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Home>Study at York>Undergraduate>Courses>Applied Social Science (BA)

Overview Social science and its real-world application with a degree you can tailor to your interests

UCAS code


Typical offer

BBB (full entry requirements)


3 years full-time

Our BA Applied Social Science degree offers you an excellent opportunity to combine a broad and balanced foundation in the social sciences with an exploration of a range of social problems such as poverty, unemployment, crime, child abuse, pollution and environmental damage.

Given the breadth of knowledge and transferable skills gained on this degree, as a graduate of this course you will be well placed to pursue a career in a number of fields, but especially in the public and voluntary sectors as a policy advisor, policy analyst, researcher, campaigner, journalist or civil servant.

I decided to keep my degree as open and flexible as possible, opting for the BA in Applied Social Science. This allowed me to structure my degree around my emerging preferences and each of the modules I undertook felt relevant and absorbing. The quality of teaching was excellent with many of the lecturers being real experts in their field and obviously passionate about their subject.
Clair, BA Applied Social Science (2011)

Course content What you’ll study


This degree allows you to study a wide range of social science disciplines. You'll find it's suitable if you want to address social issues such as poverty, social exclusion and child wellbeing. It will also help you explore public policy and how social, economic and political decision-making influences people's lives.

You'll study core modules designed specifically for this course that will give you a thorough grounding in social sciences. From your second year you'll choose from a selection of modules which allow you to tailor your degree to your own interests.

Between your second and third year you have an option to undertake a placement which is an ideal way to experience the way policy is implemented on the ground.

Year 1

In your first year you'll study a range of core modules that give you a broad introduction to a range of core social science subjects.

  • Introducing Social Policy: key areas of government policy such as education, health and employment, with central concepts and analytic frameworks. It explores trends in the development of social policy around the world, with a particular emphasis on high income nations.
  • Introducing Social Psychology and Sociology: key theories and concepts in sociology and social psychology. You will develop an awareness of the analytical frameworks used to understand social problems and inequality.
  • Politics and Economics of Social Policy: the exercise of power, political ideas and policy outcomes in the context of British political institutions. It will introduce you to key concepts in economics and their application to social policy problems.
  • Exploring Social Policy and Society: key concepts that underpin the analysis and practice of social policy and their relationship with social, economic and political change. You'll actively engage in problem-solving processes and develop group work skills.

Academic integrity module

In addition to the above you will also need to complete our online Academic Integrity module. This 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:

  • define academic integrity and academic misconduct
  • explain why and when you should reference source material and other people's work
  • provide interactive exercises to help you to assess whether you've understood the concepts
  • provide answers to FAQs and links to useful resources.

Year 2

In your second year you'll study a core module as well as choosing three modules from a range of second year modules.

Core module

Social Research Methods: You'll get hands on experience of both quantitative and qualitative research methods. You'll also look at the theoretical and philosophical basis for social research. You will use understanding gained from this module as you develop a proposal for your own dissertation.

Optional modules

Module options change on a regular basis to reflect the teaching and research interests of staff, as well as to ensure the degree is up-to-date. Examples of past modules for the second year include:

  • Citizenship, Difference and Inequality
  • Comparative Social Policy
  • The Policy Process
  • Understanding Childhood and Youth
  • Debates in Criminal Justice
  • Victimisation and Social Harm

Year 3

In your third year you have a choice of four optional modules or three optional modules and a work placement. You'll also complete a dissertation.


Optional modules

You'll choose three modules from our third year modules, these change regularly to reflect the teaching and research interests of our staff. Previous modules include:

  • Criminal Justice and Policing
  • Death and Policy
  • Gender, Citizenship and the Welfare State
  • Gender and Youth Cultures
  • Housing Policy
  • Poverty and Inequality
  • Prisons and Penal Policy
  • Sustainable Development and Social Inclusion
  • The Wellbeing of Children and Young People
  • Understanding Families and Family Life
  • Vulnerability, Deviance and Social Control
  • Welfare States in Crisis
  • Youth Justice.


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 many students find useful in developing their dissertation and follow in the development of their own careers.


The third year dissertation is a great opportunity to apply your knowledge and understanding in independent supervised research on a topic of your interest. Previous dissertation titles include:

  • The dilemma of advocacy in mental health
  • Has racism been institutionalised within the structures of English football?
  • Domestic violence and why abused partners stay with their abuser
  • Globalisation, unemployment and social security – what China can learn from the UK
  • Family break-up, lone parenthood and educational attainment.

Study abroad

There are many international opportunities for Applied Social Science students to get involved with, including Worldwide Exchange at partner universities, Erasmus+ study placements in Europe, International Study Centres, Summer Schools and Travel Awards for independent projects.

York is a great student city with lots of activities to take part in on & off campus. The teaching is very engaging and there’s a friendly atmosphere.
Lydia, BA Applied Social Science (2016)

In the 2014 Research Excellence Framework the Department of Social Policy and Social Work was placed third in the UK for research activity, with 100 percent of its research impact rated at the highest rank of 4*.

Teaching and assessment How you’ll be taught and assessed

Teaching format

We emphasise small-group working: you'll mainly be taught in lectures of 50-100 students and take part in seminars of 12-15 people. In the second and third years the lecture groups will be smaller as you begin to specialise.

You'll also take part in group-based workshops: some will involve scenario-based role play and some will be practical sessions examining data to help you understand a specific issue in depth. You'll also hear from external speakers about the latest issues in policy and practice.

You'll be supported by your personal supervisor, who will have one-to-one meetings with you twice a term. Staff will also have weekly office hours when you can make an appointment to discuss issues on a one-to-one basis.


You'll be assessed in a variety of ways, with emphasis on continuous assessment. The most common form of assessment is by essay, and you'll be supported with seminar sessions on writing academic essays. You may also be assessed by presentation, group workshop reports, data analysis exercises and portfolios of work. There is minimal use of closed examinations.

Your dissertation will be 10,000 words long and you'll be supported by a supervisor who specialises in the subject you're interested in.

As a city, York has been home to researchers making an impact on people's lives for over a century. Seebohm Rowntree conducted the first scientific study of poverty on York's streets. His work was a revolution in the way that poverty was understood and helped provide a foundation for the welfare state. His work was re-issued on its 100th anniversary with a foreword by Professor Jonathan Bradshaw.

My lecturers know me personally and the department is really friendly. As students you feel like you are an important part of the department, not just there to be preached at. The staff are always asking for our views and opinions and adapting to our needs. I feel like our opinions are really valued.
Katherine, BA Applied Social Science (2016)

Careers Where you’ll go from here

A high proportion of our graduates are employed within six months. The nature of our degree means you can pursue career-related interests throughout your study and the optional work-based placement is a useful way to demonstrate your knowledge and skills to future employers.

We have a list of career profiles and mentoring opportunities for our students. You can view the stories of our alumni and learn where their degree has taken them. Login as a 'friend' to view the profiles. 

Career opportunities

Recent employment destinations include:

  • Working with a local authority
  • Working with a national charity
  • Police officer
  • Trainee TV producer
  • Political marketing and campaigning consultant
  • Hotel management

Other students have chosen to continue developing skills through postgraduate training or masters degrees.

Transferable skills

  • Communications skills
  • Critical thinking
  • Data analysis
  • Time management
  • Project management
  • Independent study and research
  • Teamwork skills.

Entry requirements How to get here

Course entry

All applications must be made through UCAS.

We pay particular attention to your personal statement and we look for students who have an academic interest in society. This could come through family circumstances, employment or other contribution to society such as school clubs or volunteering.

You will not be invited to interview, but we invite you to attend a visit day in Spring term to give you an opportunity to learn more about us.


A-levels and GCSEs


  • BBB (A level General Studies and Critical Thinking are accepted)

Other UK qualifications

Scottish Highers / Advanced Highers
AABBB at Higher level

Cambridge Pre-U
M2, M2, M2

Access to Higher Education
30 credits achieved from units awarded Merit or higher

BTEC Extended Diploma (QCF)

International options

International Baccalaureate
31 points overall

Irish Leaving Certificate


European Baccalaureate
75 percent overall

English language

Applicants whose first language is not English are normally asked to provide evidence of English language ability. Exceptions may be made where an applicant's other qualifications provide sufficient evidence of ability to use English in an academic setting at degree level.

  • IELTS: score of 6.5 overall, with 5.5 or better in each section
  • Pearson PTE Academic: 61 overall with no less than 51 in all components
  • Cambridge Certificate of Proficiency in English (CPE): grade C
  • Cambridge Certificate in Advanced English (CAE): grade A

Other accepted tests and qualifications

Unistats for this course

Enquire Contact our admissions tutors if you have any questions