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Sociology and social policy

B.A.; 28 places

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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.

Sociology and Social Policy: The course for you?

Curious about social and economic policy issues around the world? Searching for a course that demands both academic and vocational qualities? Interested in understanding society, its social problems and have a desire to make a difference? Then Sociology and Social Policy may be the degree for you. It is a unique programme which combines the study of social theory, social policy and social research.

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, as well as to those with a general interest in society and social policy.

Sociology and Social Policy @ Trinity

Trinity’s School of Social Sciences and Philosophy is at the forefront of research and teaching across the disciplines of Philosophy, Political Science, Economics and Sociology and is Ireland’s top ranked university in all four subjects (QS World University Rankings by Subject 2015)

Trinity’s School of Social Work and Social Policy has a strong international orientation in its work with many School staff being members of international research networks in their fields of interest. It also contains research centres focussing on ageing, children and intellectual disability.

Graduate skills and career opportunities

The range of employment opportunities in the area of social and public policy continues to expand. This 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 having secured employment in companies such as Eurodesk (Brussels Link), Inner City Organisation Network, Focus Ireland, Migrant Rights Centre, the public service, Reiss and various education facilities, to name but a few.

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

Your degree and what you’ll study

The fundamental aim of the degree programme is to give students a thorough training in the systematic study of society and its social issues. Sociology introduces students to the theories that explain social behaviour and relationships. Key themes will focus on the family, work, European societies and globalisation, conflict, migration and racism, social movements, social theories and social research. Social policy focuses on social issues and social problems and is concerned with building a better society. Key modules will enable students to answer some of the following very topical questions: What are social policies and why do we need them? Who makes social policy and who benefits from social policy? Who provides and who pays for social policies?

The two academic subjects are closely interrelated and have in common a questioning of everyday perspectives and explanations. They also share a range of particular research methods. An essential objective of the programme is to equip students with a range of research skills in order that they can both critically interpret existing research and conduct their own. Social research is the foundation for the scientific understanding of social phenomena. This programme introduces students to the theory and methods of social research. Students can expect to learn the entire process for conducting social research and evaluating the research conducted by others.

The subjects studied include general social science disciplines such as economics and politics, and specialist areas such as family policy, welfare policy and criminology. The first and second years are more general and foundational in nature, while the 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. Assessment is by a combination of continuous assessment, class presentations and written examinations.


In first year you will take Introductory modules in Sociology, Social Policy, Political Science and Economic Policy. Optional modules include Mathematics and Statistics; Introduction to Law; a choice of language (French, German, Russian, Polish), Introduction to Psychology, Introduction to Central, East European and Russian Area Studies.


The second year places greater emphasis on social policy and sociology modules. Sociology modules include Introduction to Social Research Methods; Social Theory; Gender, Work and Family and Power, State and Social Movements. Irish Social Policy modules include housing / homelessness policy and crime and Irish society. Students may also select other social science modules such as Economy of Ireland; Economics of Public Policy; History of Political Thought; International Relations; Comparative Politics; Introduction to Irish Family Law; French, German, Russian, Polish language, and Broad Curriculum (see page 19) modules.

In first and second years students typically have two lectures and one tutorial per week for each module.


The choice of modules available in third year typically includes sociology modules such as: Social Theory, Globalisation and Development, Researching Society, Race, Ethnicity and Identity, Social Stratification and Inequalities, Comparative Sociology of Europe. Social policy modules include Life Course and Evolving Welfare States and Families, Youth and Society: Contemporary Issues. Students may also select modules from Economics and Political Science such as: Economics of Less Developed Countries, Economics of Policy Issues, Irish Politics, Democracy and Development, European Union Politics, Representation and Public Opinion, Public Interest Law, and International Law.


The choice of modules available in fourth year typically includes: Crime and Punishment; Ageing Societies; Conflict Studies; Social Networks and Digital Lives; Labour Markets and Institutions and Migration, Mobilities and Integration.

Many of the modules in third and fourth years 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.

Study abroad

Students have the opportunity to study abroad in their third year at prestigious universities in countries such as Sweden, France, Malta, Finland and the Czech Republic.



Tel: +353 1 896 1840

What our current students say:


Keeva Farrelly: Sociology and Social Policy Graduate 2017 

Upon completing my undergraduate studies, I am thoroughly satisfied with my choice in Sociology and Social Policy. The course allows students to avail of a wide variety of classes across the disciplines of sociology, politics, economics, international relations and social policy. While lectures are often conducted in large groups, especially in the former years, the small size of the programme is conducive to meeting like-minded, inspiring peers. The joint programme allowed me to put sociological theory into practice and to develop solutions to ongoing social problems. Engaging critically with the course material was essential in grappling with our own worldviews and to imagine ways in which we can push for social change and improve the lives of the most marginalised in society.

I would encourage students who are passionate about issues of fairness and equality to apply for this course. Your interests might include climate change, institutional and structural racism, post-colonialism, or heteronormativity in everyday life. This course will provide you with the theoretical underpinning and foundational knowledge that is imperative to begin to tackle these complex social issues. Now more than ever our “post-truth” world needs critical thinkers and change-makers, who are committed to uncovering and employing transformative knowledge.

Course Options



Number of Places


CAO code (Central Applications Office code) is



See also:

TR001: TSM

Admission Requirements

For general admission requirements please click here


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

EU Applicants

Read the information about how to apply, then apply directly to CAO.

Non-EU Applicants

  • Sociology and Social Policy, 4 years full-time Closing Date: 30/JUN/2018
  • Advanced Entry Applications

    Read the information about how to apply for Advanced Entry, then select the link below to apply.

    CAO code (Central Applications Office code) is



    See also:

    TR001: TSM