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 builds on the links between research and policy in developing the particular skills and capacities needed by policy-oriented researchers, professionals and postgraduate students who are 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 issues of real concern to policymakers.
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. It also offers optional units in our particular areas of research expertise, such as child and family welfare, gender and violence, health and social care, poverty and social exclusion, and policy-oriented evaluation.
We recognise that a number of our students will have relevant - albeit varied - experience. Therefore, there will be opportunities for you to draw on your own experiences as researchers, managers and policy advisers.
Core units are taught in collaboration with other postgraduate programmes, providing a co-learning environment and giving you the opportunity to interact and share insights with other students working towards research degrees in disability studies, social work research and health and wellbeing.
The programme is delivered through a combination of intensive block teaching and weekly delivery to ensure it is as accessible as possible to postgraduate students as well as busy policy professionals and practitioners. The way units are delivered means you can accumulate credits flexibly and organise your patterns of attendance to suit your needs and circumstances.
The MSc consists of four core units and two optional units, 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 a relevant social sciences discipline, such as sociology, social work, social policy, social administration, psychology, economics, political science, business administration and management, public administration and management, gender studies, development studies, health, history, philosophy and law. Other academic backgrounds and relevant professional or voluntary experience (minimum 18 months) will also be considered.
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.
If English is not your first language, you will need to reach the requirements outlined in our profile level E.
Further information about English language requirements and profile levels.
Fees and funding
- UK: full-time
- £11,000 per year
- UK: part-time (two years)
- £5,500 per year
- Overseas: full-time
- £22,000 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.
University of Bristol students and graduates can benefit from a 25% reduction in tuition fees for postgraduate study. Check your eligibility for an alumni discount.
Funding for 2023/24
Further information on funding for prospective UK and international postgraduate students.
The 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, or 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.
- Enquiries Team
- +44 (0) 117 394 1649