Skip to main navigationSkip to main content
The University of Southampton
Economic, Social and Political SciencesPostgraduate study

MSc Sociology and Social Policy (1 year)

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.

Introducing your course

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

View the programme specification for this course for 2020/21 entrants

View the programme specification for this course for 2021/22 entrants

To Apply

You should apply using the University's online application form. You can find more details on our Apply page.

Applications can be submitted at any time, although we would encourage you to apply before the end of May. If you are seeking financial support for your postgraduate studies, we recommend that you apply before the end of February so you have time to gather the necessary documentation for your funding body/sponsor.

MSc modules
If applying for one of our MSc programmes, please specify the option modules you intend to take, if known.

For all applications, two academic references are required. Unfortunately, we cannot consider applications until we have received both references.

Programme Structure

Full-time students take three modules (or equivalent) per semester.

Key Facts

Sociology, social policy and applied social sciences programmes have been central to Social Sciences at Southampton for over 40 years.

You will be joining our multidisciplinary Social Sciences community, which offers research and teaching programmes not only in sociology, social policy and criminology but also in ageing, demography, economics, international relations, politics, social work and social statistics.

Typical entry requirements

English Language Requirement

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.

Please visit our international pages to find out about the University's regulations about English language requirements and support here.

Selection process

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).

This page contains specific entry requirements for this course. Find out about equivalent entry requirements and qualifications for your country.

Typical course content

Three pathways are offered for the MSc Sociology and Social Policy programme: Substantive, International Social Policy, and Research (please go to the pathway tab for more information)

Once you have successfully completed your taught modules, you will carry out a piece of independent research to be written up as a 15,000 word dissertation. Full-time students submit the dissertation by the end of September of that year; part-time students normally submit the dissertation by the end of the following December. This dissertation module, SOCI6010, is a core module.

In addition to the core and compulsory modules (please see Pathways tab) optional modules are available across all three pathways. Please refer to the programme specification for full details and on the pathways tab. Some of the optional modules students may take are listed below. Please note that specific options may change from year to year.

Year 1

Core [?]
A core module is a module which must be taken and passed.
Credits are based on the Credit Accumulation and Transfer Scheme (CATS).
Credits are based on the Credit Accumulation and Transfer Scheme (CATS).
Credits are based on the Credit Accumulation and Transfer Scheme (CATS).

SOCI6035 - Understanding Modernity (20 credits)

Credits are based on the Credit Accumulation and Transfer Scheme (CATS).
Credits are based on the Credit Accumulation and Transfer Scheme (CATS).
Credits are based on the Credit Accumulation and Transfer Scheme (CATS).
Credits are based on the Credit Accumulation and Transfer Scheme (CATS).
Credits are based on the Credit Accumulation and Transfer Scheme (CATS).
Credits are based on the Credit Accumulation and Transfer Scheme (CATS).
Credits are based on the Credit Accumulation and Transfer Scheme (CATS).

Please note: This specification provides a concise summary of the main features of the programme and the learning outcomes that a typical student might reasonably be expected to achieve and demonstrate if s/he takes full advantage of the learning opportunities that are provided. More detailed information can be found in the programme handbook (or other appropriate guide or website).

Tuition fees

List of tuition fees for this course and it's variations
NameAwardYear of entryMode of studyUK/EUInternational
Sociology and Social PolicyMSc2020Full-time£9,250£18,812
Sociology and Social PolicyMSc2020Part-time£4,625£9,406
Sociology and Social Policy - International Social Policy PathwayMSc2020Full-time£9,250£18,812
Sociology and Social Policy - International Social Policy PathwayMSc2020Part-time£4,625£9,406
View the full list of course fees


Scholarships, bursaries, sponsorships or grants may be available to support you through your course. Funding opportunities available to you are linked to your subject area and/or your country of origin. These can be from the University of Southampton or other sources.

Explore funding opportunities

Costs associated with this course

Students are responsible for meeting the cost of essential textbooks, and of producing such essays, assignments, laboratory reports and dissertations as are required to fulfil the academic requirements for each programme of study.

There will also be further costs for the following, not purchasable from the University:

EquipmentApproved calculators: Candidates may use calculators in the examination room only as specified by the University and as permitted by the rubric of individual examination papers. The University approved model is Casio FX-570 This may be purchased from any source and no longer needs to carry the University logo.
StationeryYou will be expected to provide your own day-to-day stationery items, e.g. pens, pencils, notebooks, etc. Any specialist stationery items will be specified under the Additional Costs tab of the relevant module profile.
BooksWhere a module specifies core texts these should generally be available on the reserve list in the library. However due to demand, students may prefer to buy their own copies. These can be purchased from any source. Some modules suggest reading texts as optional background reading. The library may hold copies of such texts, or alternatively you may wish to purchase your own copies. Although not essential reading, you may benefit from the additional reading materials for the module.
Printing and copyingIn the majority of cases, coursework such as essays, projects and dissertations is likely to be submitted on line. However, there are some items where it is not possible to submit on line and students will be asked to provide a printed copy. A list of the University printing costs can be found at:

In some cases you'll be able to choose modules (which may have different costs associated with that module) which will change the overall cost of a programme to you. Please also ensure you read the section on additional costs in the University’s Fees, Charges and Expenses Regulations in the University Calendar available at

Teaching methods

Our MSc programmes are designed to give you the best possible opportunity to develop your skills as independent learners. The majority of our modules are taught in small-group seminars and workshops, which provide more opportunities for discussion of key issues than is normally possible at undergraduate level. You will be given the opportunity to present papers and to lead discussions or debates, and thus develop both your writing and presentation skills.

Our staff are actively engaged in research and are therefore able to use their experience of research to enhance the quality of their teaching.

Assessment methods

Most modules are assessed, at least in part, by essays. Some modules are also assessed using oral presentations and group projects.


International Social Policy Pathway


RESM6001 Philosophy of Social Science Research

RESM6002 Research Design and Practice

SOCI6035 Understanding Modernity

SOCI6046 International Social Policy

PAIR6043 Comparative Public Administration or PAIR6010 Governance and Policy

RESM6003 Qualitative Methods 1 or RESM6004 Quantitative Methods 1


SOCI6010 Dissertation

Study locations

Hartley Library

Highfield campus

Economic, Social and Political Science is based on the main campus of ...Find out more

Share this course Share this on Facebook Share this on Twitter Share this on Weibo
Privacy Settings