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, an internship, 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.

  • 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

Download the BA Social Policy: Housing and Communities brochure (PDF)

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 such as:

  • Criminology
  • Youth and Children
  • Poverty, Assets and Wealth
  • Migration
  • Globalisation
  • Political History
  • The Voluntary Sector
  • Faith
  • Policy Analysis
  • The Family

Your degree programme will provide you with opportunities both to build upon your specialism and also to engage with highly complementary areas of study.

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 advisor who provide students with a wide range of advice, support and contacts for work experience, placements and internships.

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 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 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 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

Your second year core courses are:

  • Social Theory and Social Policy
  • Social Research Methods
  • Housing and Communities
  • Social Policy Pathway Placement

The second year will help you to develop a deeper appreciation of how many of the issues and debates within the field of housing 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 take a focus upon a housing question or issue of your choice. In addition, you will also undertake a specialist housing module in which you will study a wide range of contemporary housing issues and debates. You will also continue to have opportunities to tailor your degree to reflect your developing skills and interests through a range of complementary specialist module choices, for example:

  • Managing Health and Social Care
  • New Migration and Superdiversity
  • Criminal Justice Systems
  • Equality and Discrimination
  • Managing Health and Social Care
  • 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 tailor your degree around your personal interests.

Third year

The core courses in your third year are:

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

In the Prospects module, as a member of a working group you will be able to undertake a project on a housing policy 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 housing 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 housing topic or issue which particularly interests or inspires you, will provide you with an excellent opportunity to enhance your marks in your final year.

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
  • From Beveridge to Cameron
  • Your Money and Your Life

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 housing 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:

Other qualifications are considered – learn more about entry requirements

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

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,  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.

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 reviewduring 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.

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, hence 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.

Your specialist observational placement

Your specialist observational placement forms an integral part of your Housing and Communities Pathway degree 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 a 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 Housing and Communities Pathway degree through our tutoring system.

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 Housing and Communities Pathway Degree 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 placement, by undertaking a further optional agency placement. 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 thus 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 Housing and Communities 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 Housing amd Communities 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 Jobzonewhich 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.

We use a wide range of teaching methods and assessments, including a range of e-Learning 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 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 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...