Inequality and Society MSc

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Course starts: 14 October 2019Apply now

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Course starts: 14 October 2019Apply now

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Develop an interdisciplinary and cutting-edge understanding of local, national and global inequality issues. Explore strategies for change. Research an area of inequality to specialise in by the end of the course. Gain a career in the public, voluntary or education sectors or take your studies to PhD level.

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Overview

In this theoretical and research-based course, you'll examine the major causes of inequality in our world such as, why do some groups face disadvantage? You'll also study what sustains that idea and how these groups are interrelated, including what society can do to tackle this. Take advantage of a broad range of optional modules on topics such as health, sexualities, gender, domestic abuse, childhood and socio-economic inequalities. You'll understand the nature of intersectionality, including factors such as gender, sexuality, ethnicity, age and how certain groups face unique forms of disadvantage.

Why us?

  • We have award-winning staff in the areas of equality and diversity and teaching and learning
  • ‘World-leading' research in Social Work and Social Policy, according to the latest Research Excellence Framework (REF)
  • Bespoke weekly 'Study Skills Sessions' to ensure that you have academic support, access to the library facilities and an understanding of putting together academic work at MSc level
  • 95.3% of our graduates are in employment or further study within six months of graduating, according to DLHE 2016/17 (based on UK postgraduate students)
  • A professional opportunity to present your dissertation research findings at an MSc conference at the end of your studies, which is great for your professional development

Course structure

Full-time

This route is over one year from October to September. The course will typically be taught one afternoon (1-4pm) and one evening (5-8pm) per week on a Tuesday, to fit around work and childcare commitments. There will also be two mandatory ‘dissertation days’ to prepare you for your dissertation research which will typically be a full day over two Saturdays between October and September.

Study Skills sessions are ran regularly in semester one to support your academic work. They will offer workshops on topics such as, understanding academic language, interpreting statistics, constructing an argument and critical thinking and wiring. This will help to smooth your transition to masters level study.

Part-time

This route is over two years. A typical layout will be one core module in semester one and one optional module in semester two, over your first year of study (this will be on a Tuesday afternoon/evening as stated above). In your second year, you will complete a further core module and an optional module. You will also complete your dissertation module over the course of your second year; this will be taught on two Saturdays between October and September.

Study Skills sessions are ran regularly in semester one to support your academic work. They will offer workshops on topics such as, understanding academic language, interpreting statistics, constructing an argument and critical thinking and wiring. This will help to smooth your transition to masters level study.

Other commitments

There is a mandatory ‘Employability Conference’ which is held once a year and you must also take part in an ‘MSc Inequality and Society Dissertation Conference’ toward the end of your programme. We would also encourage students to attend other voluntary training courses and opportunities that fall on other days, but most of these will be given to you at the start of the course so you can plan around it.

A typical week for you, whether full-time or part-time, will include interactive lectures, seminars, workshops, group and individual work, and computer-based learning. Throughout the course, you'll have one-to-one support from academic staff, and you'll also be assigned a tutor to offer you pastoral support. 

Your progress will be assessed with written coursework and essays, reports, research projects, presentations and exams (subject to module choices).

Semester 1, core modules:

  • Inequality, Diversity and Intersectionality: Theory and Practice (30 credits) 

What is intersectionality? How do we apply this to our professional lives and what are the theories surrounding it? This module explores the history of civil rights, equality laws, legislation and policies which have led to intersectional approaches today. You will learn interesting theories and methodologies surrounding intersectional approaches to change as well as skill development in making professional decisions in the diverse contexts of twenty-first century organisations.

  • Research and Evidence (30 credits)

This module will prepare you as a social researcher to plan, construct and implement a researchable problem. You'll be introduced to the different methods used by social researchers to examine and analyse our social world. You will learn important software to help your research further, such as SPSS for quantitative research and NVivo for qualitative research.

Semester 2, optional modules (choose two):

  • Mind, Body and Health Inequalities (30 credits)

What are the physical and mental health inequalities faced by people in the UK? In this module, you'll examine historical and current inequalities in both physical and mental health in the UK and globally. Inequality is treated from the perspective of the effect of social class, gender and ethnicity and the interrelationship between them. This will include not only mortality and morbidity rates but the impact of inequalities on health workers and service delivery systems. 

  • Fear of a Queer Planet? Sexuality and Inequality (30 credits)

What does it mean to be LGBTQI+ today in the social world? What are the structural barriers and inequalities faced by people across the globe? These questions will form the basis of this module as struggles over LGBTQI+ identity politics, human rights and inequalities have become more prominent in world politics. You'll examine key debates, movements and changes around an increasing awareness of sexuality and gender identity and will be encouraged to explore the issues faced by queer lives, communities, cultures and societies both locally and across the globe. 

  • Global Childhoods (30 credits)

This module is a critical, cross-disciplinary examination of the global cultures of children and young people. It explores the ways in which young people in diverse places and spaces participate in and express social and cultural values and practices. It seeks to understand culture in the contexts of everyday social practice and the shared values and beliefs of distinct social groups. You will explore the lived experiences of children as well as their knowledge and cultures.

  • Risk, Austerity and Neoliberalism (30 credits)

How has austerity and economic/social policy affected our lives and services? Has this created further inequalities? In an increasingly global world, we are at the mercy of economic policies that affect the NHS, education, the Third Sector, youth policy, social care of older people and offender management. This module will examine the role of neoliberalism and austerity in increasingly ‘risky’ times, including the effects of these on societies, communities and neighbourhoods.

  • Gender-based Violence and Society (30 credits)

Are all relationships equal? What is it about personal relationships that creates a context for violence? How might this violence be addressed? This module looks at gender-based violence in society and how it is linked with gender, patriarchy and intimacy. You will explore private and hidden gender-based violence/s, namely domestic violence including honour-based violence, forced-marriage and the impact on children. You will also critically explore how gender based violence has been addressed by the criminal justice system and its levels of success.

Semester 3, core modules:

  • Inequality and Society Dissertation (60 credits)

Become a specialist and use your research training, theory and subject knowledge to investigate an area of inequality or inequalities in the social world either locally or globally and investigate solutions to them. You will have the opportunity to present your research findings and solutions from your research at an MSc conference in front of your peers and staff.

  • You can access free Wi-Fi throughout the University campus, so you can work from anywhere. If you don't want to carry a laptop around, just use one of the University’s PCs or Apple Macs. We have hundreds of computers for you to use in the Murray Library, St Peter's Library, and the David Goldman Informatics Centre. If you ever have any technical problems, just ask the friendly helpdesk team.

    IT provision
  • We’ve got thousands of  books and e-books, with many more titles available through the inter-library loan service. We also subscribe to a comprehensive range of print and electronic journals so you can access the most reliable and up-to-date academic and industry articles.

    Library resources which you might find particularly useful include:

    • JSTOR (short for ‘Journal Storage’), which provides access to important journals across the humanities, social sciences and sciences
    • Project Muse, which provides over 180 full-text humanities and social sciences journals
    • SocINDEX with full-text articles, which is probably the world's most comprehensive and highest-quality sociology research database
    • Archival Sound Recordings with over 12,000 hours of recordings
    • Lexis, which provides access to legal information as well as full-text newspaper articles
    • Psychology and Behavioural Sciences Database, which includes full-text journal articles on topics spanning emotional and behavioural sciences, psychiatry and psychology
    Library Services - social sciences
  • Map and directions

Facilities

When it comes to IT provision you can take your pick from hundreds of PCs as well as Apple Macs in The David Goldman Informatics Centre and St Peter’s Library. There are also free WiFi zones throughout the campus. If you have any problems, just ask the friendly helpdesk team.

Entry requirements

We usually require applicants to hold at least a second class honours degree (usually a 2:1 or above) or equivalent. 

Experience may be counted towards your application. We welcome applicants with degrees in areas such as social sciences, psychology, business, law, education, humanities, health, arts, technology and the sciences.

Applicants whose first language is not English must achieve a minimum IELTS score of 6.5 in all four areas.

Accreditation of Prior Learning (APL)

If you feel you already know some of the topics covered in this course, either due to previous learning or from experience of work, then you may not need to study all of the course.

Accreditation of Prior Learning (APL) is the name given to the process of gaining credit towards a qualification because of something you have learnt in the past. If you are eligible for APL you won't have to learn the same topic again, so you can be exempt from a module, set of modules or year of a course.

Fees and finance

The annual, full-time fee for this course is:

  • £6,000 if you are from the UK or EU
  • £12,500 if you are an international student

Part-time fees are £361 per 10 credits. Please note that part-time courses are not available to international students who require a Tier 4 visa to study in the UK.

If you are not sure whether you qualify as a UK, EU or international student, find out more in our Help and Advice article.

Take a look at the Your Finances section to find out about the scholarships and bursaries that may be available to you.

Use our scholarships calculator to see what you may be entitled to.

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This information was correct at the time of publication.

The Sir Tom Cowie Campus at St Peter's by night

Employment

An MSc in Inequality and Society creates a number of career options. Your expert knowledge of equality and diversity, data analysis and strong research skills will be highly prized by employers. You'll become a specialist in your chosen area of inequality, as well as other areas that you choose to study.

Many University of Sunderland postgraduates now work in the fields of human rights, equality and diversity, education, the criminal justice system, the private sector and business, international development, campaign work, advocacy and social research. Many of our graduates also go on to study a postgraduate research qualification such as a PhD. 

Career opportunities

Graduates of this course will be able to forge careers: 

  • As equality and diversity champions in the public/statutory, private, non-profit and education sectors, for example schools, colleges, the armed forces and private businesses
  • Working for the government, private organisations, local authorities and international bodies as a social researcher or policy analyst
  • Working with groups such as BAME, asylum seekers, refugees, LGBTQI+ people and women’s rights.
  • Working in organisations that offer support to other disadvantaged groups such as the homeless, domestic abuse, exploitation and organisations that tackle poverty and exclusion
  • In community and youth work with children, young people, adults and older people
  • Working in organisations that tackle the social causes of health inequalities and public health
  • Human rights research, development and policy, including campaign work on a national or international basis
  • Working locally and globally for international non-governmental organisations (INGOs) and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) in national and international development work, advocacy and research
  • In the criminal justice system, for example the police, probation service, prisons and working to combat hate crimes
  • Working with both victims and perpetrators

Employability Days

At the beginning of the course, a full induction will introduce you to Sunderland Futures, offering a range of career and cv-enhancing services that you can use as a masters student. During the course, 'Employability Days' will be offered to support you in learning new skills, accessing opportunities for PhD study and finding future employment opportunities. There may also be additional training courses offered for you to top up your CV. Please note that these may be on different days to timetabled modules.

Internships

You'll be offered opportunities to engage with short or long-term internships with organisations who are involved with tackling social inequalities. This is a great way to gain experience with cutting-edge organisations as you study and which may form the basis of your final dissertation topic.

MSc Inequality and Society Conference

At the end of the course, you will take part in arranging and presenting your dissertation findings in front of your peers and staff members. This is a supportive experience that allows you to familiarise yourself with presenting research and associated findings in a conference setting, which will enhance your confidence, CV and career development.

Centre for Applied Social Sciences 

The University of Sunderland’s Centre for Applied Social Studies (CASS) combines original academic research with practice-based collaborations and reach-out activities, often working directly with practitioners, policymakers and front-line delivery staff regionally, nationally and internationally. According to the most recent National Research Excellence Framework Exercise, almost half of our outputs are either 'world leading' or 'internationally excellent'.

The mission of CASS reflects that of the University's aim as a civic university: to take an active interest in the social issues that affect the region and beyond by engaging in research and practice-based collaborations that aim to improve living conditions, address inequalities and social exclusion and promote social justice.

Currently our research focuses around three strands: children, young people and families; communities, health and social exclusion; and crime, victims and social justice. CASS regularly hosts visiting speakers and holds events that you will be invited to. This can be an excellent way to learn from the real-life experience of people who already have a strong track record in sociological and social policy related social research. This is a great way to learn from experts in their field.

PhD options

PhD options include:

  • Sociology
  • Criminology
  • Business
  • Health and Social Care
  • Ethnicity
  • Sexuality
  • Gender Studies

In the 2019 Postgraduate Research Experience Survey (PRES), Social Sciences research degrees were ranked 1st (out of 86 institutions) for the question ‘Overall, I am satisfied with the experience of my research degree programme’.

The University was ranked 11th globally (out of 103 institutions) for the same question.

Solving inequalities in society

Drew Dalton, Programme Leader for the course and a Senior Lecturer in Sociology, talks about how welfare reforms and the rising cost of living, coupled with the concerning rise of hate crime and the far right as well as the impact of Brexit, led a team of social scientists to introduce this inequality-focused course. Learn more about how the course came about, its intention, and hear from an applicant in our ‘Solving inequalities in society’ news article.

Meet the team

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