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School of Social and Political Science: Undergraduate study


MA Social Policy with Quantitative Methods


You will study society and how this changes through political debate and policy making. Social policy influences many aspects of our lives, from education, crime, health, housing and employment to family support and child protection. Social Policy appeals to students who are interested in current political an social issues – such as how to organise and pay for health care, reduce inequalities, or accommodate a more diverse and individualised society. In Edinburgh, these issues are explored in a Scottish, a UK-wide, a European, and an international context. It is genuinely multidisciplinary and draws on a variety of perspectives, e.g. sociological, political, economic, historical and legal perspectives.

One quarter of your study time will be devoted to quantitative methods. This will teach you how to use and interpret data to answer questions in Social Policy and other areas of Social Science.

Who is this degree for?

This degree allows you to develop your skills in Social Policy and as well as ensuring you will be statistically savvy. Quantitative skills underpin effective evidence-based planning in Government, in the private sector and in international NGOs, so your combined skills set will be in demand.

Programme structure

Year 1

In the first year, students take Social Policy and Society and Politics of the Welfare State. Social Policy and Society looks at how welfare issues are constructed and debated in society, and focuses on the role of the family, lookin in particular at family breakdown, domestic violence, delinquency, child abuse, children’s rights, and the balance between work and domestic responsibilities Politics of the Welfare State explores the politics and institutions of the welfare state and looks systematically at roles played by politicians, officials, professionals and the public in the making and implementation of policy, a changing ideologies and their implications for the welfare state, and at the future of the welfare state. This course looks particularly closely at changing agendas in health, and in social security and employment policies.

For the quantitative methods component you will take Mathematics for Social Science and Introduction to Statistics for Social Science. You will also take two optional courses of your choice.

Year 2

In their second year students take European Social Policy and Evidence, Policy and Politics. In both first and second year there are also non-credit courses Fundamentals of Social Policy to provide key learning skills.

European Social Policy looks at social policy comparatively in a number of European countries, and examines the social dimension of the European Union. It enables social policy in the UK to be seen in a rather different light. Evidence, Politics and Policy shows how social research can shed light on topical social and political debates.

For quantitative methods you will take Doing Social Research with Statistics. This leaves you with three optional courses of your choice.

Year 3

In Junior Honours (third year), students take one compulsory course in Social Policy (Analytical Perspectives in Social Policy) and a course on research methods in addition to quantitative methods. This leaves two substantive optional courses. For quantitative methods, you will take Statistical Modelling for Social Scientists and one optional quantitative methods course, for example, multi-level modelling. It is also possible to study abroad in year 3. If you decide to do an internship, it would be between April - August in year 3.

Year 4

The only compulsory course this year is the dissertation. This is an opportunity for you to demonstrate the research skills you have learnt so far. You will have four optional courses, allowing you to specialise in an area of particular interest both methodologically and substantively.

Skills & Careers

There is currently a deficit of graduates with advanced quantitative skills in the UK, with many employers reporting widespread QM weakness amongst their employees.

It is estimated that by 2018 there will be a shortage of 15k-20K data scientists and up to 1.5m data savvy managers and professional in the US alone (McKinsey).

These degrees equip you with the skills employers tell us they need you to have, opening doors to a wide range of exciting and well remunerated careers

Further Information is available via the University of Edinburgh Degree Finder.
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