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Home>Study at York>Undergraduate>Courses>Social and Political Sciences with Philosophy (BA)

Overview Understand the social, political and philosophical challenges facing human societies using expertise from four world class departments

UCAS code


Typical offer

AAB (full entry requirements)


3 years full-time

This degree is designed for students who would like to develop a strong philosophical dimension to their study of social and political sciences. You'll be taught by world-leading academics across four departments and study the most up-to-date theories in social and political sciences. As your studies progress you'll have the flexibility to tailor your degree to allow you to focus on your own interests, from globalisation, human rights and the future of the welfare state to migration, equality and social justice.

You'll have the opportunity to contribute to your own high-profile seminar series and become involved in the dynamic student-run SPS Society. You'll be encouraged to take up an internship or work placement in which you'll get first-hand experience of the work you're interested in.

Our seminar series attracts leading academics from across the country and covers the key themes of our taught courses, giving you the opportunity to engage with the leading research in your field.

For 2017 entry you can opt to add a year to your course between Years Two and Three and study abroad at one of the best universities in the world.

Course content What you’ll study


You'll start by studying core Political and Social Science disciplines and a choice of Philosophy modules to develop your philosophical skills. You can then go on to choose from a wide range of modules offered across Politics, Sociology and Social Policy alongside your continuing study of Philosophy. You can study a varied range of modules across the three years or select from focused clusters of modules. These topics might include:

  • War and Peace
  • Cultural Identity
  • Global Justice
  • Moral Philosophy
  • Green Politics
  • Political Economy
  • Social Inequalities

Year 1

The first year will provide a strong foundation in Philosophy, Politics, Sociology and Social Policy. You'll take a year-long introductory module in Sociology, one in Politics and another in Social Policy. You'll also chose two modules from the Department of Philosophy as well as following an online Philosophy skills tutorial.

Introductory modules:

Choice of philosophy modules:

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

The second year is a mix of an interdisciplinary compulsory module, a choice of Philosophy modules and the flexibility to choose from a wide range of optional modules across the social and political sciences.

Compulsory module:


Choice of Philosophy modules (30 credits) from a range of modules which look in more depth at issues in some central areas of philosophy:

  • Ethics 
  • Theory of knowledge
  • The philosophy of mind and language
  • Metaphysics
  • The work of key figures in the history of philosophy

Please note: some Year 2 Philosophy modules require you to have studied 'Reason & Argument' in Year 1.

You'll be able to choose two modules from across a range offered by the Departments of Sociology, Politics and Social Policy. You'll need to study at least one module from each of these three departments during your final two years.

Choice of modules from the Department of Sociology:

Choice of modules from the Department of Politics:

Choice of modules from the Department of Social Policy:

Please note that the modules listed above are indicative of those running for our current students.

Year 3

In the third year you'll again be able to chooe three modules from a large range across the four departments, one of which must be from the Department of Philosophy.

You'll also undertake a dissertation, which will engage you in independent research in social and political science and allow you to develop valuable transferable skills for future research and careers.

Modules from the Department of Sociology:

Modules from the Department of Politics:

Modules from the Department of Social Policy:

Modules from the Department of Philosophy: 

Philosophy module descriptions Stage 3 2016-7 (PDF  , 640kb)

Please note that the modules listed above are indicative of those running for our current students.

Study abroad

For 2017 entry you can opt to add a year to your course between Years Two and Three and study abroad at one of the best universities in the world. Adding an international experience to your course will help enhance your CV, enable you to experience a new culture, develop your language skills and make new friends along the way. To transfer onto the four-year course you will need to ensure you obtain a minimum mark in Years One and Two. 
There are many other international opportunities for you to get involved with at York through our Centre for Global Programmes.
The disciplines entailed in SPS complement each other perfectly and the addition of philosophy only further aids the thorough exploration of these subjects. In particular, philosophy has given me the skills to critically assess the debates studied in my modules, enabling me to complete assignments to a higher standard.
Antony, currently studying Social and Political Sciences with Philosophy

Research Excellence Framework 2014

The four departments you'll study with are all well respected research departments in the UK. In the last Research Excellence Framework exercise (2014):

  • The Department of Sociology was the top rated department in the UK.
  • The Department of Social Policy and Social Work was ranked third in the UK for research quality.
  • The Department of Politics was ranked eighth in the UK for research quality.
  • The Department of Philosophy had 96% of activity judged as internationally recognised.

Teaching and assessment How you’ll be taught and assessed

Teaching format

You'll attend a mix of lectures, small group seminars and workshops, with an increasing emphasis on independent work in later stages. You'll actively define what you want to learn, and be supported by your personal tutor in exploring these issues in greater depth.

  • You'll be taught by world-leading academics from the four departments.
  • The research-led teaching means you can focus on the latest ideas and debates.

The student-run SPS Seminar Series will allow you to engage with leading academics from across the country.


Assessment will be by a mixture of essays, projects and examinations. In your third year you'll do a 10,000-word dissertation on a subject you want to investigate and you'll construct the questions you want to answer under the supervision of a tutor.

  • You'll receive a report for every module that provides feedback on your work.
  • You'll be assigned a supervisor who will give academic and pastoral support.
As an active researcher in the areas of environmental policy, sustainable development and social inclusion, I often discuss real life research issues with my students. Students benefit from engagement in current research while I find their input extremely valuable.
Dr Carolyn Snell, personal supervisor and lecturer in Social Policy

Careers Where you’ll go from here

Over 85 percent of our graduates are working or in further study six months after completing their studies. Many of them secure jobs as a result of their first-hand experience from the internships and work placements they undertake.

Career opportunities

Graduates go on to a wide variety of careers across the public and private sectors including finance, management social research and public administration. The flexible nature of this degree also makes it a good springboard to postgraduate study across specialist areas in social and political sciences. Other graduates take conversion courses for law and teaching and many go on to work for international organisations.

Transferable skills

  • Problem solving
  • Analysis of complex ideas
  • Time management
  • Communication and reporting
I studied at the University of Lund in Sweden via the SPS Erasmus programme. It gave me the opportunity to learn a new culture and language, make friends from around the globe and study at a world class university. I've also been an intern on Wall Street, shadowed a Secretary of State and worked at a FTSE 100 company. It's great work experience that shows how valuable the course is for employers.
Tom, SPS graduate (2015)

Entry requirements How to get here

Course entry

All applications must be made through UCAS.

Mature students are welcomed and applications considered individually.

A-levels and GCSEs


A level General Studies and Critical Thinking are accepted.

Other UK qualifications

Scottish Highers/Advanced Highers

  • AAAAB at Higher level

BTEC National Diploma

  • DDD

BTEC Extended Diploma (QCF)

  • DDD

Cambridge Pre-U

  • D3, D3, M2

Access to Higher Education

  • Obtain Access to HE Diploma with 30 credits achieved from units awarded Distinction and 9 awarded Merit or higher

International options

International Baccalaureate

  • 35 points

Irish Leaving Certificate


European Baccalaureate

  • 80 per cent overall

English language


  • score of 6.5 overall, with 5.5 or better in each section

Pearson (Academic PTE)

  • 61 overall with no less than 51 in all components

Cambridge Advanced English (CAE)

  • Grade A

Cambridge Certificate of Proficiency in English

  • Grade C

Unistats for this course

Enquire Contact our admissions tutor if you have any questions