Explore Social Policy  

Discover the themes, the research and the people in Social Policy at the University of Edinburgh 

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Studying Social Policy

The Social Policy subject area is based at the School of Social and Political Science, located in the College of Humanities and Social Science of the University of Edinburgh. Indeed, Social Policy is approaching its centenary celebrations, as it was in the year 1918 that the ‘Edinburgh School of Social Studies and Training’ was founded. The ‘School’ joined the University of Edinburgh in 1928 and later became known as ‘Department of Social Administration’. In 1972 the first Social Policy honours degrees were instituted and about a decade later, during the 1980s, it was renamed to ‘Department of Social Policy and Social Work’. It was during the mid-1990s when Social Policy and Social Work separated; and finally, in 2001, Social Policy joined the new School of Social and Political Studies (later Science).

Social Policy at the University of Edinburgh conducts independent, high quality, comparative multi-disciplinary and inter-disciplinary research on a variety of social and public policy areas, including the labour market, health, crime, education, social security, privatization, childhood, political participation, family policy, gender equality, constitutional change and others. In addition to the content of policies, Social Policy also engages strongly with the processes of government and the making of policy. Social Policy as a subject area has traditionally placed a strong emphasis on collaboration with practitioners and policy makers, so that research could be put to use in informing practice in order to challenge inequalities in society. Today it continues to devote considerable energy to impact and knowledge transfer activity, not just within Scotland and the UK but also in Europe and globally. Social Policy has developed and continues to sustain a strong international and national reputation for the quality of its research, and for its analyses of social and policy change both within the UK and in continental Europe.

The Subject Group is also the institutional home of the Global Public Health Unit. GPHU offers MSc Programmes and a range of policy-focused public health courses as well as a PhD programme.

Our focus is on research-led but student-focused teaching. The subject group offers a broad range of programmes and courses. At undergraduate level we offer our interdisciplinary "Government, Policy and Society" degree as well as a great number of joint honours programmes with Social Policy and a second subject area (such as Politics, Sociology, Economics, Law, as well as others). At postgraduate level we offer taught MSc degrees in Policy Studies, Comparative Public Policy, a Master of Public Policy (MPP) with the Academy of Government, our MSc in Childhood Studies as well as the Masters degree in Social Research and a PhD programme.

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