool their resources to pay a lot for social protection while others engage much less? Do you know which methods are best suited to study such topics?

If you enrol in the MSc Sociology and Social Policy you will study inequality and diversity, migration, well-being and global social security, you will gain advanced knowledge in the social theories on which sociology and social policy are based; on completion you will also know how to use quantitative and qualitative methods.

With this degree you are well placed to pursue careers in social research, public administration or public policy in the public, private or voluntary sector. It is also the first step towards a PhD in sociology and/or social policy.

The MSc Sociology and Social Policy degree has three pathways. The substantive pathway focuses on fundamental concepts of sociology and social policy and on how these relate to contemporary policy issues. Students most interested in understanding global social inequality and policy responses should choose the International Social Policy pathway which will also give them a grounding in governance. Students who wish to obtain thorough quantitative and qualitative methods training should enrol in the Research methods pathway. You will find more details below.

The aims of this programme are to provide you with:

  • an in-depth understanding of classical and contemporary themes and debates in sociology and (dependent on your choice of options in semester two) their application in the analysis of selected social issues
  • an in-depth understanding of key conceptual debates in social policy, the capacity to evaluate competing explanatory frameworks and (dependent on your choice of options in semester two) the role of cross-national and comparative perspectives
  • a knowledge of key issues in the philosophy of social science and the ability to apply this knowledge in the design and practice of social research
  • a knowledge of the principal methods of qualitative or quantitative research utilised in the social sciences and an understanding of their application in different contexts, and (dependent on your choice of options in semester two) a knowledge of the techniques of data analysis utilised in the social sciences and their applications
  • the ability to design and conduct independent research in the field of sociology and/or social policy, utilising appropriate research methodologies, and grounded in an understanding of the process of research management and ethical and legal issues associated with the conduct of social research
  • the capacity to present ideas, arguments and research findings through different means of communication

Information for international students

For applicants whose first language is not English, the IELTS requirement will be an overall score of 6.5 with no individual score below 6.0.

Fees and funding

UK students
International students

Please see the funding page.

Qualification, course duration and attendance options

  • MSc
    full time
    12 months
    • Campus-based learningis available for this qualification
    part time
    24 months
    • Campus-based learningis available for this qualification

Course contact details

Postgraduate Admissions Enquiries
44(0)23 8059 5395