Graduate Programmes

The School of Social Policy, Social Work and Social Justice offers a number of excellent postgraduate programmes, both taught and research based. These programmes include: the well-recognised, CORU accredited, MSocSci in Social Work, the MA in Gender Studies, the MSc in Equality Studies (the only programme of its kind in Europe); Postgraduate Diploma programmes based on all of these Masters programmes; research Masters and structured PhDs. The School also contributes significantly to the College of Social Sciences and Law’s innovative MSc Public Policy programme. Please see below for more information on these postgraduate programmes:

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The MSc in Equality Studies is an interdisciplinary programme that explores a broad range of cutting-edge equality issues. Advancing equality is of major concern in contemporary societies given patterns such the increase in the concentration of wealth, the entrenchment of racism and the continued exposure of gender-based violence. Students on our programme develop a robust understanding of the causes of inequality and explore strategies for advancing equality.  Drawing on knowledge from various academic fields including law, geography, history, and numerous social sciences, students address topics such as human rights, political economy, gender justice, ableism, racism, and climate justice. The learning environment is student centred and participatory. We have welcomed students from across the globe with a wide range of experience and interests including activists, development practitioners, educators, healthcare professionals, public and civil servants and journalists.

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Formerly the MA in Women, Gender and Society, our recently renamed MA in Gender Studies continues to deliver rigorous, critical, dynamic learning in feminisms, sexualities, masculinities, gender debates, politics and activisms.  Over thirty years it has become the most established gender studies programme in Ireland with a strong international reputation for feminist research, scholarship and engagement in public policy and activism.

Our global and intersectional feminist perspectives offer a complex understanding of how oppression and discrimination operate across society, politics and the economy. We celebrate the intersection between knowledge and activism and expose students to a breadth and depth of scholarship in relation to multiple oppressions, discriminations, politics and policies including gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, disability, race, class and age. This programme leads to a well- recognised MA in Gender Studies qualification from one of the top 1% universities in the world.  

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The School of Social Policy, Social Work and Social Justice contributes a number of modules to the College of Social Sciences and Law's innovative Master of Public Policy Programme.

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The MSocSc Social Work was developed for graduates who have completed a degree with a substantial social policy focus who are interested in pursuing a career in social work. It is a two year, full time graduate course providing accredited professional training in social work. The course provides generic social work training that includes two, 14 week, practice placements in a range of social work settings. The course provides an integrated academic and social work practice curriculum that meets the standards set by CORU (the Irish Social Work regulation board), which is widely recognized internationally. Students undertake modules covering a range of social work theories, methods and skills and gain experience in a range of social work practise settings, including child welfare, mental health social work, social work and disabilities, social work and addictions, medical social work and probation.

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The MSocSc Social Work, Welfare and Justice is designed for practicing social workers interested in refining their analytical and management skills through post-qualifying studies, and anyone who wishes to pursue research careers in policy making and analysis in the fields of social policy and social justice. The programme focusses on a range of topics of relevance to policy makers and practitioners. In recent years, the work environment for social work practitioners is becoming globalized. In addition social justice and equality issues are an increasingly prominent concern in social sciences research. The programme provides a range of learning opportunities across a wide range of topics including: housing, health and social care, drugs and alcohol in the community, theory and practice in social work, gender equality, environment, migration, family and social protection.

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This programme is primarily aimed at people who wish to pursue a career in Social Work but who do not have the required Social Policy major component at undergraduate level to meet the CORU accreditation requirements for a 2 year Masters programme in Social Work like the UCD MSocSc Social Work. It would also be very applicable for people wishing to pursue a career in Social Policy formation who do not have a formal undergraduate background in Social Policy.


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The Graduate Diploma in Equality Studies was designed for those who wish to develop an interdisciplinary understanding of Global Justice Issues and explore strategies for change. The course emphasies the relationship of theory to practice with a view to bringing about positive social change. You will learn about and develop your own ideas on a wide range of equality, human rights and global justice issues. The learning environment is student centred and participatory with students from a wide range of backgrounds with diverse experience and interests including community activists, development practitioners, educators, healthcare professionals, civil servants and journalists.

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Formerly the Graduate Diploma in Women, Gender and Society, our recently renamed Graduate Diploma in Gender Studies continues to deliver rigorous, critical, dynamic learning in feminisms, sexualities, masculinities, gender debates, politics and activisms.  Over thirty years it has become the most established gender studies programme in Ireland with a strong international reputation for feminist research, scholarship and engagement in public policy and activism.

Our global and intersectional feminist perspectives offer a complex understanding of how oppression and discrimination operate across society, politics and the economy. We celebrate the intersection between knowledge and activism and expose students to a breadth and depth of scholarship in relation to multiple oppressions, discriminations, politics and policies including gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, disability, race, class and age. This programme leads to a well- recognised Graduate Diploma in Gender Studies qualification from one of the top 1% universities in the world.  

Find out more and apply

The school offers structured PhD study opportunities across its three constituent disciplines.

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This programme provides an interdisciplinary graduate learning and research environment for doctoral studies in the field of public policy. Pooling the resources of the UCD College of Social Sciences & Law and the College of Business, the programme provides doctoral training with considerable flexibility and breadth of interest.

The PhD programme in Public Policy is a research degree that is normally undertaken full-time over 3-4 years (with a part-time option over a longer period).

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Problematic substance use continues to be a major social issue within society, with increases in consumption and use of drugs, increases in drug related deaths and increases in dependency on existing and emerging substances.  International and national drug policy is also heavily contested, with pressure to develop harm reduction based policy rather than the more punitive and abstinence based approach.  This course will explore current and emerging issues in relation to women and substance use, within the Irish and international context.

This course is delivered online, so it is very well suited to professionals as part of continuing professional development. Find out more and apply here.