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Social Policy with Year Abroad BA

Start date
4 years
UCAS code
Course Type
Undergraduate, Study abroad year

For 2023/24:
£9,250 (UK students) 
£21,300 (International Students) 
More fees and funding details.

On our BA Social Policy degree you will be studying at one of the top universities for social policy, ranked 10th in the UK by the 2023 Complete University Guide.

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

A social policy degree at Birmingham 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 overseas 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).

The Social Policy degree at Birmingham enables you to understand the nature of social issues in the UK and beyond. The research-led teaching on our flexible Social Policy degree course 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.

I’ve always been interested in politics and social justice and I wanted to study for a degree where I could indulge my interests and develop the skills and experience to build a career with an employer that embodies my values and beliefs. My degree continues to be relevant; it is so fascinating and rewarding to see theories and concepts from our lectures in action as I work to implement real policy for social workers.

Matthew, Student, BA Social Policy


First year modules

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.


  • Introduction to Social Policy
  • Crime and Society
  • Philosophies of Welfare
  • Introduction to Social Divisions
  • Social problems and Social Policy: social science in action Part I
  • Social problems and Social Policy: social science in action Part 2
  • Social Research Part 1
  • Social Research Part 2

To be able to take a year abroad you must have an average weighting of 60% by the end of this academic year.

Second year modules

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.


  • Social Research II
  • Policy Analysis

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

  • Gender and Sexuality
  • Poverty, Class and Inequality
  • Punishment in a Global Context
  • ‘Sociology of Race’ and Ethnicity – A Global Perspective
  • Education, Policy & Social Justice
  • Doing Justice*
  • Terror, Threat and Security
  • Media and Society
  • Sociology of Health and Illness

* Numbers on the Doing Justice module will be limited due to availability of placements (Students will be selected according to a criteria based on academic performance and attendance.)

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.

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. You will be required to choose from a range of modules provided by the host institution and which must be agreed by the exchange tutor.  

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. In recent years, students in the department have taken their year abroad in Australia, Canada, Denmark and the United States, among others.

Final year

By your final year you will be prepared to conduct your own research project providing you with the opportunity to conduct in-depth, independent, study (supported by your supervisor) on a topic of your choice. 

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.


  • Social Policy, Sociology and Criminology Dissertation

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

  • Harmful Societies: Crime, Social Harm and Social Justice
  • Divided Publics?
  • Quantitative Data Analysis
  • Crime and the City
  • Technology and Society
  • Professional Development Module
  • Sociology of Power, Control and Resistance
  • LH Technology & Society
  • Mental Health and Society
  • Sociology of Success and Spectacle
  • New Migration and Superdiversity 

Unless indicated otherwise the modules listed for this programme are for students starting in 2023.

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 2023, 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): £21,300


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.

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

How To Apply

Apply through UCAS at
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.

Other qualifications are 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 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.

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. 

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 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.


We have dedicated wellbeing officers 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

You will be assessed in a variety of ways across your degree. At the beginning of each module, you will be given information on how and when you will be assessed. Assessment methods will vary within each module and may include:

  • written coursework, such as essays
  • formal exams
  • group work 

Assessment Methods

You will be assessed in a variety of ways across your degree. At the beginning of each module, you will be given information on how and when you will be assessed. Assessment methods will vary within each module and may include: 

  • written coursework, such as essays
  • formal exams
  • group work 


Where can your social policy degree take you?

In the latest Complete University Guide league table for 2023, Social Policy at Birmingham is ranked 10th out of 130 institutions surveyed. The University is ranked number one for being targeted by the top UK employers (High Fliers Research 2021).

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 CVs 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 '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 degree programme, but also through our specialist  Careers Network.

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