Course details: Details | Why study this course | Modules | Fees and funding | Entry requirements | How to apply.
Our Political Science and Social Policy degree programme enable students to study two complementary subjects alongside each other to Honours degree level. Joint Honours students work to the same academic standard as students taking each subject through our Single Honours programmes. Joint Honours students take core modules from each subject area, and choose options from the range of modules available in each half of the programme. BA Social Policy and Political Science welcomes applications from international students.
A Joint Honours degree programme involves the study of two subjects to Honours degree level. If you study a subject as a Joint Honours programme, you work at exactly the same level and to the same academic standard as students taking that subject in a Single Honours programme.
Our students particularly enjoy the opportunities to hear from influential guest speakers about their lives in politics. Recent speakers have included Alistair Darling, David Miliband and John Bercow. Learn more about your student experience.
Please be reassured that the vote to leave the European Union does not mean there will be any immediate material change to the UK university sector’s participation in EU programmes such as Erasmus and study abroad programmes. Visit our EU Referendum information page for more information.
Course details: Why study this course | Modules | Fees and funding | Entry requirements | How to apply.
These degree programmes help you acquire important analytical skills. You learn to find your way among different arguments, rival theories and alternative explanations. You also learn about campaigns, elections, protest movements, policy issues and political ideals.
Politics is not only what political scientists study, but also an activity in which professional politicians, civil servants and ordinary citizens take part. The politics course at Birmingham enables all students to profit from a culture of learning that is aligned with our research ethos - based on critical enquiry, debate and self-motivation.
Politics may be studied with another subject as part of a Joint Honours degree programme. In each year of the degree you take two or three political science courses together with courses in your second subject. In the first year you take a foundation course and a module in Classical Political Thought. In the second year you take any two or three courses selected from the many options available to Single Honours students. In the final year you select two or three courses from those available to third-year Single Honours students.
Social Policy is an interdisciplinary degree, drawing on subjects such as sociology, politics, psychology, history, media studies, and philosophy; hence the degree is suitable for students currently studying a range of A level subjects. Social Policy joint honours degree programmes enable students to blend the interdisciplinary approach to Social Policy with the study of a complementary discipline. Social Policy at Birmingham has been ranked among the top Social Policy programmes in the country.
In addition to your core modules from each of the main disciplines which comprise your joint honours degree programme, you will have the opportunity to take modules provided by experts in a range of fields.
Year in industry
It is possible for you to gain a range of agency based experiences on our Social Policy Degree Programme and there are various opportunities for you to do so. For example, optional modules such as Policy into Practice provide placement opportunities, which students find helpful, both to illuminate their academic studies, and to demonstrate their practical experience when they apply for jobs. Some students also choose to undertake placements linked to their dissertation work. We also have our own specialist Internship and Careers advisors who provide students with a wide range of advice, support and facilitate contacts for work experience, placements and internships.
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The Department of Political Science and International Studies (POLSIS) is one of the largest and best of its type in the UK. It consistently scores high in the National Student Survey and has consistently been viewed as one of the best departments in the country since the Guardian started publishing their League Tables in 2000.
Our expertise covers all areas of the discipline allowing you to learn from true specialists, with long-established strengths in the fields of political theory, European politics, international relations theory, security studies, diplomatic studies, political sociology, political economy, environmental politics, Pacific Asian politics and British politics.
As well as benefiting from our world-leading expertise, you’ll also get the chance to take part in a range of in-house activities that vary by year and are designed to complement your curriculum and enrich your time at Birmingham. These have included:
- Annual Student Conference
- Research Assistance Scheme, where students are paired with a member of staff to help them in specific research tasks
- Simulation exercises using real case examples
- Simulation events and research visits to local and national places of interest
Learn more about our Student Experience activities and the work of the Department.
Studying Social Policy at the University of Birmingham will provide you with a highly stimulating educational experience, support from academics whose work is internationally recognised, and your learning will take place in state-of-the-art, high-tech teaching and learning environments.
Social Policy degree programmes are interdisciplinary, and suitable for students who have studied a range of subjects at advanced level, including sociology, politics, history, philosophy and ethics and media studies. Our programmes are broad based and flexible and provide opportunities to specialise, enabling you to tailor your degree programme to your evolving academic skills and interest. Over the course of your studies you will be supported by our academic staff, who are highly committed to engaging in cutting edge social policy debates, contributing new insights and knowledge and enabling students to develop their confidence and skills to do the same. Our ethos of staff and student collaboration is embedded through our interactive approach to learning, staff-student committees, and our one-to-one approach both for personal tutoring and the supervision of students' research projects.
We also support the social dimension of students' experiences, for example visits to places of interest are organised. There is an active Social Policy Student Association and a student common room within the Department. Careers advice and support for students is both integrated into and provided alongside our academic programmes.
Modules in the first year
Most people have not studied social policy at advanced level, so the first year is designed to help you find your feet and get up to speed both with social policy and the other main discipline which you have elected to study.
Compulsory core modules
Choose 20 credits from the following; where modules are linked, both options must be taken:
Modules in the second year
In the second year, courses include the core social policy modules, Social Theory, and Social Research where you will focus upon gaining research skills for your third-year dissertation, plus the core modules from the other main discipline which you have elected to study. You will also have opportunities to tailor your degree to reflect your developing skills and interests through a range of specialist module choices.
Compulsory core modules
Choose 40 credits from the following: Where modules are linked, both elements must be chosen
Choose 40 credits from the following: Where modules are linked, both elements must be chosen:
- 20 credits - Managing Health & Social Care
- 20 credits - New migration and super-diversity
Or choose 20 credits from MOMD from within the School of Social Science. If the MOMD is outside the School of Social Science you will need permission from the Political Science Departmental Office
Modules in the final year
In addition to choosing modules from a wide range of options, students undertake an independent research project on a topic of their own choosing.
Compulsory core modules
Choose course totalling 20 credits from the following linked modules
Choose 40 credits from the following: Where modules are linked, both elements must be taken
- 20 credits - Agency and Morality: Power and Ethics in Policy and Praxis
- 20 credits - Doing or Not Doing God? Religion, Policy & Politics
- 20 credits - The Political Economy of Energy and Energy Security
- 20 credits - Your Money and Your Life: From Welfare State to Personal Finance
Or choose 20 credits from MOMD from within the School of Social Science. If the MOMD is outside the School of Social Science you will need permission from the Political Science Departmental Office.
The optional modules listed on the website for this programme may unfortunately occasionally be subject to change. As you will appreciate key members of staff may leave the University and this necessitates a review of the modules that are offered. Where the module is no longer available we will let you know as soon as we can and help you make other choices.
Standard fees apply.
Learn more about
fees and funding.
Undergraduate Home/EU student fees 2016-17
Overseas students entering in 2016-17
Overseas students entering in 2016-17
Fee Band (Undergraduate)
Band D (Classroom)
At Birmingham we ensure that fears about finance do not constrain prospective students from considering university and that excellence is rewarded.
The University offers a range of additional financial support for students studying at Birmingham in the form of bursaries, grants and scholarships.
Learn more about our
scholarships and awards.
- Number of A levels required:
- Typical offer:
- General Studies:
- Not accepted
BTEC Extended Diploma, Diploma and Subsidiary Diploma are all considered on a case by case basis. Please be aware that you will need to meet the subject specific requirements for both subject areas within the degree programme - please check their course finder entries for more information. If you need further guidance please contact us.
Other qualifications are considered – learn more about entry requirements.
International Baccalaureate Diploma: 6,5,5 at Higher Level with a minimum of 32 points overall.
Standard English language requirements apply
Learn more about international entry requirements.
Depending on your chosen course of study, you may also be interested in one of our foundation pathways, which offer specially structured programmes for international students whose qualifications are not accepted for direct entry to UK universities. Further details can be found on Birmingham International Academy web pages.
Apply through UCAS at www.ucas.com using code: LL42.
Learn more about applying.
University of Birmingham's UCAS code number is B32.
The Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS) is a UK organisation responsible for managing applications to university and college.
UK, EU and international students applying for most undergraduate degree courses in the UK will need to apply through UCAS.
You submit an application via the UCAS website with a list of up to five courses. All choices are confidential during the application process so universities and colleges considering an application cannot see your other choices. Applications must be completed by mid-January of the year that you wish to start university.
You can monitor the progress of your application using the UCAS Apply system.
Key Information Set (KIS)
Key Information Sets (KIS) are comparable sets of information about full- or part-time undergraduate courses and are designed to meet the information needs of prospective students.
All KIS information has been published on the Unistats website and can also be accessed via the small advert, or ‘widget’, below. On the Unistats website you are able to compare all the KIS data for each course with data for other courses.
The development of Key Information Sets (KIS) formed part of HEFCE’s work to enhance the information that is available about higher education. They give you access to reliable and comparable information in order to help you make informed decisions about what and where to study.
The KIS contains information which prospective students have identified as useful, such as student satisfaction, graduate outcomes, learning and teaching activities, assessment methods, tuition fees and student finance, accommodation and professional accreditation.
Your learning will take place in a range of different settings, from scheduled teaching in lectures and small group tutorials, to self-study and peer group learning (for example, preparing and delivering presentations with your classmates).
As a Birmingham student you are part of an academic elite and will learn from world-leading experts. From the outset you will be encouraged to become an independent and self-motivated learner. We want you to be challenged and will encourage you to think for yourself.
Your learning will take place in a range of different settings, from scheduled teaching in lectures and small group tutorials, to self-study and peer group learning (for example preparing and delivering presentations with your classmates). You can see a sample Social Policy lecture, 'Perceptions of and Responses to Youth Crime'.
To begin with you may find this way of working challenging, but rest assured that we’ll enable you to make this transition. You will have access to a comprehensive support system that will assist and encourage you, including personal tutors and welfare tutors who can help with both academic and welfare issues, and a formal transition review during your first year to check on your progress and offer you help for any particular areas where you need support.
As a student, you will be based in Muirhead Tower, a fully WiFi enabled, sophisticated, hi-tech learning environment. There are nine libraries supporting your learning through access to one of the biggest research library facilities in the UK. Open access computing facilities are widely available across campus.
Our Academic Skills Centre also offers you support with your learning. The centre is a place where you can develop your mathematical, academic writing and general academic skills. It is the centre’s aim to help you to become a more effective and independent learner through the use of a range of high-quality and appropriate learning support services. These range from drop-in sessions with support with mathematics and statistics based problems provided by experienced mathematicians, to workshops on a range of topics including note talking, reading, writing and presentation skills.
We are committed to enabling all of our students to profit from a culture of learning, aligned with our research ethos, which is based upon active enquiry and critical reflection around continually emerging developments in the dynamic field of social policy.
We utilise an approach known as enquiry-based learning, in which learning comprises a conversational, collaborative enterprise, where academic staff work with you in the process of gaining the crucial academic and life skill, of becoming an active and independent learner. Within this process, we are strongly committed to ensuring our students develop a range of transferrable skills as part of the process of enhancing their future employability.
Employers value Social Policy graduates on the basis of our reputation for academic excellence and our students' considerable suite of skills and experiences gained over the course of their degree programme; our graduates are highly employable. Supporting our students in acquiring skills and experiences to enhance their employability is a key priority for us and is reflected in the way that we structure our academic programmes. Systematic assessment and review is firmly built into the programme through our 'Progress' and tutoring systems.
Progress and tutoring
Your skill-set and talents, which you bring with you to your Social Policy degree programme, are valuable resources and a baseline upon which we will build over the course of your degree programme. Key sources of support in that process are our 'Progress' and tutoring systems which include intensive academic tutoring by senior tutors for first year students and one-to-one tutoring for students in all three years of the programme, providing you with a personal and systematic approach to reviewing your progress, achievements and aspirations. Social Policy programmes provide a range of opportunities for enhancing your skill base, experiences and your employability.
Agency placement experiences
Agency placements are firmly integrated into an academic module and so will provide you with a critically informed and animated insights into the links between your academic work and the work of employers. Placements can be valuable in that they can provide you with a further gateway to gaining employment relevant experiences such as developing insights into what happens when an issue emerges within an agency and how the issue unfolds, is negotiated and managed. An agency placement can also be a great help in developing your sense of self-confidence and competence in an agency setting.
Internships provide students with the opportunity to spend a longer block of time with an agency or organisation, and there are a range of interesting opportunities available to students. In addition to a dedicated Careers Advisor, we also have a specialist Internship Officer located in the School of Social Policy, who works with and facilitates students in securing internship opportunities. In addition to structured inputs into the programme our Careers and Internship officers have an active relationship with our student Social Policy Society, arranging events, workshops and talks in collaboration with our students. Both placements and internships can provide you with an excellent means of developing a vivid and tangible sense of the connections between your academic studies and the world of employment.
If you are interested in gaining work experience over the course of your social policy degree programme, our specialist Careers and Employability Advisor, who holds regular surgeries, several days each week in the building which we are based, will be able to provide you with support, advice and information about the many employers who are keen to offer opportunities to our undergraduates. The Guild also has a facility called Jobzone which provides a wide and interesting range of opportunities for students. In addition, if you want to gain work experience in an area which is interesting or inspires you, but perhaps is low paid or unpaid, the University has a range of bursaries available which can enable you to do this.
Volunteering is a fantastic way to demonstrate your commitment to civic engagement, develop your employability skills, gain crucial work experience, and meet new people. We actively encourage our students to gain volunteering experiences, both through our modules as well as our links to the Student Volunteering Service, who provide our students with access to a range of experiences both in the UK and abroad.
This degree is taught by our internationally renowned Department of Political Science and International Studies (POLSIS) which is located in Muirhead Tower on own main Edgbaston campus.
Departments from across the School of Government and Society are all based within the recently refurbished Muirhead Tower. Following a £50million refurbishment, Muirhead Tower offers state-of-the-art teaching and research study facilities including free wifi throughout the building and dedicated study areas for postgraduate research students.
Muirhead Tower comprises 12,000sq.m of floor space between two towers. The tower includes a number of sustainable features including solar shading (known in the trade as brise soliel) to control temperatures, as well as low energy fans; timed lighting to reduce energy waste; natural ventilation systems and a heat source taken from the University’s combined heat and power generator.
The space has been designed to create modern, attractive spaces for teaching and research accommodating 150 academic offices, 230 "hubs" for post graduate research students, teaching rooms for up to 100 people and a 200 seat lecture theatre.
Your lectures and teaching will take place in a variety of versatile lecture theatres and breakout rooms which have moved on a lot since the traditional whiteboard and pen. Our rooms are all equipped with wireless connection and constantly updated technology including all the audio-visual equipment that you would expect from one of the UK's premier insitutions.
Small-group tutorials/personal tutorials run alongside our lectures, addressing any individual problems you may have and allowing you to consolidate lecture material, as well as test your understanding through problem-solving exercises.
Self study is an essential part of the programme and requires self motivation and enthusiasm for your subject. It also allows you to pursue your own lines of enquiry and become an independent thinker.
Studying at degree-level is likely to be very different from your previous experience of learning and teaching. You will be expected to think, discuss and engage critically with the subject and find things out for yourself. We will enable you to make this transition to a new style of learning, and the way that you are assessed during your studies will help you develop the essential skills you need to make a success of your time at Birmingham.
You’ll be assessed in a variety of ways, and these may be different with each module that you take. You will be assessed through coursework which may take the form of essays, group and individual presentations, laboratory-based work (depending on your chosen degree) and formal exams.
During your first year you will undergo a formal 'transition' review to see how you are getting on and if there are particular areas where you need support. This is in addition to the personal tutor who is based in your school or department and can help with any academic issues you encounter.
At the beginning of each module, you’ll be given information on how and when you’ll be assessed for that particular programme of study. You’ll receive feedback on each assessment within four weeks, so that you can learn from and build on what you have done. You’ll be given feedback on any exams that you take; if you should fail an exam we will ensure that particularly detailed feedback is made available to enable you to learn for the future.
Throughout your time on the Political Science and Social Policy BA course, employability is a key area of focus. We help to make sure that you are employable through a range of department led and university wide initiatives which include:
Input from Professional Careers Advisers in your Curriculum
During the first year of your studies Careers Advisers from the University Careers Network team attend lectures in your course to support you with career planning from an early stage. The lectures will cover career planning, researching career and internship opportunities, developing the skills that graduate employers are looking for, and presenting yourself with impact to a potential employer.
Professional development module
You will have the unique opportunity to take advantage of a work placement as part of your final year by undertaking the
Professional Development Module as part of your optional module choices.
Careers Network is the University’s award winning careers service. The service has been shortlisted for a 2014 Times Higher Education Award for offering 'outstanding support for students' and has already been recognised by 'Ratemyplacement.co.uk' for being the best university careers service. A dedicated careers team for the College of Social Sciences will be able to support you with making career decisions and planning your career, while you are studying. They can provide you with guidance on writing application forms and CVs, and can arrange mock interviews and assessment centres.
An Employer Relations and Work Experience team leads on coordinating four major careers fairs each year, bringing a wide range of national and international graduate employers on to campus each year to meet with students. This team also manages a database of internships and graduate vacancies including
Global Challenge; a unique scheme to give ambitious students once-in-a-lifetime opportunities as interns in top global companies.
Visit the University of Birmingham Careers pages for further information on how we are 'Investing in your future'.
Your Birmingham degree
Your Birmingham degree is evidence of your ability to succeed in a demanding academic environment. Employers target Birmingham students for their drive, diversity, communication and problem-solving skills, their team-working abilities and cultural awareness, and our graduate employment statistics have continued to climb at a rate well above national trends. If you make the most of the wide range of services you will be able to develop your career from the moment you arrive.
The School of Government and Society is proud of all of its students and alumni. Via the University's Development and Alumni Office, we hope to keep in touch with all of our alumni post-graduation, to learn of their many successes and to continue to share our research successes and campus developments.
BA Political Science and Sociology (2008)
I now manage a Non-Governmental Organisation in rural Cambodia focusing on education, agriculture and nutrition in a community-led way, spending my days amongst rice fields and coconut palms overseeing the different programs which we run.
BA International Relations with Political Science (2012)
Studying International Relations with Political Science gives a brilliant insight into how the world works; it shows you how politics, history, geography, economics, ethics and law are all interconnected at an international level, and the course allows you to look in close detail at all of these topics.
View our undergraduate alumni profiles throughout the School and Government and Society.