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Course Structure & Content

Social Policy (Code: TR759)

This programme is taught by the School of Social Work and Social Policy and is offered as part of the Joint Honours architecture.

Students can take this programme as Major with Minor and Joint Honors.

What is social policy?

At its heart, social policy is about people as it aims to improve the well-being and welfare of people in society. Societies change and evolve constantly, new social issues such as immigration and ongoing social problems such as poverty have the potential to impact positively and negatively on the well-being of citizens. Social policy is the means by which governments try to improve the well-being of citizens through the formulation of policies and the provision of services which respond to social issues and problems. Social policy decisions have a real and tangible effect on people’s lives. As well as improving the individual’s experiences, social policy can help to build a just, diverse and sustainable society for all of us.

Is this degree for me?

Are you interested in understanding society and the contemporary social issues and social problems that societies face? Do you want to make a difference in responding to these social issues and problems? Do you think you have a role to play in building a just, diverse and sustainable society? If so, Social Policy may be the degree for you.
A social policy degree is particularly relevant to those intending to pursue a career in social policy analysis and evaluation, management and planning within the social services, both voluntary/community and statutory, as well as to those with a general interest in society and social change.

What will you study?
Social policy uses theory but it is about people’s lives –which means it is applied - focused on real social issues and how policy can affect real people. Social policy is also interdisciplinary- it uses insights from disciplines such as economics, sociology, psychology, geography, history, law, philosophy and political science.  This is why social policy is called a field of study. An understanding of these diverse disciplines is necessary to address the complexity of many social issues and to formulate social policies which can make a difference. You will study the following subjects:

Year 1

  • Introduction to Social Policy Concepts
  • Introducing Social Policy in Action
  • Accessing and Reviewing Literature
  • Critical Analysis and Argument Development

Year 2

  • Poverty
  • Citizens Participation in Research & Policy
  • Leadership and Management in Human Services
  • Health Policy

Year 3 - To be confirmed but topics may include:

  • Life Course and Welfare states
  • Youth and Society: Contemporary Issues
  • Research Methods for Social Policy
  • European Refugee Policy

Year 4 - To be confirmed but topics may include:

  • Ageing Societies
  • Families, Reproduction and Social Policy
  • Disability and Human Rights 
  • Poverty, Inequality and Redistribution
  • Capstone


Module Outlines and Student Handbook 2022 - 23

Social Policy (Joint Honours) Course Handbook 2022-23


Knowledge, Skills and Attributes
Throughout your social policy degree you’ll be supported to develop an inquiring,and analytical mind, and you will graduate with a broad range of transferable skills.
Our strong research environment informs our teaching and over the course of your studies we will equip you with the theoretical and research insights that will help you understand the field of social policy and the relationship between social issues and social policy responses. You will develop specific expertise in select policy areas. You will also appreciate how polices are made and understand the forces that shape social policy decisions.

The programme will equip you a range of transferable skills including research, analytical and argumentation skills. These will help you to research and evaluate evidence that tells you what works and help you to make the case for one course of action over another. These skills are crucial in formulating social policies which have a chance of enhancing the lives of real people but they are also skills which you can use in many other settings.