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Study Social Policy, why & how to study

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

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  1. What’s Social Policy?

  2. What Social Policy degrees can you study?

  3. What do you need to get onto a Social Policy degree?

  4. What topics does a Social Policy degree cover?

  5. How will you be assessed?

  6. Why study Social Policy?

  7. What do Social Policy graduates earn?

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

  9. What are the postgraduate opportunities?

  10. Similar subjects to Social Policy

  11. Have any questions?

What’s Social Policy?

Social Policy studies various areas of policy, usually within a governmental or political setting. It considers all domains, 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.

What Social Policy degrees can you study?

Undergraduate degrees in Social Policy can include criminal justice or focus on health, welfare or public policy. Joint honours options are common. For example:

  • Social Anthropology and Social Policy MA
  • Criminology and Social Policy BA
  • Social Policy with Quantitative Methods BSc
  • International Social and Public Policy BSc
  • Deaf Studies and Social Policy BA

Options may include an integrated foundation year, professional placement, or study abroad.

What do you need to get onto a Social Policy degree?

Typically, entry to an undergraduate Social Policy degree requires between 96–198 UCAS points. Some courses may have lower or higher requirements, and not all unis base their offer on UCAS points. Qualifications may include:

  • A Levels: AAB–BCC
  • Scottish Highers: AAAAAA–AABB (Advanced Highers: AB)
  • International Baccalaureate: 38–31
  • Universities will usually ask that you have studied: advanced or higher-level English or a humanities subject

Other good subjects to have studied include:

  • Advanced or higher-level maths (or a related subject) if your studies include quantitative methods

What topics does a Social Policy degree cover?

Typical modules for courses in this subject include:

  • Politics and power dynamics of policy making
  • Work, welfare and the politics of reform
  • Paying for public policy
  • Disability and society
  • Social research methods
  • The policy making process
  • Comparative and global social policy
  • Constructions of childhood and family
  • Housing policy and society

How will you be assessed?

Assessments are usually carried out by a mixture of the following, and will vary from module to module:

  • Essays
  • Exams
  • Policy analyses and briefs
  • Policy blogging
  • Presentations
  • Project work (including collaborative)
  • Reports
  • A final year dissertation is common

Why study Social Policy?

With a Social Policy degree, you can gain high levels of expertise in different social sciences. You’ll also gain useful skills:

Career-specific skills:

  • An understanding of how policy is made, the relevant cultural and societal issues, and how to properly examine and hold to account current government
  • Quantitative research skills such as designing surveys and analysing and interpreting their data, and evaluating the quality of other data sources
  • The ability to construct reasoned arguments based on evidence, to present recommendations

Transferable skills:

  • Adaptability and attention to detail
  • Collaborative working
  • Critical thinking and reasoning
  • Numeracy and digital proficiency
  • Organisational skills
  • Presentation skills
  • Problem solving and decision making
  • Strong written and verbal communication
  • Time management

Professional accreditation:

  • Some degrees include Q-Step programmes (funded by the Nuffield Foundation), offering quantitative research methods skills training, plus a LinkedIn community for final year undergraduates and graduates to share research ideas and find jobs

What do Social Policy graduates earn?

Entry salaries for Social Policy graduates range between £17,000–£24,000. Those in the government Social Research fast stream will be paid £27,000.

If you work in government, you could receive a salary of £25,000–32,000 as a parliamentary researcher, while research assistants for MPs can earn £25,000–£52,000 depending on seniority. A market research data analyst could be paid up to £60,000, although the average salary is nearer £30,000.

What jobs can you get as a Social Policy graduate?

As a Social Policy graduate your skills could be used across diverse areas, from city planning and housing to media or commerce. Jobs could include:

  • Advertising account manager
  • Data analyst
  • Government social researcher
  • Housing assistant
  • Investigative or data journalist
  • Management consultant
  • Media researcher
  • Operational officer for MI6
  • Parliamentary researcher
  • Policy advisor or analyst
  • Political affairs consultant or lobbyist
  • Recruitment consultant
  • Statistician
  • Trade union research officer

What are the postgraduate opportunities?

Examples of taught master’s and research degrees at postgraduate level include:

  • Comparative Social Policy MPhil
  • Global Health Policy MSc
  • Childhood, Youth and Social Policy MA
  • Social Policy and Social Work PhD

Similar subjects to Social Policy

If you’re interested in the functioning of society, you could also consider:

Have any questions?

Ask our experts! You can email with your question about studying Social Policy – we’ll be happy to hear from you.

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