A BA in Social Policy will enable you to understand the causes of social problems and how societies attempt to solve them, both nationally and internationally. You'll receive a thorough grounding in core social sciences, including sociology, social psychology, politics and economics and use what you learn to explore why making successful policies is so complex, why patterns of inequality persist and what more can be done to address social problems.
Social policy is concerned with promoting the welfare of citizens. Traditionally the subject focused on the ‘big five’ areas of: poverty, health, housing, education and unemployment, but has expanded in recent years to broader social issues and international contexts. Often social policy questions the ways in which services do or do not meet the needs of specific groups, such as children, people with disabilities, women, older people, or members of minority ethnic groups.
On our BA Social Policy course you will receive a broad and balanced introduction to a range of social sciences and training in social research methods. This degree is suited to you if you are interested in the welfare state, the impact of globalisation, social inequalities, the complexities of making successful policies, and what more can be done to solve social problems at home and abroad.
For Social Policy in the QS World University Rankings by Subject 2020.
In the Times Higher Education's ranking of the 2014 Research Excellence Framework assessment which compares the research activity of all Social Policy and Social Work departments in the UK, York was ranked equal first in the UK for the impact of our research and third overall.
Our research influences national and international agendas and can be directly applied to real life. Our work on benefit fraud and welfare reform has been presented to parliamentary committees.
You'll start your study of social policy by undertaking core modules that give you a thorough grounding in social sciences and research methods. As you progress, you'll tailor your degree with option modules that allow you to focus on issues and policies that interest you.
There are opportunities for you to spend time abroad during your course:
In your first year you'll study four core modules that will introduce Social Policy and the social sciences.
In addition to the above you will also need to complete our online Academic Integrity module.
This module covers some of the essential skills and knowledge which will help you to study independently and produce work of a high academic standard which is vital for success at York.
This module will:
In your second year you'll study three core modules, which build upon your previous work. You'll also choose one option module that will allow you to focus on a topic that interests you.
Choose one option module. Options change from year to year; here are some recent examples:
In your third year you can choose from a range of optional modules, including the opportunity for a short placement with an organisation working in social policy. You'll also work on a dissertation: an extended essay based on your own research.
Choose four option modules. Options change from year to year; here are some recent examples:
In the summer holiday before the third year starts you can undertake a work-shadowing placement that lasts around 80 hours. This will allow you to learn from professionals in a field you're interested in. Watching professionals at work is a completely different learning experience which can help you develop ideas for your dissertation and your future career. If you choose to do a placement, it counts as one of your four option modules.
You will also work on a dissertation which gives you an opportunity to demonstrate your knowledge and understanding through independent research on a topic that interests you. Previous students have investigated topics such as:
Please note, modules may change to reflect the latest academic thinking and expertise of our staff.
Every course at York has been designed to provide clear and ambitious learning outcomes. These learning outcomes give you an understanding of what you will be able to do at the end of the course. We develop each course by designing modules that grow your abilities towards the learning outcomes and help you to explain what you can offer to employers. Find out more about our approach to teaching and learning.
UK/EU or international fees? The level of fee that you will be asked to pay depends on whether you're classed as a UK, EU or international student.
For more information about tuition fees, any reduced fees for study abroad and work placement years, scholarships, tuition fee loans, maintenance loans and living costs see undergraduate fees and funding.
You can use our living costs guide to help plan your budget. It covers additional costs that are not included in your tuition fee such as expenses for accommodation and study materials.
“Students from all backgrounds achieve consistently outstanding outcomes”
The TEF Panel, Office for Students, June 2018
Our Gold Teaching Excellence Framework award demonstrates our commitment to the delivery of consistently outstanding teaching and learning for our students.
You’ll study and learn with academics who are active researchers, experts in their field and have a passion for their subjects. Our approach to teaching will provide you with the knowledge, opportunities, and support you need to grow and succeed in a global workplace. Find out more about our approach to teaching and learning.
Coronavirus (COVID-19): changes to courses
We're making changes to comply with rules on social distancing. We aim to deliver as much face-to-face teaching as we can, supported by high quality online alternatives where we must.
Find details of the measures we're planning to protect our community.
You'll have a lecture series for each module. Some lectures may be delivered by guest speakers, drawing on expertise from other departments and outside the University. Modules normally have an accompanying seminar series. These will be meetings of around 15 to 25 people and may take the form of workshops, conferences or debates. You'll challenge what academics have written and form your own understanding about the topic. You may also take part in workshops that provide hands-on experience in social research methods.
You will be allocated a personal supervisor who will support you through your study. Usually your supervisor will be one of the team responsible for the Social Policy degree and teaching on some of the core modules.
In your first year, you can expect:
|Lectures||4 hours per week|
|Seminars||4 hours per week|
These figures are based on an average student in an average week. Your contact hours will vary throughout the year due to your module choices, non-compulsory classes, exam periods and changes to scheduled activities.
Outside your timetabled hours, you'll study independently. This may include preparation for classes, follow-up work, wider reading, practise completion of assessment tasks, or revision.
In the UK, full-time students are expected to spend 1,200 hours a year learning. That's about 40 hours of classes and independent study each week during term time. Everyone learns at a different rate, so the number of hours you spend on independent study will be different to other students on your course.
You will be based in the Department of Social Policy and Social Work which is based on Campus West. The majority of your teaching will take place in Derwent and Alcuin.
Our beautiful green campus offers a student-friendly setting in which to live and study, within easy reach of the action in the city centre. It's easy to get around campus - everything is within walking or pedalling distance, or you can always use the fast and frequent bus service.
The most common form of assessment is by essays. You'll be supported in the first year with advice and seminars on writing an academic essay. You may also be assessed with a mixture of report writing, data analysis exercises, critical reviews and presentations. There is minimal use of closed exams.
At the end of the degree you will submit a dissertation of 10,000 words. You'll be supported by a dissertation supervisor as you specialise in a topic that interests you.
|Year 1||Year 2||Year 3|
The figures above are based on data from 2016/17.
There is a really diverse mix of students within the department all from different economic, social and political backgrounds. This certainly enhances our learning experience because you can learn so much from the people around you and their opinions, as well from those teaching you.Tu Yuqi, BA Social Policy
This course will prepare you for a career which uses social policy. The course is also good preparation if you would like to continue your studies at postgraduate level.
Many of our students use the expertise they gain from their degree to develop careers in the social policy field. Recent examples include:
Others go on to develop their skills through:
I always felt the Social Policy degree course at York achieved an interesting balance between exploring the theoretical design and development of policy and its practical application. My degree course is directly relevant to what I do now.Rory Palmer, BA Social Policy, 2003. Deputy City Mayor, Leicester City Council.
|Access to Higher Education Diploma||21 credits at Distinction and 24 credits at Merit or higher|
|BTEC National Extended Diploma||DDM|
|Cambridge Pre-U||M2, M2, M2|
|European Baccalaureate||75% overall|
|International Baccalaureate||31 points overall|
|Other international qualifications||Equivalent qualifications from your country|
Meeting the following additional criteria may qualify you for an alternative offer.
|Widening participation||If you successfully complete one of the following programmes, you may be eligible for an alternative offer up to one A level grade (or equivalent) below our typical offer: Next Step York, Realising Opportunities. More about widening participation.|
|Contextual offers||If you have experience of local authority care or live in an area with low progression to university, you may be eligible for an alternative offer up to one A level grade (or equivalent) below our typical offer. More about contextual offers.|
|EPQ||If you achieve C or higher at EPQ, you may be eligible for an alternative offer up to one A level grade (or equivalent) below our typical offer.|
|Core Maths||If you achieve B or higher in Core Maths, you may be eligible for an alternative offer up to one A level grade (or equivalent) below our typical offer.|
If English isn't your first language you may need to provide evidence of your English language ability. We accept the following qualifications:
|IELTS||6.5, with a minimum of 6.0 in each component|
|PTE Academic||61, with a minimum of 55 in each component|
|GCSE/IGCSE/O level English Language (as a first or second language)||Grade C|
|C1 Advanced and C2 Proficiency||176, with a minimum of 169 in each component|
|TOEFL||87 overall, with a minimum of 21 in each component|
|Trinity ISE III||Merit in all components|
|Duolingo||Minimum overall score of 110|
For more information see our undergraduate English language requirements.
You may be eligible for one of our pre-sessional English language courses. These courses will provide you with the level of English needed to meet the conditions of your offer.
The length of course you need to take depends on your current IELTS scores and how much you need to improve to reach our English language requirements.
After you've accepted your offer to study at York, we'll confirm which pre-sessional course you should apply to via You@York.
Get in touch if you have any questions
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