Social Policy (JH)

B.A. Honours Bachelor Degree (NFQ Level 8)
4 Years Full-Time
28 Places
CAO Points 473-601 (2023)


What is Social Policy?

Social Policy entails the study of those social relations shaping human welfare and wellbeing. It also includes the analysis of the means by which governments achieve citizen’s wellbeing through the formation of policies, provision of services and responding to social issues and problems. Undergraduate study of Social Policy fits with a commitment to advance the cause of a just, pluralistic, and sustainable society. The course encourages engagement with wider society and civic engagement through modules on issues such as refugee policy, housing and ageing and the life course, youth, reproductive rights, social inequality and disability. A global outlook is a reoccurring and integral part of the course. Our curriculum aims to give you a thorough training in the systematic analysis of contemporary social issues and the role of social policy in comparative country contexts. At the end of your four years you should have developed both a general understanding of the field of social policy and specific expertise in select contemporary policy issues, the process of policymaking and the skills of research, analysis and argumentation applicable to the policy arena.

Do you enjoy...

  • Contemplating how we can make our societies a better place to live?
  • Using evidence to make decisions which affect people? 
  • Learning about how to develop long-term policy solutions to current social issues and problems?

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 Social Policy may be the subject choice for you. 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, as well as to those with a general interest in society and social policy.

    Social Policy at Trinity

    Trinity’s School of Social Work and Social Policy strives for an ethos that values multidisciplinary scholarship; research-led teaching; a diverse student base; a student-centred approach to education and pastoral care; public service; partnership with colleagues in other parts of the university, and with colleagues in other institutions; international experience, connections and integration between teaching, research and policy influence. Social Policy in Trinity ranks in the top 100 universities worldwide (QS World Rankings by Subject 2022), giving Social Policy at Trinity the highest ranking of the course amongst its alternatives in Ireland.


    The pathways available are Single Honours, Major with Minor subjects and Joint Honours. There may also be an opportunity to take this subject up as a New Minor Subject from second year.

    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 sector, community development and voluntary / non-profit sectors. Graduates of Social Policy at Trinity have secured employment as social researchers, policy analysts government advisors and journalists recruited by companies such as Eurodesk (Brussels Link), Web Summit, Inner City Organisation Network, Focus Ireland, Migrant Rights Centre, the public service, 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 social policy, contemporary social issues and how policy works. Teaching methods include lectures, seminars and group project work utilising innovative approaches enhanced by digital technologies. Assessment is by a combination of continuous assessment, written submissions, class presentations, examinations real-world relevant assignments such as policy case studies or ministerial briefings and a final year Capstone project.

    First year and second year

    In first year you will take introductory modules in Social Policy Concepts and Social Policy in Action and skills based modules on Accessing and Reviewing Scholarly Literature in the field of Social Policy as well as a module in Critical Analysis and Argument Development.

    The second year places greater emphasis on social policy issues offering modules including Poverty in Society; European Refugee Policy; Citizen Participation in Research & Policy; and Health Policy. You will also be given the opportunity to take modules from other programmes across the university under the Trinity Electives model. This can include other social science modules such as Economy of Ireland; Economics of Public Policy; History of Political Thought; International Relations; Comparative Politics; and Introduction to Irish Family Law. In first and second years students typically have two lectures and one tutorial per week for each module.

    Third year and forth year

    The choice of modules available in third year typically includes modules such as: Global Social Policy; Youth and Society; Aging and Intergenerational Relations; and Policy Issues in Human Services. Again in third year, student have the option to take modules from other programmes across the university. Third year students also have the option to study abroad in a European or international university.

    The choice of modules available in fourth year typically includes: Eco-Social Policy; Disability and Global Human Rights; Regulating Reproductive Bodies; and a research methods module covering statistical analysis, documentary and policy analysis as well as qualitative research skills. In the final year you will research and write a Capstone project on a topic of your choice under supervision from a member of our School.

    There are QQI/FET routes available for this course. Please see for details

    Click here for further information on modules/subject.

    Study abroad

    Students have the opportunity to study abroad in their third year at prestigious universities in Europe through the Erasmus programme as well as through non-EU international exchanges. You may participate in full-year or half-year exchanges with partner institutions in countries such as Sweden, France, Malta, Finland and Czechia. In addition, you can compete for a smaller number of places on university-wide non-European exchanges with partners in Australia, Singapore, China, Japan, Hong Kong, Brazil, Canada and the US in your third year. Most partner universities offer their courses through English.

    For more information on study abroad destinations and requirements visit:

    Course Details


    B.A. Honours Bachelor Degree (NFQ Level 8)

    CAO Information

    CAO Points 473-601 (2023)

    Number of Places

    28 Places
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    Course Options

    Social Policy is studied as a Joint Honours subject with one of the following options:

    TR214 Economics

    TR758 Political Science

    TR759 Sociology

    TR757 Modern Language (French, Italian, German, Russian)

    Course Fees

    Click here for a full list of undergraduate fees


    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

      Advanced Entry Applications

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

        Get in Touch


        Register Your Interest

        Register your interest in studying at Ireland’s leading university, Trinity College Dublin, the University of Dublin.

        Register Your Interest

        Studying Social Policy in Trinity opened up opportunities beyond imagination in giving me a world-class education from lecturers who continue to support me long after I graduated. After Trinity, I completed a Master’s and Ph.D. in Social Policy at the University of Oxford. I worked in the Office of the Assistant Secretary General at the United Nations Headquarters in New York; in the Social Justice and Policy Unit of the Society of Vincent de Paul National Office; in the Minister’s Office in the Department of Social Protection and in the Office of the Tánaiste. I am currently the Social Policy Officer at the Irish Congress of Trade Unions.

        Laura Bambrick