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Guide to studying Social Policy

If you're interested in the social sciences and how government systems work, a degree in Social Policy may be for you.

Man with tattered shoes sitting in a street


  1. What's Social Policy?

  2. Why study Social Policy?

  3. What jobs can you get as a Social Policy graduate?

  4. What do graduates do and earn?
  5. What qualifications do you need?

  6. What degrees can you study?

  7. How will you be assessed?

  8. What are the postgraduate opportunities?

What's Social Policy?

Social Policy is a study which looks at various areas of policy, usually within a governmental or political setting. It considers all areas, from the welfare state to social services.

Social Policy as an academic subject is a study of theory rather than of current policies. It draws on Economics, Sociology, Psychology and Philosophy.

Why study Social Policy?

Social Policy is all about improving the wellbeing of society on a large scale. You'll learn how the government and society tackle issues of welfare, and be trained to make a positive impact in the world after graduating.

Social Policy is a degree for a polymath. You can gain high levels of expertise in different social sciences, both in theory, history and the modern day. Degrees are varied and interesting, and can also be studied as a joint-honours with another subject.

From child poverty to racial inequalities, there's plenty of space to argue constructively with staff and other students. You'll develop critical skills and prepare for a career that may require similar work.

Many universities offer the chance to spend a year abroad to study at a foreign university. This helps broaden your knowledge of how structures of societies work in different cultures.

You can look forward to a large selection of different career paths upon graduation. This includes careers in the media, education, the government and NGOs.

Study Social Policy and you'll develop a wealth of important skills that can be employed in many other professions. This includes creative, problem solving, teamwork, presentation, theoretical and analytical skills.

University students listening to a lecture and writing notes

What jobs can you get as a Social Policy graduate?

Social Policy degrees teach transferable skills, such as presentation, research, academic writing and communication, as well as how to properly examine and hold to account modern government.

Particular job areas include clerical and secretarial work, management and administration, sales, PR, research, manufacturing, social work, hotel management, retail, teaching and lecturing.

Numerous companies offer graduate schemes in this subject, including Asda.

What do graduates do and earn?

In the infographic below, the first table shows what graduates of Social Policy have gone on to do in the months after their graduation.

The second table shows the average salaries of undergraduate Social Policy students entering employment. The three skill levels – high, medium and low – reflect the UK's Standard Occupational Classification's major groups 1–3, 4–6 and 7–9 respectively.

Source: HESA Graduate Outcomes Survey 2017/18

What qualifications do you need?

Each university tends to ask for different entry requirements for Social Policy degree courses. So, be sure to check with the institution before applying.

What degrees can you study?

  • BSc Social Policy and Politics
  • BSc Social Policy and Sociology
  • BSc Social Policy and Economics
  • BSc Social Policy and International Relations

How will you be assessed?

Learning is assessed through a wide range of methods, with a strong emphasis on continuous assessment. Mostly you'll be assessed through long academic essays, the topic changing depending on the offered module. A final year dissertation of c.10,000 words is usual.

What are the postgraduate opportunities?

Examples of taught MAs and research degrees at postgraduate level include straight MAs in Social Policy, as well as master's courses in Applied Social Development, Civil Society, Non-Governmental Organisation and Non-Profit Studies, Comparative Policy, and International Policy.

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