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BA (Hons) Social Policy

Understand the causes of social problems and how societies attempt to address them

Year of entry: 2019

UCAS code

L430

Institution code

Y50

Length

3 years full-time

Typical offer

BBB (full entry requirements)

Start date

September 2019 (term dates)

UK/EU fees

£9,250 per year (2018/19)

International fees

£17,120 per year (2019/20)

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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.

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Our academics explain how their research influences social policy at a national and global level.

Fifth in the UK

For Social Policy in the Times Good University Guide 2018

REF 2014

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.

Research

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.

Course content

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 take optional modules that will allow you to focus on issues and policies that interest you.

Study abroad

Spend a few weeks or a whole summer on a short course, volunteering programme, or career-related summer school with one of our international partners.

Year 1

In your first year you'll study four core modules that will introduce Social Policy and the social sciences.

Academic integrity module

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

Year 2

In your second year you'll study three core modules, which build upon your previous work.

  1. The Policy Process (30 credits)
  2. Comparative Social Policy (30 credits)
  3. Social Research Methods (30 credits)

You'll also chose one option module that will allow you to focus on a topic that interests you. Some example of option modules you'll be able to choose from are: 

Year 3

In your third year you can choose to study four optional modules or three optional modules with a work-shadowing placement (20 credits). Examples of options in the third year are:

If you undertake a work-shadowing placement you will get a valuable experience which will enable you to examine the policy-practice relationship at first-hand.

You will also work on a dissertation (40 credits) which gives you an opportunity to demonstrate your knowledge and understanding through independent research on a topic that interests you.

Examples of previous dissertation titles:

  • The Role of Policy Networks in Shaping Urban Regeneration Policy
  • Young People’s Engagement in the Political Process
  • Is there an East Asian Welfare Model?
  • Social Housing under New Labour – Demand, Supply and Residualisation.

Please note, modules may change to reflect the latest academic thinking and expertise of our staff.

Learning by design

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.

Students who complete this course will be able to:

  • Analyse and evaluate policy to develop informed judgements through a critical understanding of the ways in which social, political, economic and institutional interests shape social problems and societal responses.
  • Design policy for effective delivery and outcome, drawing on understanding of the policy making process and applying theories and concepts from the social sciences to real world problems.
  • Retrieve, generate, interpret and critically assess qualitative and quantitative data using appropriate research methods, digital resources and policy-relevant analytical techniques to investigate social questions, assess evidence and produce reasoned written accounts of social policy enquiry.
  • Engage with policy debate at local, national and global level, synthesising complex material and communicating ideas effectively to peers, policy actors, practitioners and client groups across a range of professional settings, both in writing and verbally, using up-to-date visual presentation techniques.
  • Work effectively in multidisciplinary teams by acknowledging competing interpretations of social issues, and by recognising the value of collaborative and participatory approaches to problem-solving and the shaping of policy solutions.
  • Recognise the drivers of social inequalities and the differential impact of policies on social groups and contribute to the pursuit of social progress through sensitivity to the diversity of human needs.

Fees and funding

The fees and funding figures below are based on data from 2018 entry. If you take a year abroad or year in industry you'll pay a reduced rate of fees for that year.

Annual tuition fees

UK/EU International
£9,250 £17,120

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.

Fees for subsequent years

  • UK/EU: further increases within the government fee cap will apply in subsequent academic years. We will notify you of any increase as soon as we can.
  • International: fees for international students are subject to annual increases. Increases are currently capped at 2% per annum.

More information

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.

Funding

We offer a number of scholarships to help cover tuition fees and living costs.

Home/EU students

International students

Living costs

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.

Teaching and assessment

You’ll work with world‐leading academics who’ll challenge you to think independently and excel in all that you do. 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.

Teaching format

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.

Overall workload

As a guide, students on this course typically spend their time as follows:

Year 1Year 2Year 3
Lectures and seminars168 hours168 hours108 hours

The figures above are based on data from 2016/17.

The rest of your time on the course will be spent on independent study. This may include preparation for lectures and seminars, follow-up work, wider reading, practice completion of assessment tasks, or revision.

Everyone learns at a different rate, so the number of hours will vary from person to person. In UK higher education the expectation is that full-time students will spend 1200 hours a year learning.

Teaching location

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.

About our campus

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.

Assessment and feedback

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.

Percentage of the course typically assessed by coursework and exams

Year 1Year 2Year 3
Written exams0%10%0%
Coursework95%70%100%
Practical exams5%20%0%

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

Careers and skills

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.

Career opportunities

Many of our students use the expertise they gain from their degree to develop careers in the social policy field. Recent examples include:

  • Policy research in the House of Commons
  • Employment and training research
  • Work for specialist charities such as Shelter
  • Work for a Local Authority.

Others go on to develop their skills through:

  • Fast-track civil service training
  • Housing management training sponsored by a Housing Association
  • Postgraduate training in social work
  • Postgraduate research in social policy.

Transferable skills

  • Research methods
  • Data analysis
  • Communication
  • Social media
  • Presentation skills
  • Problem solving.
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.

Entry requirements

Qualification Typical offer
A levels

BBB. We accept General Studies and Critical Thinking.

Access to Higher Education Diploma 21 credits at Distinction and 24 credits at Merit or higher
BTEC BTEC National Extended Diploma: DDM, BTEC Level 3 National Extended Diploma: DDM
Cambridge Pre-U M2, M2, M2
European Baccalaureate 75% overall average
International Baccalaureate 31 points overall
Irish leaving Certificate H3, H3, H3, H3, H3, H3
Scottish Highers / Advanced Highers AABBB at Higher level

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

Applying

To apply to York, you will need to complete an online application via UCAS (the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service).

We will pay particular attention to your personal statement. We're looking for students with an academic interest in society and who have made a contribution to society, perhaps through volunteering or school clubs.

You will not be expected to attend an interview, but once accepted you will be invited on a visit day to give you the chance to learn more about the subject, our department and the University.

Next steps

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Social Policy and Social Work

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