MSc Policy Research
Researchers, research managers, policy advisers and service planners are all faced with a growing need for research that is timely and relevant. This programme develops the skills and capacities needed to undertake high-quality social research that speaks to a wide variety of policy contexts.
The programme provides core research training in philosophy and research design in the social sciences, along with introductions to, and further approaches in, quantitative and qualitative methods in the social sciences.
While the programme primarily focuses on 'research methods', it also has a clear focus on social justice and how research can improve policy and the lives of those it impacts. You can choose an optional unit from a range of policy areas such as child and family welfare, gender and violence, health and social care, poverty and social exclusion, and policy-oriented evaluation. The programme also provides the opportunity to further investigate policy areas of interest through the assignments and dissertation.
We recognise that many of our students will have relevant experience as researchers, service managers/planners or policy advisers, and there will be space for you to reflect on and share your expertise in these fields.
Some units are taught in collaboration with other postgraduate programmes, providing a co-learning environment where you can interact and share insights with students working towards research degrees in social work research and public policy.
Students on this programme will benefit from being taught by academics who are leaders in their areas of research. The University of Bristol has been ranked 14th in the world for Social Policy according to the QS World University Rankings by Subject 2023.
The programme is delivered through a combination of intensive block teaching and weekly delivery, to ensure it is accessible to both postgraduate students as well as busy policy professionals and practitioners. You can accumulate credits flexibly and organise your patterns of attendance to suit your needs and circumstances.
The MSc consists of five core units and one optional unit, along with a dissertation of 10,000 to 15,000 words.
Visit our programme catalogue for full details of the structure of our MSc in Policy Research.
An upper second-class honours degree or international equivalent in Sociology, Social Care, Social Work, Social Policy, Social Welfare, Public Policy, Public Administration, Business Administration, Management, Social Administration, Political Science, Psychology, Economics, Gender Studies, Development Studies, Health, History, Philosophy, Law.
For applicants who are currently completing a degree, we understand that their final grade may be higher than the interim grades or module/unit grades they achieve during their studies.
We will consider applicants whose interim grades are currently slightly lower than the programme's entry requirements. We may make these applicants an aspirational offer. This offer would be at the standard level, so the applicant would need to achieve the standard entry requirements by the end of their degree. Specific module requirements may still apply.
We will consider applicants whose grades are slightly lower than the programme's entry requirements, if they have at least one of the following:
- evidence of significant, relevant work/voluntary experience (minimum 12 months) in the following sectors/areas: mid- to high-level policy work for local or national government or third sector/voluntary/community-based organisation (Manager, Director, Policy Officer, Researcher, Analyst, Policy Maker, Political/Civil Office);
- a relevant postgraduate qualification (merit or above).
If this is the case, applicants should include their CV (curriculum vitae / résumé) when they apply, showing details of their relevant work experience and/or qualifications.
See international equivalent qualifications on the International Office website.
Read the programme admissions statement for important information on entry requirements, the application process and supporting documents required.Go to admissions statement
Fees and funding
- UK: full-time
- £12,900 per year
- UK: part-time (two years)
- £6,450 per year
- UK: part-time (three years)
- £4,300 per year
- Overseas: full-time
- £25,000 per year
Fees are subject to an annual review. For programmes that last longer than one year, please budget for up to an 8% increase in fees each year.
More about tuition fees, living costs and financial support.
This programme places strong emphasis on the development of policy research and analysis methods, as well as building substantive knowledge. Graduates from our MSc Policy Research can go on to work as policy researchers and analysts, or research commissioners/managers in public or private agencies, both in the UK and internationally.
Potential employers include local or central government departments; voluntary or charitable organisations; national or international non-governmental organisations; and global institutions such as the United Nations.
Alternatively, our MSc provides students with the core training to further their career in academic research with a PhD in Social Policy.