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Comparative Focus

Programme structure

The IMCSP programme is a full-time one-year taught Masters programme. As an IMCSP student you will graduate upon the completion of 30 credits.

You will focus your studies and independent research on making comparisons of the major public policies to address rapidly changing social problems. You will examine the policy responses in managing these rapid changes with focus on the key areas of social policy analysis: (1) ageing, families and the life course; (2) education, employment and life-long learning; (3) health, well-being and social care; (4) housing, spatial differentiation and urban planning; (5) welfare regimes and governance.

In the Autumn Term you will take five compulsory courses:
In the Spring and Summer Terms you will take three courses and complete a research project tailored to your own personal interest:

Social Policy Analysis: Comparative Perspectives: This course explores the field of policy analysis with particular focus on how policy is formulated and delivered in different institutional contexts.
Comparative Social Policy in Greater China and East Asia: In this course you will critically examine how governments, private enterprises and civil society actors in Greater China and East Asia respond to major social policy challenges.
Comparative Social Policy Research Methods: This course offers students the opportunity to explore key dimensions of social policy through ‘hands on’ data exercises based on key research techniques in comparative social policy.
Globalisation, Policy and Society: This course provides students with an introduction to debates over the nature of globalisation and its consequences for social policy, well-being and social divisions. 
Asia Pacific Comparative Development and Policy Symposium: This course will enable you to interact with leading international researchers in comparative social policy, development, and governance.

Understanding Social Indicators and Social Policies: In this course you will explore major social indicators and learn to evaluate and compare processes of social change across different national contexts.
Dialogue with Policy Practitioners: Theory and Practice: In this course you will engage in field visits to government offices, political parties, research and policy institutes in Hong Kong.
Regional Policy Study and Visit in Greater China and East Asia: In this course you will have the opportunity to visit one major university Greater China and East Asia.
Comparative Social Policy Research Project: In this course, you will demonstrate their analytical ability in the area of comparative social policy through the execution of an individually supervised research topic of your own choice.


You may download the 2018-19 Student Handbook here.

Additional IMCSP student support

  • You will take part in the Postgraduate Writing Enhancement Programme in the Autumn Term. This course will enable you to improve your basic analytical and academic writing skills.
  • The University offers a range of Language Enhancement Courses to improve your communication skills in English, Cantonese, and/or Putonghua/Mandarin.
  • In the Spring Term, the IMCSP JobEx will provide you with tailored support to complete your personal CV, identify your potential future employers, and complete your own cover letter for future job applications.
  • We will also offer internship opportunities and research assistantships to enhance your work and research experience on a case-by-case basis.


Liberal Arts Education at Lingnan

Liberal Arts Education at Lingnan University means you will find a friendly and intellectually stimulating teaching and learning environment in which class discussions, group work and independent learning are strongly encouraged. Comparative social policy draws on all key Social Science disciplines, including Sociology, Political Science, Economics, Health Studies, Education Sciences and Urban Studies. It provides students from different backgrounds a holistic perspective on the key social questions of our time. The IMCSP programme is designed to emphasise your own personal development and encourage you to consider your own role in creating a better society. 

Teaching and learning in the classroom will primarily take place in the form of informal lectures and group tutorials with classes typically no larger than 30 students. You will achieve 15 credits – or half of the IMCSP programme – in experiential courses asking you participate in international conferences, or engage in field visits within and outside of Hong Kong. A range of assignments will be used to evaluate your achievement of learning outcomes. Continuous assessment may include written assignments, individual projects, group presentations, field notes and in-class presentations. Summative assessments may include essays, research reports, and comparative case analyses.

Comparative Social Policy Research Project

Once all coursework is completed, you will work on your Comparative Social Policy Research Project resulting in a final report of normally around 8,000-10,000 words. Due the individual nature of students' research interests the topics studied vary considerably, but projects may ask, for example:

  • How is people's experience of poverty and material deprivation affected by existing social policies in Hong Kong and Mainland China?
  • Is the public support for pensioners in Hong Kong adequate and are there any policy lessons that can be learned from other Greater Chinese or East Asian cases?
  • What is the international evidence on the effectiveness of government initiatives to increase health care coverage in low-income countries?
  • How do different higher education policies influence young people's transition into employment, family formation and housing tenure?
  • What are the factors impacting the work-life balance of families with children in different national and international contexts?
  • What is the international evidence on conditional cash transfers in Mainland China, Latin America, South Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa - do they work?
  • What are the key similarities and differences in social policy related NGO's operating in different parts of the world?
  • How does the diffusion of policy ideas 'happen' within the Asian Development Bank, World Bank or Organisation of Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD)?