MSc Policy Research

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Faculty Faculty of Social Sciences and Law
Awards available MSc , PG Certificate (Postgraduate Certificate), PG Diploma (Postgraduate Diploma)
Programme length One year full-time
Two to five years part-time
Part-time study available Yes
Open to international students Yes
Number of places 20
Start date September 2016

Programme overview

Researchers, research managers and policy advisers, as well as service planners, are all faced with a growing need for top quality research which is timely and relevant. This programme builds on the links between research and policy in developing the particular skills and capacities needed by policy-oriented researchers, professionals, and postgraduate students interested in carrying out public policy, social policy and social welfare research. We believe this is vital if researchers are to maximise the impact of their work in addressing real issues of concern to policy makers and decision takers.

In addition to providing core research training in philosophy and research design in the social sciences and introductions to and further approaches in quantitative and qualitative methods in the social sciences, the programme offers elective courses in areas of the school's particular research expertise, notably child and family welfare, gender and violence, health and social care, poverty and social exclusion, and policy-oriented evaluation.

We recognise that students will be joining with relevant, albeit varied, experience. There will, therefore, be opportunities for you not only to draw on your own experiences as researchers, managers and policy advisors but also to share these with other participants on the programme. Those who have recently embarked upon a career in policy research or who hope to do so, will find the programme offers a unique combination of academic rigour, up-to-date policy content and relevant skills development.

Fees for 2016/17

Full time fees


Part time fees


Fees quoted are per annum and subject to annual increase.

Funding for 2016/17

The Faculty of Social Sciences and Law has an allocation of 1+3 and +3 ESRC scholarships.

Further information on funding for prospective UK, EU and international postgraduate students.

Programme structure

The programme is delivered through a combination of intensive block teaching and weekly delivery so as to be most accessible to postgraduate students, busy policy professionals and practitioners. The delivery of units on the programme is designed to allow students to accumulate credits flexibly and organise the patterns of attendance to suit their own needs and circumstances.

The structure for the MSc and PG Diploma consists of four core units and two optional units. A dissertation of 10-15,000 words is required for the MSc. The PG Certificate is awarded for the successful completion of three units (two of which must be mandatory units).

Core units

  • Philosophy and Research Design in the Social Sciences
  • Introduction to Quantitative Research Methods in the Social Sciences
  • Introduction to Qualitative Research methods in the Social Sciences
  • Further Quantitative Methods.

Optional units

  • Further Qualitative Methods
  • Domestic Violence: Research; Policy and Activism*
  • Health and Social Care Research*
  • Researching Child and Family Welfare*
  • Researching Poverty, Inequality and Social Inclusion*
  • Economics of Public Policy

* units are offered in alternate years. To check which units are running in a given year, contact the programme team in the School for Policy Studies.

Entry requirements

An upper second-class honours degree (or equivalent). Other qualifications (including those awarded by professional bodies) and relevant professional experience will also be considered. Plus evidence of an ability to benefit from the programme demonstrated through a personal statement.

See international equivalent qualifications on the International Office website.

Application method Online application form
English language requirements Profile E
Further information about English language requirements
Admissions statement Read the programme admissions statement for important information on entry requirements, the application process and supporting documents required.


The program stresses the development of policy research and analysis methods, as well as substantive knowledge. In addition to careers in academia, this program prepares students for careers as policy researchers and analysts, research commissioners and managers in public or private agencies or organizations, both in the UK and internationally.

How to apply
Application deadline:

Not fixed but early application is advised.

International students

Find out more about becoming a student at Bristol, and the support we offer to international students.

I chose Bristol because of its outstanding academic reputation. It's reassuring to be taught by people who truly love their subject - their passion becomes contagious.


REF 2014 results

  • 38% of research is world-leading (4 star)
  • 42% of research is internationally excellent (3 star)
  • 18% of research is recognised internationally (2 star)
  • 2% of research is recognised nationally (1 star)

Results are from the most recent UK-wide assessment of research quality, conducted by HEFCE. More about REF 2014 results.

Get in touch

Senior Postgraduate Admissions Administrator Phone: +44 (0) 117 954 6785 Email:

Senior Postgraduate Admissions Administrator Phone: +44 (0) 117 954 6785 Email:

School for Policy Studies
University of Bristol
8 Priory Road
Bristol BS8 1TZ


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