The MSc and MPhil in Comparative Social Policy are full-time programmes, with the MSc running for one year and MPhil for two. The MPhil is an extended version of the MSc, sharing the same teaching in the first year, with an additional option paper and a longer thesis.
In the first term, you will take a core paper, comprising two separate strands. The first – Comparative Social Policy - studies the key principles and institutions of social policy, the development and typologies of welfare states in the OECD area, and key reforms and challenges. The second - Social Policy Analysis – looks at the main approaches and methods to analysing and evaluating social policy.
You will also take a course in comparative research design, statistical methods, systematic reviews and intensive work on methods, with classes in both quantitative and qualitative methods. In the second term you also take the specialised policy option papers. There is no teaching in the third term. You will be expected to use this time to work on your thesis and prepare for the exams and/or assessments which take place in week 9 of the third term (usually late June).
There are four assessed components of the programme:
- Core Paper
- Research Methods
- Option Papers
- Thesis – to be completed in mid-August for MScs and in June of the second year for MPhils.
Your knowledge of the substantive areas of social policy is assessed by a combination of examinations and/or submitted coursework assignments throughout the year.
For the MSc, the three components of the programme (Core Paper, Principles and Practice of Research Design and Methods and the Option Paper) all have equal weight (22% each). The remaining marks (34%) are allocated to the thesis.
For the MPhil, there are four components of the programme (Core Paper, Research Methods and two Option Papers). Each of these carries the same weighting of marks - 15% each - and the thesis comprises 40%.
All components are marked using a numerical scale. You need to achieve 50% to pass (a mark below 50% represents a fail). You need to achieve 50% or more in all components of the programme to pass the examination. The examiners may award a distinction for excellence in the whole examination. To obtain a distinction, MSc candidates must either achieve an overall (weighted) mark of at least 70% OR marks on two papers of 70% and above AND no mark less than 64%. MPhil candidates must either achieve an overall (weighted) mark of at least 70% OR marks on three papers of 70% and above AND no mark less than 64%.
For students commencing from 2018, to obtain merit, MSc and MPhil candidates must achieve an overall (weighted) mark of at least 65% and less than 70%. Marks between 69.5% and 69.9% will be rounded up to 70%.
The main criteria for the examiners in judging your exams/assessments are analytic skills, the ability to apply a range of relevant theoretical and methodological approaches, critical awareness of alternative approaches and sources of data, and the overall capacity to shape the material into a coherent and critical response, both in your assessment questions and within your thesis.
The examination standards are appropriate if you have graduated with the equivalent of at least a good upper second-class degree.