Postgraduate MSc/PgDip/PgCert

Enabling Social Change





One year

Two year

Next enrolment

September 2025


In a nutshell

This course adopts an innovative approach to examining the changing dynamics of social policy and social change. It draws on the strengths of the social sciences, where staff are engaged in researching issues of poverty, inequality, and exploitation. It is designed to appeal to professionals in public sector and third sector roles as well as graduates of social science and related programmes. 

You will:

  • Develop an advanced understanding of how change happens, exploring the changing zeitgeist, and understanding the dynamic nature of social transformation.
  • Explore the power of public unrest and state responses to the demands for policy change.
  • Learn about the forces and actors that shape social change, by getting to know the work of public sector organisations (including universities), community groups, think tanks, political parties, and lobby/campaign/activist groups.
  • Examine real-life examples of social change from the UK and internationally, including topics such as deep-rooted social inequality, universal basic income, (food) poverty, (un)employment, homelessness, and issues of charity/aid.
  • Gain a deep understanding of theories of social change, and how they relate to the current debates on politics, populism, globalisation, and neoliberalism.
  • Develop practical skills that will help you apply your knowledge and make an impact in the field of social policy and enhance your research and practice skills.

students accepted

This is for you if...


You are excited to explore ‘how change happened’ previously and reflect on ‘how change can/will happen’ in the future.


You are interested in understanding the development of historic and contemporary social policies, addressing how we arrived at today’s policy positions through social movements.


You are willing to critically reflect upon past, present and future policies across a diverse range of themes, including education, precarity, poverty, artificial intelligence, work and (un)employment.


You want to learn from and work with experts and peers who share your vision, in a supportive and collaborative environment encouraging you to enable social change.


You want to learn through ‘live-briefs’ from key external partners to stimulate intellectual discussion about real-world issues.


You want to prepare for a PhD in a social science discipline, where you can conduct original and independent research that advances the knowledge and understanding of your field.

Course details

All about the course

This course sits as a key component within a suite of social science postgraduate courses aimed at developing you into a critical and analytical actor within an evolving social world. The course is split into three core modules that address the essential responsiveness of enabling social change. 

Each module is worth 30 credits, and you can study full-time (one year) or part-time (two years), with a dissertation module worth 60 credits. A Postgraduate Certificate (PgCert) is made up of 60 credits, and a Postgraduate Diploma (PgDip) is made up of 120 credits. The full master's (MSc) is made up of 180 credits. 

Programme modules

Understanding Social Change

This core module seeks to develop an understanding of ‘how change happens’ through campaigning, advocacy, and eventually, policy development/change. It offers critical reflection and examination of past and present social policies within and across society. This module will equip you with a grounding in the theoretical positioning (and real-world critique) of current social policy debates. It also includes a reflective examination of how we arrived at policy positions through movements, campaigns, and problem-solving, and how these have resulted in new areas of socio-political examination.

Making Change Happen

In exploring the drivers of social change, this module, through participatory workshops, focuses on developing a typology of change actions with an emphasis on understanding how individuals and organisations enable/make change. Key partners bring live briefs into the classroom to stimulate group discussion. In the latter part of the module, you will pick up on these key social policy areas and develop theories and mechanisms of change which will be presented as a public-facing assessment.

Applied Research for Practice

Applied Research for Practice is a core research methods module for all programmes. It focuses on building sound knowledge, understanding, and experience of social research methods and professional applications. The content will focus on understanding rigour and process in collecting and analysing (quantitative and qualitative) data and communicating findings. Through hands-on workshops and live-brief activities, you will be supported to understand how social research methods shape research in workplaces. Essential tools covered include needs assessment and stakeholder analyses, log frames and project planning, and monitoring and evaluation. 

Social Sciences Postgraduate Dissertation

This 60-credit module will include a range of workshops to support you in developing and delivering a high-quality postgraduate dissertation assessment. You will be supported to deliver either (a) a traditional 12,000-word dissertation or (b) a 10,000-word report based on a workplace challenge you have used research to explore. 

It is expected that option (b) will be of most benefit to those already working in policy or research roles in organisations. Students will also develop a five-minute poster presentation to be presented at a post-submission seminar event. Students will be supervised on a one-to-one basis. 

Option Module

You are able to take one optional module from the core modules on the other courses within this suite of postgraduate courses.

Changing Lives: Living with Justice and Injustice (CJPP)

This core module will explore people affected by the criminal justice system to develop an advanced understanding of victims, offenders/perpetrators and families who are impacted by crime as well as those people who make up the extensive criminal justice workforce (in public, private and third sector organisations). People with lived experience, for instance, those who have been stopped and searched, have spent time in prison, been the victim of crime and/or work in a criminal justice setting will contribute to the module.

Contributions by individuals/organisations with real-world/life experience and personal accounts of crime and punishment, for instance, JENGbA the campaign group offering support to families and friends of those who believe they have suffered a wrongful conviction under Joint Enterprise will add to the student learning experience. Students will explore fundamental questions about the different people affected by crime using a critical criminological lens to gain an advanced understanding of the importance of lived experience when considering the criminal justice system in the UK.

Supporting Research: Leadership and Impact (ASRM)

This module builds an advanced understanding of both qualitative and quantitative data collection and analysis and the philosophical traditions they are rooted in. This module explores current and likely future trajectories of research in an era of big data and challenges to traditional Western paradigms of research.

The latter part of the module will explore the philosophies, practicalities, and implications of research governance, funding, and infrastructure in academic and real-world contexts. The key to this module is developing you as a future research leader with a sound understanding of the philosophies and principles that underpin impactful research.

Please note that it may not be possible to deliver the full list of options every year as this will depend on factors such as how many students choose a particular option. Exact modules may also vary in order to keep content current. When accepting your offer of a place to study on this programme, you should be aware that not all optional modules will be running each year. Your tutor will be able to advise you as to the available options on or before the start of the programme. Whilst the University tries to ensure that you are able to undertake your preferred options, it cannot guarantee this.

What will I be doing?


This course is taught by an interdisciplinary teaching team who bring specific expertise to module workshops. Teaching colleagues have extensive experience in developing academic and applied thinking in their subject areas. They have experience advising organisations, leading policy development, and conducting research across a range of communities.

Delivery modes reflect the specific aims of each module. The mix of teaching delivery includes:

  • Workshops: Deepen your knowledge and develop a critical understanding through group work, practical activities, case studies, peer and professional review, presentations, and discussion and debate with peers and experts from industry. Sessions will include bespoke live brief and real-world scenario activities introduced by key external partners.
  • Occasional lectures: Provide theoretical and methodological perspectives and knowledge, and guest lectures where speakers from academia and industry will provide insights into key issues and real-world applications in sectors where digital plays a key role.
  • Tutorials: Opportunity for one-to-one feedback and support.
  • One-to-one dissertation supervision: Receive expert advice specific to your dissertation theme/project.

As a postgraduate course, extensive independent learning is also expected and supported through tutorial support and regular check-ins with module and course staff.

Delivery will be from expert colleagues from across the Directorate of Social Sciences, the wider University, and key external partners who will showcase research agendas and projects within and beyond academic settings.


This course is underpinned by applied assessments that are appropriate to each module and relevant to current/future workplaces. Each module will include a range of formative assessment activities within workshops to test your skills. There will be two final summative assessments on each module that will give you a final overall module grade. Examples of these assessments include:

  • Policy briefs that respond to live briefs and real-world change scenarios.
  • Portfolios, which include a combination of reflective diaries, academic or industry-style reports, presentations (to a range of audiences and in different formats), research and digital data analysis exercises, group projects, writing blogs, and research proposals.
  • Fully costed research proposals.
  • Research reports in a variety of formats.
  • Formal and informal presentations (from 5 minutes to 20 minutes).
  • Final 12,000-word dissertation OR 10,000-word applied or work-based project.

At various stages throughout the course, you will be supported to make choices about your assessment pathway. 

The School of Health and Society

The School of Health and Society is a forward-thinking, dynamic school with a commitment to lifelong learning and real-world impact. 

We live in a rapidly changing world, and we’re keen to leave a productive legacy of helping people at all stages of their lives, improving their physical, psychological and social wellbeing. 

Programme Lead

Dr David Beck

Programme Leader and Lecturer in Social Policy

David is an award-winning academic and Social Policy expert, specialising in examining (food) poverty and the social security system. His work principally follows interconnected threads of food poverty, student poverty, and Universal Basic Income (UBI), addressing the socio-political influence of Neoliberalism, changing welfare policies, and devolution. 

External to his work at the University, David is the University of Salford’s representative Principal Partner for the Greater Manchester Poverty Alliance (GMPA), Co-chair of the UBILab Food and UBILab Greater Manchester, and runs a successful social media platform where academic work is made publicly available. 

With a BA, MA, and PhD, along with a PGCert (Bangor) and a PGCAP (Salford), as well as an Advance HE Fellowship, David regularly publishes evidence for UK Government select committees, the House of Lords, the House of Commons, and the Welsh Senedd. 

Employment and stats

What about after uni?

Upon graduation, you could explore a variety of job titles and areas, offering a glimpse into your potential career path. You could find yourself typically working in organisations as diverse as:

  • Local government organisations (including local authorities, transport networks, housing associations etc)
  • National government (Civil Service roles)
  • Third/community sector organisations and trade unions
  • Political organisations (including lobby groups, think tanks and policy developers)
  • Universities and related education organisations


Within these organisations, you could occupy important roles such as:

  • Policy development roles
  • Advocacy and lobbying roles
  • Research including monitoring and evaluation roles
  • Management and leadership roles
  • Advocacy Roles
  • Project officer and project manager roles
  • Teaching, training, and lecturing roles

We also encourage high-achieving students to apply for funding to pursue doctoral study, either at the University of Salford or beyond.

Examples of jobs held by past students include policy analysts, project managers, researchers, advocacy officers, and lecturers, with employment in organisations such as local councils, government departments, non-profit organisations, and universities.

Career Links

The course team maintains deep and extensive partnerships and working relationships with several social policy-focused organisations across Greater Manchester.

  • Greater Manchester Poverty Action (GMPA): The University of Salford, represented by Dr Dave Beck, is a Principal Partner. Benefits to the student include access to a policy-focused organisation working alongside the Mayor of Greater Manchester, involvement in policy development, research, workshops, and knowledge transfer, as well as access to placements and future employment opportunities.
  • Salford City Council: The University of Salford, through Dr Dave Beck and Prof Lisa Scullion, has extensive working relationships with key departments involved in the delivery and examination of active Social Policy and Implementation across Salford.
  • UBILab Greater Manchester: The University of Salford, through Dr Dave Beck (co-chair of UBILabGM), collaborates with the UBILabNetwork to establish a Greater Manchester-focused area of social welfare and policy development, engaging students across Greater Manchester in researching Social Policy and Social Welfare.

Research and partnerships with these organisations inform programme development and delivery. Workshops draw extensively on key policies and the experiences of these key stakeholders. 

Throughout the programme, live briefs and real-world scenarios will introduce you to key dilemmas relevant to the sector, ensuring that all learning has an applied practical focus. You can also opt to undertake an applied project for your dissertation, which can be developed in consultation with a key partner. 

Further study

If this programme develops your passion for the social sciences and the issues, challenges and experiences of social change and you want to extend this into doctoral study, the programme team will support you in developing a PhD proposal and explore routes to funding. 

Visit our Doctoral School page to find out more. 


What you need to know

Applicant profile

You will be an adaptable, reflective, and critically aware student who is open to the nuances of sociological discourse, debate, and the political economy. Or a graduate who has achieved a good standard of undergraduate education yet has the desire to develop this to an advanced level with industry and political awareness of policy development and change, social advocacy, and engagement. You should be proficient in academic skills and open to the development of new and innovative forms of teaching, learning, and assessment. 

Industry experience is desirable; however, it is unnecessary at this stage. You should have an active interest in the socio-political and socio-economic debates of welfare ideology and provision, and how the power of activism and trade unions informs the development of policy. 

Standard entry requirements

Undergraduate degree

A lower second-class (2:2) or above in an undergraduate degree is required.

English Language Requirements

International applicants will be required to show proficiency in English. An IELTS score of 6.5 (with no element below 6.0) is proof of this. 

If you need to improve your written and spoken English, you might be interested in our Pre-sessional English course

Alternative entry requirements

Accreditation of Prior Learning

We welcome applications from students who may not have formal/traditional entry criteria but who have relevant experience or the ability to pursue the course successfully. 

The Accreditation of Prior Learning (APL) process could help you to make your work and life experience count. The APL process can be used for entry onto courses or to give you exemptions from parts of your course. 

Two forms of APL may be used for entry: The Accreditation of Prior Certificated Learning (APCL) or the Accreditation of Prior Experiential Learning (APEL). 

English Language Requirements

International applicants will be required to show proficiency in English. An IELTS score of 6.5 (with no element below 6.0) is proof of this.

If you need to improve your written and spoken English, you might be interested in our Pre-sessional English course

How much?

Type of study Year Fees
Full-time home 2025/26 £9,100.00per year
Full-time international 2025/26 £17,000.00per year
Part-time 2025/26 Part-time costs will be calculated on a pro rata basis.

Additional costs

You should also consider further costs which may include books, stationery, printing, binding and general subsistence on trips and visits.

Apply now

All set? let's apply

Still have some questions? Register for one of our Open Days or contact our course enquiries team:

By email:
By phone: +44 (0)161 295 4545

Enrolment dates

September 2025

September 2026