With an emphasis on examining contemporary social issues and questions, as well as exploring the range of ways in which responses to those issues are and could be formed, the work that you undertake in your Social Policy degree makes strong connections with the work of a very wide range of employers and key professions. This means that social policy is a positive choice for students who are interested in enhancing their employment prospects through their choice of degree. Social Policy is also a flexible degree, enabling students either to specialise and so craft their degree to reflect their personal and developing interests, or to keep their degree broad-based, providing students with greater opportunities to change direction later in their careers if they wish.
In studying highly contemporary social issues and debates, the work of Social Policy degree students makes connections with and is firmly anchored in the current work of a range of agencies and professions. Our graduates have pursued careers in a wide range of areas, for example:
Voluntary Organisations and Social Enterprises
Advice Work and Law
Journalism and Think Tanks
The Civil Service
Leisure and Sports Management
Human Resource Management
Work with Children and Young People
The degree will also provide you with a good grounding for legal studies, teaching, work in developing countries, social research, and postgraduate study in a range of areas.
Preparation for your career should be one of the first things you think about as you start university. Whether you have a clear idea of where your future aspirations lie or want to consider the broad range of opportunities available once you have a Birmingham degree, our Careers Network can help you achieve your goal.
Our unique careers guidance service is tailored to your academic subject area, offering a specialised team (in each of the five academic colleges) who can give you expert advice. Our team source exclusive work experience opportunities to help you stand out amongst the competition, with mentoring, global internships and placements available to you. Once you have a career in your sights, one-to-one support with CV’s and job applications will help give you the edge. In addition, our employer-endorsed award-winning Personal Skills Award (PSA) recognises your extra-curricular activities, and provides an accredited employability programme designed to improve your career prospects.
We also offer voluntary work which complements your studies by helping you gain practical experiences in occupational settings while contributing back to society. This can bring new skills that will be useful throughout your future and can make a positive impact on your learning whilst at university. Volunteering enables you to develop skills such as communication, interpersonal skills, teamwork, self-confidence and self-discipline, all of which can be transferred into your studies.
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.
Social Policy and employability
Experiences you can gain as a Social Policy student, through placements, internships, working experiences and volunteering, are an excellent way of enriching your CV so that it includes that all important 'experience' that employers so often look for. When interviewed for your first job, you will often find that employers have a keen interest in how far you have developed your appreciation of the connections between your academic subject and the work of their organisations - through experiences of placements, voluntary work, internships, work experience and beyond, Social Policy students are very well placed to respond with confidence and competence.
Graduate Internship case study: Amy Davenport, Health Exchange
Amy Davenport, BA Social Policy (2013) "Overall, I feel that my internship has served me well and has given me a lot of confidence and a better skill set for my career. My view on social enterprises has changed enormously, as I now have a new understanding of its fast-paced nature and the importance it has in delivering to communities that may find it difficult to get help and support from other, more traditional access points. Looking beyond my internship, I now find myself looking for what social enterprises there are and what opportunities they have."
Opportunities to secure a career that is right for you, can be enhanced not only through experiences that are available to you on your Social Policy degree programme, but also through our specialist Careers Network.
Specialist Social Policy Careers Advisor
Social Policy students are supported by our specialist Social Policy Careers Advisor in various ways, for example:
Careers advice and support built into each year of your programme
Careers surgeries are regularly held in our building
Specialist careers fairs
Talks from our Alumni and visiting professionals
Specialist online support services
Advice and support for social policy students is also available through our Careers Network.
University wide Careers Network
Available to all social policy students, offering an extensive, well resourced service.
Work experience fairs
Careers vacancy data base
Work experience data base
Online interactive careers Service
The University has a range of bursaries available which can enable you to take up low or unpaid work experiences. Visit our Careers Network for more information.
The Personal Skills Award
The University’s award winning employability programme, is supported by our Careers Network. This module is accredited on your official academic transcript and will provide you with the opportunity to broaden and develop your skills in preparation for your career. The Personal Skills Award will provide you with opportunities to undertake training in areas such as:
Leadership and teamwork
Introduction to journalism
Media and press writing skills
The Guild also offers a range of services to help students enhance their employability. Jobzone provides students with information about job fairs as well as a wide range of opportunities for students to gain part time work experience both within the University, for example as student ambassadors, as well as in many of wide range of agencies and organisations located in the City of Birmingham.
Our Social Policy degree programmes are broad ranging and this is reflected in the range of professional career pathways open to Social Policy students upon graduation. 95% of our graduates go on to work, or undertake further study after graduation (KIS 2013).
Professions and career pathways
Professions and career pathways which our student’s typically pursue include:
Graduate management training schemes in health, housing, police, think tanks or specialist agencies, the voluntary sector
Policy analyst, in voluntary organisations, local government, think tanks
Research work in political and agency settings
Legal work, for example through the Graduate Diploma in Legal Studies
Policing, probation, working with young offenders
Working with children and young people
Personnel and human resources
International development work
Some Social Policy graduates go on to undertake further professional training, for example in law, teaching, educational welfare, counselling, human resource management. Some of our graduates choose to go on to post-graduate studies, for example masters and doctoral degrees in a range of subject areas.
Richard took the single honours social policy degree. He decided to study social policy as it allowed him to study a wide range of subjects and issues. Over the course of his studies, Richard enjoyed the criminal justice and diversity modules. Richard graduated with a 2:1 and worked for a youth charity in London, providing after-school activities for young people and leadership training for hundreds of young adults, to enable them to lead in the organisations' residential supper programmes. Since then Richard has progressed to work for the National Offender Management Service (NOMS) on their National Graduate Programme.
As part of the programme, Richard works in prisons directly with the residents and is on a fast-track scheme to becoming a prison governor working his way through the operational roles in prison. Richard feels that the knowledge and skills he gained from his degree, in addition to the fantastic support and guidance he had access to while at Birmingham, has aided him on his prestigious career path.
He would recommend the Social Policy BA to anyone looking to engage in interdisciplinary study.
Naqeeb studied Social Policy at Birmingham and over the course of his studies, particularly enjoyed exploring the theme of citizenship and how government policy affected the lives of citizens. On leaving University, he wanted to work in an environment where he would be involved in key contemporary issues. He therefore took up a research internship with the Young Foundation in London, which involved undertaking literature reviews, researching case studies and drafting articles, speeches and briefings.
He then moved on to Bellenden Public Affairs (BPA) where he was involved in providing communications and research support. This included drafting political briefings and conducting media monitoring for clients such as UK Youth. His internship at BPA was followed by an internship at Society Media. Here, he provided project support for an initiative aimed at creating an index of the top 100 social enterprises in the UK.
Naqeeb now works for the Citizenship Foundation in London where his work involves coordinating the nationwide Young Muslim Leadership Network, an initiative designed to promote civic engagement amongst young people. His role is very diverse and incorporates an element of project management and the implementation of governmental policy. Naqeeb feels his achievements thus far are a testament to having studied in a first class academic environment, hard work, commitment and perseverance.
I found the Social Policy Department to be very supportive; personal tutors prioritise the welfare of students and ensure that they are on task with their academic work. I particularly enjoyed the Crime and Justice Modules as they provided me with really good insights into the way that public issues can influence the way that the law develops. My dissertation focused on Islamophobia and education as I was interested in researching the nature and prevalence of this issue. During my studies, I also had an invaluable opportunity to volunteer with a charity which assisted women suffering from domestic violence. This not only enabled me to enhance the diverse skills I gained from the course, but also the opportunity to make a real difference to people's lives.
After completing my undergraduate degree, I successfully completed the Graduate Diploma in Legal Studies (GDLs) at the College of Law at the University, and found that the knowledge gained from studying Social Policy is very relevant to different areas of Law. As a member of the Pro-Bono group at the University of Birmingham, I have taken part in various activities which focus on social policy issues, for example, providing information to people about parental rights at the Birmingham Probation Office. My undergraduate degree in Social Policy at the University of Birmingham was the most incredible 3 years. I would thoroughly recommend a social policy degree for anybody with an interest in law. The expertise and knowledge that I gained from studying Social Policy has opened up an excellent career path for me which is a priceless asset to have in today's competitive world.
Caroline came to the University of Birmingham in 2005 and has since completed both the BA Social Policy and MA Social Research Programmes. She says "I've recently started my PhD here in Social Policy. The decision to come to university as a mature student has definitely changed the course of my life. There's not much else I'd rather be doing!
"I am enjoying the autonomy of carrying out my own research whilst also being aware that support from within the department is here if necessary. The IASS has a friendly atmosphere making it a good working environment. It is also a very dynamic and exciting department to be part of at the moment given the breadth of research interests amongst the academic staff and students and success in the research ratings."
Asha Kaur decided to study Social Policy at Birmingham because the subject provided opportunities to study contemporary issues, plus the flexibility to study a wide range of subject areas before deciding upon her future career direction. Asha found the Social Policy department to be highly supportive and committed to their students and the subjects they taught. After completing her degree, Asha decided to study law at Birmingham and gain legal qualifications; she found that many of the skills and areas of knowledge gained whilst studying Social Policy, formed an excellent preparation for studying law.
After completing her legal studies Asha accepted a graduate position with a top legal head-hunting firm. With a view to developing her career around issues to which she has a particular commitment, Asha has recently begun studying for a masters degree in International Human Rights Law; she also volunteers at the Refugee Council, blending her interests in Social Policy, Law and Social Justice. Asha feels her degree in Social Policy provided her with excellent preparation for the world of graduate employment and thoroughly recommends it to anyone who has a passion for social justice and to those who are currently undecided about their career path.
One of the features I valued most about the Social Policy programme at Birmingham University, was that it offered me a broad and varied programme of study; I particularly enjoyed the modules on criminal justice. Studying at Birmingham was a fantastic time for me, I was able to combine an active social life with academic work. The support and encouragement from staff really helped, and made for a very enjoyable three years.
Since then, I've completed the Masters in Social Research and a PhD, both at Birmingham. I've been able to develop my interest in criminal justice, and have focused upon desistance from crime and the role of the Probation Service. I've received great support from staff along the way, and have been given the opportunity to gain substantial teaching experience on a range of modules. I feel confident that the experiences I've had while studying at Birmingham will stand me in good stead as I begin my academic career as a lecturer, and have fond memories of my time there.
Will Monaghan studied social policy at Birmingham University. He had a particular interest in refugees and the way faith interacts with politics. His dissertation focused on whether or not the government should fund faith schools. In his final year he applied for several positions, all within the public sector, as he developed an interest in government services over the course of his Social Policy degree.
Will is now working as the Cancer Commissioning Manager for Bristol Primary Care Trust, as part of the NHS graduate management training scheme. As part of the training scheme, Will is undertaking a Masters degree in Health and Public Sector leadership based at Birmingham and Manchester Universities. Will loved the time he spent with fellow social policy students and the parties that followed essay hand in days! He continues to benefit from the things he learnt and the people he studied under at Birmingham.
The Social Policy degree programme really suited me as it combined two of my favourite A-level topics, Sociology and Politics, as well as other disciplines. The dynamic and flexible nature of the programme also provided the opportunity to focus my studies on my own personal interests. I particularly enjoyed learning about the history of social policy and political and social theory, which formed the basis of my dissertation; the freedom to choose a topic that I was interested in made my dissertation work really enjoyable.
Due to the dynamic nature of teaching and learning methods I have developed a range of key skills such as: report writing, individual and group presentation skills, research and analytical abilities and creative skills such as creating a motion presentation. The Social Policy into Practice module enabled me to develop both practical work based skills and also apply my academic knowledge to real life employment through a placement at the Citizens Advice Bureau. I also gained really valuable experience through an internship at a major Local Authority, working as a research assistant, where I produced a piece of work based on ‘Timebanks’, a new kind of mutualism. In my final year I was the secretary for the Social Policy Society and helped to organise and host many successful events, including pub crawls, quizzes, curry nights and a successful careers event.
Throughout my three years I had many great experiences and excellent support from the department. As a result I graduated with a 2:1 honours degree and developed a great passion for social policy which inspired me to create a blog so that I can continue to comment on issues and debates that I really care about. I would definitely recommend this degree to anyone who is interested in the wide spectrum of social issues faced by society both past and present.
I chose to study Social Policy at the University of Birmingham, because the degree programme covers such a broad range of contemporary social issues and enables students to take a focus on their particular interests. I particularly enjoyed learning about young people, the third sector and the history of the welfare state and loved the freedom of being able to write a dissertation on a topic of my own choice in my final year. The social policy programme helped me to develop skills such as research, report-writing, presentations and policy analysis, skills I was able to use in activities outside of the university setting, too. For example, I undertook an internship as a social research assistant with a small charity working with Bosnian refugees; I also volunteered with a national charity, raising young peoples’ awareness of global poverty issues.
Throughout my three years at Birmingham, I had fantastic support from the lecturers in terms of writing essays and feedback and was also encouraged to continue with my studies. As a result, I graduated with a 2:1 and have been accepted to study a Masters in Socio-Legal Studies at the University of Bristol which combines social policy with law, as well as social research methods training. I am currently employed in a major Housing Association and am engaged in a really interesting and inspiring area of work, exploring the housing needs of vulnerable people.
I would recommend Social Policy to anyone who is interested in exploring and discovering more about society and contemporary social issues. My time at the University of Birmingham was life-changing; I wouldn’t have chosen any other university to study at!
I gained a place at the University of Birmingham through the Access to Birmingham (A2B) Scheme and chose the Social Policy programme due to its highly contemporary and interdisciplinary nature. I enjoyed the fact that a wide range of topics were covered over the course of the programme and became particularly interested in the themes of housing and globalisation and focussed my third year research dissertation on exploring the implications and impacts of globalisation on social policy. I successfully completed the Personal Skills Award module which provided me with a range of highly transferrable skills and in the role of Academic Events Representative I also organised a very successful careers event this year for the Social Policy Society.
The Careers and employability support provided was very good indeed; I was able to gain a range of valuable experiences, for example, an internship in the Corporate Strategy Team of a major Local Authority, working on a project exploring the rights and duties of local authorities as embodied in the Localism Act 2011. I am currently planning to undertake some further research in a third sector organisation.
The support I received over my three years was excellent and at the end of the programme I was delighted to graduate with a First class honours degree. Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed my time on the Social Policy programme and would highly recommend this course to anyone wishing to gain a wide range of experiences and skills and succeed in their chosen careers.
George took the single honours social policy degree. Over the course of his studies, George enjoyed the criminal justice modules and developed a particular interest in British Security Policy and Counter Terrorism, a topic which he choose to form the focus of his final year dissertation in which explored the impacts of Security Policies upon British Muslims. During his degree, George also competed for the University of Birmingham men's football team, was a student representative and gained work experience at a top human rights law firm and the Metropolitan Police.
Graduating with a 2:1, the knowledge gained during his degree contributed to George’s success in the initial stages of an application to the Metropolitan police. However, George was also offered a football scholarship at a prestigious university in North Carolina to complete a Master in Liberal Arts and Sciences which he accepted. George feels that the knowledge and skills gained from his degree and the unparalleled support and guidance of his academic supervisors over his time in Birmingham have been the catalyst for an incredible 3 years, and would recommend the degree to anyone looking to engage in interdisciplinary study.
I chose to study at the University of Birmingham because of its international prestige and excellent reputation in both academic research and teaching. The successful completion of an Access to Higher Education diploma enabled me to join this dynamic and vibrant university as a mature student.
Throughout my degree programme, my expectations were fulfilled in every single respect: my subjects were intellectually interesting and challenging; my lecturers provided inspiration and support and comprehensive welfare and social life programs were available from Student Services. A degree in Political Science and Social Policy has enabled me to gain a variety of valuable skills. These include verbal and written communication skills, research and analytical skills, project management, team working, IT skills in research software including NVIVO and SPSS, and the creation of wikis and the use of other social media such as facebook and twitter.
Whilst studying at the University, I have researched intensively into the Third Sector and my voluntary work at Birmingham Children’s Hospital has complemented and informed my research in this area. I have worked closely with consultants and nurses at the Dermatology Department and have chaired an eczema support group since 2009. I successfully completed my degree in July 2012 and obtained a high 2:1 and a 1st with my thesis. Overall, my degree programme has provided me with a really solid foundation for a career in the public or third sector.