Social Policy: Health and Social Care BA

How can we as a society respond to the increasing demands for health and social care services at a time of financial austerity?  Who should be responsible for the health care costs of people with drug, alcohol dependencies or eating disorders? How do we protect the vulnerable in our society whilst upholding their right to have control over their lives?  Health and Social Care issues currently have a very high profile across a range of key political and public agendas, various forms of media, and within a wide range of agency settings and professional arenas. These and a wide range of closely related issues form the substance of the day to day work of a wide range of public, voluntary and private agencies and professions.

Our Social Policy Health and Social Care Pathway Degree will provide you with the opportunity to actively engage in the analysis of these and further cutting edge issues and debates and therefore your degree will comprise a highly contemporary, dynamic and grounded programme of study.

Download the BA Social Policy, Health and Social Care brochure (PDF)

Our Health and Social Care Pathway Degree is suitable for students who are currently studying a range of subjects at advanced level and who have a particular interest in health and social care. Your degree will provide you with opportunities both to build upon your specialism and also to engage with highly complementary areas of study. 

BA Social Policy: Health and Social Care (PDF)

Why study this course

The Department in which the Health and Social Care Pathway Degree  is taught, is both friendly and supportive and students are encouraged to become involved in the work of the Department 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.  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. There is also a welfare tutoring system, for students who may need specialist support.

The Department places an emphasis upon ensuring that students benefit from studying in a vibrant research environment.


In addition to your specialist Health and Social Care placement, further opportunities for placements and paid work are available. The availability of these opportunities means that students on the Health and Social Care Pathway Degree are able to build up an excellent portfolio of experiences and contacts which have proved to be very valuable when students apply for jobs upon completion of their degree. We place a premium upon helping students to develop a wide range of transferrable skills, encouraging and supporting the development of skills such as group and teamwork, project work, presentations, and the production of briefing papers and policy reports.


Modules available will enable you to acquire a range of skills which are valued by employers, including: critical enquiry; analytical skills; problem solving; research competencies; workload planning and management; convening working parties; team working; presentations; writing policy reports and producing briefing papers. You will also be able to choose optional modules such as the Personal Skills Award, which can provide you 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 organisations and agencies and to gain a wide variety of placement experiences.

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. Core modules are:

  • Social Research Methods
  • Social Theory and Social Policy
  • Social Policy Pathway Placement
  • Managing Health and Social Care

You can also choose one 20 credit module from the following:

  • New migration and Superdiversity
  • Criminal Justice Systems
  • Equality and Discrimination
  • Housing and Communities
  • Policy Analysis

In your second year you can also choose to study modules from other departments if you wish to such as Urban Studies, Politics or Sociology, providing you with 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 and the Dissertation Module. In the Prospects module, as a member of a working group you will be able to undertake a project on a health and social care issue of your choice, you will produce a briefing paper, a Wiki, a policy report and you will also learn how to form and constitute 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, centred on a health or social care question or issue 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 or inspires you, will provide you with an excellent opportunity to enhance your marks in your final year. Core modules are:

  • Dissertation (Social Policy)
  • Prospects for Social Policy in the UK

For the remainder of your modules you can choose from a range of specialist options, examples would include:

  • Comparative Social Policy
  • Doing or Not Doing God? Religion, Policy & Politics
  • From Beveridge to Cameron
  • Youth, Crime and Justice
  • Your Money and Your Life
  • Sociology of Health and Illness

You can also choose to study modules from other departments to reflect specific interests which you have developed over the course of your programme and to broaden your understanding of the social and political context of health and social care issues and policies.

The optional modules listed on the website for this programme may unfortunately occasionally be subject to change. As you will appreciate key members of staff may leave the University and this necessitates a review of the modules that are offered. Where the module is no longer available we will let you know as soon as we can and help you make other choices.

Fees and funding

Standard fees apply 

Learn more about fees and funding  

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:
Typical offer:
General Studies:

Additional information:

A satisfactory Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check will be required for September 2015 entry. 

Other qualifications are considered - learn more about entry requirements.

Additional information:

An undergraduate subject degree brochure is available from Sue Gilbert: or tel: +44 (0)121 414 5709.

We hold applicant visiting days, which you are most welcome to attend.

We run Discovery Days for groups of students, which comprise a subject talk, a taster seminar, a student life talk, 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.

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

Learn more about applying


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.

Social 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.

Employers value our graduates on the basis of our reputation for academic excellence and our student's considerable suite of skills and experiences gained over the course of their degree programme and therefore 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. 

Placement opportunities

Health and Social Care Policy Pathway students will undertake a specialist placement during their degree programme. However, it is possible for you to gain further experiences if you wish, and there are many opportunities to do so. Some students also choose to undertake placements linked to their dissertation work.

Your specialist  placement

Your specialist observational placement forms an integral part of your Health and Social Care Pathway degree programme, and there are a range of interesting opportunities available to you. Your internship will provide you with the opportunity to spend a dedicated block of time with an organisation or agency and so will 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. In addition to your placement, there are further options through which you can develop and broaden your experiences, helping you to build an excellent portfolio over the course of your degree programme. In addition, your various experiences will also provide you with opportunities to network and develop contacts, which can form valuable resources both during and upon completion of your degree. Systematic assessment and review of your progress is firmly built into your Health and Social Care Pathway degree programme through our tutoring systems.

Graduate Internship case study: Amy Davenport, Health Exchange (2014)

Progress and tutoring

Your skill-set, talents and experiences which you bring with you to your Health and Social Care Pathway degree programme are valuable resources and a baseline upon which we will build over the duration of your degree. A key source of support in that process is the tutoring system, which offers one-to-one tutoring across all three years of your programme, providing you with a personal and systematic approach to reviewing your progress, achievements and aspirations. You can also access the Academic Skills Centre that do focussed one-to-one and group workshop sessions to enable you to develop your wider academic skills. Over the course of your degree programme a wide range of opportunities for developing and enhancing your skill-set, experiences and so your employability will be available to you, examples of which are given below.

Agency placement experiences

You may wish to complement or build upon the experiences gained during your specialist observational internship, by undertaking further optional agency placements. Agency placement experiences are systematically integrated into the broader structure of an academic module, thus providing you with 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 through which you can gain a wide range of 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. Undertaking an agency placement in addition to an internship can also further contribute to developing your sense of self-confidence and competencies in an agency-setting.

Further internship experiences?

You may be interested in gaining further, perhaps complementary internship experience over the course of your Health and Social Care Pathway Degree. If you think that this option could be of interest to you, then there are a range of resources and support available which can facilitate you. For example, in addition to our dedicated Careers Advisor, we also have a specialist Internship Officer located in the School of Social Policy, who works with and supports students in securing internship opportunities. In addition to structured inputs into the programme, our Internship Officer also has an active relationship with our student Social Policy Society, arranging events, workshops and talks in collaboration with our students.

Work experience

If you are interested in gaining work experience over the course of your Health and Social Care Pathway Degree, our specialist careers and employability advisor who holds regular surgeries, several days each week in the building in which we are based, will be able to provide you with support, advice and information about the many employers who are keen to offer opportunities to our undergraduates. The Guild also has a facility called Jobzone which provides a wide and interesting range of opportunities for students. In addition, if you want to gain work experience in an area which is interesting or inspires you, but perhaps is low paid or unpaid, the University has a range of bursaries available which can enable you to do this.


Volunteering is a fantastic way to demonstrate your commitment to civic engagement, develop your employability skills, gain crucial work experience, network and meet new people. We actively encourage our students to gain experiences in voluntary agencies, both through our modules as well as through our links to the Student Volunteering Service, who provide our students with access to a wide range of experiences both here 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 assessment

We use a wide range of teaching methods and assessments, including a range of eLearning mediums such as Canvas, Wikis and podcasting; workshops, presentations, seminars, classes, briefing papers, policy reports, project work and essays. A typical assessment for modules is 50% 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 third-year dissertation, which is research-based, is supervised by an academic tutor. All students have the support of their own personal tutor throughout their degree, and access to welfare tutors if they have specific learning support needs.

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.

Career opportunities

With an emphasis on examining contemporary health and social care policy issues and debates, as well as exploring the range of ways in which responses to those isues are and could be formed, the work that you undertake on your Health and Social Care Pathway Degree makes strong connections with the concerns of a very wide range of employers and key professions. This means that the programme is a positive choice for students who are interested in enhancing their employment prospects through their choice of degree programme. Whilst the Health and Social Care Pathway Degree will enable you to specialise, it is also a degree programme which has flexibility too. This means that it is possible for the students who undertake this degree to craft their degree in a way such that it reflects their developing personal interests, skills, experiences and career aspirations.

There are a wide range of agencies which have both a direct and indirect focus upon health and social care policies, a number of whom run excellent graduate management training schemes, some examples would include:

  • The National Health Service
  • Voluntary Organisations such as ‘Cancer Research’ and ‘Age Concern’
  • Education and Welfare
  • Local Government
  • Journalism, for specialist professional journals and more broadly
  • Social Enterprises
  • Local government
  • Public and Environmental Health
  • Agencies who deal with issues such as victim support and domestic violence

Your Health and Social Care Pathway Degree and Employability

Experiences you can gain as a Health and Social Care Pathway degree student, through your specialist observational placement, modules, placements, work 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 your specialist internship and experiences of placements, voluntary work, work experience and beyond, Health and Social Care Pathway degree students are very well placed to respond with confidence and competence. Opportunities to secure a career that is right for you, can be enhanced not only through the wide range of experiences that are available to you through your degree programme, but also through the wealth of resources and support that is available through our specialist Careers Network

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."


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.  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...

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. Read more...

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. Read more...