The Social Policy degree at Birmingham enables you to explore social problems in the UK and globally. 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. 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.
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 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
To be able to take a year abroad you must have an average weighting of 55% by the end of this academic 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:
You will also take two further modules. One from a selection of sociology modules which are available through the department and one module which is from the University Widening Horizons programme.
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.
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, enabling you to develop specialist knowledge in specific policy areas. You will continue developing analytical skills and your understanding of the social and political worlds through modules.
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.
In your second year you will build upon the knowledge base and skills gained in your first year. The focus here is initially upon supporting you to develop your research and analytical skills through two core modules in year two:
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. Example optional modules may include:
In your third year, you will spend a year abroad at a partner institution. There are a wide range of countries and universities from which you can choose. These include countries in which a variety of different languages are spoken, including universities at which courses are taught in English. This is contingent on the criteria outlined in the discussion of year one and two above. Programmes of study will vary by institution.
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. Example optional modules may include:
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 2017. We aim to publish any changes to compulsory modules and programme structure for 2018 entry by 1 September 2017 and recommend you refer back to this page shortly after that date for any changes. On rare occasions, we may need to make unexpected changes to compulsory modules after that date; in this event we will contact offer holders as soon as possible to inform or consult them as appropriate.