BA Social Policy is an interdisciplinary degree, drawing on subjects such as sociology, politics, psychology, history, media and cultural studies and so is suitable for students currently studying a range of A level subjects, and who have an interest in highly contemporary social issues and debates. The BA Social Policy is ranked among the top ten social policy programmes in the country. Social Policy is located in a vibrant research environment and is led by academics who are specialists in their fields.
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
In your second year you will consolidate and build upon the knowledge base and skills gained in your first year. The focus here initially is upon supporting students in developing their research and analytical skills so that you have the capabilities of both conducting your own small scale investigations of a social issue of your choice in your final year of study and also the ability to effectively appraise and use bodies of research at every stage of your studies. This will provide you with a range of practical skills and knowledge needed in the wider world of work after your degree. As such there are two core modules in year two.
You can also choose a further four optional modules which reflect your particular and developing interests from a range of subject areas. You will continue developing your analytical skills and your understanding of the social and political worlds through modules.
And you can develop specialist knowledge in a range of key social policy topics. For year abroad students we highly recommend the Comparative Social Policy module. Early in the academic year student must apply for the year abroad opportunity and information will be provided on how to do this with the appropriate deadlines.
In your third year, you will spend a year abroad at a university in the EU or elsewhere in the world. There are a wide range of countries and universities from which you can choose. As well as a range of European universities, you may also choose from a range of current partners worldwide. These include countries in which a variety of different languages are spoken, including universities at which courses are taught in English.
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 social policy
- The future prospects and developments within social policy
- Political histories of the development of social policies
- 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, body work, homelessness, poverty and domestic violence in order to both analyse and evaluate existing policies and also explore alternative possibilities.