As a Birmingham student you are part of an academic elite and will learn from world-leading experts. At Birmingham we advocate an enquiry based learning approach, from the outset you will be encouraged to become an independent and self-motivated learner, qualities that are highly sought after by employers. 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.
As a 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 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 talking, reading, writing and presentation skills.
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.
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.
Agency placement experiences
Agency 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 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.
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 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.
This degree is taught by the Institute of Applied Social Studies (IASS) which is located in Muirhead Tower on own main Edgbaston campus.
Following a £50million refurbishment, Muirhead Tower offers state-of-the-art teaching and research study facilities including free wifi throughout the building and dedicated study areas for postgraduate research students.
Muirhead Tower comprises 12,000sq.m of floor space between two towers. The tower includes a number of sustainable features including solar shading (known in the trade as brise soliel) to control temperatures, as well as low energy fans; timed lighting to reduce energy waste; natural ventilation systems and a heat source taken from the University’s combined heat and power generator.
The space has been designed to create modern, attractive spaces for teaching and research accommodating 150 academic offices, 230 "hubs" for post graduate research students, teaching rooms for up to 100 people and a 200 seat lecture theatre.
Your lectures and teaching will take place in a variety of versatile lecture theatres and breakout rooms which have moved on a lot since the traditional whiteboard and pen. Our rooms are all equipped with wireless connection and constantly updated technology including all the audio-visual equipment that you would expect from one of the UK's premier insitutions.
Small-group tutorials/personal tutorials run alongside our lectures, addressing any individual problems you may have and allowing you to consolidate lecture material, as well as test your understanding through problem-solving exercises.
Self study is an essential part of the programme and requires self motivation and enthusiasm for your subject. It also allows you to pursue your own lines of enquiry and become an independent thinker.