Social Policy BA

The Social Policy degree at Birmingham will provide you with an opportunity to actively engage in the analysis of cutting edge social issues and debates from policing, crime and social unrest to gender inequalities, teenage pregnancy and the significance of globalisation, to name just a few. These, and a wide range of related issues, not only have a high profile on political and public agendas in all forms of contemporary media, but also form the focus of the work of a wide range of agencies and professions in the public, voluntary and private sectors.

Social Policy is a highly contemporary, dynamic and grounded academic subject and this degree will provide you with a route into a range of careers and professional pathways. 95%  of our graduates go on to work, or undertake further study after graduation (KIS 2013). 91% of our students rated staff good at explaining things (NSS 2013). The BA Social Policy welcomes applications from international students.

International Collaboration mapOver 4,500 students from 150 countries worldwide choose to study here at Birmingham, and we now boast one of the largest and most vibrant international student communities in the UK. Take a look at the collaboration mapin our international sectionand find out what it is like to be an international student living and studying in Birmingham, as well as the global reach of the School. You can also 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 2012: 661

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

Start date: September

Details

The BA Social Policy is an interdisciplinary degree, drawing on subjects such as sociology, politics, psychology, history, media and cultural studies and is suitable for students currently studying a range of A level subjects, and who have an interest in highly contemporary social issues and debates. The BA Social Policy is ranked among the top four social policy programmes in the country. Social Policy is located in a vibrant research institute and is led by academics who are specialists in their fields.

First year

Most people have not studied social policy at advanced level, therefore the 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.

Second year

In the second year, your core courses include Social Theory, and Social Research. Social Theory will help you to develop a deeper appreciation of how contemporary social issues and debates are formed, framed and negotiated. In your social research module, you will focus upon gaining research skills for your third-year research based dissertation, which will be on a topic of your choice. 

Third year

The core courses 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.

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 degree brochure (PDF) 

Why study this course

About the Institute

Aston Webb building domesThe Institute in which our Social Policy programmes are taught is both friendly and supportive and students are encouraged to become involved in the work of the Institute and the University more broadly. There is a staff–student committee which provides a forum for regular meetings and discussion between staff and students. We also have an active Social Policy Student Society who arrange events, talks and debates. The Institute also organises and funds student events: for example, our student group recently visited London and the Houses of Parliament. We also have a student common room where students meet on a social basis. Each student is also provided with a personal tutor who they meet on a regular basis and with whom they review their academic and broader developmental progress. The Institute also provides a welfare tutoring system for students who may have specific support needs. 

The Institute places an emphasis upon ensuring that students benefit from studying in a vibrant research environment. Consequently, there is a carefully crafted relationship between research activity in the department, module content and teaching, providing students with core skills in both utilising and undertaking research.

Students are actively facilitated to secure internships and undertake voluntary placements and paid work. For example, academically supported placements in the voluntary sector are available for students who wish to gain experience and so enhance their personal development during their degree. Our Internship and Careers Officers also meet with our students on a regular basis to share information about and facilitate work opportunities.

The availability of these opportunities means that Social policy students are able to build up an excellent portfolio of experiences and contacts which have proved to be very valuable when students apply for jobs on completion of their degree. The Institute also places a premium upon helping students to develop a wide range of transferable skills. So, for example, encouraging and supporting the development of skills such as group and teamwork, project work, presentations, the production of briefing papers and policy reports are systematically woven into the structure and process of your Social Policy Degree Programme.

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.

Aston webb panoramaSocial 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.

Your experiences as a student will of course be enhanced by the fact that you will undertake your studies on a beautiful campus, situated in 256 acres of parkland, at a University with outstanding cultural, sporting and social facilities. You will also benefit from studying at a University which is within easy reach of a vibrant, modern City which has so much potential to contribute to your learning experiences as a Social Policy student.

Read more about facilities

Modules

Modules available within Social Policy degree programmes will enable you to acquire a range of skills which are valued by employers, including: critical enquiry; analytical skills; workload planning and management; problem-solving; research competencies; goal-setting; convening working parties; team working; presentations; writing policy reports and producing briefing papers. Optional modules such as the Personal Skills Award are also available, which provide students with the opportunity to develop further employment specific skills, for example in leadership and project management. Optional modules are also available which provide opportunities to visit policy organisations and gain placement experiences

First year

Most people have not studied social policy at advanced level, therefore the 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. Core first year modules include:

  • Introduction to Social Policy
  • Social Issues + Social Policy
  • Finding out about Social Policy

You can also choose a further three modules which reflect your particular interests from a range of subject areas such as Introduction to Criminology, Psychology, Sociology, Media Studies, History and Politics. Taken together, your core and optional module will provide you with opportunities to develop and consolidate your understanding of social policy, and the space to explore new areas of academic study as well as familiar subjects in more depth.

Second year

In the second year, your core courses include:

  • Social Theory, and Social Policy
  • Social Research Methods

Social Theory will help you to develop a deeper appreciation of how contemporary social issues and debates are formed, framed and negotiated. In your social research module, you will focus upon gaining research skills for your third-year research based dissertation, which will be on a topic of your choice. You will also have opportunities to tailor your degree to reflect your developing skills and interests through a range of specialist module choices, for example:

  • Criminal Justice Systems
  • Children and Young People
  • Managing Health and Social Care
  • New Migration and Superdiversity
  • Equality and Discrimination
  • Policy Analysis
  • Global Issues
  • Housing and Communities
  • Volunteering and Social Policy

Policy into Practice is an optional module which provides students with practical experience in that it involves a placement, and the opportunity to link this experience to your academic learning. In your second year you can also choose to study modules from other departments if you wish, such as Urban Studies, Politics, Psychology, Sociology and History, providing you with further opportunities to focus upon developing areas of interest and so further personalise your degree.

Third year

The core courses in your third year are:

  • Prospects for Social Policy
  • Dissertation 

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. Your dissertation is worth around a third of your final year marks and your ability to choose a topic or issue which particularly interests and inspires you, will provide you with an excellent opportunity to enhance your marks in your final year. To complement these two modules, you can choose from a range of specialist options which include:

  • Youth, Crime and Justice
  • Social Divisions and Diversity
  • Doing or Not Doing God
  • Comparative Social Policy
  • Your Money and Your Life
  • Agency and Morality
  • From Beveridge to Cameron

You can also choose to study modules from other departments to reflect specific interests which you have developed over the course of your programme. 

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.

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

International students:

International Baccalaureate Diploma: 32 points to include English

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. You can see a sample lecture here on 'Perceptions of and Responses to Youth Crime'.

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).

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 with support with mathematics and statistics based problems provided by experienced mathematicians, to workshops on a range of topics including note taking, reading, writing and presentation skills.

As a Social Policy 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 approach

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.

Skills and experience

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.  

student advisors cropped 500 333Agency 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

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.

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

Work experience

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

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.

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 and learning mediums

The design of the Social Policy curriculum reflects the full range of our research expertise and you will be taught by academics who are specialists in their field. As a Social Policy student, your learning will take place through a range of different mediums, including:

  • A key emphasis on direct contact, which includes interactive, academic lectures, seminars, workshops, project work, group and individual tutorials.
  • A range of e-learning mechanisms such as WebCT, Wikis, podcasts and iVLE our integrated virtual learning environment through which you will have both on-campus and off-site access to a wide range of learning materials, 24 hours a day.
  • Our Information Services provide a suite of training, designed to facilitate students in using the wide range of information technology services, research databases and online data sources, which you will use within your social policy degree studies.

Teaching and learning 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.

Your research dissertation

In your 3rd year, you will undertake a research based dissertation on a subject of your choice, providing you with an excellent opportunity to focus upon a theme or topic which really interests and inspires you. You will carry out your research in a vibrant research environment where the quality of tuition and academic support is excellent. Specialist modules on research methods and dissertation advice and support, will be provided in each year of your studies. In addition, you will receive one-to-one academic supervision from a specialist in the Social Policy academic team, which has a balance of expertise that covers all areas of the discipline, and has long-established strengths in a range of fields such as: criminal justice; the voluntary sector; politics and social policy; poverty; health policy; wealth and assets; social inclusion and equalities; housing issues; faith-based organisations and movements; new migration; comparative social policy; and young people and families. The breadth and quality of expertise available to support you in your research work is considerable. In the last Research Assessment Exercise, 95% of our research work was adjudged as 'internationally recognised', 45% as 'internationally leading' and 15% as 'world-leading'.

External Examiner's Comments

Social Policy programmes consistently receive positive feedback from our external examiners, for example:

Professor Nick Ellison "BA Social Policy at the University of Birmingham, provides the very best in social policy teaching, offering a wide choice of modules with plenty of opportunity to learn about research methods and the 'practice' of research. There are also opportunities to undertake placements, which are useful for gaining experience and future employment. During my time as External Examiner, I was impressed by the feedback provided for students and most certainly impressed with the enthusiasm of the staff, particularly in their efforts to ensure that teaching was properly 'research-led' and focused on the most up-to-date themes and issues in social policy"

Employability

Career opportunities

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
  • Public Relations
  • Health Promotion
  • The Civil Service
  • Local Government
  • Leisure and Sports Management
  • Probation Work
  • 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.

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.

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 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.

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.

  • 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).

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.

Student profiles

Richard

Richard, BA Social PolicyRichard 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 Ahmed

Naqeeb Ahmed, BA Social Policy (2008)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.

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. 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 Cresswell

Caroline Cresswell, BA Social PolicyCaroline 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

Asha KaurAsha 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.

Sam King

Sam King, BA Social PolicyOne 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

Will Monaghan, BA Social PolicyWill 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.

Jo Robinson

Jo RobinsonThe 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.

Hannah Smith

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!

Josie Smith

Josie Smith, BA Social PolicyI 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 Wilson

George Wilson, BA Social PolicyGeorge 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.

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 programme has provided me with a really solid foundation for a career in the public or third sector.