Social Policy with Year Abroad BA

Food banks, zero hours contracts, unaffordable housing. We see these terms in the news, but what do they actually mean? 

A social policy degree is ideal for students who want to challenge the status quo – those with a keen interest in current affairs and tackling contemporary issues which cause injustice. When you study for this degree at Birmingham, you’ll be equipped with the theoretical knowledge and research skills to tackle social problems. From poverty to homelessness, and from health care to criminal justice systems, social policy engages in a range of contemporary social problems to find new ways of securing people’s welfare. It is essentially about changing the present and creating a new future.

On this 4-year Year Abroad programme, you can spend a year abroad in your third year at a partner institution. This will give you the opportunity to experience a different academic environment and way of teaching (and even different approaches to the subject).


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.

Laura Kite

Laura Kite

Student, BA Social Policy

“As someone who is passionate about helping people, Social Policy is the ideal degree for me. The first year modules provide a brilliant grounding in the key social issues, opening up to more choice and room for exploration in second and third years. The range of teaching styles is also fantastic as it keeps things fresh, and the staff go above and beyond to make sure you get any help you need.”

The Social Policy degree at Birmingham enables you to understand the nature of social issues in the UK and beyond. It encourages you to not only develop an understanding of contemporary social issues, but investigate potential solutions and how to promote change to tackle social problems.

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Why study this course

Be part of a vibrant community of students and staff making real-world impact by addressing past, current and future challenges in the field of social policy.

The research-led teaching on our flexible degree courses ensures an inspirational and enquiry-based learning environment in the lecture theatre, seminar room and on placement. You will graduate as a highly employable, independent global citizen with a broad range of transferable skills.

You will study in one of the most attractive and heritage-rich campuses in the country only a few minutes from the centre of Birmingham, the only UK city featured in the Rough Guide top 10 cities in the world to visit.

John Bamford

John Bamford

Student, BA Social Policy

“One of the main reasons I chose the University of Birmingham is because of the wonderful campus -it’s based in at the centre of a fantastic city. Furthermore, everybody at the School of Social Policy was welcoming and friendly, and made me feel at home.”

Modules

First year

Your first year is designed to help you find your feet and get up to speed with the subject. Modules in the first year offer an introduction to our key themes which shape our Social Policy degree:

  • 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

To be able to take a year abroad you must have an average weighting of 55% by the end of this academic year.

Core modules

  • Introduction to Social Policy
  • Social Science, Social Problems and Social Policy
  • Social Research I
  • Philosophies of Welfare
  • Introduction to Social Divisions
  • Widening Horizons Module

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. 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 problem of your choice in your final year of study. Additionally this equips you with a range of practical skills and knowledge needed in the wider world of work after your degree.

During your second year you must apply for a place at an overseas institution. Full information will be provided during your study and you are supported in making this application. Allocation of places for international exchanges is done by the international office (university-wide competition), alongside this there are a number of Erasmus exchange schemes you can consider. The Year Abroad tutor will assist you and be able to offer advice during your studies.

There are two core modules in year two:

  • Policy Analysis
  • Social Research II

You can also choose a further four optional modules which reflect your particular interests from a range of subject areas. You may wish to continue developing analytical skills and your understanding of the social and political worlds, or develop specialist knowledge in a range of key social policy topics.

Optional modules include:

  • Social Theory and Social Policy
  • Comparative Social Policy
  • Poverty, Class and Inequality
  • Gender and Sexuality
  • ‘Sociology of Race’ and Ethnicity – A Global Perspective
  • Social Policy and Disability
  • Managing Health and Social Care
  • Third Sector and Social Enterprise
  • Housing and Communities 
  • Terror, Threat and Security
  • Punishment in a Global Context
  • Education, Policy and Social Justice
  • Self and Society
  • Media and Society
  • Global Societies

Year abroad

Your third year will be spent abroad at a university in the EU or elsewhere in the world. After completing your year abroad, you will return for your fourth and final year to the same BA degree programme. 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 institutional partners worldwide. These include countries in which a variety of languages are spoken, including universities at which courses are taught in English.


Modules in the final year

By your final year you will be ready to conduct your own research project. 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,  further enabling you to benefit from  research excellence and  leading, contemporary research.  

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:

  • Prospects for Social Policy
  • From Beveridge to May
  • Quantitative Analysis I and Quantitative Analysis II
  • Migration and Super-Diversity
  • Your Money and Your Life
  • Harmful Societies
  • Sociology of Personal Life
  • Divided Publics
  • Doing or Not Doing God? Religion, Policy and Politics
  • Crime and the City
  • Sociology of Health and Illness
  • Political Sociology
  • Technology and Society
  • ‘Freedom’, Control and Critique
  • Professional Development Module

Please note: The modules listed on the website for this programme are regularly reviewed to ensure they are up-to-date and informed by the latest research and teaching methods. Unless indicated otherwise, the modules listed for this programme are for students starting in 2018. On rare occasions, we may need to make unexpected changes to compulsory modules, in this event we will contact offer holders as soon as possible to inform or consult them as appropriate.

Fees and funding

For UK students beginning their studies in September 2017, the University of Birmingham will charge the maximum approved tuition fee per year. The fees for your first year of study will therefore be £9,250. Visit our tuition fees page for more information.

Learn more about fees and funding.

Home/EU students

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

Overseas students

Overseas students entering in 2017-18
Fee Band (Undergraduate) Full-time
Band 1 (Classroom) £15,570

Scholarships

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 .

Scholarships 

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:
3
Typical offer:
BBB
General Studies:
Accepted

Additional information:

BTEC Extended Diploma accepted - grades required DDM-DDD

Typical offers when offered in combination with A Levels:  

  • BTEC Diploma DM-DD plus B in A level
  • BTEC Subsidiary Diploma D plus BB-AB in A levels 

Other qualifications are considered – learn more about entry requirements

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 www.ucas.com
Learn more about applying

UCAS

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?

During your time at the School of Social Policy, your learning will be facilitated through a blend of teaching, learning and assessment methods, and you will experience teaching through a mixture of lectures, seminars, workshops, classes and tutorials.

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).

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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.

Support

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.

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 work experience

We have developed a range of internships and funded work experience placements that will enhance both your professional and personal skills whilst giving you the practical experience that is required by almost all graduate employers. In addition to funding and support, we offer unique opportunities to help you to rise above the competition, with global internships and placements available.

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 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  mentoringglobal 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.

Careers Fair

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

There are a number of job paths for you to take after graduating. There are graduate schemes in managing welfare services in health care, the third sector and local government which can be popular choices with our graduates. Since a degree in Social Policy is based upon how policy is made it is a great degree for working in the civil service, local government or for think tanks. Our graduate also gain students many transferable skills such as critical thinking, written and verbal communication and team work which give them the flexibility to go into a wide range of employment opportunities:

  • NHS management trainee scheme
  • Planning Officer
  • Charity co-ordinator
  • Marketing project manager
  • Social enterprise co-ordinator
  • Campaign manager for an MP
  • Youth worker
  • Researcher
  • Communications officer
  • Graduate land buyer
  • Benefits Officer

Opportunities to secure a career that is right for you can be enhanced not only through experiences that are available to you on your degree programme, but also through our specialist  Careers Network.

Birmingham has transformed into one of Europe's most exciting cities. It is more than somewhere to study; it is somewhere to build a successful future.

Clubs and societies

The Guild has over 200 Societies, community volunteering groups and associations for you to join; they cover every topic and activity that you can think of - there really is something for everyone.

Shape your academic experience

Choose to study here and you will have a Student Representative, who works with the University and Students' Union on issues that directly affect students. You could even become one yourself. Not only would you be making a difference to the academic student experience, but you would also be developing transferable skills for the future. Find out more on the Guild of Students website

Accommodation

Coming to Birmingham might be your first time living away from home. Our student accommodation will allow you to enjoy your new-found independence in safe, welcoming and sociable surroundings.

The City of Birmingham

One of Europe's most exciting destinations, Birmingham is brimming with life and culture, making it a wonderful place to live, study and work.

Our students fall in love with the city - around 40% of our graduates choose to make Birmingham their home.