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Social Justice **

**We are unable to offer these programmes full time in the academic year 2013/14, however some modules from are available as an associate student or studying part time. Please also see programmes offered by International Health (IIHD), in particular Social Justice, Development and Health.

Anger about injustice motivates many people to get involved with action groups, campaigns and support services in their communities, in voluntary organisations or in social movements. The quest for social justice has also been an enduring motivation for social scientists’ attempts to understand the social world. Demands for social justice emerge in multiple campaigns against poverty, discrimination, disenfranchisement, environmental destruction or for equality. At a global level social movements respond to the policies of neo-liberalism, colonial and post-colonial exploitation, inequalities in access to resources and international migration. Social justice must be understood from the experiences and struggles of people who are subject to injustices and those who express solidarity.

Why QMU?

The roots of Queen Margaret University lie in a struggle for social justice. The institution which was to become QMU was established in 1875 by the women’s movement as part of its campaign for access to education for working class women. In more recent times, QMU has been at the forefront of building innovative collaborations with local communities in East Lothian, Midlothian and Edinburgh, voluntary and public sector services and with Scottish and international social movement organisations. Through our validated courses, research and extra-curricular workshops and projects, academic staff at QMU have been working to produce relevant learning opportunities: with campaigners against pollution; vulnerable adults with learning disabilities; lesbian and gay rights groups; refugees and asylum seekers; campaigns against violence against women; and people simply working to improve conditions in their communities. The Masters courses in social justice build on this experience.

The emergence of environmental justice movements, community campaigns and the environmentalism of the poor has meant that demands for social justice must be addressed alongside the mainstream environmental concerns of protection of ecological sustainability and justice for future generations. Friends of the Earth Scotland was at the forefront of making these connections in its mobilising and campaigning, and QMU’s MSc Environmental Justice draws on collaborative programmes with Friends of the Earth Scotland, working with communities tackling local pollution. The recognition that social injustice is gendered has been a feature of QMU since its origins. Scottish public policy has been internationally recognised for its approach to addressing the continuing problem of violence against women by tackling its roots, in gender inequalities in society. Scottish Women’s Aid has been at the forefront of promoting and implementing this approach, and QMU’s MSc Gender and Social Justice is part of our ongoing collaboration with Scottish Women’s Aid. Central to debates about gender justice is the interconnections between gender and sexuality and the claims to justice of queer politics. Our Postgraduate Diploma in Gender Justice provides an opportunity to focus just on the modules which address the theory behind this aspect of social justice. The MSc Social Justice, Development and Health is delivered primarily by QMU’s internationally recognised International Institute for Health and Development and focuses on the demands for justice in the resource poor and impoverished Global South. Or if you prefer not to specialise, our MSc Social Justice allows you to explore the many interlocking aspects of social justice.

Links with industry

It will be clear that QMU has developed strong institutional links with a number of social movement organisations and many of the academic staff on the course have research, policy and activist involvement with other groups. Students on social justice courses are required to have an involvement with a representative, mobilising, campaigning or service providing organisation through which they can reflect on their studies and seek to apply what they are learning about social justice.

Approaches to learning and teaching

The teaching and learning styles seek to reflect relevance to social justice. Drawing on the methods of lifelong and popular education, lectures, seminars and workshops are designed to encourage students’ critical reflection on their own social and political situation, including their experience with service and campaigning organisations and projects undertaken during the course. Teaching staff draw on their own involvement with social justice projects, as researchers and as activists, and students are encouraged to bring their own activities as material for learning. Diverse delivery patterns contribute to a mixture of students’ experiences, including from opposing sides in the conflicts for social justice, all of which can be drawn on for learning alongside the academic content of the course.


Postgraduate study in social justice will suit campaigners and activists, and people employed or volunteering in public service, social movements or community organising who wish to develop their theoretical understanding of the issues which they face. It is a space for those who are considering changing their careers to something closer to an issue which they feel passionate about, or seeking an alternative career outwith mainstream employment.

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