Social Policy 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 and 'make important things happen'.

As an interdisciplinary subject, BA Social Policy draws on theories and insights from sociology, philosophy, politics and economics, and you will benefit from the expertise of world-leading researchers across a broad range of social science subjects.

Studying Social Policy at Birmingham equips you with the theoretical knowledge and research skills to understand and address a range of contemporary social issues such as homelessness, overcrowding in prisons, problem debt, and caring for our ageing population. 

social-policy-nss-2018

 

On our BA Social Policy degree you will be studying at one of the best universities for social policy, ranked 7th in the UK by the 2019 Complete University Guide.  

86% of students said they were satisfied with the teaching and 92% said the staff were good at explaining things (National Student Survey 2018)

Download our course brochure (PDF - 1.93MB)


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 range of teaching styles is fantastic as it keeps things fresh, and the staff go above and beyond to make sure you get any help you need. ”

Our BA Social Policy degree will enable you to understand the nature of social issues in the UK and beyond.

It will encourage you to not only develop an understanding of contemporary social issues, but investigate potential solutions and how to promote change to tackle social problems. Unique to Birmingham, our Social Policy degree provides the opportunity to experience Social Policy in practice, with a work-based placement module in the second year, as well as a further opportunity to undertake a final year work placement via the ‘Professional Development’ module.

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.

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

In your first year you will be introduced to key concepts and debates in Social Policy, as well as the basic principles and practices of social science research. Modules in the first year offer an introduction to  many of the overarching themes that shape our Social Policy degree:

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 changing nature of social policy responses

Core modules

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

In addition, you can select optional courses from a wide range of modules outside the department

Taken together, your core and optional modules provide depth and breadth of understanding in Social Policy, as well as the potential to become skilled and experienced beyond your main discipline.

Second year

Flexibility and choice are at the heart of your second year. With just two core modules, and a wide variety of optional modules, there are many opportunities to tailor your degree to your developing interests. Your second year will also consolidate and build upon the knowledge base and skills gained in your first year. You will develop your research and analytical skills to assist you in conducting your own small-scale investigation in your final year of study, as well as the ability to effectively appraise and utilise existing  research throughout  your degree programme.

There are two core modules in year two:

  • Policy Analysis
  • Social Research II

Choose a further four optional modules which reflect your particular interests:

Optional modules

  • 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
  • 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

Third year

By your final year you will be prepared to conduct your own research project (or extended essay) providing you with the opportunity to conduct in-depth, independent, study (supported by your supervisor) on a topic of your choice. As such your core module is a choice between a research-based dissertation and an extended essay.

Drawing on the research expertise of staff members in the School of Social Policy, you will have the opportunity to explore issues relating to: 

  • Personal finances, wealth and their relationship with social policy
  • The role of religion in politics and social policy
  • The future prospects of social policy
  • Political histories of social policy development
  • The challenges of migration and diversity for social policy aims and ambitions

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:

  • Prospects for Social Policy
  • From Beveridge to May
  • Quantitative Data Analysis I and II
  • New migration and Super-Diversity
  • Your Money and Your Life
  • Harmful Societies
  • Sociology of Personal Life
  • Divided Publics
  • 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 2019. 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 2019, 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 2019-20
Fee Band Full-time
Undergraduate £9,250

Overseas students

Overseas students entering in 2019-20
Fee Band (Undergraduate) Full-time
Band 1 (Classroom) £17,040

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 .

We encourage applications through the University’s Access to Birmingham (A2B) Scheme 

Entry requirements

Number of A levels required:
3
Typical offer:
BBB

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.

Our strong research environment informs our teaching. You will be encouraged and supported to develop an inquiring, analytical mind, and you will graduate with a broad range of transferable skills. Through the programme of study we offer, we will develop the qualities that employers value in today's university graduates - qualities that will set you apart in your future career.

How will I be taught?

We advocate an enquiry-based approach to learning, which means that we encourage you to become an independent and self-motivated learner.

During your time on our Social Policy 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, 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 peers).

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 Social Policy degree, here at the University of Birmingham.

Support

We have dedicated welfare tutors who provide professional support, advice and guidance on 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 on this BA Social Policy degree. The centre is a place where you can develop your mathematical, writen 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, you will have between 12 and 15 hours of lectures and classes per week, 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.

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 will 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 will 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.

Video: Francesca Wheatley

Social Policy graduate Francesca shares her experience at the University of Birmingham and how a Social Policy degree has helped her career as a Police Officer.

Your Social Policy degree from University of Birmingham 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 opportunities available, you can start 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 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 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  mentoring,  global 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.

We also offer voluntary work which complements your Social Policy degree 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 and reflected onto your studies of this Social Policy degree.

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 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:

  • 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

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 - over 40% of our graduates choose to make Birmingham their home.