MSc Comparative Social Change

Graduate Taught (level 9 nfq, credits 90)

The MSc Comparative Social Change is a one­year full time programme which is jointly delivered by the School of Sociology at UCD and Trinity’s Department of Sociology. It provides students with the theoretical frameworks and practical research skills necessary to understand the processes and pressing issues presented by global social change.

  • The programme uses the recent experience of Irish social change in a comparative European and global context to provide training in substantive topics relating to issues of comparative social change.
  • The MSc has a strong international dimension drawing on rich and informative experiences from Ireland, Europe and further afield particularly India, China and Brazil (BRICs).
  • The programme provides advanced training in conceptualising, designing and conducting comparative research, across countries, and examines the role that this can play in policy development.


Careers & Employability

The MSc Comparative Social Change is particularly relevant for students who are interested in pursuing careers in the public and private sector, international institutions and civil society organisations. Students receive a solid academic training in social change issues - such as gender, education and the labour market - which can be applied to real-world problems. This training has the potential to open up career opportunities in fields such as research, policy development and advocacy.

Curricular information is subject to change

Full Time option suitable for:

Domestic(EEA) applicants: Yes
International (Non EEA) applicants currently residing outside of the EEA Region. Yes

The MSc Comparative Social Change is suitable for graduates with a primary degree in Sociology or Social Science or a closely related discipline, such as psychology, philosophy, human geography, history, politics, and economics, who want to develop the skills required to critically explore the social, cultural and economic forces that drive social change today.

The MSc Comparative Social Change has been developed by the Department of Sociology at Trinity College and the School of Sociology at University College Dublin to critically explore the social, cultural and economic forces that drive social change today.

The programme aims to develop students’ knowledge of major social change issues, such as globalisation, the changing roles of women and the interrelated areas of migration, education and employment, and to offer insights into the different forms they take across states.

This programme is suitable for full-time students who are interested in the study of international comparative social change to further their academic, research or professional careers in the public sector, private sector and civil society organisations. The core values of the programme are intended to encourage active, independent learners, who are critical and reflective about international society, and who ideally seek to participate in social change to improve the lives of all. The learning environment is structured around a select range of core and optional modules at Trinity and UCD that critically examine major societal changes in a number of regions and countries across the world, and assess and apply current theories of social change to specific cross-country, institutional and individual cases, provided in small-group settings that encourage and facilitate in-depth discussions of comparative social change. Teaching, learning and assessment are based on critical engagement with the material and skill enhancement involving students as active participants in seminar discussions, presentations and practice-based examples of comparative social change; critical readers, thinkers and writers in their written assignments; and independent researchers in their individually supervised thesis.  

  • Apply different models of social change in constructing a sociologically informed argument about a specific instance of social change
  • Apply the range of research strategies and methodologies available to collect evidence around social change
  • Critically assess the causes and consequences of the major dimensions of social change that have occurred in the last 50 years
  • Demonstrate communication, writing, presentation and debating skills
  • Explain the deployment of different theoretical models of social change
  • Explain the sociological research on the relationship between individuals and social institutions
  • Successfully carry out a substantial piece of research through an individually-supervised dissertation

View All Modules Here

Students are required to accumulate 90 credits in total. The taught part of the course, worth 60 ECTS, is comprised of three core modules and three optional modules. In addition, students complete a dissertation, not exceeding 20,000 words, which counts for 30 ECTS.


90 Credits:  60 Credits Taught Modules 30 Credits Dissertation


Core Modules:

  • Introduction to Comparative Social Change: Concepts and Cases
  • Globalisation and Social Change: India, China and Brazil
  • Research Methods
  • Dissertation 

Optional Modules:

Students must select a minimium of 10 credits and a maximum of 20 credits from each partner University:


  • Comparing Healthcare Systems 
  • Global Responses to Climate Change
  • Nationalism and Social Change
  • Religion in Comparative Perspective
  • Sociological Thinking in the Digital Age
  • Labour, Migration, Conflict
  • Gender and Social Change in a Comparative Context
  • The Migration Challenge: Comparative Educational Perspectives
  • Social Change and Adolescent Health and Well-Being: Issues and Challenges

MSc Comparative Social Change (W360) Full Time
EU          fee per year - € 10100 dc
nonEU    fee per year - € 18787 dc

dcThis is a Joint MSc with Trinity College Dublin (TCD)
***Fees are subject to change

Please note that course fees include the Student Centre Levy at UCD as well as the Student USI Levy Charge Sports Centre Charge at Trinity. 

The course fees are priced very competitively and because of that as well as the joint nature of the programme, no scholarships are available for this programme. Applicants should bear in mind that they become fully registered students at Ireland's top two universities - Trinity College Dublin and University College Dublin - and will have full access to all campus facilities including the libraries, sports centres and postgraduate study facilities. Applicants will have a unique opportunity to study issues of comparative social change in a cosmopolitan environment.  Further tuition fee information, including fee payment deadlines, is available on the UCD Fees website

Please note that UCD offers a number of Masters scholarships for full­time international students, who have been offered a place on a UCD Masters degree programme. For further information please see International Scholarships.


Applicants should normally have a primary degree in sociology or social science, or a closely related discipline.

A Student Grade Point Average (GPA) Equivalent 3.0 out of 4.0 is required (where the grading scale is 0.0 to 4.0) or equivalent result where other grading scale is presented. 

Applicants who do not meet the academic requirements but can confirm professional qualifications and/or experience will be considered. Applicants may be called for an interview.

All candidates are expected to be proficient in written and spoken English. Applicants whose primary language is not English must submit evidence of a certificate of proficiency (such as TOEFL, Cambridge or IELTS). Test results must be less than two years old.

These are the minimum entry requirements – additional criteria may be requested for some programmes 

Monika Pedroso

Class of 2017

When I first came to find this MSc in Comparative Social Change I felt like my search for a postgraduate programme, which lasted almost four years, had finally come to an end. Its comparative approach provides a better understanding of the current international scenario, going beyond European affairs and addressing the dynamics of emergent countries such as Brazil, India and China through the lenses of a contemporary globalisation. Discussions involved ongoing, at times provoking themes such as migration processes and their social and educational implications, the emergence of the neoliberal economy and its political, financial and social repercussions, ethnicity, race and patterns of social exclusion/stratification, among many other relevant themes. Discussions were further enriched by having colleagues from diverse cultural and ethnic backgrounds as well as by having a remarkable team of professors and staff who were at all times very approachable and tried their best to inspire, support and challenge all of us. Furthermore, it was a very interesting experience to be part of a course offered jointly by TCD and UCD as I had the opportunity to meet professionals and to enjoy the structure and facilities of two of the leading educational institutions in Ireland. I would highly recommend this program not only for those who are already pursuing careers in Sociology but also for those who want to have a broader and clearer view of our current society.

The following entry routes are available:

MSc Comparative Social Change FT (W360)
1 Years
Full Time

* Courses will remain open until such time as all places have been filled, therefore early application is advised

UCD Applications page.