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Policy courses

If you feel strongly about contemporary social issues such as crime, gender inequalities, immigration, poverty and management of the health service, a social policy degree could be for you. This type of course gives you the chance to combine subjects such as sociology, politics, psychology and history to understand how policy decisions are made. This degree is useful for areas such as local government and the civil service, social and policy research, health promotion, public relations, advice work, journalism and overseas development.

Studying policy at university

Example course modules

  • Social research methods
  • Social policy and the welfare state: theoretical perspectives
  • The policy process
  • Contemporary social policy issues
  • Challenges of social policy issues
  • Challenges of European politics
  • Comparative politics and policy
  • Understanding families and family life
  • Criminology in the professions
  • Ideology into practice
  • Social engagement

Teaching hours / week

Average for this subject


Average for all subjects

The time you'll spend in lectures and seminars each week will vary from university to university, so use this as a guide.

More on studying and contact hours at uni

Who studies this subject

  • Female : 74%
    Male : 26%
  • Mature : 35%
    School leaver : 65%
  • Full-time : 95%
    Part-time : 5%

What students say about policy

What you need to get on a course

Subjects you need

A-levels (or equivalent) usually required

  • No Specific Requirements

Useful to have

  • Sociology
  • Politics

Application checklist

Here's a guide to what to expect from the application process - also check individual university entry requirements, as these may differ.

  • January application
  • October application
  • Personal statement
  • Portfolio
  • Interview
  • Entry test
  • Work experience
  • Audition

Personal statement advice

Your personal statement is a core part of your university application, and getting it just right takes time. Before you start work on yours, take a look at our five quick tips on writing a personal statement. We'll help you past that writer's block!

Career prospects

Sources: HECSU & KIS
Just under 1,500 students graduated in social policy in 2012, which makes it one of the smaller social studies subjects. This is a popular subject at Masters level – over 1,000 Masters in social policy were awarded last year - and so a lot of the more sought-after jobs in management and research tend to go to social policy graduates with postgraduate degrees. For those who leave university after their first degree, then jobs in social care (especially community and youth work) and education, marketing and HR are popular – along with local government, although there are fewer of those jobs around than in the past.
Professional and accrediting bodies:

Six months after graduating

Typical graduate job areas
  • Welfare and housing associate professionals

Longer term career paths

Jobs where this degree is useful

  • Housing officer
  • Education or learning support officer
  • Social policy adviser

Other real-life job examples

  • Paralegal
  • Social Researcher
  • Probation officer

What employers like about this subject

A degree in social policy will help you to gain subject-specific skills including an understanding of social theory; how social issues and social policy influence one another, and society and skills in the generation, interpretation and evaluation of qualitative and quantitative data from social surveys and research. Transferable skills you can develop include communication, numeracy, problem-solving, IT and good time management. Social policy graduates find work across the economy, in industries including local and central government, lobbying and advocacy organisation, social care, hospitals, the probation service, schools, the law, and manufacturing.