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MA Social Policy

Analyse social policy as it applies to your profession, considering its broader economic, social, political, environmental and political contexts.

Study social policy in your own field

Entry requirements

A relevant degree such as one from Social Sciences, Arts, Humanities or the human service professions.

Applicants with other degrees are assessed on their social sciences knowledge at interview, and an appropriate reading list will be devised for them.

We accept applications from experienced practitioners with non-traditional qualifications.

APEL regulations will apply.

DBS clearance may be required depending on module selection.

UCAS code Direct Applications

Duration 1 year full-time or 2 years part-time

How to apply for this course

Course Summary

Contribute to socially just and sustainable academic research with impact in practice. The MA Social Policy will be of particular interest to you if you are:

  • An experienced practitioner looking for advanced Continuous Professional Development opportunities.
  • An international student wanting to study and practice in the UK.
  • An undergraduate student looking to move directly onto postgraduate education incorporating work based experiences and strengthening your employability prospects.
  • A practitioner who wants challenge and interrogate current policy.

This challenging programme is about making a difference with opportunities to theorise social policy in practice.

The MA Social Policy will provide opportunities to actively engage in professional networks across a range of vibrant partnerships as well as contribute to socially just and sustainable academic research with impact in practice.   A key feature of the programme is the emphasis on both breadth and depth of understanding of social policy analysis in its broader economic, social, environmental and political contexts.

Why this course at Marjon?

Explore policy from both British and International perspectives.

Develop opportunities for global, employer and digital engagement through which to create a greater capacity for social policy practice and knowledge exchange.

Develop confidence, capabilities and creativity to flourish in the worlds of study and employment.

Students say...

Simon Kelly

"The course is engaging and gives you the freedom to explore policy areas that you are passionate about. The material and the exceptional support and knowledge of the lecturers has helped me develop skills of researching, interpreting and evaluating data. I'm developing a balance of critical thinking and creativity, whilst making a connection between policy and the real world. I would highly recommend this course to anyone considering it."

This course is perfect if you're curious about

How is the concept of quality constructed in policy for early years education?

What impact will the withdrawal of the housing cost element of universal credit have on young people?

To what extent does the Academies Act shape education provision?

Do behaviour and inclusion policies maintain structure or promote division?

We work closely with staff and students from Marjon, and the collaboration has been very effective. Marjon has joined the sector in finding ways of delivering the recommendations of Plymouth’s ‘Fairness Commission Report’ and is partnered with us in defining and measuring the sector in a ‘State of the Sector’ report, and is now actively engaged in setting up a more robust, sustainable and self-owned infrastructure organisation for the voluntary and community sector in the city.
Jackie Clift - Plymouth Octopus Project

What might you become?

MA Social Policy graduates could expect work in a wide range of posts across the third-sector public services, education, government and business.  These could include roles in central and local government departments, community bodies, charities, housing and health organisations, research consultancies and advocacy or campaigning bodies. You’ll gain a wide range of knowledge and transferable skills throughout the programme, including sophisticated skills in research, communication and analysis. Our current students work alongside study in a range of fields in health, housing, social services and education.


Marie Bradwell

“The lecturers are knowledgeable, understanding of our individual needs as students. The taught sessions were insightful and engaging, led by lecturers but enhanced through debates. We all came from different background disciplines and this created an interesting and dynamic environment. The assessments were challenging, motivating and most of all enjoyable. On a personal level this course has supported me in finding self-confidence and in doing so has given me a voice."

Marie is now a PhD student at Marjon.

Agnes Cioffi

“The course was engaging and helped me make links between theory and practice. All the lecturers are passionate and supportive. I have made long-lasting friendships with fellow students, sharing our experiences enhanced our learning and all are passionate about analysing and challenging policies in their respective fields. Through studying the course, new opportunities have arisen which have enabled me to f lourish academically, and I have been able to enhance my career as a result.”

Agnes is now a University Lecturer.

Modules for this course


1st Year

Social policy analysis
This module will assist you in identifying key concepts and techniques to help you analysis policy in your chosen field.
Contemporary Issues in social policy research
You will discuss historical and contemporary research themes and issues, enabling you to identify and construct your own perspective on social policy analysis.
International social policy analysis
In this module you will be able to debate the discourses of globalisation and social policy from different cultural and ideological perspectives.
Research in social policy contexts
Building on your undergraduate research methods, we explore the methodologies useful in researching social policy and practice, we discuss the ethical issues relating to researching in the social sciences, and we will help you become prepared to commence you own project. You will present your ethical considerations at the end of year programme conference.

2nd Year

Independent social policy learning project
The module will enable students to explore the key ideas, approaches and principles applied to a student selected topic area.
This is your time to focus on your specialism. In your research project, supported by staff, you will design, complete and present a piece of research in your chosen field, culminating with a presentation at the end of year programme conference.

Fees and funding

Fees UK students: £6,500

Fees for International students: £12,000

Teaching and assessment

How will you be taught?

Small group tutorials and seminars once a week, a twilight session, supported by directed group activity and online activities and reading. In year 2 you are supported through your independent projects through individual and group tutorials.

How will you be assessed?

Via essays, presentations and visual media such as posters and websites.

Course leader

Dr Jon Ord

Jon worked for 20 years as a youth work practitioner in a variety of settings and brings that knowledge and commitment to youth work to his teaching and research. He is particularly interested in the relationship between theory and practice of youth work, the impact of policy on practice, the management of youth and community work and outdoor education. Jon also leads a major research project into the value and impact of youth work on the lives of young people in Europe.

View full profile

More information

If you want to undertake postgraduate study and are wondering how to finance this you can now access a loan for up to £10,000 to support whether you want to study part time or full time. More details can be found here.

What our partners have to say:

"Citizens Advice Plymouth is a member of a networked group of independent charities that work across the England, Scotland and Wales. There is an identified gap within research and we are pleased to join with Plymouth Marjon University Masters programme. We feel that with this partnership we would really be able demonstrate the value that advice has for the city and the impact on people’s lives once their issues have been resolved. This is a really exciting opportunity and we welcome the opportunity to be involved."

Emma Handley, Chief Executive Officer, Plymouth Citizens Advice Bureau

"A sound understanding of policy processes and the political, social and scientific discourses that inform policy making will equip the graduates of this course with some key skills. Social Policy is one of the major determinants of health at a population level and many Public Health practitioners study social policy before going on to complete specialist Public Health training."

David Schwartz, Office of the Director of Public Health, Plymouth.

MA Social Policy Partner Logos

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All postgraduate courses


  • Applied Sport Psychology - MSc
  • Coaching and Mentoring - PG Cert
  • Communication Disorders - MRes
  • Counselling and Psychotherapy for Children and Young People – MSc
  • Early Years - MA
  • Early Years with Initial Teacher Training - PG Dip
  • Education - Coaching, Mentoring and Leadership - MA
  • Education - Disability - MA
  • Education - Leadership - MA
  • Education - MA (Plymouth and Truro Campuses)
  • Literature for Children and Young Adults - MA
  • Management for a Sustainable Future - MSc (Open Distance)
  • Master of Research (MRes Courses) Framework
  • Primary Education (PGCE) including School Direct and Teacher Apprenticeships - PGCE
  • Professional Education Practice - MA (Open Distance)
  • Psychology - MSc
  • Psychology of Leadership - MSc
  • Public Health - MPH
  • Secondary Education (PGCE) including School Direct and Teaching Apprenticeships - PGCE
  • Social Policy - MA
  • Sport and Exercise Science - MSc
  • Sport Rehabilitation - MSc
  • Youth and Community Practice: Research and Leadership - MA
  • Youth and Community Work - MA

School of Sport, Health & Wellbeing  Marjon Business


  • Business (BSc Hons)
  • Business and Law (BA Hons)
  • Football Development and Coaching (BA Hons)
  • Football Science (BSc Hons)
  • Health and Wellbeing Practitioner (BSc Hons)
  • Leadership and Management for Business (BA Hons)
  • Osteopathic Medicine (MOst)
  • Physical Education (BA Hons) (non QTS)
  • Physical Education with Dance (BA Hons)
  • Psychology (BSc Hons)
  • Psychotherapy and Counselling (BSc Hons)
  • Speech and Language Therapy (BSc Hons)
  • Sport and Exercise Psychology (BSc Hons)
  • Sport and Exercise Science (BSc Hons)
  • Sport Business Management (BSc Hons)
  • Sport Coaching and Physical Education (BA Hons)
  • Sport Development and Coaching (BA Hons)
  • Sport Development and Coaching (FdA)
  • Sport Rehabilitation and Conditioning (BSc Hons)
  • Sports Therapy (BSc Hons)

School of Education, Marjon Teacher Education Partnership and School of Arts and Humanities


  • Acting (BA Hons)
  • Childhood Practice (BA Hons)
  • Criminology (BA Hons)
  • Criminology and Law (BA Hons)
  • Criminology and Psychology (BA Hons)
  • Early Years (FdA)
  • Education Studies (BA Hons)
  • Education Studies and Psychology (BA Hons)
  • English (BA Hons)
  • English Language and Communication (BSc Hons)
  • Forensic Investigation (BSc Hons)
  • History - BA (Hons)
  • Journalism (Sport Journalism) (BA Hons)
  • Journalism (BA Hons)
  • Journalism with Photography (BA Hons)
  • Learning and Teaching (FdA)
  • Musical Theatre (BA Hons)
  • Outdoor Adventure Education (BA Hons)
  • Outdoor Learning in Early Years and Primary Education (BA Hons)
  • Performing Arts Education (BA Hons)
  • Physical Education in Secondary Education (11-16 with enhancement) (with QTS) (BEd Hons)
  • Primary Education (BA Hons)
  • Primary Education (Early Years) (with QTS) (BEd Hons)
  • Primary Education (with QTS) (BEd Hons)
  • Special Educational Needs and Disability Studies (BA Hons)
  • Youth and Community Work (BA Hons)
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