Postgraduate Social Sciences at Oxford

With nearly 1,000 academic staff in the social sciences, Oxford University has the largest grouping of social scientists in the UK. As a graduate, you can take a wide choice of courses, all supported by innovative research Degrees range from social sciences with lab-based elements – for example, in geography and archaeology – through to subjects such as politics, economics and law and professionally orientated training in business, education and public policy.

The international nature of research in the social sciences and its impact in both academic and non-academic situations places Oxford at the heart of many important debates around policy and knowledge relating to global challenges. There are 14 departments. At the Department of International Development, students come from all over the world to study the politics and economics of the Global South.

Sometimes, graduate students have previously trained in different areas and come to Oxford to explore a new angle. Take Simukai, for example – he originally trained to be a doctor. He explained, “Throughout my medical studies, I began to realise more and more the importance of politics, of economics and of social structure in shaping health outcomes and I’ve been lucky to have quite a progressive department and a very progressive college.”

Graduate students are taught to develop their critical and independent thinking. “It is truly global, we have a number of countries represented, a number of different disciplines, and so it’s been an incredible experience in terms of forming my own thoughts from a well-rounded perspective.” Warda said.

Oxford has been working within the realms of social welfare for over 100 years, and research and teaching in the department is constantly moving forward. For example, Selcuk is exploring new approaches to poverty analysis. “So, now what I’m trying to do is evaluate the current poverty measures used in the EU and in the US. I think the facilities are the best part of Oxford University and the amazing libraries, let’s say! Some of them are really old, some of them are modern. Social Science Library, for example, is really modern.”

Holly Trujillo added, “We are learning evidence-based practices for evaluating everything from interventions dealing with cognitive behavioural practices to macro-level policy evaluation.”

Students at the Blavatnik School of Government are taught by a global community of leading academics and expert public policy practitioners. This helps them to develop the professional skills and academic knowledge required to address some of this century’s most complex challenges faced by governments around the world.

Diana is studying a Master’s in Public Policy said “We learn how to communicate, to work with peers, to be a critical analyser, to analyse evidence, and overall how to be a good policy-maker. The school is a very young school so they are very eager to know how the course is going. There’s a good balance between lectures that are more general and small seminars when you can go into detail with the different issues.”

It’s only scratched the surface of the social sciences at Oxford. Finding out more about graduate study at the University by visiting

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