Trinity College Dublin

Skip to main content.

Top Level TCD Links


Sociology and social policy

Admission Requirements

For Admission requirements please click here


To apply to this course, click on the relevant Apply Link below

What is Sociology and social policy?

Sociology and social policy combines the study of social theory, social policy and social research. The programme aims to give you a thorough training in the systematic study of society and the social and economic policies utilised in different countries. At the end of your four years you should have developed both a general sociological understanding and specific expertise in various contemporary policy issues.

Is this course right for you?

This course demands both academic and vocational qualities. It is particularly relevant to students intending to pursue a career in research, social policy analysis and evaluation, management and planning within the social services, both voluntary and statutory.

Course content

The subjects studied include general social science disciplines such as economics and politics, and specialist areas such as family policy, welfare policy, criminology and the extent of poverty and inequality. The Freshman (first two) years are more general and foundational in nature, while the Sophister (third and fourth) years will focus more specifically on sociology and social policy. A strength of the course is that it explores these issues in a genuinely comparative context. Teaching methods include lectures, seminars and group project work.

The Freshman years

In the first and second years you will take introductory modules in economic policy, political science, social policy and sociology. Optional modules include statistics, law, and psychology along with a range of language modules (French, German, Russian, and Polish). The Senior Freshman (second) year places greater emphasis on social policy and sociology modules, as well as the introduction to social research methods. You also have the choice of taking a complementary subject, such as psychology, or you may continue your language study.

In the Freshman years, students take six modules, with typically two lectures and one tutorial per week for each module.

The Sophister years

The choice of subjects available in the Sophister (third and fourth) years typically include:

  • Ageing and dementia
  • Comparative welfare states
  • Crime and social policy
  • Economic sociology of Europe
  • Economics of less developed countries
  • European public policy
  • European Union politics
  • Families and family policy
  • Gender and popular culture
  • Government and politics of the United States
  • Irish politics
  • Poverty, inequality and redistribution
  • Public interest law
  • International law
  • Researching society
  • Social theory
  • Globalisation and development
  • Race, ethnicity and identity
  • Social policy and inequality
  • Democracy and development
  • Migration
  • Popular culture and digital lives
  • Conflict studies
  • Dissertation

Many of these modules deal specifically with Ireland and with European society. In the final year you will research and write a dissertation on a topic of your choice.


A combination of continuous assessment, class presentations and written examinations is generally used.

Career opportunities

The range of employment opportunities in the area of social and public policy is expanding all the time. The B.A. in Sociology and social policy is a particularly relevant degree for those interested in pursuing a career in the formulation of policy in the public service, community development and voluntary/non-profit sectors. Graduates of the programme are also employed as social researchers, policy analysts and journalists.

Postgraduate opportunities

The course provides a solid foundation for specialist postgraduate courses, in the areas of social research, social policy and social work.

Did you know?

  • Research centres focussing on Ageing, Children and Intellectual disability are situated within the School of Social Work and Social Policy.

  • In addition, one or more School members have research interests and expertise in the following areas: Crime and social policy; Poverty and social security; Housing and homelessness; Family policy; Immigration; Lone parents; History of social policy; Social work.

Further information

Course Office:

Tel: +353 1 896 1840

E-mail: and

Tel: +353 1 896 2001


Student Profile

Aoife Ryan-Christensen

"I chose the degree in Sociology and social policy because it is highly inter-disciplinary; alongside the core subjects of Sociology and social policy, students are offered a wide range of subject choices within Economics, Political science, Law and languages. I would recommend this course for anyone who is interested in current affairs/politics, society, and learning about the underlying structures of how countries are run.

The social policy courses range from an overview of Irish social policies in the Freshmen (first two) years, to a wider comparative perspective in the Sophister (final two) years. An important part of the degree is teaching students how to conduct research. This involves modules covering qualitative and quantitative research methods, as well as modules on statistics (SPSS).

The course challenges you to take existing theory and apply it to what you see around you in society and in the world, never failing to remain relevant. The scope of the course enables each student to take a very personal approach to the learning process and to follow their own interests within and across individual subjects - ultimately working towards and shaping their choices for the final year dissertation. Throughout the four years of the degree, the focus is narrowed to allow students to specialise and discover their forte within the fields of Sociology and social policy."