Social Policy BA

This course is in clearing

This course is in international clearing

Why do we have the highest rate of teenage pregnancy in Europe? Is the criminal justice system working? Should faith groups have a role in public life? Is the divide between rich and poor getting bigger? Social Policy is an integral part of our lives and the world around us. Pick up a newspaper, turn on the television or radio and listen to the animated and passionate conversations of a wide range of local, national and international commentators and you will repeatedly find social policy issues at the core of those debates. A Social Policy degree is suitable for Home/EU students currently studying a range of A level subjects as well as International students, who have an interest in contemporary social issues and debates.

  • Social Policy is a contemporary academic subject and this degree will provide you with a route into a range of careers and professional pathways
  • 88%  of our graduates go on to work, or undertake further study after graduation
  • Top 10 in Complete University Guide 2015

  Find out why our students love living and studying in Birmingham.

Course fact file

UCAS code: L400

Duration: 3 years

Places Available: 129 Across the department

Applications in 2013: 761

Typical Offer: BBB (More detailed entry requirements and the international qualifications accepted can be found in the course details)

Start date: September

Details

21st Century Social Policy is a dynamic academic subject, which engages with a wide range of contemporary, often controversial issues and debates about society, human aspirations and wellbeing. The BA Social Policy is an interdisciplinary degree, drawing on subjects such as sociology, politics, psychology, history, media and cultural studies.

First year

Your first year is designed to help you find your feet and get up to speed with the subject through the study of some of the main disciplines that are relevant to social policy. These include:

  • Introduction to Social Policy
  • Social Issues and Social Policy
  • Researching Policy and Society

You can also choose a further three optional modules which reflect your particular interests from a range of subject areas such as:

  • Introduction to Criminology
  • Psychology
  • Sociology
  • History
  • Politics
  • International studies

Taken together, your core and optional modules will provide you with opportunities to develop and consolidate your understanding of social policy, and the space to explore new areas of academic study.

Second year

In your second year you will consolidate and build upon the knowledge base and skills gained in your first year. You will develop an understanding of a range of perspectives which are relevant to social policy, for example, liberalism, feminism, faith-based viewpoints, social democracy and post-modernism. A module-based placement experience is available for those students wishing to enhance their employability. Core modules are:

  • Social Theory and Social Policy
  • Social Research Methods
  • Policy Analysis

You can also choose a further three optional modules which reflect your particular interests from a range of subject areas such as:

  • New Migration and Superdiversity
  • Poverty, Wealth and Inequality
  • Managing Health and Social Care
  • Global Issues: Perspective from Policy, Politics and Economics
  • Volunteering and Social Policy: Learning through Practice
  • Criminal Justice Systems
  • Housing and Communities
  • Equality and Discrimination: Concepts, Theories and Policies

Third year

The core modules in your third year are Prospects for Social Policy and the Dissertation Module. In the Prospects module, as a member of a working party, you will undertake a project on a social issue or debate of your choice. You will produce a briefing paper, a Wiki, a policy report and you will also learn how to form and operate a working party, engage in team work and develop further important transferrable skills. In the dissertation module you will undertake an in-depth research based dissertation, which will focus on a topic of your choice, supported by a specialist academic supervisor. Core modules are:

  • Dissertation (Social Policy)
  • Prospects for British Social Policy

Optional modules:

  • Comparative Social Policy
  • From Beveridge to Cameron: The Political History of the Welfare State from the Second World War to the Present Day
  • Youth, Crime and Justice
  • Agency and Morality: Power and Ethics in Policy and Practice
  • Doing or Not Doing God? Religion, Policy and Politics
  • Your Money and Your Life: From Welfare State to Personal Finance

Additional information

An undergraduate subject degree brochure is available from Sue Gilbert: s.c.gilbert@bham.ac.uk or tel: +44 (0)121 414 5709.

We hold applicant visiting days in February and March, which you are most welcome to attend.

We run Discovery Days for groups of students, which comprise a subject talk, a taster seminar, admissions advice and a campus tour. Please contact our Admissions Tutor, Tina Hearn (contact details above), if you, your school or college would be interested in one of these sessions.

BA Social Policy course brochure (PDF) 

Why study this course

About the School of Social Policy

The School of Social Policy is one of the leading centres for applied social policy in the UK. The School is committed to bridging the divide between academia and practice and to applying its research through teaching, publications, consultancy and policy advice. The School has vast experience of welcoming students from all over the world. Over the years many students have successfully completed their degrees and enjoyed the experience of living and studying in the City of Birmingham.

There are two departments that make up the School of Social Policy:           

The Department of Social Policy and Social Work at the University of Birmingham is an internationally leading centre which draws together expertise from across the fields of social policy, social work and community justice. In our research and teaching, we explore how policy and practice can contribute to making a difference in people's lives - particularly those who may face disadvantage or social exclusion.

The Department also runs what is believed to be the oldest, continually running social work training programme in the UK, which has been running since 1908.

Read more about facilities

Modules

Modules available within Social Policy will enable you to acquire a range of skills which are valued by employers, for example, analytical skills; problem-solving; team working; presentations and writing policy reports.

First year

Your first year is designed to help you find your feet and get up to speed with the subject through the study of some of the main disciplines that are relevant to social policy. These include:

  • Introduction to Social Policy
  • Social Issues and Social Policy
  • Researching Policy and Society

You can also choose a further three optional modules which reflect your particular interests from a range of subject areas such as:

  • Introduction to Criminology
  • Psychology
  • Sociology
  • History
  • Politics
  • International studies

Taken together, your core and optional modules will provide you with opportunities to develop and consolidate your understanding of social policy, and the space to explore new areas of academic study.

Second year

In your second year you will consolidate and build upon the knowledge base and skills gained in your first year. You will develop an understanding of a range of perspectives which are relevant to social policy, for example, liberalism, feminism, faith-based viewpoints, social democracy and post-modernism. A module-based placement experience is available for those students wishing to enhance their employability. Core modules are:

  • Social Theory and Social Policy
  • Social Research Methods
  • Policy Analysis

You can also choose a further three optional modules which reflect your particular interests from a range of subject areas such as:

  • New Migration and Superdiversity
  • Poverty, Wealth and Inequality
  • Managing Health and Social Care
  • Global Issues: Perspective from Policy, Politics and Economics
  • Volunteering and Social Policy: Learning through Practice
  • Criminal Justice Systems
  • Housing and Communities
  • Equality and Discrimination: Concepts, Theories and Policies

Third year

The core modules in your third year are Prospects for Social Policy and the Dissertation Module. In the Prospects module, as a member of a working party, you will undertake a project on a social issue or debate of your choice. You will produce a briefing paper, a Wiki, a policy report and you will also learn how to form and operate a working party, engage in team work and develop further important transferrable skills. In the dissertation module you will undertake an in-depth research based dissertation, which will focus on a topic of your choice, supported by a specialist academic supervisor. Core modules are:

  • Dissertation (Social Policy)
  • Prospects for British Social Policy

Optional modules:

  • Comparative Social Policy
  • From Beveridge to Cameron: The Political History of the Welfare State from the Second World War to the Present Day
  • Youth, Crime and Justice
  • Agency and Morality: Power and Ethics in Policy and Practice
  • Doing or Not Doing God? Religion, Policy and Politics
  • Your Money and Your Life: From Welfare State to Personal Finance

 Placement opportunities

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. Some students also choose to undertake placements linked to their dissertation work. We also have our own specialist Internship and Careers advisors.

Fees and funding

Standard fees apply 
Learn more about fees and funding
 
Scholarships
Learn more about our scholarships and awards

We encourage applications through the University’s Access to Birmingham (A2B) Scheme 

Entry requirements

Number of A levels required: 3

Typical offer: BBB

General Studies: accepted

Other qualifications are considered – learn more about entry requirements

Additional information:

What if you are studying non-social science subjects in school?

We welcome applications from those who are studying advanced level or other qualifications from a very wide range of subjects, such as: sociology, politics, criminology, media studies, psychology, international studies, theology, law, history, geography, philosophy, languages, biology, commerce, general studies or critical thinking.

We look for applicants who have gained transferable skills such as - how to research a subject; critically analyse material, frame and present an argument which can be developed further by studying a social policy degree course.

Advanced level studies include:

  • A-levels
  • Access courses
  • AGNVQs
  • Diploma courses such as BTEC
  • AVCEs
  • HNCs
  • International or European Baccalaureate

International students:

International Baccalaureate Diploma: 5,5,5 at Higher Level, to include English 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 the Birmingham Foundation Academy, a specially structured programme for international students whose qualifications are not accepted for direct entry to UK universities. Further details can be found on the foundation academy web pages.

How to apply

Apply through UCAS at www.ucas.com  
Learn more about applying

UCAS

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.

Learning and teaching

Social Policy lectureSocial Policy lectures take many different forms, some may be talks followed by a workshop, others are combined with small group exercises, group discussions, seminars, project or placement work.

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).

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.

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, to workshops on a range of topics including note taking, reading, writing and presentation skills.

Enquiry-based learning

We utilise an approach known as enquiry-based learning, where academic staff work with you in the process of gaining the skills, to become an active and independent learner. We are strongly committed to ensuring you develop a range of transferrable skills to enhance your future employability. 

Assessment methods

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.

Teaching, Learning and Assessment Methods

As a Social Policy student your learning will be facilitated through a blend of teaching and learning methods, for example:

  • Lectures, seminars, workshops, classes and tutorials.
  • Web-based learning methods, e.g. the production of wikis.
  • Reflective learning through the use of groupwork, independent work and study logs.
  • Project work, policy reports, working parties, briefing papers and presentations.
  • Embedded learning through optional placements and extensive engagement with developing contemporary social issues and debates.
  • Team and independent research work, in your third year, a research based dissertation.
  • Tutorials - All students receive academic support and progress review from their own personal academic tutor throughout the three years of their degree.
  • A typical assessment for modules is 50% of coursework and 50% examination; some modules are 100% coursework. Students are able to choose some modules according to their personal strengths and preferences both in relation to subject matter and assessment methods. 

Employability

Placements

Placements 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. 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 placement and 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 a real life insight into the world of employment and how this connects to your academic studies.

Graduate Internship Case Study: Amy Davenport, Health Exchange (2014)

Volunteering

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. 

Career opportunities

With an emphasis on examining contemporary social issues and questions your Social Policy degree makes strong connections with the work of a very wide range of employers and key 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
  • Public Relations
  • Health Promotion
  • The Civil Service
  • Local Government
  • Leisure and Sports Management
  • Probation Work
  • Human Resource Management
  • Work with Children and Young People
  • Legal Profession
  • Teaching
  • Working in Developing Countries
  • Social Research
  • Postgraduate Study 

Careers interviewPreparation 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.

Graduate Internship case study: Amy Davenport, Health Exchange

Amy DavenportAmy 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.

University wide Careers Network

Available to all social policy students, offering an extensive, well resourced service.

  • CV Clinics
  • Careers profiling
  • Work experience fairs
  • Skills workshops
  • 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
  • Project management
  • Introduction to journalism
  • Media and press writing skills
  • International communications

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.

Career pathways

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).

Student profiles

Richard, BA Social PolicyRichard

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. Read more....

Naila Begum

Naila Begum, BA Social PolicyI 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. Read more.... 

 

Siying Poole 

Siying Poole, BA Social Policy & Political ScienceI 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 has provided me with a really solid foundation for a career in the public or third sector.