Social Policy: Housing and Communities BA

Our Social Policy: Housing and Communities Pathway Degree will provide you with the opportunity to actively engage in the analysis of cutting edge social issues and debates - therefore your degree will comprise a highly contemporary, dynamic and grounded programme of study.

Your degree programme will also provide you with specialist modules, a placement, further optional placements, an opportunity to undertake a specialist research project and extensive careers and employability support; thus providing you with a route into a range of careers and professional pathways. Find out more in our UG Social Policy course brochure (PDF).

Please be reassured that the vote to leave the European Union does not mean there will be any immediate material change to the UK university sector’s participation in EU programmes such as Erasmus and study abroad programmes. Visit our EU Referendum information page for more information.

Our Housing and Communities Pathway Degree is an inter-disciplinary programme and is therefore suitable for students who are currently studying a range of subjects at advanced level, including sociology, politics, geography, philosophy and ethics, history and media studies. The programme is located in a vibrant research department and is led by academics who are specialists in the field of housing. In addition to specialist inputs on housing issues during your Housing and Communities Pathway Degree, you will also have the opportunity to take modules provided by experts in a range of related fields.

First year

The ambition of a social policy degree programme is to create critically aware and engaged students who are able to analyse and evaluate  political and public policy objectives, their formulation and  implementation. This requires the gradual development of student's knowledge base and skills.  Your first year is designed to help you find your feet and get up to speed with the subject.  We introduce some of the main disciplines, themes, concepts and problems facing the UK in a contemporary global context.  These include:

  • Key concepts in social policy: for example, need, citizenship, equality, difference, globalisation and risk
  • The mixed policy economy of wellbeing
  • Key topics of social policy: health, education, housing, migration, poverty, social security and income maintenance
  • The demographic and socio-economic context of social policy provision
  • The construction of social issues and problems and changing policy responses over time
  • Introductory research skills
  • An introduction to criminology to explore the criminalisation of social problems and the shifting nature of social policy  responses

Taken together, your core and optional modules will provide you with opportunities to develop 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  enhance your understanding of Housing and Communities policies  through dedicated modules and a placement. This immerses you in Housing and Communities policies  whilst your other core modules focus  upon both developing your appreciation of the broader policy context. Your work in your second year will also support you in developing your  research and analytical skills so that you have the capability of conducting your own small scale investigations of social issues and Housing  policy of your  own choosing in your  final year of study. This provides you with a range of practical skills and knowledge needed in the wider world of work after your degree. As such there are four core modules in year two.

Third year

By your final year you will be prepared to conduct your own research project (or extended essay).  You will have the opportunity to explore knowledge and policy in an area of your choice which reflects your particular interests.   Your core module is a choice between a research-based dissertation or an extended essay. Module options at this level will enable you to focus on additional areas of the research expertise of the School of Social Policy and the research centres of the School, further enabling you to benefit from  research excellence and  leading, contemporary research. As such you  can explore issues such as:

  • Matters of personal finances, wealth and the relationship these have with social policy
  • The role of religion in politics and social policy
  • The future prospects and developments within social policy
  • Political histories of the ways in which social policies have developed
  • The challenges of migration and diversity for social policy aims and ambitions

Birmingham social policy is designed to facilitate student learning in key aspects of the discipline, not just so that they can just understand policy, but also to encourage them to seek out and pursue change. Students study the tools and methods of social research alongside theories of policy making, evidence-based policy and different policy analysis techniques and applies to this issues such as drug abuse, homelessness, poverty and domestic violence in order to both analyse and evaluate existing policies and also explore alternative possibilities.

Why study this course

The Department in which the Housing and Communities 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. The Department also organises and funds students events: for example, our students recently visited London and the Houses of Parliament. Each student is also provided with a personal tutor, whom they meet on a regular basis and with whom they review their academic and broader developmental progress. The Department also provides 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. 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.

In addition to your specialist Housing placement, further opportunities for placements and paid work are available. Our Internship and Careers Officers meet with students on a regular basis to share information about work opportunities.

The availability of these opportunities means that students on the Housing and Communities 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. The Department also places a premium upon helping students to develop a wide range of transferrable 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 processes of your Housing and Communities Pathway Degree.


Modules available within your Housing and Communities Pathway Degree 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 there are further opportunities to gain a wide variety of placement experiences.

First year

Core modules in your first year are designed to help you find your feet and get up to speed with the subject through the study of some of the main disciplines and themes which are relevant to social policy. These include:

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

  • 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:

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

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.

Placement Opportunities

Housing and Communities 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.  We also have our own specialist internship and careers advisors who provide students with a wide rnage of advice, support and contacts for work experience, placements and internships.

Third year

By your final year you will be prepared to conduct your own research project (or extended essay) providing you with the opportunity to select a topic in the area of Housing and Communities which is of particular interest to you and explore knowledge and policy within that policy area. . As such your core module is a choice between a research-based dissertation or an extended essay.

If you choose to do the dissertation (40 credits) as your core module then you can select four optional modules.

If you choose to do the extended essay (20 credits) you can choose five optional modules. Optional modules include:

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 issues and policies in the area of Housing and Communities.

Birmingham social policy is designed to facilitate student learning in key aspects of the discipline, not just so that they can just understand policy, but also to encourage them to seek out and pursue change. Students study the tools and methods of social research alongside theories of policy making, evidence-based policy and different policy analysis techniques and applies to this issues such as drug abuse, homelessness, poverty and domestic violence in order to both analyse and evaluate existing policies and also explore alternative possibilities.

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

The Government has announced that it will raise the cap for undergraduate fees in line with inflation. Assuming that the relevant regulations are passed by Parliament, which is expected to happen in Autumn 2016, the University of Birmingham will increase fees to the revised amount, expected to be £9,250 for home/EU students. Visit our tuition fees page for more information.

Home/EU students

Undergraduate Home/EU student fees 2017-18
Fee Band Full-time
Undergraduate £9,250 TBC

Overseas students entering in 2016-17

Overseas students entering in 2016-17
Fee Band (Undergraduate) Full-time
Band 1 (Classroom) £13,860


At Birmingham we ensure that fears about finance do not constrain prospective students from considering university and that excellence is rewarded.

The University offers a range of additional financial support for students studying at Birmingham in the form of bursaries, grants and scholarships.

Learn more about our scholarships and awards. 

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:

BTEC Extended Diploma accepted - grades required DDM.

BTEC Diploma accepted when combined with an A-level.

BTEC Subsidiary Diploma accepted when combined with 2 A-levels.

Other qualifications are considered – learn more about entry requirements

A satisfactory Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check will be required for September 2016 entry.

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,  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 one of our foundation pathways, which offer specially structured programmes for international students whose qualifications are not accepted for direct entry to UK universities. Further details can be found on Birmingham International Academy web pages.

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.

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.

How will I be taught?

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

  • Lectures, seminars, workshops, classes and tutorials
  • Web based learning methods, e.g. 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.

Assessment is based around one practice piece of work or model answer for which you receive feedback before completing one assessment which determines your module grade. This gives students the opportunity to get feedback on their work before doing their assessment.

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.

Learning settings

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).

Personal tutors

You will be assigned your own personal tutor who will get to know you as you progress through your studies. They will provide academic support and advice to enable you to make the most of your time here at Birmingham.

Welfare tutors

We have dedicated welfare tutors who provide professional support, advice and guidance to students across a range of issues. They can meet with you to discuss extensions, disabilities, reasonable adjustments, extenuating circumstances, or talk through any problems you might be experiencing, and help you access wider support on campus and beyond.

During your first year, it is important that you have a smooth transition into University. You will be able to talk to your tutors about this and discuss if there are 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.

Contact hours

Depending on the modules you select, each week you will have between 12 and 15 hours of lectures and classes, with lecturers on hand to answer additional questions outside of this timeframe.

Internships and placements

Internships and 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 to students. In addition to a dedicated Careers Advisor, we also have a specialist Internship and Placement Officer located in the School of Social Policy, who works with and facilitates students in securing experiential opportunities. In addition to structured inputs into the programme our Careers 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.

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 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.

What can housing employers offer Social Policy students on placement?

Housing and Communities: Partnership working

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.

Your Birmingham degree

Your Birmingham degree is evidence of your ability to succeed in a demanding academic environment. Employers target Birmingham students for their drive, diversity, communication and problem-solving skills, their team-working abilities and cultural awareness, and our graduate employment statistics have continued to climb at a rate well above national trends. If you make the most of the wide range of services you will be able to develop your career from the moment you arrive.

Careers Network

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.

Visit the University of Birmingham Careers pages for further information on how we are 'investing in your future'.

Career opportunities

With an emphasis on examining contemporary housing issues and debates, as well as exploring the range of ways in which responses to those issues are and could be formed, the work that you undertake on your Housing and Communities 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 Housing and Communities 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 group of students who undertake this degree programme 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 housing issues, many of which run excellent graduate management training schemes, some examples would include:

  • Voluntary organisations
  • Housing Associations
  • Charities and campaigning organisations such as ‘Crisis’ or ‘Shelter’
  • Advice Agencies such as the Citizens’ Advice Bureau
  • Journalism, for specialist professional journals and more broadly
  • Health organisations
  • Local government
  • Probation work
  • Agencies who deal with issues such as domestic violence or homeless young people
  • International agencies such as Voluntary Services Overseas

Your Housing and Communities Pathway Degree and Employability

Experiences you can gain as a Housing and Communities Pathway degree student, through your specialist internship, 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, Housing and Communities Pathway Degree 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."

The Homes and Communities sector employs over 150,000 people in England. In addition to government departments and the Homes and Communities Agency, there are around 1,800 housing associations managing over 2 million homes, local authorities and arms length organisations manage a further 2 million, and there is a wide range of third sector housing bodies covering topics such as homelessness, financial inclusion and housing advice.

Housing employers are increasingly looking for employees with a broad-based degree and an understanding of the connections between home and community and wider social policy issues that your degree will equip you with. There will be opportunities to gain more specific housing-based skills after your degree for example, through the Chartered Institute of Housing's suite of blended learning and direct final qualifications.

According to the Chartered Institute of Housing website, "Working in housing is not just about the building, it's about making a positive difference to people's lives, their communities and their life chances by providing them with a decent home and environment in which to live. Over 150,000 people are estimated to work in the affordable housing sector in the UK. A career in housing is exciting and can provide an incredible variety of options, from housing management, to residential involvement and from development to supported housing - to mention just a few. Put simply, if you want to make a positive difference working in housing is for you!"

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.


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...

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. Read...