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BA Social Policy and Criminology

Start date
3 years
UCAS code
Course Type
Undergraduate, Joint Honours combined

For 2024/25:
£9,250 (UK students) 
£22,380 (International Students) 
More detail on Fees and Funding.

Do prisons do more harm than good? What is the relationship between poverty and crime? Our degree will offer you an exciting opportunity to examine issues which strike at the heart of many contemporary political and media debates.

Our Joint Honours Social Policy and Criminology degree combines popular subjects that offer complementary insights into a range of social problems and social harms.

The Social Policy and Criminology degree will enable you to consider the ways that different societies produce contrasting levels of 'problems' and 'harms', such as drug and alcohol addiction, homicide, homelessness and workplace injury. You will be encouraged to consider the reasons why these are designated as being either 'crimes' or 'social policy' issues and therefore are dealt with through contrasting 'welfare' or 'criminal justice' responses.

Students on this programme who meet the requisite academic performance criteria will be offered the opportunity to undertake a specialist placement during the second year of the programme. This module links the content of our course curriculum with the ‘real world’ – giving students the opportunity to apply the theory they’ve learnt in class in a practical context.

My time at Birmingham has been one of a kind, certainly one I will never forget. The standard of teaching, learning resources and opportunities that are available to students has been remarkable. I found the provision of 1:1 support for both academic and career planning very tailored.

Shayne, Student, BA Social Policy and Criminology


First year 

In your first year you will be introduced to degree level social policy and criminology through six core modules. These modules are designed to support the progression to more independent forms of study later in your degree. This year will also introduce you to the basics of research design and methods.


  • Introduction to Social Policy
  • Criminological Theory I
  • Crime and Society 
  • Violence in a Global Context
  • Social Problems and Social Policy: Social Science in Action Part I
  • Social Problems and Social Policy: Social Science in Action Part 2
  • Social Research I (Part 1)
  • Social Research I (Part 2)

Second year 

The second year of your degree builds on these foundations by developing your understanding of social policy and criminology. You will also receive more advanced methods training in data analysis which will help prepare you for your final year dissertation. 


  • Policy Analysis
  • Social Research II
  • Criminological Theory II

You will choose your remaining credits from a range of optional modules, such as:

  • Education, Policy and Social Justice
  • Contemporary Issues in Policing
  • Poverty, Class and Inequality 
  • Gender and Sexuality
  • 'Sociology of Race’ and Ethnicity –  A Global Perspective
  • Terror, Threat and Security
  • Media and Society
  • Histories of Criminal Justice and Empire 
  • Enterprising Solutions to Social Problems 
  • Punishment in a Global Context

Final year 

The focus of the third year is your independent, supervised dissertation which brings together your research skills on a project defined by you. Your third year also allows you to specialise in the areas of social policy and criminology that interest you most. Our teaching staff, who are active researchers, run options in their own specialist fields.

If you want to take advantage of a unique opportunity to be supported with a work placement opportunity as part of your final year, this course includes the opportunity to undertake a 'Professional Development' module as part of your optional module choices.


  • Dissertation

You must choose two of the following modules:

  • Harmful Societies: Crime, Social Harm and Social Justice
  • Crime and the City
  • Genocide and Mass Atrocities

You will choose your remaining credits from a range of optional modules, such as:

  • Prospects for Social Policy in the UK
  • Quantitative Data Analysis
  • Psychology and Crime
  • Divided Publics?
  • Drugs: Society, Politics and Policy
  • Genocide and Mass Atrocities
  • Technology and Society
  • Professional Development 

Unless indicated otherwise the modules listed for this programme are for students starting in 2024.

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. 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.


For UK students beginning their studies in September 2024, 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.

UK students

Full-time: £9,250

International students

Full-time Band 1 (Classroom): £22,380


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 Bursaries.

How To Apply

Apply through UCAS at using code: L673.
Learn more about applying.

Standard offer

International Requirements

Number of A levels required:
Typical offer:
General Studies:
Not accepted

BTEC Extended Diploma, Diploma and Subsidiary Diploma are all considered.

Learn more about entry requirements

Alternative offers through our Pathways to Birmingham programmes and our Contextual Offer scheme

Students who are eligible and successfully complete a Pathways to Birmingham programme will receive special consideration from admissions tutors and an alternative offer (typically two grades below the standard offer). In addition, our Contextual Offer Scheme recognises the potential of students whose personal circumstances may have restricted achievement in school or college. If you are eligible to benefit from the contextual offer scheme, you will receive an offer which is one grade lower than the standard offer.

International Students

International Baccalaureate Diploma: 6,5,5 at Higher Level to include English with a minimum of 32 points overall.

Standard English language requirements apply.
Learn more about International student 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.

As a Birmingham student, studying a Social Policy and Criminology degree with us, you will learn from academic staff who are leaders in their field. 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.

The research-led teaching on our flexible Social Policy and Criminology degree course ensures an inspirational and enquiry-based learning environment in the lecture theatre, seminar room and on placement. 

How will I be taught?

During your time studying our Social Policy and Criminology degree, 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 and tutorials.

Learning settings

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). 

Personal tutors

You will be assigned your own personal tutor who will get to know you as you progress through your studying of our Social Policy and Criminology degree. They will provide academic support and advice to enable you to make the most of your time here at Birmingham.


We have dedicated wellbeing officers 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 form part of our Social Policy and Criminology degree and 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.

Where can your social policy degree take you?


Your Birmingham Social Policy and Criminology 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 available to you on this Social Policy and Criminology degree, 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 your Social Policy and Criminology degree at the University of Birmingham. 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 Social Policy and Criminology 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 CVs and job applications will help give you the edge. In addition, our employer-endorsed, Birmingham Award 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.

Visit the University of Birmingham Careers pages for further information on how we are 'connecting you to your future'.

Career opportunities

There are a number of career paths for you to take after graduating this Social Policy degree. 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 our Social Policy degree 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 graduates also gain many transferable skills such as critical thinking, written and verbal communication and teamwork which give them the flexibility to go into a wide range of employment opportunities:

  • Campaigns Manager – The Princes Trust
  • Culture Change Officer – Birmingham City Council
  • Domestic Violence Advocate – Women’s Aid
  • Policy Manager – Social Work England
  • Management Consultant – Deloitte UK
  • Marketing Professional – BT
  • Programme Manager – National Lottery
  • Senior Policy Advisor – Cabinet Office
  • Service Manager – Solihull Community Housing

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